The Three in the Key Podcast’s NBL Power Rankings have dropped for Round 19, with the top four looking settled as both the Hawks and Kings extend their win streaks.
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 20 of the 2021/22 season.
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1. Sydney Kings
Record: 17-7, Previous Ranking: 1st
The Sydney Kings continued to roll on in Round 19, extending their win streak to 12, the second-longest in the NBL’s 40-minute era.
After a closer than expected bout with the 36ers, the Kings had a close scare but managed to defeat the Breakers in the final game of the round.
There were some slightly worrying signs for Sydney fans, with their interior defence looking leaky, much like how it was at the start of the season.
However, The Kings’ potent offence got them through both games as Jaylen Adams continues to make his case for the MVP award.
The win-streak now seems likely to end at the hands of much better opposition in the Hawks, as they clash in the penultimate round of the regular season.
Sydney also faces another tricky task on Sunday, as a rematch with Adelaide awaits.
2. Illawarra Hawks
Record: 17-8, Previous Ranking: 2nd
The Kings aren’t the only team in New South Wales with a winning streak, after the Hawks extended their win streak to six with a dominant win over the Bullets.
The stars stepped up massively for Illawarra, as it decimated Brisbane for a 31-point win.
Duop Reath had a near-perfect game from the field, as Tyler Harvey and Antonius Cleveland recorded near triple-doubles respectively.
If the Hawks’ offence continues to click like this, it could spell massive problems for the top four.
With its best form seemingly ahead of them, the Hawks head into Round 20 of the NBL full of confidence, ready to take down the Kings on Thursday night.
3. Melbourne United
Record: 18-7, Previous Ranking: 3rd
It was a good weekend for Melbourne United, going two from two, as they defeated South East Melbourne and the Cairns Taipans.
The reigning champions are now on a three-game win streak as they continue to hold their one-game lead in first ahead of the Kings and Hawks.
United was able to find a way to win against the Phoenix, before putting on a dominant display against the rejuvenated Taipans.
With only three games left in its season before the playoffs, Dean Vickerman will continue to drive his side to be the best.
Melbourne United will play host to both Queensland sides, the Brisbane Bullets and Cairns Taipans in Round 20.
4. Perth Wildcats
Record: 15-9, Previous Ranking: 4th
The Perth Wildcats were to snap its three-game losing streak as they defeated the New Zealand Breakers in what was a must-win game.
Scott Morrison will be impressed with the spread of scorers he had this week, with all five starters scoring in double digits. Come playoff time, Morrison will rely on Cotton and Law to score the bulk of Perth’s points, but he’ll be happy to see others can stand up when required.
The centre position remains to be an issue and it will be interesting to watch come finals time when matching up against the dominant big man of the league in Jo Lual-Acuil, Duop Reath and Jarell Martin. It was an issue against the Breakers, with Yanni Wetzell scoring 22 points.
Now that the Wildcats have put the drama of recent weeks, they will be looking to cement their top-four spot in the last four games of the season.
Michael Frazier II and Mitch Norton will return in Round 20 for Perth, allowing the team to build much-needed chemistry before the finals.
The Wildcats will match up against the 36ers and Taipans in Round 20.
5. Tasmania JackJumpers
Record: 14-11, Previous Ranking: 5th
The Tasmania JackJumpers rolled on with another win in Round 19, keeping their cinderella story alive for another week.
With a nine-point win against the Taipans, the JackJumpers managed to get the job done without Will Magnay.
However, the missing presence of a star centre may be Tasmania’s undoing.
Conceding 17 points to Nathan Jawai is never ideal and considering who they may have to face come finals time, the JackJumpers faithful has reason to be worried.
Tasmania has New Zealand and South East Melbourne to overcome in Round 20, as it continues to breathe down the necks of Perth.
6. South East Melbourne Phoenix
Record: 13-12, Previous Ranking: 7th
The South East Melbourne Phoenix’s playoff hopes finally evaporated, thanks to their defeat in the Throwdown against Melbourne United.
Despite getting the victory against the Breakers on Sunday, Phoenix fans will be disappointed that their team won’t be competing in the postseason.
It was another fourth-quarter fadeout from South East Melbourne, as it continued its trend of breaking down in crucial moments at the end of games. This will certainly be an area coach Simon Mitchell will look to rectify in the team’s last three games and the offseason.
The Phoenix match against the JackJumpers in their lone game of Round 20.
7. Cairns Taipans
Record: 8-16, Previous Ranking: 6th
So close yet so far for the men from Cairns, as they left Round 19 with no wins from two games.
After a tough seven-point loss to the JackJumpers, the Taipans were dismantled by United, in a dominant fashion.
With the season end in sight, Cairns must use this time to build for the future and begin to find more players they could potentially use in its rotation next season.
There were plenty of positives to take from the JackJumpers game, however, all its good work was undone in the second game of the round.
The Taipans travel to Perth for a tough match against the Wildcats, before heading back on the road for a rematch with United in Round 20.
8. Brisbane Bullets
Record: 10-16, Previous Ranking: 8th
It’s been the tale of Brisbane’s season, losing to Illawarra before grabbing another victory over Adelaide.
It was another slow start that killed the Bullets’ chance against the Hawks, also struggling to contain Duop Reath (28 points) was another reason behind the defeat.
Next Star Tom Digbeu’s performances since Nathan Sobey went down have been phenomenal and beggars the question of why he wasn’t afforded minutes earlier in the season. The 20-year-old averaged 14.5 points and 4.5 assists across Brisbane’s two games in Round 19.
In their lone game for Round 20, the Bullets will travel to Melbourne to play United.
9. New Zealand Breakers
Record: 5-21, Previous Ranking: 10th
The Breakers are easily the most unlucky team in the NBL, with two more tough losses in Round 19 adding to what has been a dismal season.
The Breakers went toe-to-toe with the Wildcats, before narrowly losing to the Kings.
Closing out games has been an issue for New Zealand as of late, however with a full roster and home fixtures next season, this could become its strong point.
On a positive note, Yanni Weztell has been in extraordinary form and deserves a special mention as it’s hard to say where they would be without him.
The Breakers can end the JackJumpers finals hopes, as they face off in its lone game of Round 20.
10. Adelaide 36ers
Record: 7-17, Previous Ranking: 9th
It’s been a rough season for the Adelaide 36ers, going down to the Sydney Kings and Brisbane Bullets in close encounters.
Kai Sotto’s development over the season is something positive the club can take from this season, especially with the 19-year-old’s performance against the Bullets. The youngster scored 21 points and became just the fourth teenager to score 20 points for the 36ers.
With four games left, Adelaide will be looking to end its season on a high. Although, the 36ers face both the Wildcats and Kings away in Round 20.
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