The Three in the Key Podcast’s NBL Power Rankings have dropped for Round 8, with the 36ers dropping down to eighth place as the Wildcat’s regain a spot in the top two.
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 8 of the 2021/22 season.
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1. Melbourne United
Record: 7-2, Previous Ranking: 1st
Melbourne United continue on their merry way, extending their win streak to eight after their two matches in Round 8.
With both games on the road, United was able to comfortably handle Adelaide with a few Chris Goulding three’s, but especially after increasing their defensive intensity and holding the 36ers to 14 points in the fourth quarter.
On Australia Day, United faced a tough Brisbane Bullets lineup that didn’t take a backwards step.
However, some handy contributions from Matthew Dellavedova (16 points), Jack White (14 points and six rebounds), Chris Goulding (12 points), and Jo Lual-Acuil (11 points and 10 rebounds) ensured United got the win.
United will look to stretch their win streak to nine when they travel to Adelaide for the second time in a week to come up against the 36ers.
2. Perth Wildcats
Record: 6-2 , Previous Ranking: 3rd
Despite another slow first quarter outing for the Wildcats, they were able to claw back and take the game away from Illawarra in the remaining quarters, especially in the third quarter, outscoring the Hawks 30-16.
Todd Blanchfield was massive coming off the bench, scoring 20 points, and showing the rest of the league that he can a part of Perth’s big three alongside Bryce Cotton and Vic Law.
With first quarters still a problem, head coach Scott Morrison will hope they can rectify it when they play Illawarra again in the Round 9 opener. If anyone has the solution, Morrison would love to hear from you.
3. Illawarra Hawks
Record: 5-3 , Previous Ranking: 2nd
After a dismal display against the Wildcats, the Hawks bounced back impressively, hitting 100 points against the 36ers just days after the bad loss. Defensively the Hawks showed their first sign of weakness this season.
Justinian Jessup mentioned that coach Brian Goorjian has drilled his side into shape defensively after their poor performances in Round 8.
The Hawks have to shift their focus to getting revenge on the Wildcats in the Round 9 opener. This will be a real test to see if ‘Goorj’s’ defensive shift has affected the title-contenders.
A win against Perth would see them leapfrog their rivals into second as they prepare to mount a chase on the league-leading Melbourne United.
4. South East Melbourne Phoenix
Record: 5-2 , Previous Ranking: 5th
After a disastrous game last weekend against the Brisbane Bullets, South East Melbourne bounced back with two wins against the JackJumpers and Cairns Taipans.
Despite struggling with Tasmania’s on-ball pressure and conceding several turnovers, the Phoenix were able to overcome their slow first half, outscoring the home 32-16.
The ever consistent Mitch Creek helped, scoring 21 points along with Zhou Qi’s second-half performance (18 points, eight rebounds and two blocks).
On Tuesday, Creek continued his momentum against the Snakes. The 29-year-old was everywhere with 26 points, eight rebounds and seven steals.
The Phoenix match up against the Brisbane Bullets in Round 9 and will want to make sure this encounter is closer than their previous.
5. Brisbane Bullets
Record: 4-5 , Previous Ranking: 4th
It was a mixed weekend for the Brisbane Bullets, as they managed an epic comeback against the Sydney Kings before losing to the same team two days earlier.
The Bullets also let victory slip against Melbourne United, having multiple chances to take the lead in the final stages of the Australia Day clash.
A pectoral/shoulder injury to centre Tyrell Harrison will cause head coach James Duncan some headaches.
Duncan will need Jack Salt, Chuanxing Liu and Deng Deng to step up and take on more responsibility in Harrison’s absence, especially in their next match when they come across Zhou Qi and South East Melbourne.
6. Sydney Kings
Record: 4-6 , Previous Ranking: 9th
The Sydney Kings have been the worst fourth-quarter team in the NBL and they didn’t shy away from showing that against the Bullets on Friday.
Going down 31-15 in the 4th, Chase Buford was once again left stranded as he witnessed his side let another win slip away.
Turning around two days later against the same opposition, the Kings dominated and showed what they are capable of even without some key rotational players, the real test for the Kings will be if they can keep up this form against the Wildcats in Round 9.
Beating the Bullets by 24 points was an accomplishment, however, they still managed to lose the scoring battle in the fourth quarter, this issue needs to be resolved sooner rather than later as the Kings now play the catchup game for a finals spot.
7. Cairns Taipans
Record: 2-3 , Previous Ranking: 6th
The Taipans game on the weekend against the South East Melbourne Phoenix, was the team’s first match since New Year’s Eve so we were curious to see how they would go.
It wasn’t their greatest performance, but before the break, Cairns was one of the form teams in the competition.
The Taipans have the second-best defensive rating in the league, so head coach Adam Forde will be disappointed with his side’s defensive efforts in the second quarter, allowing the Phoenix to outscore them 30-18.
Cairns will hope to get their first win of 2022 in Round 9 when they match up against the Illawarra Hawks.
8. Adelaide 36ers
Record: 3-5 , Previous Ranking: 7th
Adelaide’s topsy-turvy season continues. The 36ers couldn’t quite get over the line against Melbourne United and the Illawarra Hawks.
One thing Adelaide needs is Dusty Hannahs to stand up, after being moved to the role of coming off the bench.
Against United, Hannahs scored 12 points and only took eight shots. Against Illawarra, the 28-year-old then only played 14 minutes.
If Adelaide wants to compete for the fourth spot on the ladder, they need to get Hannahs more involved otherwise they may need to look for another import.
The 36ers will be without Mitch McCarron for their clash against the JackJumpers due to COVID protocols, he could potentially miss their re-match against United as well.
9. New Zealand Breakers
Record: 2-7 , Previous Ranking: 8th
The Breakers are unfortunate to have not played in Round 8, after their incredible come from behind win against the Kings, it really seemed like they had turned the corner after a horrid start to the season.
Behind a resurgent offence the Breakers have a massive opportunity to tally up another win in Round 9 when they face the JackJumpers. Not only would another win be a massive boost of confidence, it would see them off the bottom of the table for the first time this season.
10. Tasmania JackJumpers
Record: 2-6 , Previous Ranking: 10th
It was another round to forget for the NBL’s newest franchise, after remaining competitive for the opening half, the JackJumpers fell apart in the third quarter against the Phoenix and ultimately cost themselves a chance at a massive upset.
In the fourth they only managed nine points, the questions began to circle as to whether their imports are doing an acceptable job. As their confidence and offensive performances begin to drop, Tasmania will have to see this weekend as a huge opportunity to regain some of their early-season form and begin to mount a comeback and ultimately salvaging this season.
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