NBL Player Power rankings: LaMelo Ball debuts, a new No. 1

Another round, another edition of our NBL Player Power Rankings.

Terrico White makes way due to injury.

All numbers are courtesy of Spatialjam.com and jordanmcnbl.com (particularly those pertaining to play types).

Bubbling under...

Cam Oliver also drops out after a disappointing round of basketball. His performance against the Hawks, when he forced the action in the second half, was particularly brutal.

To be clear, he is good. He's an efficiency boffin. He specialises in finishing off the play, à la prime Josh Boone. Could he become the focal point of an offence in the NBL? Probably not.

There is just ZERO evidence to date that he can be the foundation of an offence in the NBL. His efficiency from such play-types within stasis (like isolations and post-ups) are below league average - that means it's not good, even now, let alone a higher volume.

Elsewhere, in the current basketball world we live in, in which Brendan Teys is demonstrably better than Cam Gliddon (to be fair, Gliddon showed very positive signs on Sunday), Anthony Drmic deserves a very honourable mention for some percolating play. Over a two-week span, he has put up a very credible impersonation of a third banana.

Similarly, Jason Cadee deserves mention for strong recent play: Since Round 5, he's averaging 13.8 points on 46.8 percent from deep (7.8 attempts per game).

20. Eric Griffin (Adelaide 36ers)

Last week: unranked

Griffin sneaks by teammate, Drmic, on the back of a past month of relatively consistent production, starting or coming off the bench. Since October 25, Griffin has become the 36ers' second most reliable scorer and rebounder, averaging 15.6 points and 5.9 rebounds during that span. Drmic bests him in other categories, and could very well overtake him soon.

Still, the numbers for Griffin over the weekend are eye-opening: 18 points (6-of-11 shooting) and nine rebounds against the Bullets, followed by 24 points (11-of-13) and four rebounds in the destruction of a listless Breakers outfit.

19. Corey Webster (New Zealand Breakers)

Last week: 19

Let's hope Webster's injury isn't too serious. Webster had a strong start against Adelaide - 14 points in the first quarter (5-of-7 shooting) - before that ankle injury.

Heading into Round 8, the Breakers were the worst team at getting to the free throw line. On a related note, their offensive talisman, Webster, never gets to the line.

Only six players in the entire league had a lower free throw rate than Webster (9.9 percent). We wrote last week that Webster's value is completely tethered to his offensive production. Free throws can juice that - just ask Casper Ware - even if you shoot poorly from the field.

18. LaMelo Ball (Illawarra Hawks)

Last week: unranked

There's going to be a lot of buzz. That's just what happens when you have 32 points, 11 rebounds, 13 assists, plus the triple that drags the game into overtime.

What gets Ball in isn't the triple double (who cares? It's an arbitrary stat). Ball makes the top 20 with sustained improvement in his play over the past three weeks.

He's shooting 37.5 percent from deep during this stretch.

Courtesy of numbers provided by jordanmcnbl.com, the on/off-court differential is plus-28.2 per 36 minutes in that same span for Ball. It means he has been finally measurably impactful for his team.

His defence is also no longer egregiously bad - it's just regular bad now. That's a real improvement that matters.

17. D.J. Newbill (Cairns Taipans)

Last week: 20

Against the Wildcats, Newbill may have touched the ball three times in the game's first five minutes - literally, three times. He did not take a single shot in the first quarter before Machado subbed back in. He took his first shot four minutes into the second quarter, and promptly splashed the triple. He would hit his first three shot attempts.

It is weird how Mike Kelly has not been able to craft anything that consistently engages his two best backcourt players - both Newbill and Machado - without resorting to this my turn-your turn awkwardness. The need to siphon touches to Jawai also doesn't help.

Newbill did all he could on Monday night: 27 points (16 shots), three rebounds and five assists. This is the Newbill that Cairns needs.

His defence is always stellar - he helped to smother Bryce Cotton earlier in the round.

16. Daniel Johnson (Adelaide 36ers)

Last week: 14

At the moment, Johnson's consistency lies in his inconsistency. Dominance, All-World big man offence in one game will be replaced by a performance in which he just kind of disappears from the contest in another.

Johnson was a complete no show against the Bullets in registering two points (1-of-6), seven rebounds, three assists, three turnovers. I don't even recall how he scored his lone basket.

There was a sense of normality against the Breakers when he finished with 17 points, 11 rebounds and two assists in that glorified scrimmage.

Over the past fortnight, Johnson's up-and-down play is self-evident. His usage rate has plummeted to 19.9 percent - that is fifth in the team. That is role player level.

On the aggregate, it is not that he is shooting poorly either. The ascendancy of both Griffin and Drmic might one cause, but it doesn't explain moments when he just seems to be ambling about.

15. Jerome Randle (Adelaide 36ers)

Last week: 16

Randle's round averages: 19.5 points on 51.5 percent from the field, 2.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists.

Unsurprisingly, he's leading the league in midrange attempts and canning them at 51.1 percent. His three-point shooting has taken a hit (only 1-of-9 in Round 8).

14. Nathan Sobey (Brisbane Bullets)

Last week: 11

It seems weird to write this, particularly as Sobey was lights out in a first half scoring binge against 36ers - 21 points on 5-of-7 from three (four rebounds and five assists).

Get to the rim, Sobes.

A sign of Sobey's lack of thrust this season: We have not really seen him explore nearly enough early transition opportunities and utilise his open court gifts.

Sobey has only recorded 21 transition attempts for the entire season - less than half the figure of Mitch Creek - at below league average efficiency. He ranks 17th in transition attempts across the league. That is insane.

Far too often, he is settling for outside shots. No matter how comfortable he feels - or how much he has improved - that is not his strength.

Sure, he scored 17 points (5-of-17) against United, but he was also 0-of-5 from the three-point line.

13. Scott Machado (Cairns Taipans)

Last week: 17

Machado is a complete magician. 17 points (3-of-6 from deep), four rebounds and 11 assists against the Wildcats was followed by 22 points (3-of-8 from deep), four rebounds and 13 assists against the Hawks.

He continues to prove doubters wrong regarding his three-point shooting - he's still hovering at 40 percent.

12. Mitch McCarron (Melbourne United)

Last week: 15

McCarron is still trying to rediscoverer his shooting touch.

Nevertheless, his performance on Sunday was a masterclass of two-way basketball, as he defended Lamar Patterson, and contributed all over the court in compiling 12 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists.

In the first quarter, as Nathan Sobey blocked him off from a pindown, McCarron dove to the basket along the baseline, caught the ball and flung a no-look, wrap-around pass straight to the top of the arc for a Jo Lual-Acuil Jr triple.

But his best moment might be when he singlehandedly broke up a three-on-one fast-break in the second quarter.

Later in the game, he stonewalled Patterson on the right block, nabbed the rebound, and then surged up court and spoon-fed a triple to Dave Barlow.

It may be early to think awards season, but McCarron MUST be in the conversation for Defensive Player of the Year. He might be the most under-appreciated star (at least in the public) that this league has.

11. Chris Goulding (Melbourne United)

Last week: 10

It's borderline incredible that Goulding provides zero defensive value and is this high on the list - it just goes to show you how incredibly efficient he has been on the offensive end.

Goulding's rebound rate (both offensive and defensive) is laughably low. His block and steal rates are negligible too.

It's not that Goulding doesn't try on defence - it's the exact opposite. He puts in the effort; he chases diligently around screens. It's just that he is easily overpowered. Folks just power over him.

Nevertheless, there is a toll for the opposition when one scores as efficiently, and as ruthlessly, as he does.

On Sunday, wrapped up by both Cam Gliddon and Will Magnay just beyond the foul line, Goulding was still somehow able to muscle in a line drive.

10. Jae'Sean Tate (Sydney Kings)

Last week: 12

Every week, Jae'Sean Tate seems riled and ready to prove doubters wrong - even if they are imaginary doubters.

In his mirror match with Mitch Creek, Tate finished with 24 points (on shots) and eight rebounds. He has the girth, strength and athleticism to match up with Creek. He also has the required meanness.

Tate is a load, and a post-up behemoth. He scores at 1.41 points per possession on such plays, per jordanmcnbl.com - that is elite.

Interestingly, he has recorded more spot up plays. He has taken 22 three-point attempts so far this season, and made 7. That is not a disastrous mark. On Saturday he was 2-of-4 from downtown.

He is averaging 20 points over his past three games, and shooting 83.3 percent on two pointers and 37.5 percent on threes.

9. Lamar Patterson (Brisbane Bullets)

Last week: 9

Patterson battled with early foul trouble against the 36ers but breathed fire after the main interval in the form of 16 points in the second half. His heroics included the offensive rebound and put-back for what turned out to be the game-clinching basket that bounced in, Kawhi-style. His final line: 27 points (10-of-19), six rebounds and two assists.

Unfortunately, those good vibes dissipated rather quickly after he struggled from the field against United to finish with 14 points (4-of-19); he did have seven rebounds and eight assists.

8. Shawn Long (Melbourne United)

Last week: 5

You can almost feel Long seething through the television monitor as each misses from close range mounted, against a horde of Bullets players cramming themselves into his real estate under the basket.

You can almost feel Long allowing that frustration to impact his defensive effort and attention to detail.

It was 18 minutes of futility against the Bullets with five points (2-of-11 shooting), three rebounds and two assists.

7. Nick Kay (Perth Wildcats)

Last week: 7

Kay finished with 16 points (7-of-11 shooting), four rebounds, four assists and four turnovers against the Taipans, but that seems to have overshadowed a larger trend.

Over the past four games, his usage rate has fallen to 17.9 percent - that is laughable for a dude with such a multi-faceted arsenal. There is an awkward fit with Dario Hunt, who also needs post touches.

To be honest, the Wildcats might not care at the moment, with the larger issue being a porous defence.

6. Melo Trimble (Melbourne United)

Last week: 8

Sunday's contest against the Bullets was probably Trimble's strongest game in toggling between offensive havoc-wreaker and facilitator, depending on his teammates on the floor.

Trimble set up his teammates in the first quarter (four assists) before cranking up the aggression in the second. He finished with 25 points (6-of-12, 3-of-6), six rebounds, six assists, only marred by five turnovers.

In his past three games he is averaging: 26.3 points (40 percent from downtown), five rebounds and almost five assists.

5. John Roberson (South East Melbourne Phoenix)

Last week: 6

Roberson exploded for 15 points in the third quarter against the Kings, after three first-half fouls curtailed his influence.

What also worked: He was able to rub off his trailing defender more effectively with the help of Dane Pineau's screens (and Dane Pineau's backside) to free him for those patented pull-up triples.

4. Andrew Bogut (Sydney Kings)

Last week: 4

Nine points, 10 rebounds, four assists, two steals and three blocks - expect to see this sort of production in line with his reduced playing time (24 minutes).

Still, there was ample time to make a statement.

With 4:33 left in the second quarter, Bogut destroyed a Kyle Adnam layup attempt - poor Kyle. The ball ricocheted off the glass, Shaun Bruce paddled it forward, and Didi Louzada finished with a transition dunk.

3. Casper Ware (Sydney Kings)

Last week: 3

16 points in the first half against the Phoenix gave rise to the hope that Ware's crooked outside shot this season was back on track. It's not entirely.

Still, his self-confidence is unwavering. A clutch left baseline jumper over the outstretched hand of Mitch Creek sealed the win for the Kings, as Ware finished with 25 points (7-of-14 from the field) and four assists.

2. Bryce Cotton (Perth Wildcats)

Last week: 1

For the first time this season, we have a new number one. An uncharacteristically sluggish Cotton performance against the Taipans is enough to knock him off top spot. These are power rankings for a reason.

Cotton finished with 10 points four rebounds, three assists and three steals, but was 3-of-15 from the field. DJ Newbill was superb defensively, but Cotton lacked his usual zip.

There were moments in which he seemed to lack aggression, despite the shot attempts.

1. Mitch Creek (South East Melbourne Phoenix)

Last week: 2

Yes, he threw away the ball at the end, with 1.7 seconds remaining.

Yes, Creek could not lead and complete the fightback against the Kings. But he was relentless. That relentlessness characterises his play and his charge up these rankings.

Another sign of his relentlessness: The temerity make and hit a huge final-quarter three and the swan pose over Bogut afterwards. Remember, Creek air-balled one earlier in the contest.

In all, it was another Herculean effort in which Creek played 37 minutes and finished with 20 points (7-of-14) and seven rebounds.

Stay tuned for next week's edition.