NBL Top 15 Player Rankings 2.0

It's time to revisit my preseason Player Rankings and present to you all, Version 2.0 of the NBL's Top-15.

Unlike the preseason, we've had time to assess early season (albeit interrupted) form of new players to the league, with the contenders looking to separate themselves from the pack.

With that in mind, we have six new players entering the ranks, with one cracking the top-five after a sizzling start to the season on both ends of the floor.

1) Bryce Cotton, Perth Wildcats (No change) - 22.8 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 4.3 APG

Was there ever any doubt that Cotton would return looking like the MVP candidate we have become accustomed to?

Efficiency has been down at times, but you never actually believe he is missing when the ball leaves his hands. He also remains pesky on the defensive end, with his two steals per game typically leading to easy baskets down the other end. I don't feel there is any dispute to this ranking.

2) Chris Goulding, Melbourne United (Up 1) - 16.8 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 1.1 APG

Goulding moves up to the two slot, with United now sitting on top of the standings, overcoming the early absence of the best shooter in the league.

If you get a chance, watch a replay of a United game and specifically keep your eye on how the defence gravitates to Goulding with every step he takes. The absurdity of the shots he attempts is only topped by the fact he generally makes them.

My only complaint is that selfishly I would like to see him get up more than 10 3-point attempts per game. Of course, he won't, because his unselfishness is a key reason why United once again look a contender.

3) Mitch Creek, South East Melbourne Phoenix (Up 4) - 22.4 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 3.0 APG

Creek moves into the top three, and you can make a serious case he is the frontrunner for Most Valuable Player. Connecting on over 50 percent of his attempts from long range, Creek also remains a freight train with the ball in hand going downhill.

He also threw down what might be the dunk of the season on Matthew Dellavedova in an action-packed Throwdown which adds some points.

4) Vic Law, Perth Wildcats (Up 4) - 22.0 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 1.2 APG

Previous iterations of the Wildcats featured dominant big men alongside Cotton in Nick Kay and John Mooney. This version has a dominant force on the wing, capable of ripping a game apart in one quarter.

We witnessed this against Illawarra on the weekend, where a scoreless first period was quickly followed by a 15-point outburst in the second. He can score from the outside, the mid-range, the post and at the rack. Law is one of the toughest covers in the league.

5) Xavier Cooks, Sydney Kings (Unranked) - 12.9 PPG, 9.2 RPG, 2.7 APG

Is it clear what Australian basketball has been missing over the past few years yet?

Desperate for a healthy run after an injury plagued period, Cooks is my frontrunner for Defensive Player of the Year. Put him on the perimeter and he will poke the ball away, post him up and he'll swat your shot. He has a license to hit the glass and handle the ball in transition and remains an underrated playmaker, particularly as the roll man.

It's been a rollercoaster ride for the Kings so far in NBL22, but an extended run for Cooks is a delight to watch.

6) Zhou Qi, South East Melbourne Phoenix (Down 2) - 11.4 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 0.6 APG

Like the majority of the league, South East Melbourne have hardly had a chance to get rolling with Zhou Qi. Despite the interruptions, the marquee recruit has shown an ability to dominate the paint defensively, averaging a league-leading 3.8 blocks per game.

7) Jo Lual-Acuil, Melbourne United (Unranked) - 14.9 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 1.3 APG

One of the big question marks on the defending champs was the ability for JLA to assume a major role as a starter in replacing Jock Landale.

Lual-Acuil isn't the facilitator Landale is, nor is he a willing outside shooter, but it hardly matters with his ability to physically dominate the paint. It's only early, but to this point JLA is passing the test with flying colours.

8) Duop Reath, Illawarra Hawks (Unranked) - 15.2 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 0.8 APG

Reath may have been leading the MVP conversation in the early rounds, though a couple of quiet performances have knocked him down a few notches. For a true centre, his ability to put the ball on the floor, break down a defender and find his shot is extraordinary.

Averaging 13.2 shots per game, Reath ranks 14th in the league. With shooting splits of 47 percent from the field, 38 percent from range and 81 percent from the line, it feels like that number could be a little low on an admittedly stacked Hawks roster.

9) Robert Franks, Brisbane Bullets (Unranked) - 17.6 PPG, 9.7 RPG, 1.2 APG

The Bullets are one of the hardest teams to get a read on in the league, though Franks has been one of the more dominant imports league wide.

Sixth in the league for scoring and third in rebounding, head coach James Duncan is likely to lean on Franks playing more minutes at the five with the latest injury to Tyrell Harrison.

10) Jarell Martin, Sydney Kings (Down 5) - 15.6 PPG, 9.7 RPG, 1.2 APG

The Kings may have lost the game, but Martin's dunk show in Brisbane last Friday night was wildly entertaining.

Partly due to circumstances out of their hands, the Kings are playing smaller than most with Martin at the five and Cooks at the four. It's hard to get a read on where they stand given the brutal run of injuries and COVID interruptions, but the duo remains a matchup nightmare when in full flight.

11) Nathan Sobey, Brisbane Bullets (Down 5) - 17.6 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 4.1 APG

It's been an interesting start to the season for Sobey, who has struggled to score efficiently despite maintaining his ability to take over a game in stretches.

Currently fifth in the league in scoring, Sobey has shooting splits of 36 percent from the floor and 26 percent from 3-point land. The good news for Brisbane is, he has support in Franks and Lamar Patterson. If Sobey finds the range the Bullets can make a run.

12) Yannick Wetzell, New Zealand Breakers (Unranked) - 17.3 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 1.0 APG

Like much of the Breakers roster, Wetzell suffered an interrupted preseason due to COVID. Since returning, he has been a force, starting with a dominant performance against former team South East Melbourne at John Cain Arena.

For players averaging more than five shots per game, Wetzell's 60 percent shooting from the floor sits second in the league, behind only Zhou Qi.

13) Tyler Harvey, Illawarra Hawks (Down 11) - 15.1 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 3.1 APG

Similar to Sobey, Harvey has struggled to find the range in NBL22. His 15 points are coming on 16 shots, though he remains a guy you don't want to let cook in the fourth quarter.

In many ways, it feels the Hawks have better balance offensively, with a plethora of scoring options down the stretch, with a Harvey takeover still high on the list.

14) Tahjere McCall, Cairns Taipans (Unranked) - 16.3 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 6.0 APG

McCall could be higher in the rankings if the Taipans had played a game recently. Cairns have played just four games (prior to Tuesday night), with McCall emerging as the two-way force head coach Adam Forde had hoped for.

Without Scott Machado, McCall took over the offence, with his ability to get to the free-throw line (six attempts per game) critical.

15) Matthew Dellavedova, Melbourne United (Down 6) - 10.2 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 5.6 APG

Dellavedova's 33-point outburst was one of the highlights of the season, but for the most part it's been the steady point guard play that has become customary with the veteran over the course of the last decade.

Melbourne don't need Dellavedova to be an every night scorer to contend, but they do need his full-court defence and ability to connect the offence as it continues to build chemistry through the season. Thus far, he's been a big tick.