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NBL 2014/15 Power Rankings: December
At the end of each and every month of the NBL season, #TeamPnR’s NBL writers will sit down and explore a range of factors and end up with a list going 1 through 8 which ranks every team in the competition. At the end of December, the results are as follows:
1. New Zealand Breakers (13-5)
Last Month: 1st
This Month: 4-2
Back to back monthly power ranking leaders means that the New Zealand Breakers have been travelling along nicely this NBL season.
Despite their one humiliating loss at the hands of the Cairns Taipans, it was simply seen as a small hiccup on their path to another finals appearance.
Their core are once again leading the charge, as Cedric Jackson leads the league in assists per game (5.61), while Mika Vukona, Tom Abercrombie and Corey Webster are all primed for a big New Year.
Additions to the squad this season have been their key advantages, with both Ekene Ibekwe and sharp shooting Rhys Carter providing invaluable experience in international competitions and the NBL.
2. Perth Wildcats (12-5)
Last Month: 3rd
This Month: 4-2
Once again the Wildcats are bound for yet another NBL Playoff appearance with the team from the West casually cruising through a tough NBL schedule.
While the team are facing improving competition this year and the number in the loss column is still able to tick over, Perth continues to be one of the benchmarks in the Australian league.
The selection of Jermaine Beal, DeAndre Daniels and man of the moment Drake U’U adding to the already star studded Damian Martin, Shawn Redhage and Matt Knight gives coach Trevor Gleeson an arsenal of attack heading into the post-season. Not to mention the club is still waiting for the return of Greg Hire!
3. Cairns Taipans (12-6)
Last Month: 4th
This Month: 4-2
While Scottie Wilbekin may have slowed down his incredible output since the season opening, the Taipans have yet to crack since their wonderful 6-0 start to the year.
Genuine contributors such as Cameron Gliddon and Cameron Tragardh have kept the ship steady, while Alex Loughton and Matt Burston are poised for a big month ahead.
For the Snakes it is a matter of keeping up their consistency for the duration of the season if they are to match it with the big guns in hope of keeping their top two position. Stephen Weigh and Scottie Wilbekin hold the key for the run home; if both are fit and firing, the Snakepit will not be a nice place to visit.
4. Melbourne United (9-8)
Last Month: 2nd
This Month: 3-3
An up and down December for Darryl McDonald and co. as the Melbourne United Basketball Club have faced their toughest stretch of the season.
With a big win coming against the Perth Wildcats followed by Wollongong and Sydney both in overtime, was separated between losses against the Sixers and then another overtime thriller against the ‘Cats.
While the boys in blue will probably take a .500 month knowing the calendar they had, it’s now make or break time as they look to make their mark on the competition as they head towards their maiden playoff berth.
5. Adelaide 36ers (7-10)
Last Month: 7th
This Month: 4-3
Quite possibly the team of the month: The Adelaide 36ers may not have the prettiest record; however they certainly have shown vast improvement over the past 31 days.
Despite missing Adam Gibson and Jamar Wilson for some of their games (although never missed together), it may have actually been a blessing in disguise.
With rumours circling the Sixers about chemistry issues between the two guards, when each of them have played without the other they have seemed to have had breakout games.
Wilson is currently third in the league in points per game at 18.15, while Gibson is second in assists per game with 4.87. Both players have their disadvantages and this is where the team will come together as a whole to really make a push in the final stretch of the season.
One of the major players to watch next month: Brock Motum!
6. Sydney Kings (7-9)
Last Month: 5th
This Month: 2-4
A three game absence from star import Josh Childress halted the Kings push for playoff supremacy at the end of December when ‘Chilly’ may have exaggerated his hamstring celebrating one of his many big plays down the stretch in the game against the Perth Wildcats.
From there the Kings lost an overtime thriller in Melbourne, followed by a home loss to the Breakers on Boxing Day. The writing is now on the wall after another loss on New Year's Eve to the struggling Townsville Crocodiles, in which they went down by a solitary point.
With the injury came time for Sydney’s role players to step up. Jason Cadee and Josh Duinker were the two main candidates who flourished. Cadee’s 21 points against Melbourne United the evidence of how the Kings can still click without their main man.
7. Townsville Crocodiles (6-11)
Last Month: 6th
This Month: 2-4
The Crocs aren’t the worst team in the NBL...well, yet. With just the five wins on the board, Townsville have been a letdown this season, failing to improve on last season despite the off-season additions.
Mickell Gladness is arguably the definition of import disappointment this year, with the big man failing to make the impact Townsville fans were expecting.
Brian Conklin seems to be playing a lone hand in green, although a couple of potential shining lights have been found in both Clint Steindl and Leon Henry, both recycled players (Cairns & New Zealand).
8. Wollongong Hawks (3-15)
Last Month: 8th
This Month: 1-4
Talk about a train wreck.
Where do you start with the Wollongong Hawks? Right now, they are making up the numbers in the NBL; because, why would you want a league with seven teams?
December’s positive has been the resurgence of Gary Ervin. The former MVP has found the form which led him to the award with back to back weeks of brilliance. 31 points and eight assists in an overtime loss to Melbourne was backed up by a 24 point, five rebound performance against the Cairns Taipans.
Where to now for the Hawks, especially when you have a depleted bench consisting of out-of-form players Jahii Carson, Brad Hill and Adam Ballinger, plus limited minutes from Luke Nevill.
Hopefully their most recent stint against the Perth Wildcats on New Year's Eve is something to look forward to, with the Hawks putting in a much more energised performance which included a nice spark from the bench.