The Inner Sanctum’s NBL Power Rankings have dropped for Round 3, with the Perth Wildcats sliding down the ranks while the Phoenix begin their rise.
These NBL Power Rankings are predicated 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.
This is the Inner Sanctum’s NBL Power Rankings ahead of Round 4 of the 2023/24 season.
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1. Melbourne United
Record: 4-1, Previous Ranking: 1st
It was another good weekend for Melbourne United as they bypassed the Perth Wildcats and Brisbane Bullets.
The unfortunate news is that they could be without Matthew Dellavedova after the 33-year-old sustained a concussion against Brisbane after he attempted to take a charge before being accidentally landed on while he was on the ground.
The NBA veteran has had a prior history with concussion so United will certainly take a no-risk approach.
Melbourne has the depth to cover Delly, so expect Shea Ili and Ian Clark to see more minutes.
Games this week: At Illawarra, vs New Zealand
2. Sydney Kings
Record: 4-1, Previous Ranking: 2nd
The Kings continued their hot start to NBL24 with two wins across Round Three against the Bullets and the Wildcats.
Jonah Bolden looks to have adjusted quickly and has looked spectacular in the last two weeks, especially in Round Three, finishing both games with double-doubles.
Former MVP Jaylen Adams also looks to have settled back into rhythm after a slow start to the season due to a lack of playing time in the preseason.
Games this week: Vs Tasmania
3. Tasmania JackJumpers
Record: 3-2, Previous Ranking: 3rd
Saturday was a minor setback but nothing to worry about as the JackJumpers were beaten by the Phoenix.
Milton Doyle was well held and was unable to replicate his fourth-quarter magic, but import Jordon Crawford did everything in his power to drag Tasmania over the line, finishing 27 points.
The JackJumpers will have a chance to get back on the winners’ board when they host the Kings.
Games this week: At Sydney
4. New Zealand Breakers
Record: 1-1, Previous Ranking: 4th
The New Zealand Breakers remain in fourth despite playing no games this past round as they continued their NBA trip.
Despite only finishing their NBAxNBL experience on Tuesday, the Breakers don’t have to wait long to get back into the normal swing of the NBL season as they prepare to face Melbourne United at John Cain Arena on Sunday.
Games this week: At Melbourne
5. Cairns Taipans
Record: 2-1, Previous Ranking: 6th
The Cairns Taipans didn’t play this round as they were in the US and have only moved up because of Perth’s disappointing results from the weekend.
We won’t see the Taipans in action until Round Five so don’t expect them to remain in this spot next week if teams below them perform.
Games this week: None
6. South East Melbourne Phoenix
Record: 2-3, Previous Ranking: 9th
Mike Kelly’s men were fantastic on Saturday as they got over the line against the Tasmania JackJumpers. Despite their impressive display, the Phoenix were lucky as Majok Deng missed an opportunity to tie the game.
Coming into this season, it was all about improving defensively, so they recruited pieces to help that, adding players like Matt Kenyon and Gorjok Gak. The defensive duo were on full display on the weekend, wreaking havoc and blowing up the JackJumpers’ sets.
It’s still early in the season, but the Phoenix have shown glimpses of improvement on the defensive end, it’s now about doing it consistently.
With Alan Williams likely to make his return against Adelaide, South East Melbourne will hope that the win against Tasmania can kickstart its season.
Games this week: At Adelaide, vs Brisbane
7. Perth Wildcats
Record: 2-3, Previous Ranking: 5th
The Perth Wildcats were outplayed in both of their encounters across the weekend against Melbourne United and the Sydney Kings.
Perth’s issues defensively from last season have carried across to NBL24 and the Red Army is growing tiresome.
The Wildcats have had some nice defensive moments, but have struggled to chain several defensive possessions together consistently, and securing rebounds to close possessions hasn’t helped either.
When you look at their roster on paper it’s staggering to think that Perth could struggle so badly at rebounding the ball.
Games this week: At Adelaide
8. Brisbane Bullets
Record: 2-3, Previous Ranking: 7th
The Bullets were without marquee big man Aron Baynes as he began his five-game suspension across the weekend as the team from the River City fell in both of their games.
Throughout the first three rounds, Brisbane has held its own defensively, but without Baynes to help anchor the interior, not only did it its highest score against this season, allowing Sydney to score 113 points, but the Bullets allowed 68 points in the paint across their two games.
On Sunday, the Bullets struggled on both ends, unable to contain United offensively and were restricted by United’s impenetrable defence.
They did show fight in the last quarter when they could have easily given up which arguably could have been said in past seasons but is a good sign of the cultural rest under Justin Schueller
Games this week: At South East Melbourne
9. Adelaide 36ers
Record: 1-4, Previous Ranking: 10th
Adelaide broke through for its first win in NBL24, and it was the Trentyn Flowers’ show on Sunday afternoon against Illawarra.
After a rough start to the season, the 18-year-old broke out in front of a home crowd at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre, finishing with 23 points (18 in the last quarter).
Despite the win, there are still areas the 36ers will need to clean up, and taking care of the ball is one of them. Against the Hawks, the 36ers turned the ball over 17 times and coughed up 22 points off them.
The 36ers have signed former Sydney King Dejan Vasiljevic to their roster for the remainder of the season and will add some much-needed offensive firepower and will make his 36ers debut on Thursday night against the Phoenix.
CJ Bruton will hope the momentum continues this weekend in their home double-header against the Phoenix and the Wildcats.
Games this week: Vs South East Melbourne, Vs Perth
10. Illawarra Hawks
Record: 1-3, Previous Ranking: 8th
It was a horror weekend for Illawarra after being blown out by Tasmania and then losing to the then-winless Adelaide
Much of the pre-season hype saw many fans think the Hawks could be this season’s surprise packet, but couldn’t be further in the rear-view mirror.
The big area of concern that Illawarra must improve on is its defence. On the weekend, the Hawks allowed the JackJumpers to score at will, leaving players wide open, especially on the perimeter.
The Hawks have struggled to contain opposing teams to under 100 points and currently have the worst defensive rating in the league, conceding 121.5 points per 100 possessions while their opponents average a true shooting percentage of 63 per cent (via SpatialJam).
It’s going to be another long season for the fans in the Gong if changes aren’t made and improvements are shown.
Games this week: Vs Melbourne