29/02/2024

Who rose and who fell in our Round 7 NBL Power Rankings? (Images: @MelbUnited; @NBL)

With the FIBA break on the horizon, several teams have separated themselves from the pack while one continues its rise.

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 8 of the 2023/24 season.

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1. Melbourne United

Record: 9-2, Previous Ranking: 1st

Despite entering the Throwdown under-manned, Melbourne still found a way to come away with the win. Chris Goulding (27 points) put on another masterclass, while Jo Lual-Acuil (26 points, 11 rebounds, and two blocks) won the battle against Alan Williams.

With three high-level players (Matthew Dellavedova, Ian Clark, and Luke Travers) missing United’s depth was tested and stood up in their absence. Flynn Cameron (14 points and eight rebounds) especially enjoyed the extended minutes, playing his best game for the season.

A top-of-the-table clash against Sydney sets up to be a mouth-watering contest.

Games this week: Vs Sydney

2. Sydney Kings

Record: 7-3, Previous Ranking: 2nd

Although Sydney isn’t playing at its best and is still figuring things out, it continues to find ways to get it done in the moments that matter.

The Kings are slowly clicking into gear as they continue to get reps into their integral pieces. D.J. Hogg continues to build and is getting better with every game he plays, while Jaylen Adams has stormed into MVP consideration.

The upside for the Kings is huge with Jaylin Galloway still to return and reintegrate into the lineup. Sydney is going to be scary once it puts everything together.

A trip to John Cain Arena is on the cards to face the ladder-leaders Melbourne United this weekend.

Games this week: At Melbourne

3. Tasmania JackJumpers

Record: 6-4, Previous Ranking: 3rd

Tasmania’s defensive consistency this season has been a topic of interest since it hasn’t been at the level we’ve seen in the past.

But the JackJumpers were back to their pestering best on Saturday against the 36ers, causing havoc, getting up and in and putting pressure on. Tasmania held Adelaide to 72 points, something Scott Roth would have been impressed with.

Something to monitor over the next couple of games is the shooting percentages of Jordon Crawford. After a hot start to the season, the dynamic point guard has cooled off in his last two games, shooting 27 per cent from the field (10/37).

The JackJumpers have won three of their last five games and sit third on the ladder, behind the Kings and United, and remain around the mark as one of the teams to look out for.

Games this week: Vs New Zealand; At Cairns

4. South East Melbourne Phoenix

Record: 6-5, Previous Ranking: 4th

Sunday afternoon was an opportunity for the Phoenix to stake their claim as a top-tier team against an injury-hit United outfit, but they failed and lost a game they shouldn’t have.

South East Melbourne has shown patches of brilliance throughout NBL24 so far but its consistency on defence continues to hold it back and Dean Vickerman and Melbourne United exploited it on the weekend.

The Phoenix had plenty of opportunity to win the game down the stretch, especially when United had rookies Flynn Cameron, Kyle Bowen and development player Cam Blogg all on the floor together and could not take advantage.

The Phoenix has a nice mix of superstars and role players and will most certainly be around the mark at the end of the season, but to put them in the top tier of teams next to the Kings and United, we need to see them do it consistently against the top sides.

Games this week: At Adelaide

5. Brisbane Bullets

Record: 5-6, Previous Ranking: 5th

There is still plenty to like about what this Brisbane Bullets squad can do, but they fell short again to the Kings.

Justin Schueller would have been disappointed with his side’s performance in the last three minutes when they were up by seven. Brisbane did not score again while Sydney went on a 15-0 run to finish as nine-point victors.

The ladder is so tight at the moment and every win is crucial, Brisbane needs to improve its late-game execution to give itself the best chance to make the playoffs for the first time since the 2018–19 season.

Josh Bannan (16 points and five rebounds) proved again that he is going to be a great player in this league, while Aron Baynes stood up in the second half after Tyrell Harrison went off with a suspected calf injury.

Games this week: Vs Perth

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6. Cairns Taipans

Record: 4-4, Previous Ranking: 7th

The Taipans continue to win as they await to have their team at full strength for the first time this season. It wasn’t pretty against Illawarra, but Cairns found a way in the second half to run out with a 10-point victory.

Adam Forde would have been impressed with his team’s intensity on the defensive end, holding the Hawks to 71 points in total and under 20 points in three quarters.

The Snakes were without Patrick Miller (back) and Next Star Bobi Klintman (hip complaint) against the Hawks. Coach Forde will get back for the impactful duo and will have his entire roster at his disposal for the first time ahead of clashes against Perth and Tasmania.

Games this week: At Perth; Vs Tasmania

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7. Perth Wildcats

Record: 5-5, Previous Ranking: 8th

Perth is starting to steady the ship after its shaky start to the season and backed up its victories last week over Adelaide and Melbourne.

It’s still early, but Hyrum Harris in the starting lineup has had a major impact on the Wildcats on both ends of the floor with his hustle and ability to find his teammates offensively.

Keanu Pinder (21 points and six rebounds) and Bryce Cotton (37 points) were massive and helped Perth control the game from start to finish against the Breakers.

The Wildcats have another chance to continue their impressive form this weekend against the Taipans and Bullets.

Games this week: Vs Cairns; At Brisbane

8. New Zealand Breakers

Record: 2-6, Previous Ranking: 6th

The Breakers have gotten themselves into a big hole after losing against the Wildcats, falling to 2-6 and currently find themselves second last.

We know New Zealand is shorthanded which has seen Mody Moar resort to different schemes defensively. The Breakers played a zone on the weekend and it didn’t work as the Wildcats piled on the points.

Not only have its defensive struggles continued, but New Zealand are now having concerns offensively. Anthony Lamb had another impressive performance against Perth as did Parker Jackson-Cartwright, but outside of those two, it was a struggle.

The Breakers don’t have much room to make many mistakes if they want to turn their season around and it doesn’t get any easier with clashes against Tasmania and Illawarra to come..

Games this week: At Tasmania; Vs Illawarra

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9. Adelaide 36ers

Record: 3-7, Previous Ranking: 9th

It was going to be tough for Adelaide to cause an upset and challenge Tasmania without Trey Kell in the lineup and it desperately missed his scoring punch.

The 36ers could only muster 72 points against a stingy JackJumpers outfit, with only two players scoring above double digits (Isaac Humphries and Dejan Vasiljevic).

Adelaide will be looking to spoil former club legend Daniel Johnson’s return to the Adelaide Entertainment Centre when it hosts South East Melbourne on Friday night.

Games this week: Vs South East Melbourne

10. Illawarra Hawks

Record: 2-7, Previous Ranking: 10th

The Hawks’ season went from bad to worse on Tuesday morning after they fired head coach Jacob Jackomas effective immediately after a poor start to NBL24 and a challenging campaign last season.

Current assistant Justin Tatum will take over as interim head coach while the team searches for a replacement.

Despite changing the starting five by inserting Hyunjung Lee and moving Tyler Harvey to the bench, Illawarra struggled again against a Cairns outfit missing Patrick Miller and Bobi Klintman.

Sam Froling (18-point double-double) tried his best to keep the Hawks within touching distance in the first half, but his impact faded in the second half due to limited touches.

It will be interesting to see what we get from the Hawks over the next few weeks.

Games this week: At Brisbane

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