2021 Power Rankings - Week 7
- By Andrew Taylor, Day 53, 2021
2021 JBL POWER RANKINGS – WEEK 7 (Up to Day 49)
1. Houston Lightning (19-3, + 12.3) (+ 1 Spot)
The Lightning have bounced back from their losses during Collinson’s absence with an 11 game win streak during which time they have doubled their net rating. Sowder is on track to be the first player to win consecutive MVPs on two different teams and they lead the league in D rating, are second in O rating and are on track for 70 wins. A true powerhouse.
2. Seattle Thunder (18-5, + 7.9) (- 1 Spot)
The Thunder have gone 11-3 since the last rankings but have not lost a game with their full line-up on court. They lost games to likely playoff teams in the Devils and Stars with Rowland out injured and the team was resting Tarver during its disappointing loss to the Colonels. Phifer has continued to impress but it might be time to highlight the under the radar performance of Ainsley Tucker who is breaking out big time during his contract year with 22-9 in 31 minutes a game. He clearly wants that max contract.
3. Detroit Mustangs (17-6, + 7.4) (+ 7 Spots)
The Mustangs have gone 11-2 since the last rankings to create some breathing space on top of the Eastern conference. Their two losses were both to playoff level opponents, the Vipers and Stars, and were both on the road. They are clearly the best offensive team in the league but are only 21st in D-rating. If they can make some progress on that side of the ball they will be genuine competition for the Western Conference powerhouses.
4. Phoenix Vultures (18-7, + 5.8) (+ 2 Spots)
The Vultures have gone 11-4 in recent weeks, but they were missing Fisher in the last two of those losses. Despite Fisher and Banks have slowed slightly from their supernova starts the team is well on track to securing the inaugural Southwest Division title and homecourt advantage in the first round. It could be said that they are ascending.
5. Mexico City Jaguars (16-7, + 4.4) (+ 10 Spots)
The Mexico City Jaguars have gone 10-4 since the last rankings and impressively gained ground in the rankings by winning five on the trot in the absence of their PG Ashley Winters who is leading the league in assists. The team is getting a balanced contribution on offense across its starters with 4 starters between 16.5 and 18 ppg. But the biggest reason for their improvement this year is their defence which is 4th in the league despite playing heavy minutes with two short PGs in tandem in the backcourt.
6. Toronto Huskies (15-7, + 3.9) (+ 5 Spots)
The Huskies have gone 9-4 in recent weeks but there is still a large variance between their best and worst effort. On day 22 they dominated the Jailbirds before losing to the Blizzards at home 2 nights later. But they are a young team and this is part of the process. Darius Barry is in All JBL team form and Houston has made big strides in his sophomore season in averaging 19ppg. They seem unlikely to make a deep playoff run with their current experience but at this point they seem a lock to win the Atlantic Division and secure home court in the first round which would be a fantastic result for this season.
7. St. Louis Skyhawks (18-8, + 3.8) (- 3 Spots)
The Skyhawks have gone 8-5 since the last rankings and would be higher if they hadn’t dropped 2 games to expansion teams in the Barons and Bullets. The team is well balanced ranking 9th in offense and 12th in defence but their reliance on the 3 (5th overall, 1st amongst non-expansion teams) means that there is a higher variation between their best and worst than some of the other high-end teams. But when Wallace and Novak are both on point they are capable of beating anyone.
8. Nashville Stars (16-8, + 2.6) (+ 5 Spots)
The Stars have gone 11-4 in recent weeks to regain the lead in the Southeast Division. The Stars have had some strong wins over teams including the Thunder, Huskies and Mustangs that show they are a likely 2nd round playoff team at their worst. However, they also had a three game losing streak that included a loss to the expansion Predators. When Craig and Peeler are both firing they can still look dominant but with the 14th ranked offense and defence they are unlikely to be a serious contender. They miss Andersen much more than anyone expected.
9. Los Angeles Fireballs (14-9, + 3.2) (No Change)
The Fireballs have gone 8-5 since the last rankings but this perhaps undersells the team’s recent performance. The team won every game it would have been expected to and have only lost to the Stars, Thunder, Lightning and Scorpions. Perhaps most importantly the team addressed its weakness at SG with the acquisition of All-Star Hilton Phillips. Whilst this move may keep them ahead of the Scorpions it is still hard to see this team finishing any better than second in the Pacific due to the presence of the Thunder.
10. Las Vegas Scorpions (15-11, + 6.1) (- 7 Spots)
The Scorpions have gone 7-8 in recent weeks against a strong slate and should only disappointed with their loss to the Crusaders. Grant is in excellent form on the offensive end, but Francis has slowed a little since his incredible opening weeks. The addition of Dvoracek and Cue adds depth to the team but both may take some time to find their bearings with their new team. Hopefully it won’t take too long as the team now has some ground to make up if it wishes to secure home court in the first round.
11. Miami Cyclones (14-9, + 3.1) (+ 1 Spot)
The Cyclones have gone 8-5 since the last rankings extending their losing streak to 6 games before snapping it with a one-point win over the Stars. But after losing the return game to the Stars the team went on a 7-game win streak. Gamble continues to demonstrate a poise beyond his years but more importantly it’s clear that Curry is benefitting from playing next to a more pass first minded point guard than Barclay. However, the big under-reported story here is the career best form of Reggie Fortier who is earning his max deal with a crazy 20-10-5-2-2 stat line.
12. New Orleans Hurricanes (16-9, + 2.2) (- 7 Spots)
The Hurricanes have gone 7-8 over recent weeks but that record is heavily impacted by the injury to Tyson Kuberka. In the games he hasn’t finished, or has missed, the team has gone 2-6 proving that resigning him in the offseason was an excellent choice despite some criticisms of the deal. The team is still getting excellent production from the Pierce and Bowen front court but without their leader the team is struggling. Luckily, they’d built a strong early lead so that even with Kuberka out another week they are still in contention for home court in the first round.
13. Austin Rockets (14-11, + 2.1) (+ 6 Spots)
The Rockets have gone 9-6 since the last rankings to push themselves back into the playoff race. This period included some strong wins most notably the 2 wins against their old rivals the Scorpions. Goodwin and James have worked themselves into better form, but the team isn’t getting the production it has usually relied upon from Wingfield and Nyambi. Nyambi has an excuse, he’s practically a piece of league history at this point, but Wingfield is far from the form that won him an MVP in his own right. However, the most important news is that after Day 49’s games Reggie Goodwin was traded to the Bullets for a package including Wesley Sherman and Quinton Rice. We’ll see how the new additions integrate over the coming weeks.
14. Chicago Jailbirds (13-9, - 1.1) (- 7 Spots)
The Jailbirds have gone 7-7 over recent weeks but are starting to fall behind in the race for home court and don’t look to be a serious contender. Despite their positive record their net rating is ranked 18th in the league, mainly due to a defence that is ranked 28th in the league. The 3 C’s are all in solid form, though Cheaney and Carter are slightly down on last year’s form, but the team lacks depth. One thing the team should consider is benching Dupree in favour of Rasheed Stone who has been producing far more efficiently in a bench role.
15. Philadelphia Warriors (12-11, + 0.2) (+ 5 Spot)
The Warriors have got 8-6 since the last rankings to put themselves firmly in the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference. Whilst many of their wins have come against teams outside playoff contention they did register a few strong wins against the Vultures and Stars. Weaver has been excellent but the big story might been the play of Fontaine, who many expected to be selected in the expansion draft. Averaging 15-8 he is filling the hole left by Croyle and finally living up to his own draft pedigree.
16. Cincinnati Kings (12-12, + 1.8) (- 8 Spots)
The Kings have gone 4-10 over the past few weeks as their performance has regressed to the mean after an impressive start to the season. During this time they’ve lost 4 games to expansion teams which if nothing else demonstrates they are embracing ‘The Process’ more successfully. Black and Benson are quietly having excellent seasons and Thybulle has elevated his game in recent weeks. However the team is unlikely to find more consistent success until their wings, Owens and Turner, starting hitting at more than a .400 clip.
17. Oakland Tritons (12-13, + 1.8) (- 1 Spots)
The Tritons have gone 6-8 since the last rankings and are currently sitting just outside the playoff bracket. Led by Marcus Ivory they are still terrifying on offense, ranking 3rd in the league. Unfortunately, they are once again terrible on defence, ranking 26th. This is the same problem they had pre-trade last year, but one that was somewhat rectified when they had Rodgers on the court. Whilst Rodgers is getting older he has been phenomenal in a smaller role and if the team wishes to make the playoffs it might want to get him on the court more moving forwards.
18. Atlanta Devils (11-12, + 0.6) (No Change)
The Devils have gone 5-7 over recent weeks with the highlight being a quality win over the Thunder. However, the team is inconsistent as demonstrated by losses to the Blizzards and Bullets. The team has been strong offensively, ranked 13th, but their defence has been their weakness, ranked 25th in the league. Right now they are fighting for a spot in the playoffs which would be a good result for what is still a very young team. Slattery is doing it all on offense, he is third in the league in scoring, but will need to show equal development on the defensive end of the court for this team to climb the rankings.
19. Pittsburgh Vipers (11-13, - 1.3) (- 2 Spots)
The Vipers have gone 6-8 since the last rankings but have had some great wins over the Jailbirds, Mustangs and Huskies during that time. They’re in a tight battle with the Warriors and Devils for the 7th and 8th seed so its critical that they don’t drop games to lesser ranked teams. Young and Carstensen are having exceptional seasons and will receive all star consideration but the team will need more from Respert if it’s to climb the rankings much further this season.
20. Baltimore Bullets (9-14, - 3.9) (+ 4 Spots)
The Bullets have gone 7-6 over the past several weeks despite missing Jamar Strickland for 8 of those games. They’ve done most of their damage against other expansion teams but recorded some quality wins against the Skyhawks, Tritons and Devils showing they are gradually improving. However, this might all be irrelevant as shortly after the Day 49 games they completed a trade with the Rockets to acquire SG Reggie Goodwin. This might raise the ceiling of the team but will impact cohesion in the short term.
21. Portland Lumberjacks (8-14, - 4.0) (- 7 Spots)
The Lumberjacks got some love in the last rankings but have only gone 3-10 in recent weeks. Missing Guzo (this one is acceptable) for 4 games during this period was a contributing factor but the team’s biggest issue is their defence which is ranked 27th in the league.
22. Kansas City Knights (4-6, - 4.1) (- 1 Spot)
The Knights have gone 5-9 since the last rankings a period in which they were entirely without their MVP candidate C Kelvin Hawes. The team struggled during this time but did grab some quality wins against the Rockets and Devils. The most positive aspect of this difficult stretch has been the form of Aaron Honeycutt who has been on fire and is now averaging 9 points more than he did last year. But with Hawes due back any day things should improve from here.
23. Charlotte Drones (7-15, - 2.8) (No Change)
The Drones have gone 4-8 since the last rankings with the highlight being a win over the Hurricanes on Day 48. The team rarely suffers the heavy losses of some of the other expansion teams and this is reflected in the second best net rating of any expansion team. Khalen Anthony has continued his excellent start to the season and is now leading all rookies in scoring and probably should get more ROY attention than he has to date.
24. Boston Crusaders (7-18, - 5.3) (+ 3 Spots)
The Crusaders have gone 5-9 over recent weeks with the highlight most likely the recent win over the Scorpions at home. The team is ranked 7th in the league defensively but only 28th in offense as no player has stepped up to be the secondary option on offense behind rookie Devon Harrell.
25. Oklahoma City Barons (7-16, - 6.1) (No Change)
The Barons have gone 5-8 since the last ratings letting their losing streak hit 8 games but rebounded well later in the period going 5-3 leading into day 49. They have a similar problem to the Crusaders with the 10th best defence but the 26th best offense.
26. New York Renegades (6-17, - 6.3) (- 4 Spots)
The Renegades have gone 3-11 over recent weeks and a return to the playoffs now seems extremely unlikely. Despite the presence of DPOY Rashard Stevens the team is 22nd in defence and is even worse offensively, ranked 25th. Embrace ‘The Process!’
27. Louisville Colonels (6-16, - 7.1) (+ 2 Spots)
The Colonels have gone 5-8 since the last rankings with the highlight being their win against the Thunder (resting players is not without risk). The team’s defence, anchored by Omar Croyle is ranked 13th in the league but the team struggles offensively, ranked 27th. The team’s clear need is a wing player to put alongside Akele who can create their own shot.
28. Denver Dragons (4-19, - 6.8) (- 2 Spots)
The Dragons have gone 2-11 over recent weeks but the team has seen a clear improvement since moving OB1 to the point, where he has been considerably more efficient. The team may have the least wins in the league, but their net rating is a little better and I’d expect to see them rattle off a few wins soon.
29. Dallas Predators (5-19, - 9.8) (- 1 Spot)
The Predators have gone 3-11 in recent weeks but did get a nice win over the Stars (resting players is not without risk example 2). The team isn’t getting quite enough from some of it’s experienced players such as Cousins and Weekes and Wade has been startlingly focused on shooting at the expense of all else. However, the big issue has been the lose of rookie Marquis Davis to injury because he was probably the team’s best player when he went down.
30. Minneapolis Blizzards (5-19, - 10.4) (No Change)
The Blizzards have gone 5-9 since the last rankings, a dramatic improvement from their 0-10 record at that time. The highlights were wins over the Huskies and Devils, but the overall improvement is more clearly present in the team’s net rating which has improved by more than 5 points per game. Claxton has continued to perform in a challenging role as the primary scorer on a team lacking offensive firepower and Galloway leads all rookies in rebounds and blocks. There is still work to be done but the team is definitely looking better than they did 4 weeks ago.