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NBL Player Power Rankings: Machado rises as big King falls

Round 10 was about old favourites as we saw the return to action of some familiar top-end talent in Tai Wesley (made his first three shots and didn't look rusty at all), Kevin Lisch (very rusty and tentative), Scotty Hopson (more engaged on defence!) and Corey Webster (more on him shortly).

In other scary signs for the rest of the league, Casey Prather looks to be progressing well. In one second quarter sequence, he completely owned Jack McVeigh - first driving past and then stepping around him for a layup, followed by hounding him back on defence and snatching the ball away.

In this week's edition of our NBL Player Power Rankings, LaMelo Ball drops out through injury, and Nathan Sobey plummets out of the top 20, after a malaise in form that culminated in a round of futility.

Sobey appears to be going through an identity crisis with the Bullets. He seems to have pivoted to an off-guard role, freed from table-setting duties, yet that has not necessarily liberated him. He used to be an elite midrange shooter but appears to have eschewed that - he has taken only 11 such attempts all season, at 45.5 percent.

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

20. Corey Webster (New Zealand Breakers)

Last week: unranked

In stark relief for the Breakers after a sordid few weeks, it was an uber-efficient return to the court for Corey Webster.

Their sharpshooter poured in 23 points (53 percent shooting), exhibiting the type of step-back, jump-shooting efficiency as though he was never away.

For the Breakers' sake, let's hope it's all about basketball now.

19. Daniel Johnson (Adelaide 36ers)

Last week: 12

This is déjà vu.

Johnson had four points (1-of-6 from the field) and a single rebound up until the final quarter. You would have been forgiven for thinking he did not suit up. It was an inexplicable performance, a week after a dominant 29-point and 17-board showing in his last outing.

It's also a worrying trend when it comes to his form. The only consistency at this point is his inconsistency.

18. Mitch McCarron (Melbourne United)

Last week: 17

McCarron's stat line against the 36ers: Six points (1-of-5 shooting), five rebounds, four assists (four turnovers) and a steal.

Lucky he is here because of his all-around play and defence, rather than consistent offensive production. That is partly due to his reticence to hunt his own shot, which is not that United need anyway.

Even when he's aggressive, McCarron is one of those guys who simply doesn't get calls, for whatever reason, whenever he puts his head down and attacks the basket. It looks like he's being fouled - he's just not getting as many calls.

17. Terrico White (Perth Wildcats)

Last week: unranked

Midway through the second quarter against the Kings, White performed a pirouette along the arc to spin past his defender -- some feat of evasion and balance -- before landing a triple. He's back.

White was not exactly efficient, but he was that second perimeter star to complement Bryce Cotton in their curb-stomping of the Kings, finishing with 20 points (9-of-21 from the field), five rebounds and two assists.

Against the Phoenix, he struggled for three quarters until burying three huge triples in the final quarter. There was also the insane defensive recovery and swat of a Tai Wesley layup after he was already sealed.

There's a noticeable effort on the defensive glass since his return from injury. I don't think he's ever rebounded with such energy.

16. Cam Oliver (Cairns Taipans)

Last week: 18

A consistent round of basketball from Oliver which featured his usual amalgam of dunking, feathery outside shooting, and fearsome shot-blocking.

Oliver had 12 points, 10 rebounds and one thunderous, contemptuous spike of a Glen Rice Jr. attempt against the Breakers.

Against the Kings, Oliver also posted 12 points, nabbed six rebounds and two blocks, drained some back-breaking triples.

Sticking to simplicity is working for him.

15. Eric Griffin (Adelaide 36ers)

Last week: 20

Griffin was one of two 36ers who played with any sense of urgency against United that amounted to actual production - the other being Brendan Teys.

Griffin lurched from end to end, running the floor, thundering down the lane and finishing, shooting threes, and spiking away enemy shots to finish with the ridiculous stat line of 34 points from 14 shot attempts, nine rebounds, two assists, three steals and two blocks.

Each time the 36ers were able to make a meaningful run at United's burgeoning lead, Griffin was at the heart of it, speaking volumes of his infectious intensity.

14. Jerome Randle (Adelaide 36ers)

Last week: 14

Randle was curiously invisible in the first half against United. He was by no means the only one, but he has been a key driver of the 36ers' play.

He bumped up his final numbers to 17 points on 5-of-10 shooting, but that was due to harvesting points with the game well and truly over.

13. Chris Goulding (Melbourne United)

Last week: 13

The win mattered the most in his 300th game, but this was not Goulding's grandest performance for the season, as he struggled to leave a mark on the contest.

There was one signature Goulding moment, a capstone for his milestone - when he crossed up Harry Froling in the final frame and drilled the triple.

Goulding finished with 14 points, with all 12 of his attempts coming from downtown, to go with four rebounds and four assists.

12. D.J. Newbill (Cairns Taipans)

Last week: 15

Newbill needs more recognition for his two-way stardom. He is usually saddled with the opposition's best perimeter threat, and expected to drive the offence once Scott Machado rests.

On Friday night, he was matched up on the bull that is Glen Rice Jr., and helped with the facilitating void once Mike Kelly sat Machado to protect him from foul trouble. Newbill finished with an efficient 20 points (10 shots) and also had three assists.

On Sunday against the Kings, he exploded for 31 points on 9-of-16 from the field.

Over his past four games, Newbill is averaging 24 points and a tick over three assists, shooting 52 percent from three, in addition to playing his usual attentive defence.

11. Jae'Sean Tate (Sydney Kings)

Last week: 7

Now we have a losing streak. Now there is adversity. Now we get to see how the Kings respond, after back-to-back defeats in Round 10 against Perth and Cairns.

Tate averaged 11.5 points, and shot 66.7 percent across both games, but only grabbed four rebounds in total across the weekend - including a single board on Sunday.

It is difficult to rebound when the opposition can't miss, but it also tells the tale of a Kings defence that was very uneven over the round.

10. Nick Kay (Perth Wildcats)

Last week: 11

So...uh...Nick Kay's back, everybody!

The frenzy was back and he was hunting offensive rebounds like a madman again. Kay had five rebounds in the first quarter alone (three of them offensive) against the Kings; he had 14 points and 8 rebounds by the half.

He finished with 19 points (eight shot attempts), 13 rebounds, two assists, two steals and a block.

On Sunday, in a second quarter sequence against the Phoenix, doubled along the right block by both Dane Pineau and Ben Madgen, skipped the ball to Damian Martin, before rushing in from the other side of the court to nab the offensive rebound off a Bryce Cotton miss for a put-back.

He almost mirrored his production against the Kings with 18 points, 12 rebounds (six offensive boards) and two assists.

So yeah, he's back.

9. Shawn Long (Melbourne United)

Last week: 10

This was about controlled aggression, and Long channelled it as he pounded his way to 12 first quarter points (on 6-of-8 shooting), to go with six rebounds and one mean-spirited, thunderous block against the 36ers.

Gone was the jawing at officials -- of course, those things rarely surface during the good times -- and in its place it was replaced with real hustle, including throwing himself out of bounds to save a loose ball midway through the second quarter that resulted in a Goulding triple.

34 points (15-of-21 shooting), 15 rebounds and four blocks marked a beastly return to form.

8. Lamar Patterson (Brisbane Bullets)

Last week: 9

Patterson provided a dose of quality in an error-prone, turgid affair against the Hawks. Still, a diet of one-on-ones, with Patterson barging enemies out of the way, has its limits when it comes to viewing pleasure.

Despite a bizarre benching to start the game against the Breakers -- the Bullets seemingly cycle through weekly changes to their line-up -- Patterson was the Bullets' only consistent offensive threat, barrelling towards the rim at every turn.

7. Andrew Bogut (Sydney Kings)

Last week: 4

Bogut produced some metronomic lines over the weekend: 12 points (5-of-7 shooting), eight rebounds, one assist and two blocks against Perth; 12 points (4-of-5 shooting), 12 rebounds, two assists and two blocks against the Taipans.

It has been fascinating to watch the adjustment of Bogut, from heavy-minutes ballast under Andrew Gaze, to pinch-hitting enforcer under Will Weaver's egalitarian minutes distribution that is empowering every King.

This is playing the long game - how that pays off down the line will be worth monitoring.

6. John Roberson (South East Melbourne Phoenix)

Last week: 5

It was a tough shooting game for Roberson against the Wildcats. With Damian Martin draped all over him, Roberson simply was given zero space for the entire game.

Roberson did score 19 points and had four assists, but there was some meaningless points late in the game that buffed up his line.

It was a frustrating performance that was characterised by some careless, silly reach-in fouls. Roberson was never in serious foul trouble, but those were the sorts of hacks he has largely shed from his game of late. He is too valuable to risk those cheap fouls.

5. Melo Trimble (Melbourne United)

Last week: 6

The ease of United's crushing win over the 36ers was perhaps best exemplified by Trimble, who at one point casually Euro-stepped his way past Jerome Randle in transition for a layup.

Trimble, who is growing into United's floor general every week, eased his way to 20 points (7-of-11 from the field), six rebounds and three assists.

4. Scott Machado (Cairns Taipans)

Last week: 8

Machado battled foul trouble against the Breakers but still finished with 22 points (6-of-10 shooting), three rebounds and seven assists.

There has been a newfound aggression from the start of games. There was the first quarter change of pace once he sensed some tardy transition defence from the Breakers, drawing the foul on RJ Hampton and finishing the play over Brandon Ashley.

Later in the quarter, an exploratory drive by Machado yielded a no-look, behind-the-back bounce pass to a trailing Majok Deng for the dunk.

He exerted that same aggressiveness to power a statement win over the Kings.

Machado did not shoot well -- he finished with 21 points, seven rebounds, nine assists (zero turnovers) and three steals -- but he was the mastermind behind this Taipans offensive onslaught which battered the Kings for four quarters.

3. Casper Ware (Sydney Kings)

Last week: 2

Ware's game against Cairns was perhaps his worst of the season: 13 points (3-of-15 shooting, including 3-of-10 from deep), five rebounds and zero assists.

Against Cairns, he was 0-of-4 from the field at the half, and missed all three of his attempts from deep. He picked up his third foul early in the third quarter. This had marked seven straight quarters of futility.

You cannot doubt the self-confidence of the man. Not when he is struggling. Not when his three-point shooting is starting to become a concern.

Ware unleashed a heroic 21-point final quarter (four triples) in which he single-handedly hauled the Kings within sniffing distance of an improbable comeback.

2. Bryce Cotton (Perth Wildcats)

Last week: 3

It was a return to an aggressive Cotton. The intent was back, accelerating into dangerous crevasses when he sensed an opportunity - a far cry from the passive presence he was over the past few weeks.

Against the Kings, Cotton guzzled points in the midrange that Bogut allowed; he already had 20 points from 15 shot attempts at the half. He finished with 27 points (11-of-26 from the field), nine rebounds and four assists.

On Sunday against the Phoenix, he was even better - by the end of the third quarter, he had 23 points on 7-of-9 shooting.

He ultimately finished with 26 points on an astounding 7-of-10 from the field, five rebounds and three assists.

1. Mitch Creek (South East Melbourne Phoenix)

Last week: 1

Creek epitomised the singular intent of Phoenix -- all of their first quarter points were from inside the arc -- as he muscled in 13 first quarter points against the Wildcats.

Holding for the last shot of the half, Creek waited for the right moment, before driving straight into the chest of Nick Kay and trucking through him for the finish. I mean, no one does that to Nick Kay.

Creek would finish with 31 points (11-of-18 shooting), three rebounds and three assists.

Stay tuned for next week's edition.