The Inner Sanctum’s NBL Power Rankings for Round 5 have dropped, find out which teams rose and which fell.
These NBL Power Rankings are based 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.
Here are The Inner Sanctum’s NBL Power Rankings ahead of Round 6 of the 2023/24 season.
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1. Melbourne United
Record: 8-1, Previous Ranking: 1st
Melbourne continued to prove that it is the team to beat in NBL24 after taking down Tasmania and Illawarra.
United is far and away the best defence in the NBL. But the scary thing is offensively they can still improve as they continue to re-integrate Jo Lual-Acuil back into the fold.
Despite being undermanned against Illawarra, Melbourne still got the job done convincingly, which is a scary sight for the opposing nine teams once it’s fully healthy.
Games this week: Vs PerthEmbed from Getty Images
2. Tasmania JackJumpers
Record: 4-4, Previous Ranking: 2nd
The JackJumpers took a backward step after losing to United and the Bullets.
Tasmania hasn’t been as good defensively so far this season as in previous seasons, and a lot of that has been because Marcus Lee can’t stay out of foul trouble and Will Magnay is still recovering from injury.
The JackJumpers remain high in the rankings because I still believe that Scott Roth can address and fix this particular issue but they will need to improve defensively to make them a true contender.
Games this week: Vs Bullets
3. South East Melbourne Phoenix
Record: 5-3, Previous Ranking: 5th
South East Melbourne extended its win streak to four games on the weekend. Yes, you can argue that the Phoenix should have won all those games, but you can only play whoever you’re presented with.
Alan Williams has been incredible in his first three games back from injury and has announced himself as part of MVP discussion, averaging 19 points and 10.7 rebounds.
The Phoenix are flowing nicely on offence and are still finding their way defensively. If it can continue to fine-tune its work on the defensive end and stay healthy, South East Melbourne could be a scary proposition the longer the season goes on.
Games this week: At Brisbane; Vs CairnsEmbed from Getty Images
4. Sydney Kings
Record: 4-3, Previous Ranking: 3rd
At the beginning of the season, Sydney was scoring for fun but that wasn’t the case on Saturday night against Cairns as it shot 34 per cent from the field and 23 per cent from the three-point range.
How the offence functions if the threes aren’t falling and if Mahmoud Abdelfattah has a plan B in case that happens again will be something to monitor across the next stretch of games.
There is no reason to panic yet as the Kings haven’t had much consistency game to game with players going in and out of the lineup with injury and as they continue to familiarise themselves under Abdelfattah’s system.
Games this week: At Illawarra; Vs New Zealand
5. Cairns Taipans
Record: 3-2, Previous Ranking: 6th
The undermanned Taipans were a little rusty as they reaccustomed themselves back into the swing of NBL action.
Cairns came out sluggish against Illawarra and was made to pay for it, but it was able to shake that loss off, claiming the scalp of Sydney.
However, the Taipans’ win was marred by a nasty back injury to import guard Patrick Miller who has had a fantastic start to the season. The Snakes could be without him for their two-game road trip this weekend, but the likely returns of Tahjere McCall and Taran Armstrong to the lineup should soften the blow.
Games this week: At New Zealand; At South East Melbourne
6. Brisbane Bullets
Record: 4-4, Previous Ranking: 7th
It looked all doom and gloom going into the weekend on a four-game losing streak but the Bullets were able to snap that, picking up two massive wins against the Wildcats and the JackJumpers to fortify themselves back to .500.
Last week we discussed how Brisbane struggled offensively and that Justin Schuller needed more scoring options to help Nathan Sobey carry the offensive load, and Brisbane got exactly that.
Across their two games, the Bullets got strong contributions from Josh Bannan, Tyrell Harrison, Isaac White, and Chris Smith.
With Aron Baynes set to return from his suspension this weekend against the Phoenix, the team from the River City will hope to continue their good fortunes.
Games this week: Vs South East Melbourne; At TasmaniaEmbed from Getty Images
7. New Zealand Breakers
Record: 1-4, Previous Ranking: 4th
It wasn’t a good weekend for the Breakers.
Not only did they sink to the bottom of the NBL ladder after their two losses, but they will be without import Zylan Cheatham for the next six to eight weeks after he sustained a foot fracture against the 36ers.
Size was already an issue for New Zealand and it is currently looking for an injury replacement for Cheatham. But in the meantime, the Breakers will need Dane Pineau and Mangok Mathiang to step up.
Under Mody Maor, the Breakers have built their identity on being an elite defensive team, but this season we have seen them at their best on that side of the floor. The Breakers aren’t closing out defensive possessions and are sending their opposition to the free-throw line too frequently.
New Zealand currently has the second-lowest defensive rebound percentage (68 per cent) and one of the poorest defensive ratings, giving up 120.2 points per 100 possessions (via SpatialJam).
Against South East Melbourne, New Zealand found itself down by 26 points and the game looked out of sight, but the Breakers found a way to get some stops and some buckets to make the Phoenix earn the victory.
It would have been one of the greatest comebacks, but it might just give Mody Maor some ideas on how to deal with the absence of Cheatham.
Games this week: Vs Cairns; At Sydney
8. Adelaide 36ers
Record: 3-5, Previous Ranking: 9th
The wheel is starting to turn in Adelaide after defeating New Zealand on the road.
With the addition of Dejan Vasiljevic and Isaac Humphries continuing his good start to the season, the 36ers’ offence is on the climb.
However, turnovers continue to be an issue for Adelaide as it conceded another 23 against New Zealand.
With a trip to Perth to face the struggling Wildcats, the 36ers have a good chance to draw closer to .500 this weekend.
Games this week: At Perth
9. Illawarra Hawks
Record: 2-5, Previous Ranking: 10th
Illawarra’s performance across its double-game weekend should make its fans optimistic about the team’s future as it leapt off the bottom of the power rankings.
After three straight losses, the Hawks got a hold of the Taipans thanks to a game-winning shot from Tyler Harvey before taking it up to ladder leaders Melbourne United.
Illawarra across the two games saw strong performances from its import trio (Tyler Harvey, Justin Robinson, and Gary Clark) and will be hoping that they can continue to fire together, cause when they do, the team looks good.
Games this week: Vs Sydney
Record: 2-5, Previous Ranking: 8th
It was a disastrous weekend for Perth as pressure continues to mount on John Rillie.
After their loss to an undermanned Bullets outfit who were without two starters (Aron Baynes and Shannon Scott), the Wildcats have now lost four in a row and there is a lot of discourse among the Red Army.
There’s still time for Perth to turn its season around and there is too much talent on this roster for it not to, but something needs to change urgently.
Things don’t get any easier this week either as the Wildcats host a must-win game against the 36ers before travelling to Melbourne to face United.
Games this week: Vs Adelaide; At MelbourneEmbed from Getty Images