NBL 2013/14: October Power Rankings

The month of October has come to an end, with some thrilling basketball and standout performances from the NBL’s opening month. The competition is wide open after three rounds, and while Perth look like the early favourite, the chasing pack is not far away after October.

*Ranking (Pre-Season Prediction)

1. (1) Perth Wildcats Record: 5-0

The ‘Cats sit firmly atop of our October Power Rankings, to absolutely no one’s surprise. The only undefeated team left in the comp are already light years ahead of the next best team in terms of their record. However, their record may look a little over-rated, as the Wildcats have had multiple close wins against Adelaide (3pts) and Melbourne (4pts).

James Ennis is leading the charge with an NBL high 24ppg, with Shawn Redhage providing that second go to player averaging 17.6ppg. The great news for Perth is that their other import Jermaine Beal hadn’t really shown his full repertoire until his stellar performance in Round 3 (24pts, 7asts v Syd & 19pts, 5ast v NZ).

The Wildcats earn themselves a well deserved break with a bye in Round 5 on the way. Championship favourites are well deserved, while if you’re a betting man, the $3 on offer for James Ennis to win the MVP is nearly giving money away.

2. (4) Cairns Taipans Record: 2-1

The Snakes opened their campaign with a strong showing against the Townsville Crocs in what was a brilliant Reptile Rumble, with the Taipans notching triple figures, the only team to achieve the feat all season.

Cairns are a well built squad this year, not relying on any one player. Between Alex Loughton, Cameron Gliddon, Cam Tragardh and Jamar Wilson, they have been able to lean on one another in their opening three games.

Their only loss was Round 3’s defeat to the Adelaide 36’ers at home, in which they controlled the contest. They couldn’t finish the job even though they had 14 more shots that their opponent.

While a back injury kept Gliddon out for their game against the 36’ers, it is only a matter of time since he returns to the line-up and a full strength squad is back in order.

A team to certainly look out for in the next month, as the team should have their eyes firmly on a playoff spot throughout the season.

3. (3) Adelaide 36ers Record: 3-2

The Sixers have had an up and down month which coincides with their 2-2 record. They started the season with an impressive display against heavy favourites Perth, falling just short at the line to lose by three points.

This was followed by a win in Wollongong, and a tough win in Cairns which they never looked likely.

Daniel Johnson has been a force inside for the Sixers, averaging 17.3ppg and 6.5rpg. Their size advantage trouble opposition coaches throughout the season, as Johnson combined with Anthony Petrie (7.8rpg) have caused major troubles.

Looking towards the next period for the Sixers, Gary Ervin is a player to look out for as he will really need to have both ends of the floor clicking in order for them to be a real threat. With games against Melbourne, New Zealand and Perth to come in November, the Sixers are going to need their ‘A’ game to be able to sit 3rd in next month’s Power Rankings.

4. (7) Sydney Kings Record: 1-2

The Kings have had an up and down start to the NBL season, with many thanks going to the undefeated Perth Wildcats.

In what was a nightmare of a fixture, the Kings faced the ‘Cats twice in the opening three rounds. They proceeded to lose, twice. Not ideal.

On a positive note, they knocked off the Tigers in round 1 at home which made the entire city happy that they had the early bragging rights over their major city rivals.

A.J. Ogilvy has been a great asset for Sydney, averaging 16.3ppg and 10.0rpg which has certainly caught many eyes across the nation. He has been accompanied by Brad Hill (11.7ppg, 7rpg) who has provided energy off the bench, which has been a great fit for coach Shane Heal.

The Kings face Townsville twice during November, which would point out as major opportunities to gain some momentum before having to face Perth once again on the 24th of Nov.

5. (8) Townsville Crocodiles Record: 1-2

Townsville have been quite inconsistent even though it is still very early on in the season. With a tough loss to Cairns which was sure to hurt many players in Round 1, the Crocs went out and knocked off defending champs New Zealand in what was a major upset.

Following this, they would have been disappointed that a loss against Wollongong occurred even though it was a tough night due to Wollongong’s historic evening.

The Crocs have been led by Josh Pace (16.3ppg) and Jacob Holmes (7.3rpg), filling up both ends of the floor while their offence has been going through Steven Markovic (4.7apg) much more than expected.

With a tough month ahead, facing the Breakers and Kings twice along with Melbourne once, they will be very keen to get off on the right foot with a win at home against Sydney.

6. (6) Melbourne Tigers Record: 1-2

Melbourne is looming to be a strong team in the NBL this season yet haven’t quite got off on the right foot. They suffered two tough losses to the Sydney Kings and Perth Wildcats which could have easily turned into wins if a couple of possessions went their way, which means that they could be sitting 3-0 with no worries.

However that hasn’t happened. With the Tigers getting on the board in round 3 against the 36’ers, their confidence should start to build and wins will follow. With a good roster on board, many teams will be surprised at how the Tigers go about their business this season and upsets are bound to occur.

Chris Goulding is currently the league’s second highest scorer averaging 23.5ppg, while Lucas Walker is providing all sorts of trouble for opponents on the glass averaging 8.3rpg as a forward.

The Tigers have a jam packed six games during November which includes trips to Cairns, Adelaide and New Zealand.

7. (2) New Zealand Breakers Record: 1-4

The three time reigning champs have yet to solidify their rock solid position at the top of the table which they have sat for the past few years. In fact, they’re currently sitting in second last with a record of 1-3.

While the negatives have been on the Win-Loss columns, new import Kerron Johnson has been a major positive, who is currently a massive smokie for the league’s MVP. Averaging 17.5ppg and 4.3apg through four games, he has been able to pick up the slack for his teammates.

The Breakers welcome back Gary Wilkinson who will be a huge addition in their quest to move up the power rankings for November. Wilkinson can provide both points and rebounds to a team in need of another scorer.

With a big month ahead, where they play Wollongong and Townsville away, then Adelaide, Townsville and Melbourne at home, the Breakers will want to pad a few more wins on the board before even thinking about challenging for another title after their disappointing start.

8. (5) Wollongong Hawks Record: 1-2

The Hawks were the worst starters to the season looking quite dull in their opener against the New Zealand Breakers, although we only realised how bad that actually was until NZ lost the rest of their games.

Led by Rotnei Clarke and Kevin Tiggs, Wollongong have struggled to keep pace with the competition despite their heartfelt four point win over Townsville on their 1000th game anniversary.

Clarke currently ranks third in the league in scoring averaging 18.3ppg. He has had the ball in his hands a lot more than any of his other teammates and the trend will look to continue throughout the season. He has been helped out by Larry Davidson who has been a beast on the glass this month averaging 8.7rpg.

Look for Tiggs to have more of an influence during the next period of games, while Clarke still handles the majority of scoring.

The Hawks face the Breakers at home in a game which they will feel they have a serious chance of winning, before taking off to face the Tigers in Melbourne. November gets harder from there having to play Perth, Cairns and Adelaide all in quick succession.