This is a punting strategy that is going to show up in almost every competitive league. It is the go-to punting strategy for those fortunate enough to have a top-two pick and the opportunity to select James Harden. This should also be the punting build of choice for those who decide to start their draft with either Russell Westbrook or Damian Lillard. It is also an excellent alternative option for Anthony Davis owners. Davis was a top-five source of FG% impact last season, but works in this build for the same reason that Steph Curry works in the punt FT% build. Davis dominates the categories that this build is naturally weak in.
The difference between a good punt FG% team and a great one comes down to how strong that team is on the boards and in the blocks column. It’s very common for a punt FG% team to be weak in at least one of the categories at the end of the draft. This is because rebounds and blocks are strongly correlated with FG% and discounting players who shoot well from the field limits our big man options. While this build does take some bigs off the boards, we’re still going to want to have a normal amount of big men on our roster. You’ll likely find yourself taking one or two bigs who shoot extremely well from the floor because of how hard it can be to find enough boards and blocks. You should keep your eyes open for strong rebounding and shot blocking wings. Picking up wings who grab six boards a night or average 0.8 BPG is a great way to remain competitive in both categories.
Davis is obviously an elite source of both rebounds and blocks, but that’s not the only reason why he’s an attractive option for those looking to punt FG%. Davis also makes it very possible to be competitive in turnovers (2.2 TOPG), something that is going to be very difficult to pull off if you start your draft with either Harden (4.4 TOPG) or Westbrook (4.8 TOPG) instead. Since many of this build’s targets are weak in turnovers, it makes sense to jettison turnovers in addition to FG%. Punting two categories is completely acceptable and not a high risk strategy. This build’s natural weakness in turnovers also means that it is a much more effective strategy in eight-category leagues than it is in nine-category leagues.
This is also the build that would benefit the most from stashing either Kristaps Porzingis or DeMarcus Cousins. Both players would have been outstanding first-round options for this build if they had not suffered such serious injuries. Porzingis is a better stash than Cousins. Players returning from a torn ACL have a better prognosis than players returning from a torn Achilles and it’s possible that we see the Knick sometime in January. I can only recommend stashing either player in leagues that give their managers two IL spots. In leagues with less than two IL spots, stashes almost never work out. Stashing in such leagues causes you to play a man down or worse for extended stretches of the season and can lead to you missing out on high-quality free agents.
Note: The below list is not meant to be a complete list of all the players that fit into this build. The round that I recommend taking each player in is based off of Yahoo Fantasy Basketball’s rankings and where I think each player will or could be available in a standard 12-team 9-category draft. If you don’t see a player who you think fits the build well, it may be because I think that player is badly overpriced on Yahoo. For example, Donovan Mitchell and Bradley Beal will not be showing up on any of these punting guides unless Yahoo moves them out of the second-round.
Categories to target: Rebounds, Blocks, Turnovers
First-round targets: James Harden, Anthony Davis, Steph Curry, Damian Lillard, Russell Westbrook, Victor Oladipo
R2) Joel Embiid – In the past, I have been a strong proponent of the Damian Lillard/DeMarcus Cousins combo that was usually available to managers stuck drafting at the end of the first round. With that option no longer on the table, the ideal partner for Lillard becomes Embiid. Embiid dominates the big man categories that this build needs to focus on (11.0 RPG, 1.8 BPG) and he only loses a tiny amount of value when FG% is ignored (48.3 FG%). The Sixer is also one of the best scoring big men in the league (22.9 PPG) and has underrated court vision (3.2 APG). Selecting Embiid in the second round will make it extremely difficult to be competitive in turnovers (3.7 TOPG).
R2) Paul George – George was a first-round asset to this build in 2017-2018 and Carmelo Anthony’s departure makes a repeat of that impressive finish likely. When George was on the court with Russell Westbrook but not Anthony, his usage rate was 26.1 percent. When all three players were on the court, his usage rate dropped to 23.5 percent. Expect elite production in threes (3.1 3PG) and steals (2.0 SPG) and very good numbers in the points (21.9 PPG), rebounds (5.7 RPG), and FT% (82.2 FT% on 5.2 FTA) categories.
R2) Kemba Walker – Kemba is one of my favorite options in the second half of the second round and comes with both a very high floor and a very high ceiling. Walker has finished as a top-25 player in the punt FG% build six seasons in a row and was a first-round asset to the build in 2015-2016. Kemba does extremely good work in the traditional point guard categories (2.9 3PG, 5.6 APG, 1.1 SPG, 86.4 FT% on 5.3 FTA) and has flourished as the Hornets’ top option (22.1 PPG). His value is further enhanced by his very low turnover rate (2.2 TOPG).
Other Round 2 Options: Chris Paul, Jimmy Butler, John Wall