The FIBA break has arrived, giving NBL clubs a chance to take a deep breath.
While the games pause, the news cycle has intensified with multiple roster changes, teams under pressure and early season surprises looking to maintain the momentum.
Kane Pitman, Olgun Uluc and Peter Hooley are here to give their thoughts on some of those topics in this week's edition of 3x3.
Who is the biggest threat to Sydney's title defence at the break?
Kane Pitman: South East Melbourne but there is a HUGE asterisk attached
As a numbers guy, I'm breaking character by not saying New Zealand but here goes. Without Ryan Broekhoff and Zhou Qi, head coach Simon Mitchell describing the defensive performance as Melbourne as "trash". Given the major injury toll to start the season, the squad's ninth ranked defence (113.8 points per 100 possessions) is hardly worth noting, but their ability to defend will determine their credentials as a contender. Nine of the last eleven champions finished in the top-two for defensive efficiency and the other two were top four. The stats don't lie.
Olgun Uluc: The numbers say New Zealand, so I will too
The Breakers are currently the best defensive team in the NBL and have the depth to continue picking up wins as we approach the midway point of the season. All three imports look like the perfect fit, while the plethora of creators means Mody Maor's team can keep coming at you in waves. Defence and depth are the two most important things to title teams, and the Breakers have that.
Peter Hooley: It has to be Cairns for me
At full strength, the Chase Buford style of play is a nightmare for most teams across the league. It's fast paced, unselfish and has weapons spread all over the floor. That is why I feel Cairns pose the biggest threat to the Kings, as they play a very similar style in terms of pace and energy. When you combine that with their high volume of outside shooting, they have the ability to flick a switch and pile on the points at any point in a game. Cairns entire roster can and will shoot the three, which gives them a chance to win every game they play.
Take your pick: What do Brisbane or Adelaide need from an import replacement?
Kane Pitman: Adelaide need another body who takes pride on the defensive end
With Robert Franks, Antonius Cleveland, Daniel Johnson and Mitch McCarron, the 36ers should have no issue putting points on the board despite losing Craig Randall II. In reference to my earlier stat about defence winning championships, Adelaide have looked disjointed and at times uninterested in stopping the opposition from putting the ball in the bucket. In Cleveland, the 36ers have arguably the best individual defender in the league, but now it's time to start causing havoc on that end and some support would be ideal.
Olgun Uluc: This is a need lots of teams are looking for, but adding a versatile, skilled four-man to the mix would change a lot for Brisbane
DJ Mitchell has been quite solid in the role thus far but there's a sense that adding a big, rangy forward would lift the Bullets' ceiling immensely. It'll take the load of Nathan Sobey and Tyler Johnson, while allowing more space for Aron Baynes to operate inside.
Peter Hooley: Brisbane need DJ Newbill
Brisbane has beaten a poor Hawks team twice and then escaped Tasmania with a win before the break. They've shown glimpses of how they can have a lot of success this season, but nothing that screams consistency. Newbill, who can set the tone defensively while also putting points on the board, would go a long way to building that consistency. Right now, Tanner Krebs is their leading man defensively on the wing. If they can find a strong guard like Newbill to slot alongside Nathan Sobey, Tyler Johnson and Aron Baynes, they could find themselves right back in the mix.
Which team out of the Play-In seeds has the most to be concerned about?
Kane Pitman: Perth appear to have the most questions
Bryce Cotton is averaging more than double the points of the Wildcats second leading scorer while also topping the team in assists per game. Via Jordanmcnbl.com, Perth is just keeping their head above water with Cotton on the floor, outscoring the opposition by 1.5 points per 36 minutes. In the 47 minutes TOTAL he has been on the bench, they were outscored by 19 points. Doubting Bryce is a fool's idea, but the workload is extreme even by his ironman standards. He needs help creating and producing points.
Olgun Uluc: Adelaide has the biggest issue that's still quite glaring
Getting rid of Craig Randall II was a start to creating some harmony within that group, but that won't magically fix the fact that they're statistically the worst defensive team in the league; and we know that long term success is nearly impossible with defence that bad. That centre spot is a problem in that regard, so it might be worth trying different lineups to see which units can sit down and guard consistently.
Peter Hooley: Perth
Through six rounds, they are the only team in the league to not win a rebounding contest in a single game. This ended up being a huge issue for the Wildcats last season. Against Adelaide, they managed to tie the rebounding count, and surprise, surprise, they walked out winners. If they don't make a more conscious effort to control the glass, I can't see them consistently beating the likes of Sydney, New Zealand and even Cairns. Those three teams pound the glass and dominate the second efforts.