21/02/2024

Who rose and who fell in our Round 11 NBL Power Rankings? (Images: @SEMelbPhoenix ; @PerthWildcats)

We’re now at the midway point of NBL24 and we’ve seen enough of a sample size to know where teams stand and the battle for a finals/play-in spot is well and truly on.

These Power Rankings are based on 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.

Despite no article last week, here were my rankings for Round 11 for reference.

With that in mind, here are this week’s power rankings ahead of Round 12.

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1. Melbourne United

Record: 13-3, Previous Ranking: 1st

Melbourne continued to flex its muscles over the weekend, handling South East Melbourne comfortably before bypassing a spirited Adelaide outfit.

Melbourne’s offence is running as smoothly and balanced as it has been this season and has seen it score 100 or more points in its last five games.

Their clash against the Perth Wildcats on Saturday is set to be one of the games of the round as the two collide in the Open Air game.

Games this week: Vs Perth

2. Perth Wildcats

Record: 9-6, Previous Ranking: 3rd

This week, Perth jumps up in the rankings after its thrilling come-from-behind performance against Tasmania.

Jordon Crawford threatened to blow the game open for the JackJumpers when he hit consecutive threes, but the Wildcats responded with the last six points to cut the deficit to three heading into the last change.

Bryce Cotton (28 points) was huge in the dying moments, scoring Perth’s last five points to drag his side over the line to secure a massive victory to keep it within touch of a top-two spot.

Tai Webster was massive in the latter stages, highlighting his importance to this Wildcats’ squad.

The Wildcats will hope they can continue their winning ways as they travel to Melbourne to face United before going to Cairns to play the up-and-down Taipans.

Games this week: @ Melbourne, @ Cairns

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3. Sydney Kings

Record: 9-6, Previous Ranking: 5th

The discussion heading in the Kings’ clash against the JackJumpers was about their poor defensive ranking. Sydney came out with a point to prove on the defensive end, holding Tasmania (who went into the game as a top-two offence) to nine points in the second quarter.

Although it was only one game, if the Kings can continue to tighten their leaky defence, it will go a long way to getting them to another Finals appearance.

Wing Jaylin Galloway continued his breakout season with another eye-catching performance, finishing with 22 points. The sky is the limit for the 21-year-old due to his capabilities on both ends of the court, catching the eyes of those overseas.

Sydney sits among the teams vying for a top-two finish and will have its eyes set on ensuring its good form continues this weekend against New Zealand and local rivals Illawarra.

Games this week: @ New Zealand, vs Illawarra

4. Tasmania JackJumpers

Record: 9-7, Previous Ranking: 2nd

It was a minor blimp for the team across Bass Strait as they let two games slip against fellow top-four contenders, the Wildcats and the Kings.

Tasmania would have been disappointed to allow Perth back into the game after leading by 16 points in the second quarter. Then the loss to Sydney could be put down as a schedule loss, but the JackJumpers are too proud to use that as an excuse.

Will Magnay’s form since his return continues to increase and should probably be starting soon if his conditioning allows it. His production is becoming too hard to ignore, especially after another spectacular game that saw him finish with 17 points, 10 rebounds, and four blocks in 19 minutes against the Wildcats.

There’s nothing to be worried about with the JackJumpers. They’re still up there as title contenders, but it will be interesting to see how they bounce back this weekend.

Games this week: @ Illawarra, vs South East Melbourne

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5. Illawarra Hawks

Record: 5-8, Previous Ranking: 8th

Whatever Justin Tatum is doing, it’s working with Illawarra winning back-to-back games and three from his four games as interim head coach.

The Hawks have a clear defensive identity and have improved on the offensive end under Tatum. Under Jacob Jackomas, the Hawks were 10th in offensive and defensive ratings, compared to second and first under Tatum’s tenure.

Since the coaching change, Illawarra’s key figures Sam Froling, Justin Robinson, Tyler Harvey, and Gary Clark have started to string together consistent performances.

Harvey has been back to his brilliant best in the last few weeks, especially against South East Melbourne, where he finished with 25 points (22 of which came in the first half).

Despite their poor start to the season, a play-in spot isn’t out of the question, but the high-flying Hawks and Tatum will face their biggest test this weekend, facing top four placeholders, the JackJumpers and rivals, the Kings.

Games this week: Vs Tasmania, @ Sydney

6. Cairns Taipans

Record: 7-9, Previous Ranking: 6th

It was another mixed weekend for Cairns as it split its two games across Round 11.

Adam Forde continues to move the pieces around with his rotation while he finds a consistent group that plays the way he wants.

Tahjere McCall is doing everything he can for the Snakes, playing at an All-NBL level in the past few weeks. In his last five games, the 29-year-old is averaging 17.6 points, seven assists, and three steals. McCall is also taking extra care with the basketball – something he hasn’t been known for in his tenure in the NBL.

Cairns was the second-highest defensively rated team in the competition a couple of weeks ago, but it has been shaky recently, coughing up over 100 points four times.

Games this week: Vs South East Melbourne, vs Perth

7. Brisbane Bullets

Record: 7-9, Previous Ranking: 7th

The Bullets have lost two of their last five, and the ship looks to be leaving Brisbane Island.

Brisbane was disappointing in the first quarter against Cairns, allowing it to get whatever it wanted offensively, conceding 35 points. However, the Bullets won the remaining three quarters to give themself a chance to snatch victory.

Next Star Rocco Zikarsky shifted the momentum when he was inserted into the game in the third quarter and got his side back into the contest off the back four blocks.

The Bullets will be without DJ Mitchell for the rest of NBL24 with a hip injury but have signed multiple-time NBL champion Casey Prather as an injury replacement.

The signing does come with some risk as the 32-year-old is coming off little basketball due to injury over the past two years due to back-to-back season-ending knee injuries.

Prather will be a massive injection to a Brisbane team that has struggled offensively outside of Nathan Sobey. In the 2020–21 season, the 196cm forward was named MVP, averaging 22.5 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game.

Games this week: @ Adelaide, vs New Zealand

8. New Zealand Breakers

Record: 5-9, Previous Ranking: 9th

New Zealand’s enigmatic season continues after a dominant performance against Cairns.

The Breakers offensively have been sluggish throughout the season so far, but it was a stunning offensive outburst as they took the game away from the Snakes early.

Anthony Lamb (29 points and eight rebounds) and Parker Jackson-Cartwright (20 points and eight assists) have continued to carry the offensive workload.

It was awesome to see a breakout game from Mantas Rubštavičius. The Lithuanian Next Star has built nicely into NBL24 after he missed the start of the season and exploded for 21 points, eight rebounds, three assists, and a steal in 28 minutes in his first NBL start.

Mody Moar is slowly getting his injured troops back, with the team activating Zylan Cheatham last week despite no playing time and Will McDowell-White set to return against Sydney. However, the Breakers will be without Finn Delany for four to six weeks with a calf injury.

The Breakers have the talent on the roster to make a push and do some damage in the post-season. They need some luck on the injury front on the way there since they’ve had none so far.

Games this week: Vs Sydney, @ Brisbane

9. South East Melbourne Phoenix

Record: 8-8, Previous Ranking: 4th

It was a horror round for the Phoenix as they suffered two massive losses at the hands of United and the Hawks.

The South East Melbourne rollercoaster continues as it hovers around .500, but could be set for some short-term pain as it will be without star Mitch Creek for the next few games.

The Phoenix struggled to put points on the board against Illawarra without Creek and will need Gary Browne to step up massively to help Alan Williams keep the scoreboard ticking.

The clash against the Hawks was the Phoenix’s new import Abdel Nader’s first game for the club and looked good in spots.

With games against Cairns and Tasmania on the cards, it will be tough for South East Melbourne this week.

Games this week: @ Cairns, @ Tasmania

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10. Adelaide 36ers

Record: 4-11, Previous Ranking: 10th

It was a plucky effort from Adelaide to push Melbourne to the brink in Scott Ninnis’ second game as interim head coach.

After a poor first half, the 36ers came to life in the second half off the back of DJ Vasiljevic (23 points – scored 15 in the second half, including 10 in the last quarter) and Trey Kell (22 points).

Despite losing its last two games, Adelaide has looked more competitive but remains a step behind the other teams in the league. It will need to improve defensively, especially after conceding 100 or more points in its last two games.

Games this week: Vs Brisbane

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