What a season that was. It was the closest on record, the play was spectacular, and the attendance and viewer numbers were through the roof. We had returning Boomers, guys from the NBA and story after story that kept people coming back for more. Sydney’s rise and then fall, Adelaide’s rise and then rise again and the crazy Cedric Jackson saga that gave way to Casper Ware’s barnstorming of the league.
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves because this is the power rankings and there was one round left in the season, and like always it was a doozy. The final four wasn’t finished until the very last drop of the competition was wrung out. If this is the entrée to the main playoff course, then let out that tracksuit pant waistband, because there’s much more to come.
Question of the Week
Who do you have to win the NBL championship?
Points per game: 92.2 (1); points against per game: 89.5 (8); net: +2.7 (1)
The four losses to end the season should come with an asterisk as no team in the history of the world would continue at 100% after the minor premiership was sewn up. If they come out flat in the playoffs, then different story but losing the last quarter to Cairns without their big three should come at no surprise.
A huge shout out to the Sixers who practically won every single award that was given out on Monday night. Each and every winner deserves what they received, so hopefully, it propels them to their first title since 2002.
Points per game: 88.8 (2); points against per game: 87.3 (7); net: +1.5 (2)
How unfortunate are the Hawks that after being in the second position on the ladder for six of the past eight weeks, and then dropping Brisbane by 27 points they get shafted into the fourth spot and a date with the Sixers? 52% from the field is crazy by anyone’s standards, and they did it all with Marvelle Harris laying a goose egg (zero points). Rotnei Clarke was spectacular as usual with 24 points, six assists, and five rebounds and was one of the most obvious award winners in recent memory, romping in the sixth man award with daylight between him and second place.
Points per game: 81.9 (7); points against per game: 80.6 (1); net: +1.3 (3)
The playoff train keeps on rolling. Only by half a hair on a Wildcat’s head. To win in such a fashion just goes to show that after 30 years in the playoffs, Perth has accumulated enough luck to get them over the line now and then. As usual, it was Casey Prather who came to the rescue with one of the best games of the season, notching 26 points and 11 assists. With those double-digit assists, Prather becomes just the third player to notch that mark all season, with Jerome Randle (3 times) and David Stockton in the club already.
If the Cats want to continue making the playoffs, one of their primary goals after the season is to lock Casey Prather into a 60-year contract, so he never leaves the team. He’s that good, coming second in the MVP count and brings the noise every game. He needs to be a part of their future for a long time to come, or until the NBA comes knocking.
Points per game: 82.3 (5); points against per game: 82.2 (2); net: +0.1 (5)
It’s a bit odd that the team with the lowest percentage out of the three tied playoff teams is granted the second spot on the ladder, but that is just how the league is run. That’s taking nothing way from how well the Snakes have fought back to clinch a playoff berth. They have scrapped and scraped and busted their way into home court advantage and after writing the team off after a poor start, this writer must apologise to the Cairns organisation.
And in saying that, it’s a little strange that Travis Trice or any Taipan didn’t make it to an All-NBL team after coming second, while last-placed Brisbane had two entrants.
Points per game: 84.0 (3); points against per game: 85.2 (5); net: -1.2 (7)
The hearts of all Breakers supporters broke when Perth came out on top in the last game of the season. It shouldn’t be all doom and gloom (maybe a little but that is understandable), and the future looks bright for New Zealand. Kevin Dillard is a game changer, and if he can be re-signed then the team will automatically become a playoff contender. Jerome Randle arrived in Adelaide halfway through last season and look what happened in his second season. Dillard may not have the same impact, but he will be a superstar if he continues to showcase his vast talents.
Points per game: 84.0 (4); points against per game: 83.5 (4); net: +0.5 (4)
What a disappointing season this was for the Melbourne United. After placing them first in the pre-season Power Rankings, this team has been underachieving ever since. After the debacle of Cedric Jackson’s demise, Melbourne spent as many weeks in last or second last place than in the top four. This team had oodles of talent, especially when Casper Ware arrived but the team just couldn’t get it done.
If the United want to have a real crack at the title next season, they will do everything in their power to re-sign Casper Ware and Josh Boone. Especially the latter, who formed an incredible big man tandem with David Andersen. It just wasn’t seen enough.
Points per game: 82.0 (6); points against per game: 82.5 (5); net: -0.5 (6)
Speaking of disappointments, what the hell happened to the Kings? After being compared to some of the best squads in league history, they end the season being stomped by the Wildcats who score 20 points more than their average. Again, it was Kevin Lisch who struggled, scoring only nine points on 3/12 shooting to finish off his horror end to the season.
Will a healthy Julian Khazzouh make things better next season?
Points per game: 81.0 (8); points against per game: 85.4 (6); net: -4.4 (8)
The Brisbane season will go down as not a disappointment, but one that was frustrating to all involved. The Bullets have a playoff calibre team. Unfortunately, they just couldn’t keep it on the court. Out of the thirteen players who averaged at least ten minutes a game, only five of them played every game. A major free agent signing Cam Bairstow only played in half of the Bullets’ games, and when he did it was in less than 20 minutes per. That’s why getting blown out by Illawarra in their last game wasn’t much of a surprise or a negative. This team gave all it could give, and it just wasn’t good enough in the end.
The play of Jeremy Kendle should definitely earn him another spot on the team next season to strut his stuff.