NBL Power Rankings: Hawks retain top spot despite first loss

Photos: @CairnsTaipans; @NBL; @MelbUnitedHQ Twitter

The Three in the Key Podcast’s NBL Power Rankings have dropped for Round 4, with the Hawks hanging on to first and Melbourne United making their move into 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 4 of the 2021/22 season.

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1. Illawarra Hawks

Last week: 1st, Record: 3-1

The Hawks remain top of our rankings despite finally suffering their first defeat of the early season. After a tough double overtime win against the Breakers, Illawarra was finally brought back down to earth by the Bullets on Sunday.

The star trio of Tyler Harving, Duop Reath and Justinian Jessup looked unbeatable against New Zealand, however the Bullets managed to contain the trio and hand the Hawks their maiden loss.

2. South East Melbourne Phoenix.

Last Week: 2nd , Record: 3-1

The Phoenix’s unbeaten start to the season came to an end Saturday night, going down to the Sydney Kings, 84-73. South East Melbourne shot the ball poorly, shooting a miserly 33 per cent from the field and 25 per cent from three.

Phoenix will want to improve their shooting percentages, as they face fellow finals contender the Illawarra Hawks.

3. Perth Wildcats

Last Week: 3rd , Record: 4-1

The Wildcats finished their five home game stand and atop of the NBL ladder, finishing Round 3 with two wins, getting their revenge against the Brisbane Bullets and destroying the JackJumpers.

The dynamic duo of Bryce Cotton and Vic Law were back to their dangerous best, scoring a combined 55 points, blowing out the JackJumpers.

With Vic Law missing this week’s game against the Adelaide 36ers and the team set to be on the road for the foreseeable future due to Western Australia’s border restrictions, the team will be tested and could see them either move up or down the rankings in Round 4.

4. Melbourne United

Last Week: 7th , Record: 2-2

Melbourne United introduced two key pieces this weekend in captain Chris Goulding and Jack White. The reigning champions were back to their defensive best in Round 3 holding Sydney to 47 points and New Zealand to 60 points.

Caleb Agada’s move to the starting five paid dividends, ending the round with two 20 point performances, he looks more comfortable after a rough start to the season and with Goulding’s return, expect to see more performances like this from Agada.

With all their pieces starting to roll, expect United to get their season back on track.

5. Sydney Kings

Last Week: 5th , Record: 2-2

The Kings have completed a historical turnaround in the third week of the NBL.

Coming from an all-time 42-point loss to United, to beating the previously undefeated South East Melbourne in an impressive fashion. Chase Buford’s coaching system was called into question after the loss, however he quickly put those doubts to rest with the massive win on Saturday afternoon against the Phoenix.

Sydney still have work to do with the likes of Jaylen Adams and RJ Hunter sidelined and will look for revenge this week in their matchup against United on Boxing Day.

6. Brisbane Bullets

Last Week: 7th , Record: 2-2

After losing their highly anticipated rematch against Perth, the Bullets bounced back with a stellar win over the league-leading Hawks.

Brisbane have become massive dark-horses for a finals spot in these early stages of the season, with their ability to take down the top sides in the NBL.

With more dominant performances from Robert Franks and Nathan Sobbey, the Bullets could begin to make a name for themselves early on.

7. Adelaide 36ers

Last Week: 6th, Record: 2-3

The Adelaide 36ers have had one of the most inconsistent starts to a season in early memory. After what looked like the start of a great early season bounce-back, Bruton’s men look to have regressed.

After a drubbing to an undermanned Cairns side, a poor shooting night sees Adelaide drop down to 7th position. Had it not been some tremendous shooting from import Dusty Hannahs, we may have Adelaide even lower on this list.

It is not looking good with Perth, SE Melbourne and Perth again in the next three.

8. Cairns Taipans

Last Week: 10th , Record: 2-1

Cairns showed some tremendous heart and have surprised many including us with a great start to the year.

After a convincing performance last week against the JackJumpers, Cairns begin their climb up the rankings with a dominant display against Adelaide. Deng, McCall and Zimmerman formed a tremendous triple threat to bury the 36ers, combining for 77 points.

Sitting in 4th spot heading into round 4, they will be tested by a hot Brisbane side.

9. Tasmania JackJumpers

Last Week: 9th , Record: 1-3

It has not been looking fantastic from the boys down south. After an opening night win against Brisbane, the JJs have struggled putting points on the board.

If there isn’t a significant improvement in shooting percentages and effort rebounding the rock (Tasmania were -20 vs a strong Perth side) there will soon be a legitimate argument for them to be in last place.

They will have their chance against the Breakers on Boxing Day.

10. New Zealand Breakers

Last Week: 8th , Record: 0-5

The Breakers find themselves as the only side without a win thus far to round out the NBL power rankings, after a nail-biting loss to the Hawks they were blown out by United for their fifth straight defeat.

Their performances have been on the up and with the addition of Chasson Randle potentially coming in Round 4, they shouldn’t have to wait much longer for a maiden win.

With the New Zealand border looking likely to shut again, the Breakers could be on the road until February, only adding to the early season agony for a club bereft of any luck.

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