23/04/2024

Melbourne United were one of the standouts in Round 1 of NBL24. (Image: @NBL/Twitter)

The Inner Sanctum’s NBL power rankings have dropped for Round 1 as all teams in NBL24 got underway. Some teams stood out while others got off to slow starts.

These NBL Power Rankings are predicated on the squad’s 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 power rankings for Round 1:

1. Melbourne United

Coming into the season with the moves Melbourne United made, expectations were high and in Round 1, they looked very good.

Matthew Dellavedova continued the offensive aggression that he displayed through the pre-season in United’s two opening games against the Phoenix and the 36ers, scoring 20 and 19 points respectively.

Prized recruit Luke Travers also made the most of his first two games in United colours as he aims to make the leap into the NBA.

Games this week: vs Tasmania

2. Sydney Kings

Understandably with a lot of change over the off-season, the Sydney Kings are still working out how to play under new head coach Mahmoud Abdelfattah.

But on Saturday night against the Hawks, the Kings were dominant.

The Kings were without import D.J. Hogg, but their depth looks like it will again be a problem for opposing teams.

Jordan Hunter (12 points and seven rebounds) and Jaylin Galloway (18 points and five steals) look set for massive seasons and will be ones to watch, while Kouat Noi was important throughout, finishing with 23 points.

Games this week: At Tasmania, vs Adelaide

3. New Zealand Breakers

No Will McDowell-White, no worries.

The New Zealand Breakers were hoping that their star point guard would have been available for Round 1 but he was still unavailable with the hand injury that he suffered before the Blitz, but Parker Jackson-Cartwright delivered in his absence.

Despite fouling out, Jackson-Cartwright finished with 25 points, eight assists, and six steals in his NBL debut and looked comfortable against an injury-riddled Cairns Taipans.

The good news for Breakers fans is that McDowell-White will return for his first of NBL24 this week against the Bullets which will mean Jackson-Cartwright will move to the bench, what a luxury to have.

Games this week: Vs Brisbane

4. Perth Wildcats

Perth had a mixed opening weekend, winning its first game against Tasmania before losing to South East Melbourne days later.

Import Jordan Usher was superb in front of the Red Army, scoring 35 points on his NBL debut against the JackJumpers but struggled against the Phoenix.

Defence and rebounding were major issues last season for the Wildcats.

On the weekend, they conceded 95 and 110 points and lost the rebound count in each game.

Perth certainly has the personnel to rectify these issues with the likes of Alex Sarr, Keanu Pinder, and Jordan Usher on the roster.

These points will be something to monitor as the season continues.

Games this week: Vs Adelaide

5. Tasmania JackJumpers

Despite going down to the Wildcats, the JackJumpers still looked impressive.

Scott Roth wouldn’t have been happy to concede 101 points but would have been happy to score 95 of their own.

It’s never easy to win in Perth, and although Tasmania looked down and out in the last quarter Jack McVeigh and Milton Doyle were able to bring them back within reach, especially McVeigh who scored 15 points in the quarter.

With games against the Kings and United, Roth would love to leave Round 2 with two wins.

Games this week: Vs Sydney, at Melbourne

6. South East Melbourne Phoenix

South East Melbourne Phoenix was another team that had a mixed weekend.

It was a disappointing outing from the Phoenix in the Throwdown, but they came out with a point to prove against the Wildcats.

With games against the Taipans and the Hawks away, head coach Mike Kelly will be hoping to see more consistency from his group.

Games this week: At Cairns, at Illawarra

7. Brisbane Bullets

The Bullets didn’t start amazingly against the Adelaide 36ers, conceding the first 15 points of the game, but head coach Justin Schueller would have to be happy with his side’s response as from that point on Brisbane went on to outscore Adelaide 86-56.

Brisbane got great contributions from Aron Baynes (12 points and 13 rebounds) and Nathan Sobey (18 points), but it was Sam McDaniel (13 points and 11 rebounds) who turned heads, illustrating why Schueller wanted him for this roster.

One thing to look out for will be the shooting splits, the Bullets shot 36 per cent from the field and 25 per cent from beyond the arc. This season Brisbane has several players that can step out and shoot the ball, so fans will hope this was a one-time occurrence.

Games this week: At New Zealand, vs Cairns

8. Illawarra Hawks

Illawarra was the first team to match up against the reigning champions Sydney.

It looked like it was going to be a close game after the first quarter, but the Hawks struggled to contain their rivals defensively. The Hawks allowed the Kings to hit 15 threes at 44 per cent, and 55 per cent on twos and when you’re allowing your opposition wide-open looks, it never bodes well.

Illawarra tried to come back several times throughout the night but was unable to string consistent defensive possessions together.

The pieces are there for Illawarra to be a smokey playoff contender, but it will just be about getting them to click together.

Games this week: vs South East Melbourne

9. Cairns Taipans

It feels a little harsh to put the Taipans this low but injuries to key personnel really disadvantaged them in Round 1.

Cairns was without Taran Armstrong, Tahjere McCall, and Josh Roberts against New Zealand, while Bul Kuol was rusty in his first game back from injury.

A positive for the Taipans was the performance of rookie Sam Mennenga. The young New Zealand prospect finished with an efficient 17 points and four rebounds.

Although, Cairns is near the bottom of the power rankings this week, once it gets its Armstrong, McCall, and Roberts back expect it to climb up the rankings.

Games this week: vs South East Melbourne, at Brisbane

10. Adelaide 36ers

Despite the dysfunctional pre-season, it had looked like the Adelaide 36ers had put that behind them in the first quarter against Brisbane. However, after scoring the first 15 points of the game, it all turned with the Bullets outscoring them for the rest of the game.

The 36ers were in the game against Melbourne United but several crucial moments in the final minutes of the fourth quarter cost them.

With two difficult games on the road this week against the Wildcats and the Kings, things could go from bad to worse for the 36ers.

Games this week: at Perth, at Sydney

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