Who rose and who fell in our Round 16 NBL Power Rankings? (Photos: @illawarrahawks; @NZBreakers; @SEMelbPhoenix; @NBL/Twitter)

The Three in the Key Podcast’s NBL Power Rankings have dropped for Round 16, with the Illawarra Hawks regaining its spot in the top four.

The Three in the Key Podcast’s NBL Power Rankings have dropped for Round 16, with the Illawarra Hawks regaining its spot in the top four.

These NBL Power Rankings are predicated on current form and short-term expectations for the squad. They aren’t a prediction of where teams will finish the season on the ladder, but rather an expectation on how they will perform in their upcoming games with consideration given to injuries and form.

This is the Three in the Key Podcast’s NBL Power Rankings ahead of Round 17 of the 2021/22 season.

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1. Sydney Kings

Record: 13-7, Previous Ranking: 1st

Without superstar Xavier Cooks, the Kings held off a 26-point display from Xavier Munford to take down the Phoenix in a thrilling encounter.

Not only did Sydney extend its win streak to eight, but it was also the third time this season it has taken down South East Melbourne, creating some much-needed breathing room in the top four in the process.

The Kings now face a tough road trip to Perth to play the Wildcats in what could be a grand-final preview.

Sydney is the in-form side of the competition and could continue its win streak and push for the top spot on the NBL ladder.

2. Perth Wildcats

Record: 14-6, Previous Ranking: 2nd

Another phenomenal week by Perth’s dynamic duo, Bryce Cotton and Vic Law. The pair continued to reign terror over the New Zealand Breakers in Round 16.

After combining for 71 points last week against the Breakers, the duo this time combined for 51 points with Cotton scoring 25 points and Law with 26 points. Law also grabbed 12 rebounds while Cotton added six assists.

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The Wildcats have now won six games in a row. With home games to finish the season and a new possible import signing on the horizon, the team from the west is setting itself up nicely for a top-two finish.

In Round 17, Perth plays host to Tasmania and Sydney on Thursday and Saturday night.

3. Melbourne United

Record: 15-5, Previous Ranking: 3rd

No movement from the reigning champions as they stay in the top three of our power rankings.

In its most recent encounter against Adelaide, Melbourne’s depth was tested as stars Chris Goulding and Matthew Dellavedova were hampered by injury and Caleb Agada missed the match after being placed in health and safety protocols.

Multiples members of United’s bench stood up, contributing 48 points. 10 United players scored six or more points, while six scored above 10+ points.

Key pieces of Melbourne’s bench were able to play more minutes than usual which may become valuable come playoff time, should any of Dean Vickerman’s men go down with an injury.

Despite sitting on top of the NBL ladder, Melbourne United will want to continue winning, especially with the Perth Wildcats breathing down its neck.

Melbourne will face fellow final contender Illawarra on Sunday afternoon.

4. Illawarra Hawks

Record: 13-8, Previous Ranking: 5th

Has Brian Goorijan been reading our NBL power rankings?

It would seem so as the Hawks looked back to their best on both sides on the floor in Round 16.

After a nail-biting victory over the Phoenix, the Hawks put on a defensive masterclass against the JackJumpers – holding them to just 65 points.

Illawarra’s stars were back at their best in what could be a season-defining round for Goorjian’s side.

The Hawks held onto fourth place on the ladder and with the current form of the sides below them, keeping this winning formula will be crucial to solidify a spot in the finals.

Illawarra is set for a blockbuster clash with Melbourne United in Round 17.

5. Tasmania JackJumpers

Record: 10-10, Previous Ranking: 4th

This week Tasmania drops down a spot in our power rankings after it was unable to replicate its performance and lost to Illawarra.

Unlike their last encounter, the JackJumpers struggled to score, only managing to score 65 points. Everyone other than Josh Adams (20 points) and Clint Steindl (17 points) struggled to keep the scoreboard ticking over.

Known for its defensive prowess, Tasmania struggled to contain Illawarra’s offensive firepower. The JackJumpers were ill-disciplined with the ball in hand, coughing up 16 turnovers which allowed the Hawks to create easy baskets.

The end of the match got a little heated with head coach Scott Roth exchanging words with Antonius Cleveland.

Tasmania’s hopes of making a fairy tale finals appearance were already slim, but now look bleaker. However, as we’ve mentioned many times this season, the JackJumpers have already passed expectations in their first season in the competition.

It doesn’t get any easier for the JackJumpers as they travel to Perth to face the Wildcats on Thursday night, before travelling to Brisbane to face the Bullets on Saturday.

6. South East Melbourne Phoenix

Record: 11-9, Previous Ranking: 6th

Last week we questioned South East Melbourne’s championship credentials, hoping they could turn this mini-slump around. However, we were let down this week as they went down to fellow top-four contenders, Illawarra and Sydney.

The Phoenix had moments late in both games to capture the win but they were unable to capitalise.

Coming into the season, one of South East Melbourne’s issues was the centre position, needing a big guy who can protect the paint and guard the opposition’s best frontcourt player.

The Phoenix were unable to contain Duop Reath (22 points and 12 rebounds) and Jarell Martin (24 points, 77 per cent shooting efficiency, eight rebounds) as they had good performances for their respective teams.

South East Melbourne will look to snap its four-game losing streak in Round 17 when it matches up against Adelaide and Cairns.

The 36ers and Taipans may currently sit in the bottom four but as we know there are no easy games in the NBL, so the Phoenix must ensure they win both games to keep themselves among the race for the finals.

7. New Zealand Breakers

Record: 5-15, Previous Ranking: 8th

Everyone’s second-favourite team the New Zealand Breakers showed plenty of heart and determination in a bitter ten-point loss to the Perth Wildcats in Round 16.

With a better output from its role-players, the Breakers could have pulled off an unthinkable upset.

The dynamic duo of Bryce Cotton and Vic Law ensured Perth would not be upset by bottom-placed New Zealand.

After such a disappointing loss to an elite side, the Breakers will look to come out firing as they host both Queensland sides, the Taipans and Bullets in Round 17.

8. Brisbane Bullets

Record: 7-13, Previous Ranking: 7th

It was another disappointing week for Brisbane as it went down to Queensland rivals, the Cairns Taipans for the third time this season.

The Bullets started the game on fire, possibly scoring the quickest basket in NBL history. However, it all went downhill for Brisbane after that, finding itself down by 23 points late in the first quarter. Although it fought back, Brisbane left itself too much to do.

In Round 17, The Bullets will look to turn their fortunes around as they match up against the ever-improving Breakers and JackJumpers.

9. Cairns Taipans

Record: 5-13, Previous Ranking: 9th

Adam Forde will be pulling his hair out after his Taipans’ side lost a winnable game against the 36ers. However, Forde would have been happier as Cairns was able to snap its five-game losing streak against Brisbane in the Sunshine Stoush.

Against Adelaide, Cairns struggled to put the ball in the basket, managing to only score 57 points. It didn’t help shooting a putrid 27 per cent from the field and 16 per cent from three-point range.

Against the Bullets, the Snakes looked like a different team as they found themselves with 98 points at the end of the match.

Tahjere McCall (21 points, six assists and five steals) and Bul Kuol (17 points) were key contributors to Cairns claiming a 3-0 sweep of the season series against its Queensland rival.

In Round 17, Cairns plays host to South East Melbourne before playing New Zealand away at the Cairns Convention Centre

10. Adelaide 36ers

Record: 6-13, Previous Ranking: 10th

Despite a win against Cairns this weekend snapping its five-game losing streak, and trying its best to stay competitive against Melbourne, Adelaide still finds itself at the bottom of the power rankings.

Mitch McCarron was back to his money-making ways against the Taipans on Friday night, finishing the game with 21 points, 10 rebounds and three steals in 36 minutes. Next Star Mojave King looked good in the two games, scoring six and seven points against Cairns and Melbourne.

On Sunday, Adelaide got off to a hot start against Melbourne, scoring the first seven points of the game. However, United’s depth proved too much for the 36ers to handle, as they went down by 27 points.

Adelaide plays host to South East Melbourne in Round 17.

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