Tuesday, December 02, 2014

NBLC Power Rankings - December

    The 2014-15 season has now finished up its first month with no real surprises at the top of the league, but a couple of huge surprises at the bottom. Hands up if you called Brampton starting the year with 5 straight losses (if anyone has their hand up they’re lying). And there is also a ridiculous amount of parity, with 5 of the league's 8 teams hovering around .500. So with that said, NBLCNet is taking a look at the month that was by bringing you our monthly power rankings:

Windsor Express (6-1, 1st in Central)
     The Windsor Express have continued to dominate the NBLC, using their league best defence to hold teams to only 95 points per game on 38% shooting. Quinnel Brown has stepped into the void left behind by Bonneau/Duncan with 19.7 points per game, while Tony Bennett and Gary Gibson have given opposing PG’s fits with their length defensively. And don’t look now, but DeAndre Thomas may have finally figured it out, with 20+ points in his last 3 games. And that one loss? That was the season opener, in which it took until overtime before they went down. This team is scary good.
 2014-15 Standings
2. The Island Storm (5-4, 1st in Atlantic)
     After the way the year started, going 1-4 out of the gate, some people may be surprised by this one. And while the overall record isn’t sterling yet, the Storm have reeled off 4 wins straight, and other than Sunday’s meeting with the Mill Rats, the games haven’t really been close. They’re second in the league defensively, and an offence that had looked sluggish early is now starting to heat up. Many people (myself included) had this team as a championship contender at the start of the year, but after a rough start, they’re finally rounding into form. Look for these guys to hold this spot for a long time.
 2014-15 Standings
3. London Lightning (6-4, 2nd in Central) 
     This spot would have been an easy lock a week ago, but now things are a little dicey, The Lightning have been struggling lately, punctuated by a loss to the A’s on Sunday in which they spent the entire second half trailing. They’re struggling to get their perimeter and post players playing well at the same time, one game they’ll play great on the perimeter and get killed in the post, then the next game they tighten up their interior defence and get beat on the perimeter. Now the Lightning find themselves back with the pack, after looking every bit as good as Windsor earlier. Lots of good pieces here, they just need some consistency.
 2014-15 Standings
4. Halifax Rainmen (3-3, 2nd in Atlantic)
     The Rainmen have been the definition of inconsistency, as they have literally followed every win with a loss, and vice versa, so far this year, with all of those games being blowouts. The good news is that they do have a positive point differential this year, and are tied for the third best D in the league, and historically the better defending teams have had the most success in this league. The bad news is that 2 of their 3 wins have come against Moncton, who are having plenty of issues themselves, and they’ve only played 6 games, which skews the stats. Ultimately we’re left asking the same questions that we were asking at the start of the season: what is this team capable of?

 2014-15 Standings
5. Mississauga Power (4-3, 3rd in Central)
     The Power have had a solid start to the year, and have been doing a great job on scoring, averaging the 2nd highest points per game in the league, which is a huge turnaround after they could only muster up 11 wins over last year’s 40 game schedule. So why so low? Defence. The Power are allowing 111 points against every single game, while every single team ahead of them on this list isn’t allowing more than 105 per game. With defence being a strong indicator of a team’s playoff chances in this league, the Power will have to start to shut some teams out if they not only hope to keep their winning record, but make some noise in the playoffs as well.
 2014-15 Standings
6. Brampton A’s (3-5, 4th in Central)
     I nearly put the A’s ahead of Halifax, that’s how good they’ve been lately. It wasn’t long ago that the A’s were destined for the last spot on this team, starting the year by dropping their first 5 games. But things have turned around quickly, winning big in their last three games. They have a positive point differential so far so look for them to keep climbing the list. Much was made about how many 3’s this team was expecting to take, but while they are leading the league in 3’s attempted, it isn’t by much. Yet even though they aren’t shooting the amount of 3’s we thought, they still lead the league in points per game. Now if they could just fix their nearly league last defence, we could start talking about this team like the contenders they were last season.
 2014-15 Standings
7. Saint John Mill Rats (4-5, 3rd in Atlantic)
     If a couple more bounces go the Mill Rats way, they would very easily be higher on this list, maybe even as high as the Storm. And their place on this list doesn’t reflect that the Mill Rats are a bad team, it just reflects the parity in the middle of the NBLC right now. The Mill Rats have looked great some nights, but can’t seem to string together some wins. And they just barely have a negative point differential, implying that luck just hasn’t been on their side. Anthony Anderson is back in MVP form, with a league leading 25 points per game, and Aquille Carr should be returning from suspension for Thursday’s game against Halifax.
Honestly, this is the pick I feel least comfortable about, and fully expect the Mill Rats to be near the top of the list, even as soon as next week.
 2014-15 Standings
8. Moncton Miracles (1-7, 4th in Atlantic)
     Things are bleak in Moncton, with the Miracles limping out of the gate. The Miracles have been getting outscored by a whopping 13 points per game, and lacking any real answers on the current roster. The team has been struggling to score recently, having failed to break 100 points in their last 4 games. The loss of Trayvon Lathan certainly didn’t help after he averaged 23 points in his first 2 games. One of the bright spots has been Stanley Robinson, who’s averaging 18 points and 11 rebounds, but too often he is the only reliable scorer.