The Inner Sanctum’s NBL Power Rankings for Round 4 has dropped, with Tasmania rising to a top two spot while Perth continues its slide.
These NBL Power Rankings are based on the squads’ current form and short-term expectations. 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.
Here are The Inner Sanctum’s NBL Power Rankings ahead of Round 5 of the 2023/24 season.
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Record: 6-1, Previous Ranking: 1st
Almost a month into the season, Melbourne United has certainly proved that they’re the team to beat.
United is running like a well-oiled machine with several pieces firing, but the one that stands out the most is Next Star Ariel Hukporti.
The 21-year-old is an integral cog in Dean Vickerman’s unit, playing a massive impact defensively.
The 213cm German cleans the glass on both ends and is a menace protecting the rim, ranking in the top five in defensive and offensive rebounding percentage and block percentage. Melbourne is holding teams to a stifling 92 points per 100 possessions when Hukporti is patrolling the paint.
With the return of Jo Lual-Acuil, the Next Star has left coach Dean Vickerman with plenty to ponder.
Games this week: At Tasmania, Vs IllawarraEmbed from Getty Images
2. Tasmania JackJumpers
Record: 4-2, Previous Ranking: 3rd
The JackJumpers continue to illustrate that they could be one of the teams to watch come the end of the season, downing the reigning champions again, but this time on their home floor.
Tasmania made Sydney’s defence look like Swiss cheese in the first half, slicing and dicing its way to whatever shot it wanted, especially in the opening quarter, scoring 36 points.
Another dynamic performance from Jordon Crawford (32 points and four assists) proved to be the offensive punch this team needed from the point guard position.
Another match-up against Melbourne United is on the cards this weekend before the JackJumpers travel to Brisbane to face the Bullets.
Games this week: Vs Melbourne, at Brisbane
3. Sydney Kings
Record: 4-2, Previous Ranking: 2nd
The Kings are still finding out their identity under new coach Mahmoud Abdelfattah on both sides of the floor, but they were exposed defensively in the first half against the JackJumpers.
Under Abdelfattah, Sydney’s defensive identity is to switch everything and Tasmania took full advantage, scoring 30 points in two quarters of Sunday’s encounter.
The Kings are yet to see what their team looks like with D.J. Hogg, but luckily fans will get their first chance to see their prized recruit when he returns on Saturday against the Taipans.
However, Sydney could be without Jaylin Galloway after the wing sustained a shoulder injury over the weekend.
Games this week: At Cairns
4. New Zealand Breakers
Record: 1-2, Previous Ranking: 4th
No one really knew what to expect from New Zealand after it returned from its long trip to America but the Breakers lost no fans with their valiant effort against Melbourne United.
The Breakers didn’t do themselves any favours though, coming out sluggishly with only 13 first-quarter points. Parker Jackson-Cartwright (18 points, five assists, and five steals) and Zylan Cheatham (30 points, five rebounds, and four assists) did everything in their power to get New Zealand over the line but fell short.
With Adelaide and South East Melbourne on the horizon, New Zealand will look to get back on the winners’ board this weekend.
Games this week: Vs Adelaide, at South East Melbourne
5. South East Melbourne Phoenix
Record: 4-3, Previous Ranking: 6th
After missing key personnel through the start of the regular season, South East Melbourne is beginning to click into gear, winning three games in a row.
Star big man Alan Williams returned to the court like he never left, finishing with a double-double in his NBL24 return against the 36ers, backed up by a 21-point performance against the Bullets and he will only get better as the season progresses.
A match-up against New Zealand on Saturday will be a good opportunity to see how South East Melbourne matches up against another highly fancied team.
Games this week: Vs New Zealand
6. Cairns Taipans
Record: 2-1, Previous Ranking: 5th
The Tapians return to NBL normality this week after their trip to the USA and are set to face the Hawks and Kings.
Cairns was without Tahjere McCall, Taren Armstrong and Sam Mennenga in its clash against the Raptors last week, Adam Forde will be hoping that he can call upon their services on Thursday.
Games this week: At Illawarra, Vs Sydney
7. Brisbane Bullets
Record: 2-4, Previous Ranking: 8th
It’s not surprising to see that the Bullets have struggled without Aron Baynes, but his absence has desperately hurt them, with the team losing four of their last five games.
Brisbane has struggled offensively and Nathan Sobey needs help while Baynes is sidelined, especially since the Bullets will be without import Shannon Scott after sustaining a hamstring injury against the Phoenix.
With an out-of-form Perth as one of its opponents this weekend, it’s a good opportunity for Brisbane to turn around its fortunes before facing an up-and-firing Tasmania.
Games this week: At Perth, vs Tasmania
8. Perth Wildcats
Record: 2-4, Previous Ranking: 7th
After coming into the season with high hopes, the Wildcats’ season is crumbling as they fell to the 36ers.
Perth’s poor defence and rebounding issues were at the fore again.
Another concern on John Rillie’s mind would be the form of Bryce Cotton. The former MVP is struggling this season, averaging 15.2 points on 32 per cent shooting.
With a game against the Bullets this weekend, will the Wildcats turn around their fortunes?
Games this week: Vs BrisbaneEmbed from Getty Images
9. Adelaide 36ers
Record: 2-5, Previous Ranking: 9th
Adelaide was able to split its games across the round, but the same frustrations remain with this team.
Coming off the back of their impressive performance in Round Three, the 36ers reverted to their up-and-down ways, falling to the Phoenix before responding against the Wildcats.
Isaac Humphries (26 points and eight rebounds) and Kyrin Galloway (16 points and seven rebounds) were shining lights from the round as the pair overpowered Perth, as was Dejan Vasiljevic as the sharpshooter made his Adelaide 36ers debut across Round Four.
Games this week: Vs New Zealand
10. Illawarra Hawks
Record: 1-4, Previous Ranking: 10th
Illawarra was able to show some fight against Melbourne, but it wasn’t enough as it conceded another 100+ points.
Gary Clark finally found some form, finishing the game with 17 points, nine rebounds, and four steals but didn’t have a partner to go with him. The Hawks need to see more of this from Clark but also need their other leaders to stand up.
If Sam Froling, Tyler Harvey, Justin Robinson, and Clark aren’t playing to the standard we know they can, it only puts more pressure on the surrounding pieces.
Jacob Jackomas will be hoping we can get his squad on the right page or it’s going to be another tough weekend with Cairns and Melbourne on the schedule.
Games this week: Vs Cairns, at Melbourne