The Three in the Key Podcast’s NBL Power Rankings have dropped for Round 20, with the Adelaide 36ers rising up the rankings, while Perth slides out of 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 the final round (Round 21) of the 2021/22 season.
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1. Sydney Kings
Record: 18-8 Previous Ranking: 1st
After 13 consecutive wins, the Sydney Kings’ win streak was snapped by an unlikely opponent in the Adelaide 36ers.
Round 20 started off promising for the Kings, after taking down local rivals, the Hawks, in a game many consider to be the game of the season thus far.
Sydney battled hard in overtime to keep the streak alive and give NBL fans a preview of what may be in store come finals time.
However, with the news that Jarell Martin was set to miss Sunday’s clash with the 36ers, it seemed as though the Kings would be up against it at home.
The Kings showed flashes of their early-season struggles, with scoring outside of Xavier Cooks and Jaylen Adams limited, this caused Chase Buford’s impressive offence to fall apart.
With a finals spot secured, the Kings will look to cement second place as they head to Cairns in the Round 21 opener, before returning home to host the Hawks in their final game of the regular season.
2. Illawarra Hawks
Record: 17-9, Previous Ranking: 2nd
It was an up and down weekend for the men from Illawarra, going down to the Kings dramatically.
Although the result was negative, there was plenty to take from the game, including a massive game from Tyler Harvey, who looks to have hit his peak at the perfect time.
Conceding 107 points will not go down well with Brian Goorjian. However, he has proven already this season, that he can turn around the Hawks’ defence in quick time.
The Hawks will be aiming for two wins in Round 21, as they eagerly look to overtake the Kings in second place, securing home-court advantage for the first round of the finals series.
Illawarra travels to Perth, with a win putting the Wildcats’ finals hopes in serious doubt, before heading back to New South Wales for an eagerly-anticipated rematch with the Kings to conclude the season.
3. Melbourne United
Record: 20-7, Previous Ranking: 3rd
Melbourne United was able to handle the Brisbane Bullets and Cairns Taipans, extending their win streak to five.
With the Kings’ shock loss to the 36ers, United have secured the top spot on the NBL ladder and home-court advantage for the entire finals series.
Although its form has been patchy over recent weeks, Melbourne’s defence is still elite and Chris Goulding’s shooting is beginning to heat up. The 33-year-old scored 27 points against the Taipans, shooting six from 11 attempts from three-point range.
The reigning champions will be looking to continue their momentum in their last game of the season. United will host the JackJumpers in what could be the game of the round.
4. Tasmania JackJumpers
Record: 16-11, Previous Ranking: 5th
The JackJumpers are back in the top four of our power rankings, as they aim to pull off the unlikely accomplishment of sealing a top-four finish on the NBL ladder.
With two crucial wins under its belt, Tasmania’s hopes for a finals berth are becoming a reality as it awaits results from Perth in Round 21.
After getting past a surprisingly competitive Breakers side by two points, the JackJumpers got over the line against the Phoenix by a mere four points, after a massive fourth-quarter display.
Led by Jack McVeigh and Josh Adams, Tasmania is full of confidence and is quickly becoming a fan favourite in the NBL.
The JackJumpers’ quest for a maiden finals berth comes to the forefront, with a tricky matchup against table-toppers, Melbourne United.
Although a loss would dent their hopes, if the Wildcats lose both games in Round 21, the JackJumpers will make history with a finals appearance in their first year.
5. Adelaide 36ers
Record: 9-17, Previous Ranking: 10th
What a weekend it was for Adelaide, going on the road and grabbing two big wins against Perth and snapping Sydney’s win streak.
The 36ers played with energy and brought the effort, something that their fans would have loved to see earlier in the season.
CJ Bruton and his team will want to continue their strong finish to the season into the last round. The 36ers will again be on the road to finish NBL22, travelling to Melbourne and Hobart to face the Phoenix and Breakers.
6. Perth Wildcats
Record: 16-10, Previous Ranking: 4th
The last couple of weeks for the Perth Wildcats have been rough, dealing with off-court drama and injuries to key players.
On the weekend, the Wildcats split their games, losing to the 36ers before beating the Taipans. The loss against the 36ers has now put pressure on them to keep fourth spot with the JackJumpers breathing down their neck.
Perth has only won two of its last six games, something we wouldn’t expect from the league’s most successful franchise.
The Wildcats’ 35-year playoff streak is under threat and with an injury cloud over Vic Law, Round 21 will make for interesting viewing.
In the final round of the season, Perth faces a hot performing Illawarra before playing South East Melbourne in the last game of the round and regular season.
7. South East Melbourne Phoenix
Record: 13-13, Previous Ranking: 6th
Another week, another fourth-quarter fade out from South East Melbourne. The Phoenix were up double digits by letting it slip away as the JackJumpers challenged.
After what was such a promising start to the season, it has fallen to pieces very quickly for the Phoenix. South East Melbourne has now lost eight of its last 10 games.
The Phoenix will be looking to finish the season on a high. They host the 36ers before travelling to Perth to play the Wildcats in the last game of the regular season.
8. Brisbane Bullets
Record: 10-17, Previous Ranking: 8th
It was an undermanned Brisbane Bullets outfit that went up against ladder leaders Melbourne United and although they didn’t get over the line, they fought valiantly.
Anthony Drmic (19 points), Jason Cadee (20 points) and Lamar Patterson (23 points) tried their hardest to get the Bullets over the line, especially Patterson’s fast start in the last quarter.
Brisbane has now lost four of its last six games. The Bullets will now look to avoid a season sweep when they match up against Queensland rival, the Taipans.
9. Cairns Taipans
Record: 8-18, Previous Ranking: 7th
Although its remaining games have been a consolation prize for a couple of weeks, it’s impossible to not give credit to Cairns for putting up a fight in the last weeks of the season.
A disappointing 19-point loss to the Wildcats was a tough one to swallow, followed by a 12-point defeat at the hands of United, is never an ideal way to try and wrap up your season.
However, on the offensive side, there were plenty of positives to take away, with the entire starting five from the United game notching up double figures.
The Taipans will look to snap a four-game losing streak and end its season on a high when the Kings and Bullets head to Far North Queensland.
10. New Zealand Breakers
Record: 5-22, Previous Ranking: 10th
It was another gut-wrenching week for New Zealand fans, with the mid-week announcement of the departure of Yanni Weztell, followed by a two-point loss to the JackJumpers.
The loss of Wetzell cannot be understated and will be a massive talking point for the Breakers heading into the off-season.
It seems that nothing has gone the way of the Breakers this season, losing multiple games in the dying moments of games and now losing its best player in Wetzell.
On a positive note, the improvement from Robert Loe and Peyton Siva towards the backend of the season will give fans many reasons to hope for a better performance next season.
New Zealand rounds out its season with a clash in Tasmania against a red-hot Adelaide.
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