Welcome to your midweek guidance for Week Eight!  In this post, I identify widely-available players who can help you win your head-to-head matchups.  As the title suggests, I couldn’t help but come up with a bunch of forwards and centers this week, as there are a lot of intriguing options at the moment.  So if you like ’em big, er, this is the post for you…

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Bol Bol has the coolest name in the NBA.  He is 7-foot-2 and having a breakout season in year four of his career.  He can also do this:
 
He’s an actual unicorn, but that’s not my main point.  I had forgotten Bol Bol was even playing Bol in the league until this season!  I’d given up on him, and clearly was wrong to do so.

With the NBA for some reason deciding they want to draft teenagers and make them a part of the league, development has to be viewed differently.  Obviously, some kids like Ja Morant come in and are obvious supernovas of basketball talent, but others take years, and even multiple teams to make their mark.  Just this year, Wendell Carter Jr. and Lauri Markkanen are infuriating Bulls fans with their breakouts in their mid 20s.  I went back to the drafts since 2018 and picked one late developer to keep an eye on, similar to Bol Bol.  Who will be the next guys to surprisingly break out?

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I really do hate to admit this, but it sure looks like these Atlanta Hawks got my ass again. 

Two seasons ago, wigged out about the pandemic and in the midst of a cross-country move, I volunteered to write for Razzball hoops and agreed to participate in the RazzJam. A true noob, I spent two of my first four picks on Trae Young and John Collins and then spent the winter watching that team be ground into dust and a bottom-20 finish. Never again, I told myself. 

After confusing “never” with “just take a year off,” I once again find myself rostering Young (on another struggling RazzJam team) and Collins and living in a world of hurt. Blinded by the value of threes, points, assists, and elite free throws, I was snagging Trae at the end of the first round with an amnesia patient’s enthusiasm. Collins I was more disciplined about, passing on him in the middle rounds most of the time, but I still bought in during a 30-team dynasty start-up where I now have the privilege of rostering him for at least three years.

The season is still young, no doubt, but it’s not baby-fresh anymore. After 13 games, Collins is treading water as the 52nd-best player in 9-cat while Trae and his grotesque shooting percentage are languishing at 67th. 

Yes, my people, these Hawks got another one over on me, at least for now. But will it last? 

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Welcome back indeed! Draft season is okay, but it feels so good to have basketball back. Roster speculation and divination is no substitute for actual games and real rotations. Considering all my fretting about what to do with Centers, it should come as no surprise that I’ve still got my eye on how some of these uncertain situations are coming together in this first column of the season. Granted, it has only been a week, but some telling decisions have been made now that we’re off and running. Eventually I’ll give some love to guards and forwards, but for now I’m hung up on the big guys. Here’s what’s caught my eye thus far. 

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Hope and confidence are high for the Atlanta Hawks heading into the 2021-22 NBA season after their surprise run to the Eastern Conference Finals in last year’s playoffs. After this offseason, the Hawks have maybe the best mix of veteran reliability and youthful upside in the entire NBA. Delon Wright and Lou Williams can comfortably back up Trae Young as well as play alongside him in the right matchups. Sharife Cooper will be there to soak up all the veteran know-how whenever he’s not testing the limits of his creativity for the College Park Skyhawks, the Hawks G League affiliate. Ditto for Jalen Johnson. It’s unreasonable to expect the Hawks to make it back to the Conference Finals, but it’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility. Barring a long-term injury to Trae Young, this team should be even better than they were in the regular season last year. For those who “couldn’t watch Trae Young” because of his mastery of the dark arts of foul drawing—you’re in luck! The rules changes should see Young and every other crafty on-ball creator playing more “honest” basketball this season. Combine that with the wealth of talent on the roster and the Hawks should be a popular league pass team. They came in at #7 in Zach Lowe’s annual League Pass Rankings.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Every year, Buddhists pilgrimage to Lumbini, Muslims to the Hajj, Christians to Jerusalem, and Hindus to Kumbh Mela. Yours truly treks to Sin City for Summer League. If any of you plan to go out there, hit me up. Anyways, it’s been three days and I’ve seen James Wiseman unfold out of a taxi, Rachel and Perk set up for a broadcast, and I now know that The Matrix (best nickname EVER) is now a blond.

Please, blog, may I have some more?