Kawhi Leonard (12-18)
Kawhi Leonard/Deandre Ayton: You have to play it safe in two if you start with Kawhi. I don’t care how appetizing a Leonard/Paul George or a Leonard/Kyrie Irving pairing looks, you can’t do it. Ayton is very safe and his line complements Leonard’s well. Outside of threes, which will be a weakness for almost any Ayton team, this build heads into third round in good shape in every category. Its strongest categories are rebounds, FG%, FT%, and turnovers.
Kawhi Leonard/Nikola Vucevic: Threes are less of an issue with this start, but you are still below average in the category heading into three. You know the Ayton/Vucevic tradeoff by now. Ayton comes with more FG% and Vucevic does more from deep and is better at the line.
Other strong options: Pascal Siakam (the former teammates put you in a great spot in points, the percentages, and turnovers, blocks are the only issue), John Collins (no major issues as Kawhi offsets most of Collins’ horrendous steal rate, blocks a little low, outstanding FG% start), Kemba Walker (Kemba is durable, Kawhi is…not, great points, threes, steals, FT%, and turnovers start)
Jimmy Butler (12-18)
Jimmy Butler/Nikola Vucevic: This is an elite pairing for FT% impact and turnovers and puts you in a great spot in steals and rebounds. Points and FG% are all slightly below average and assists need attention in the next couple of rounds. Blocks are in reasonable shape if Jimmy can match last season’s 0.6 BPG.
Jimmy Butler/Deandre Ayton: This is one of my favorite deep-league pairings. Punt threes is my favorite big-man heavy build and it’s hard to do better than this with a late first-round pick in a deeper league. This is an excellent percentages start. Jimmy is elite in FT% and Ayton is elite in FG%. This pairing is also elite in turnovers which makes it easier to take on point guards that address this pairing’s issue with dimes. Steals are obviously lights-out as well and boards and points are in a good spot.
Other strong options: Jrue Holiday (not as ideal as a Jimmy/big start, nice dimes, steals, FT%, and TOs, not bad in FG% for a guard-guard start), Pascal Siakam (pretty solid in 18-team leagues, only a standout start in steals, FT%, and TOs, but you’re not in terrible shape in anything), John Collins (Jimmy offsets Collins’ laughable steal rate, strong start in boards, FG%, FT%, and TOs, assists the weak point), Devin Booker (need to take some high-scoring three-point shooters in punt threes, locks up FT%, Jimmy offsets Booker’s low steals, blocks and FG% in trouble but plenty of time to come back in both)
- The targets are the same as in punt threes. You will decide between punt threes and punt assists (and possibly punt points) in rounds 3 and 4.
Paul George (13-18)
Paul George/Kemba Walker: Kemba is an outstanding partner for all of the load management/fragile early-round options. The Celtics’ new lead guard is averaging 1.5 missed games per season over the past four years. Both players gain a ton of value in this build. George will finish in the first round on a per-game basis and Walker is a lock for top-20 numbers. This is an elite start in threes, steals, FT%, and turnovers. Rebounds and blocks will obviously need work.
Paul George/Nikola Vucevic: Vucevic doesn’t have much value tied up in FG% and selecting him helps fix your problem with boards. The Magic’s All-Star was a top-10 contributor in the category in 2018-2019. This pairing could use some blocks, but it has no weaknesses besides swats. This is an especially strong start in threes, boards, steals, FT%, and turnovers.
Other strong options: Trae Young (gross blocks start, but very strong in points, threes, dimes, steals, and FT%), Pascal Siakam (Siakam is still very useful with FG% thrown out, strong points, threes, steals, FT%, TOs start, blocks low, dimes low but not too bad), Devin Booker (too risky for me personally, but huge per-game upside, would need a shot blocker in 3 or 4), Jrue Holiday (a fragile pairing, Jrue is a good shot blocker for a guard, steals and threes are elite, assists in decent shape)
Paul George/Deandre Ayton: Ayton is a safe pick who can offset George’s unfortunate FG% by himself. Since George is elite from three, this build goes into the third with no real weaknesses. This pairing does extremely good work in rebounds, steals, FT%, and turnovers.
Paul George/Nikola Vucevic: Vucevic doesn’t bring you back in FG%, but he keeps you within striking distance of average in the category. FG% is this pairing’s only problem. Threes, boards, steals, FT%, and turnovers will all be in great shape going into the third.
Other strong options: Pascal Siakam (FG% will drop now that he’s the man, but will still be very good, well-rounded start outside of blocks), Jrue Holiday (a fragile pairing, only an average start in assists so not giving up much by going with this build, big start in the guard categories, not bad on the boards for a pairing without a big), Jimmy Butler (a fragile pairing, you will go 20-0 in steals, great FT% start, blocks and FG% are low so need a shot-blocking big in 3 and/or 4)
Rudy Gobert (12-18)
Rudy Gobert/Trae Young: Only Clint Capela had a larger positive impact than Gobert on the FG% category last year and with Mike Conley in town, Gobert could take the top spot in 2019-2020. This is a well-above-average start in FG%, even if Young only hits 43-ish percent of his attempts from the floor this year. It should also be at least an average start in dimes. Gobert is just a finisher, but Young has a shot at leading the league in dimes. Managers starting with this build will need to keep an eye on their triples and steals. It is a weak start in both categories.
Rudy Gobert/Luka Doncic: Gobert easily offsets the FG% hit that comes with Doncic, and like Young, Luka is a huge help in the build’s problematic categories. This is an elite start in both rebounds and blocks as Doncic does better work than most players his size in both categories. Threes, assists, and steals are what this pairing will have to focus on going forward.
Rudy Gobert/Russell Westbrook: Westbrook does more in the steals column than Young and Doncic but won’t hit from deep as often, and likely won’t score as much either. As is the case with the two sophomores, Gobert cancels out both Westbrook’s weak FG% and his high turnovers. This is a top-end start in the big-man categories and a barely below-average start in dimes and steals.
Other strong options: Kemba Walker (Walker should hit the most threes of the guard options, but won’t help as much in dimes, a very durable start), Jrue Holiday (Jrue’s dimes will come down this year and he’s not the three-point threat the other non-Westbrook guards are, provides a solid all-around line though, his steals can offset Gobert’s weak numbers in the category), Kyrie Irving (could fall due to his face issue, outstanding match if he does due to his high points, threes, and excellent FG%)
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