01/03/2024

Amy Atwell in action for the Perth Lynx (Photo: WNBL/X)

The third edition of The Inner Sanctum’s WNBL Power Rankings for season 2023/24 has dropped, presented by Inner Sanctum contributors Elly McNerney and Lauren Rosenberg. 

These WNBL 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 WNBL Power Rankings ahead of Round 3 of the 2023/24 season.

1. Perth Lynx 

Record: 3-0, Previous week: 1st 

The Perth Lynx are continuing their strong start to the season with a win over the Bendigo Spirit. It was a close encounter between both sides, but the Lynx were just too strong, taking the win by ten points. 

Aari McDonald once again is making a case for the league MVP, even if it’s just round three. The Atlanta Dream star was once again front and centre, scoring 34 points while having three assists and six rebounds.

Alongside McDonald, Skipper Anneli Maley was strong in her first game against her old side, especially defensively, with the Lynx Captain gaining 14 rebounds (12 of which were defensive rebounds). The Lynx dominated when it came to fast breaks, scoring 20 points on a fast break. The Lynx were also great at backing up in the attacking key, scoring 12 second-chance points.

Game this week: Southside Flyers, Townsville Fire

2. Melbourne Boomers 

Record: 4-0, Previous week ranking: 2nd 

The Melbourne Boomers fought a hard game against the Bendigo Spirit who came out of the gates running. The Boomers suffered from a multitude of turnovers, poor shooting execution, and lack of defensive ability causing the Spirit to have a great handle of the game. 

A 9-0 run by the Boomers to start the fourth quarter gave them their first lead of the game at 63-62. A trade-off of baskets by each team led to a nail-biter, eventually leading to one of the greatest comebacks of this WNBL season. 

Los Angeles Sparks import guard Jordin Canada sparked the Boomers fourth-quarter run and nearly recorded a triple-double with 26 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists. 

Game this week: UC Capitals 

3. Townsville Fire 

Record: 2-1:  Previous week ranking: 4th. 

The Townsville Fire faced off against the winless but scrappy UC Capitals who don’t back down from a fight. The Fire relied on experience and offensive execution to slow down the young Capitals squad yearning for their first win. 

The Capitals kept the Fire on their toes for the first period, but Townsville’s offence and shooting would ultimately enable them to persevere. Alice Kunek exploded for 27 points with Sami Whitcomb contributing 16 points and seven rebounds in the 85-73 win.  

Game this week: Adelaide Lightning, Perth Lynx

4.  Southside Flyers 

Record: 2-2  Previous week ranking: 3rd

It was a disappointing result for the Southside Flyers, after having a strong performance in round two. The side went down to the up-and-coming side in Adelaide Lightning by 11 points over in South Australia. 

The Flyers weren’t able to get a consistent rhythm going in their game, with not many three-pointers sinking for them, and ending the game with only a 9.5 per cent success rate beyond the arc. The match saw Bec Cole return from a back injury sustained in the club’s win against the Capitals last Wednesday.  

Only two Flyers players reached double figures when it came to scoring with Cole being one with 11, whilst import Mercedes Russell was best on for the Flyers with 14 points. Russell was also strong on the rebound, recording 17 for the match, 12 of which were defensive. 

Game this week: Perth Lynx

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5.   Adelaide Lightning 

Record: 1-2, Previous week ranking: 5th

There’s not much more to say than Isobel Borlase is a gun. At the age of just 19, it’s a scary thought for the rest of the competition that she hasn’t reached her best basketball yet. Borlase led from the front in what was a strong performance against the Southside Flyers, scoring 25 points to go with her three assists and six rebounds. 

Like Perth, Adelaide was strong off the fast break scoring 22 points to the Southside Flyers eight. They were also able to limit the likes of Bec Cole (11 points) and Maddi Rocci (seven points) to rack up the points with no Southside player scoring over 15 points. This is a credit to the pressure that the Lightning were able to create in defence. 

Game this week: Townsville Fire 

6. Sydney Flames 

Record- 2-2, Previous week ranking: 6th

The Sydney Flames recorded their second win of the season in what was a tight five-point victory over the UC Capitals as the team still looks to find their groove under new coach Guy Molloy. 

One of the most impressive things about the Flames is their depth, with the bench players scoring 42 points in total when they were injected into the contest. Lauren Nicholson is continuing to dominate in her new colours, scoring 25 points along with three rebounds and three assists. 

Import player Didi Richards is starting to find her groove in the league as she finds cohesion and connection with the rest of the team is strengthening. Richards scored 18 points for the Flames, along with two assists and ten rebounds.

Game This Week: Bendigo Spirit

7. UC Capitals 

Record: 0-4 Previous weeks ranking: 7th

The young and rebuilding UC Capitals haven’t won a game yet but have shown exemplary fight against their opponents thus far. This past round, they narrowly lost 86-81 to the Flames and lost 85-73 to the Fire. 

This scrappy team showed more grit from a winless team which ultimately allowed them to fight in their two matchups. Jade Melbourne continues to shine this season. Against the Flames, she recorded 31 points, seven rebounds, and seven assists and Japanese import Monica Okoye contributed 17 points. Against the Fire, Melbourne showed off her ball-sharing with a double-double of 14 points and 15 assists. 

Game this week: Melbourne Boomers 

8.  Bendigo Spirit 

Record: 0-4, Previous week ranking: 8th

For the majority of the Bendigo Spirits’ game against the Melbourne Boomers, it seemed like an upset was brewing. They led 41-27 heading into half-time and possessed all the momentum in enemy territory. 

The Spirit still held heavy momentum entering the fourth quarter with a healthy 62-50 lead. Turnovers and defensive mishaps galore led to the Boomers 76-74 win. 

In her return, Kelsey Griffin exploded for a career-high 33 points in 30 minutes of floor time. Ruth Davis also played a solid game as well, contributing 14 points and eight rebounds. 

Game This Week: Sydney Flames

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