1) Anthony Davis (PF/C) – The Brow is very likely to finish as the top overall player in nine-category leagues in 2020-2021. He was the top nine-category player in 2019-2020 before the league shut down and has finished as a top-two per-game player in six of the last seven seasons. The superstar also gets the top spot this year because he fits just about any build due to his all-around excellence. You have plenty of flexibility when you start your draft with Davis, although I do prefer to slide him into fantasy’s best nine-category punting build – punt assists. In his best build, Davis was about 40 percent more valuable than the next closest player last season. The only hole in his line when dimes are tossed is threes (1.2 3PG), and he still does better work there than many big men. It’s also possible that we haven’t seen his Lakers’ ceiling yet. LeBron will be getting plenty of nights off this year, and Davis has room to grow in the FG% category. Last season’s 50.3 percent connection rate from the field was the second-worst of The Brow’s career.
2) Karl-Anthony Towns (C) – Mr. Durablity wasn’t so durable last season. After missing a total of five games over his first four seasons in the association, we only saw Towns 35 times in 2019-2020. That sucked, but it should also have absolutely no bearing on where you take Towns this season. He’s going to be 100 percent healthy on opening night and is very likely going to finish as a top-four player on a per-game basis in 2020-2021. That’s where Towns finished last season, and there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be able to repeat that performance with D’Angelo Russell in a Wolves jersey. Russell is a high-usage player, but so was Andrew Wiggins. Towns is best deployed in either the punt assists (4.4 APG) build or the punt steals build (0.9 SPG). Both builds are looking to finish the draft above average in both percentages categories, and Towns is a positive in both. Despite hitting an absurd 3.3 3PG last season, Towns shot 50.8 percent from the field. At the line, he was solid (79.6 FT%), but not up to his usual standards. In each of Towns’ previous three seasons, he connected on at least 83.2 percent of his trips to the charity stripe. It’s fair to expect some positive regression in the category in 2020-2021.
3) Nikola Jokic (PF/C) – Jokic is another very safe first-round pick. Big Honey rarely misses games, and the Nuggets have resisted putting him on any kind of load management program in the past. The Nugget is averaging only 4.0 missed games per year since entering the league and did not miss a game during the 2019-2020 season. His below-the-rim game will always make him a natural fit for the punt blocks build (0.6 BPG), but don’t overlook his fit in both the punt threes build (1.0 3PG) and punt points build (20.2 PPG). Jokic doesn’t lose much value in either strategy, and his touch at the line (81.3 FT%) is a big help to both builds as they both tend to struggle to find enough FT% impact. Don’t be alarmed if Jokic starts the year slowly. The man – how do I put this – does not take the offseason terribly seriously. In each of his last three seasons, he’s been terrible in the first month of the season before playing himself into shape and producing mid-first-round numbers for the rest of the year.
4) DeAndre Ayton (C) – Last season’s suspension is going to make Ayton a lot cheaper than he should be. There’s a good chance that this is the last year for a while in which the Sun can be drafted after the first round. The big man’s college blocks came back in his sophomore year (1.7 BPG), and it led to a top-20 nine-category finish. Ayton is already an elite rebounder (12.0 RPG) and should continue to be a monster source of FG% impact (54.8 FG%) even if he starts to shoot threes. He should also crack the 20 PPG mark this season (19.0 PPG) while doing respectable work at the line (76.9 FT%). The big man is a decent passer, but with Chris Paul and Devin Booker on his team, he won’t get many chances to showcase his skills (1.9 APG). Because of this, Ayton is best paired with the punt assists build. In that strategy, the center was a first-round per-game player in 2019-2020.
5) Nikola Vucevic (PF/C) – Vucevic was a top-15 player for the second straight year in 2019-2020. The big man produces a very balanced line (20.2 PPG, 1.7 3PG, 10.8 RPG, 3.6 APG, 1.5 TOPG, 48.0 FG%, 79.2 FT%) that has no significant holes in it. The defensive numbers could be better (0.9 SPG, 0.7 BPG), but neither category is a major issue. The lack of blocks makes him a natural fit for the punt blocks build, and so do his elite boards. When punting blocks, rebounds can be problematic as you are passing on elite shot-blockers who tend to also be top-end rebounders. However, due to how versatile his game is, the big man is a solid addition to just about every build. He is also a relatively safe player. The Magic will be in a battle for the eight-spot in the East all season long and won’t be able to give the former All-Star any days off.
6) Joel Embiid (PF/C) – The Sixers are finally surrounding Embiid and Ben Simmons with shooters, and that likely means big things for the Sixers’ top stars. While the shooters are a welcomed addition, Embiid doesn’t need them to improve on last year’s second-round per-game nine-category finish. All he needs to do is play more minutes. Last year’s drop in points (23.4 PPG), rebounds (11.8 RPG), and blocks (1.3 BPG) was almost entirely due to him playing three fewer minutes than he did in 2019-2020. If the Sixers allow him to play 33 MPG as they did in 2018-2019, a first-round per-game finish is very likely. Per-game being the key word, of course. Embiid is so dominant that he works in most builds, but he’s best paired with the punt FG% strategy due to his relatively low-FG% (47.3 FG%) and dominance in the big-man categories that the build usually has issues with.
7) Rudy Gobert (C) – If you went small in the first and want to punt FT% (62.1 FT% on 5.9 FTA), the NBA superspreader is your guy. Before ending the NBA’s season in March, Gobert was posting top-nine numbers in the punt FT% build. The center is a lock to be a top-10 contributor in the rebounds (13.7 RPG), blocks (2.0 BPG), and FG% (69.8 FG%) categories. He doesn’t do much else (15.1 PPG, 0.0 3PG, 1.5 APG, 0.8 SPG), but if you pair him with Steph Curry or Luka Doncic, those weaknesses are manageable. Playing for the Jazz is also a boon for Gobert. The Jazz are in the NBA’s “Goldilocks zone”. They aren’t good enough to rest the top guys, and they aren’t bad enough to fall out of what should be a very tough playoff race in the West. It’s not impossible to slide Gobert into a non-punt FT% strategy, but I don’t recommend it. The hit is very difficult to offset. James Harden alone won’t do it, and you would need a second elite source of FT% impact just to get back to even.
8) John Collins (PF/C) – I hope you enjoyed the 41 games of top-seven production that Collins gave his owners last year because the big man is not going to come anywhere close to matching that elite ranking with Clint Capela in town. Capela’s presence is going to take a significant bite out of Collins rebounding (10.1 RPG) and blocks numbers (1.6 BPG). Spending less time around the rim should also hurt the power forward’s accuracy from the floor (58.3 FG% on 14.8 FG%). On the flip side, I would expect an increase in triples (1.4 3PG) since this isn’t 1995, and anyone not playing center is going to have to spend almost all their time on the perimeter. Collins’ value will drop on a suddenly loaded Hawks teams, but he should be able to post top-30 numbers. The big-man stats will still be very useful, and he’s going to do a much better job than most bigs in the points (21.6 PPG) and FT% (80.0 FT% on 3.7 FTA) categories. The Hawk’s percentages allow him to work in most builds, but he is an especially nice play in the punt assists (1.5 APG) and punt steals (0.8 SPG) builds.
9) Bam Adebayo (PF/C) – If Bam remembers how to shoot free throws, he has a chance to crack the top-20 in nine-category leagues this year. His struggles from the line (69.0 FT% on 5.3 FTA) were the lone ugly spot in what was a monster breakout year. Without free throws included in the valuation equation, Adebayo was a borderline top-15 player in 2019-2020. I have faith in his free throw shooting improving because we’ve seen him do much better at the charity stripe in the past. The All-Star connected on 78.3 percent of his attempts in the playoffs and shot 73 percent from the line over his first two seasons in the league. Adebayo is going to be an elite fantasy option for the next decade because he can do everything. He is one of the best passing big men in the league (5.1 APG), does great work on the boards (10.2 RPG), makes the most of his scoring opportunities (15.9 PPG on 55.7 FG%), and is already a DPOY contender (1.1 SPG, 1.3 BPG). We’re also likely going to see him unveil a three-ball this year, although hopefully, it’s not on high volume so that his FG% remains elite. If you are punting blocks, Adebayo is one of your primary targets. He’s still very valuable without swats, and he addresses the builds’ natural weakness on the boards and in the FG% column.
10) Andre Drummond (PF/C) – This is a tricky one. There is top-10 upside here, and there is also “not playing in the fantasy playoffs downside”. The Cavaliers are not going to be good even though they now have a frontcourt of Kevin Love and Drummond. They had the 25th-best offense and the second-worst defense in the league in 2019-2020. Drummond doesn’t fix either of those issues, which will make him a very dicey play late in the year if he is not traded again. Fortunately, there’s a good chance that he is moved at some point. Drummond is expiring, and no disrespect to my Cleveland subscribers, but the big man is probably not going to want to stay with the Cavaliers long-term. That makes it likely that the team at least attempts to move the big man. Wherever he is, Drummond’s value is going to be relatively safe since he doesn’t have a lot of value tied up in usage-related categories. He’s always going to be a monster on the boards (15.2 RPG), and his defensive numbers should remain elite (1.9 SPG, 1.6 BPG) wherever he plays. I also expect him to clean up his turnovers this year. His career-worst 3.6 TOPG had a lot to do with Detroit not having any guards and Blake Griffin missing most of the year. He won’t be asked to do as much with the ball this year with Sexton and Love on his squad. Drummond finished sixth in the punt FT% build last season and was the fourth-most valuable player to the strategy in 2018-2019.
11) Robert Covington (SF/PF/C) – Covington remains one of the most underappreciated assets in fantasy basketball. It looks like, once again, fantasy players will be able to acquire his services at a discount. He is currently ranked shockingly low on Yahoo. Heck, this fairly aggressively ranking is probably underselling him. After all, he did finish as a second-round player in some of fantasy’s most popular builds in 2019-2020. Covington brings elite steals (1.6 SPG), very useful boards (6.0 RPG with the Wolves), and above-average triples (2.3 3PG). He’ll also be one of the best sources of out-of-position blocks, although he likely won’t match last season’s 1.3 BPG. Last year’s exceptional performance in the category is inflated by his time as the Rockets’ primary rim defender. While in Houston, the newest Blazer averaged a ridiculous 2.2 BPG. As elite as Covington is, he’s a tough pickup for teams struggling in points. The swingman has never averaged more than 13.5 PPG, and most of the players in his range score significantly more than that. Points are very hard to find after round five, so if you have a poor start in points, and grab Covington in four or five, you probably won’t be able to end up where you want to be in the category.
12) Jusuf Nurkic (C) – Nurkic should be a top-50 player this year, but we should keep our expectations in check. His top-10 numbers in the bubble are not repeatable. Not because he’s not talented enough to repeat them, but because he is unlikely to play enough to repeat them. In the bubble, Nurkic played 32.6 MPG. That extra playing time was driven by the Blazers being in a position where every game was Game 7. That’s not going to be the case this year, and Nurkic’s minutes are likely going to drop into the high-20s, which is where they were before his injury. The last time Nurkic played close to a full season, he was a top-40 player in 27.4 MPG. Expect a flashy double-double from the center (15.6 PPG, 10.4 RPG in 2018-2019) that is accompanied by excellent blocks (1.4 BPG in 2018-2019) and stellar percentage (50.8 FG%, 77.8 FT%). Nurkic works in most builds, but he is an especially strong target for the punt threes strategy. In 2018-2019, the Blazer was a second-round player without triples (0.0 3PG).
13) Clint Capela (PF/C) – Capela should continue to be an elite fantasy option in Atlanta, and it’s possible that he improves on his numbers with the Rockets. The Hawks played at roughly the same pace as the Rockets did last year, and Capela could be looking at a usage (16.6 USG%) increase now that he’s on a team that doesn’t completely ignore their bigs. I would expect his PPG to look more like his 2018-2019 average (16.6 PPG) than his 2019-2020 average (13.9 PPG). The center provides his owners with some of the best big-man numbers in the league. The former Rocket averaged a ridiculous 13.8 RPG and 1.8 BPG while shooting 62.9 percent from the floor in his final year in Houston. Those big-man numbers were good enough to place him inside of the top-25 in nine-category leagues and inside of the top-10 in punt FT% (52.9 FT% on 2.7 FTA) on a per-game basis.
14) Mitchell Robinson (C) – The Knicks’ offseason has been kind to Robinson. The Knicks’ jettisoned their veteran big men, and his only serious competition for playing time will come from Nerlens Noel. It looks like 28 MPG is happening, and if it does, Robinson could crush this ranking in nine-category leagues. In 2019-2020, it only took Robinson 23.2 MPG to finish as a top-50 player. If you were punting threes (0.0 3PG), he was a borderline second-round asset, and the same was true in both punt points (9.7 PPG) and punt assists (0.6 APG). Look for the Knick to compete for the blocks crown (3.0 BP36) while averaging close to a double-double (15.0 PP36, 10.9 RP36). He’ll also have an above-average steal rate for a big (1.3 SP36) and be an elite source of FG% impact (74.2 FG% on 5.6 FGA). Last season, only five players had a larger positive impact on FG% than Robinson.
15) LaMarcus Aldridge (PF/C) – Aldridge squeezed out one last second-round finish in 2019-2020 by smashing his previous career-high in blocks. His 2019-2020 swat rate of 1.6 BPG easily bested his previous career-high of 1.3 BPG. At 35-years-old, I’m not confident in an encore. Not only is some slippage extremely likely, it’s also possible that Aldridge is moved at some point this season. He’s on an expiring $24 million contract, and with Spurs going nowhere fast, they have no reason to hold onto the veteran. A trade would be bad for Aldridge’s value. It would likely be to a team trying to compete for a championship, and I don’t see any contender out there who would feature him as much as the Spurs do. In a reduced role, the veteran would still be useful, but he’d be more of a mid-round option than the early-round option that he’s been for the last decade. Wherever Aldridge lands this year, he should produce a well-rounded line that works with any build (18.9 PPG on 49.3 FG% and 82.7 FT%, 1.2 3PG, 7.4 RPG, 2.4 APG, 0.7 SPG, and 1.6 BPG). I like him the most in punt steals where he’s been a first-round player for a large chunk of his career and in punt threes due to his excellent free throw shooting.
16) Christian Wood (PF/C) – Wood is one of the big winners of free agency. He’s not going to be the 20/9 guy that he was as a starter in Detroit, but there were very few teams where he was guaranteed big minutes like he is in Houston. He’ll be the Rockets’ third-option next year, and a 16/8 season with plenty of extras feels doable. In addition to his excellent per-minute popcorn numbers (22.0 PP36, 10.6 RP36), Wood should be one of the better sources of FG% impact available in the middle rounds (56.7 FG%), a strong bet for blocks (1.5 BP36), and he will manage all that without hurting your chances in threes (1.5 3PG). His well-rounded line makes him a solid fit for just about any build. I am not too concerned about DeMarcus Cousins at the moment. Wood can play some four, and the former superstar is a long-shot to be effective or healthy enough to earn big minutes.
17) Hassan Whiteside (C) – Whiteside’s role with the Kings is up in the air. Sacramento has Richaun Holmes on the roster, and any sane team would try to develop Marvin Bagley as a five. It’s possible that Whiteside plays 28 MPG, and it’s also possible that he gets stuck in the low-20s. Either way, he’s a strong pick in the middle rounds. He can outplay a sixth-round ADP in 24 MPG, and he has first-round upside if he lands in the high-20s. Whiteside is coming off of a top-10 nine-category finish and has cracked the top-40 in five of his six seasons as a full-time NBA player. Regardless of his role, he’s going to be a monster in all three of the big-man categories (61.8 FG%, 14.2 RPG, 3.1 BPG) while being an above-average per-minute scorer for a big (16.3 PPG). As always, his FT% is going to be a mystery. He could be respectable from the line this year, or he could turn your team into a punt FT% squad by himself. Over the last three seasons, Whiteside’s FT% has ranged from an acceptable 70.3 percent to a ghastly 44.9 percent.
18) Domantas Sabonis (PF/C) – If you are punting blocks, this is your primary mid-round big-man target. The Pacer does nothing in the category (0.4 BPG) and brings the boards (12.4 RPG) and the FG% impact (54.1 FG%) that the build desperately needs. Sabonis is also a very strong source of out-of-position points (18.5 PPG) and dimes (5.0 APG), but I would expect both numbers to take a slight hit this year with Victor Oladipo (hopefully) healthier. Owners should also expect an uptick in Sabonis’ threes (0.3 3PG). The Pacers letting go of Nate McMillian suggests that they want to move to a more modern offense. Under McMillian, the team consistently ranked near the bottom of the league in three-point attempts. The change in offensive philosophy shouldn’t have a major impact on Sabonis’ value as any additional value generated by the threes should be offset by a drop in FG%.
19) Jonas Valanciunas (C) – Despite only playing 26.3 MPG, Valanciunas was a top-50 player before the stoppage. While another top-50 finish is possible, I wouldn’t bank on him improving that impressive ranking. Valanciunas is turning 29 this season, and he’s unlikely to see his minutes increase since any increase would come at the expense of the Grizzlies’ impressive future frontcourt of Jaren Jackson Jr. and Brandon Clarke. In a mid-20s role, Valanciunas can still be an early-round player in both the punt threes (0.5 3PG) and punt steals (0.4 SPG) builds. In 2019-2020, Big Science was a third-rounder without triples and cracked the second round in punt swipes. He managed this by dominating the rebounding (11.2 RPG) and FG% (58.6 FG% on 10.6 FGA) categories while doing a respectable job for a center in points (14.9 PPG) and blocks (1.1 BPG). The excellent rebounding and FG% contributions also make him a great fit for the punt blocks build due to its natural weakness in both categories.
20) Kristaps Porzingis (PF/C) – This is a tricky one. There is top-15 potential here, but there is also 25-games-played downside. Despite his league-winning potential, I wouldn’t take Porzingis before the fifth, at the earliest, even in punt FG% (42.0 FG%). It sounds like Porzingis is going to be out until at least the middle of January, and it is very possible that he is somewhat limited or on a load management program after that. As much as we love upside, we need to prioritize availability in what should be a crazy year. When healthy, Zinger is a fantasy dream. He was a top-25 player last season thanks to excellent numbers in the rebounding (9.5 RPG) and blocks (2.1 BPG) categories and rare out-of-position contributions in points (19.2 PPG) and threes (2.5 3PG).
21) Myles Turner (PF/C) – Where to take Turner depends on your build and what you did earlier in the draft. If you’re struggling to find enough blocks, this is a good spot. If you are already in a solid position in the category or are confident in your chances of finding them later, then I would pass. The center is pretty close to a one-category player these days (2.2 BPG), and if you don’t need his blocks, he’s going to be a waste of a mid-round pick. The Pacers’ double-big lineup killed his boards last season (6.6 RPG), and he is an afterthought on the offensive end these days (11.8 PPG on 45.1 FG%, 1.4 3PG, 1.1 APG). Turner’s blocks, low-scoring numbers, and weak efficiency make him a natural fit for the punt FG% build. That build usually struggles to find enough swats, and its early-round picks are usually dominant in the points and assists categories.
22) Al Horford (PF/C) – OKC is a dream (final?) destination for Horford. His competition for playing time now consists of T.J. Leaf and Mike Muscala instead of Joel Embiid. Assuming he stays with the Thunder, he should be one of your top targets in the second half of the draft. Despite being a terrible fit beside Joel Embiid, the veteran still managed to finish as a top-65 player in his lone season in Philadelphia. In Oklahoma City, a top-40 finish is very possible. Expect improvements in most categories (12.0 PPG, 1.5 3PG, 6.9 RPG, 4.1 APG, 0.9 SPG, 0.9 BPG) with the biggest jump coming in FG%. Last year’s disappointing mark of 44.2 percent was mostly due to Embiid forcing Horford to the perimeter. When Horford had to share the floor with Embiid, he shot an ugly 41.4 percent from the field.
23) Draymond Green (PF/C) – Green is getting up there, but a lot of last season’s disappointing top-90 finish can be chalked up to a minutes decrease and a general lack of effort. With Steph Curry back in the lineup, we should see a much more engaged version of Draymond in 2020-2021, and I would expect his minutes to jump back into the low-30s. His per-minute numbers didn’t slip last season, and his FG% (38.9 FG%) should rise this year with defenses having to focus on Steph again. In friendly builds, a top-40 finish is possible. In 2018-2019, he averaged 7.4 PPG, 0.7 3PG, 7.3 RPG, 6.9 APG, 1.4 SPG, and 1.1 BPG and was a top-30 player in the punt points build and a top-45 player in the punt threes build. Green was a nice fit for the punt FT% build in his prime due to his mediocre free throw shooting, dimes, and defensive numbers, but he is someone I would be careful adding to that build today. That build struggles to find enough points and threes, and adding Draymond has the potential to turn your single punt into a triple punt.
24) Jaren Jackson Jr. (PF/C) – Stay away from Jackson unless he comes at a discount. The big man is not expected to be ready for the start of the season, and the fact that we are being told that over a month before the season starts is very worrisome. Drafting an injured player is always a risky move, but it is especially so this year due to the condensed schedule. Since there will be fewer weeks in the regular season, early-season losses will hurt more than they usually do. If you draft Jackson early, you might find yourself in a hole that an active Jackson won’t be able to dig yourself out of. When healthy, the big man will produce a very unique line. He may flirt with 20 PPG this season while hitting over 2.5 3PG. The stretch big should also block over 1.5 shots a night. That’s a very useful combination, but unfortunately, his upside will continue to be limited by his disinterest on the boards (4.7 RPG) and poor percentages (46.8 FG%, 74.1 FT%). The best build to gamble on Jackson in is the punt FG% build. He gains value there, and his blocks are a huge help to a build that usually struggles to find enough swats.
25) Thomas Bryant (C) – Bryant is an extremely interesting player. The Wizards’ starting center was once again a per-minute monster in 2019-2020. In only his second full season in the association, Bryant ended the year as a top-30 per-minute producer. That level of per-minute efficiency allowed him to finish as a top-50 player in punt dimes and punt steals (including bubble games) despite only playing 24.9 MPG. If he can stay healthy, he should play more than that this year, and 28+ MPG would give Bryant top-35 potential in friendly builds. Besides assists (2.6 AP36) and steals (0.8 SP36), Bryant produces a well-rounded line. He does good work in all of the big-man categories (58.1 FG%, 10.4 RP36, 1.5 BP36), helps more than many centers from deep (1.2 3P36), and has a close to a neutral impact on the FT% category (73.9 FT% on 2.5 FTA). Westbrook joining the Wizards should have a small negative impact on Bryant. The former MVP should make Bryant an even better source of FG% impact, but he’s going to drag down the center’s boards. To give you an idea of how much Westbrook can drag down the rebounding rates of his centers, check out Steven Adams’ per-36 numbers. In his final season with the former MVP, Adams produced 10.2 RP36. That number jumped to 12.5 RP36 after Westbrook was shipped to Houston. Bryant will still be very helpful in the category, but he’s not going to flirt with a double-double like he may have if John Wall was still running the point in Washington.
26) Brandon Clarke (PF/C) – 2019-2020’s fantasy rookie of the year was not Ja Morant or Zion Williamson. It was Brandon Clarke. The per-minute monster was a top-60 player when the league started its four-month sabbatical in mid-March despite only playing 21.7 MPG. There is early-round potential here if the Grizzlies fully unleash him. Unfortunately, that’s unlikely to happen this year barring Jaren Jackson Jr.’s knee injury being worse than reported or Jonas Valanciunas go down. JJJ’s minutes are safe, and Valanciunas is still very productive and only played 26.3 MPG last season. We should see Clarke’s minutes rise, but probably only into the mid-20s. That would be enough to give Clarke a shot at breaking into the top-50. He is already elite in the field goal percentage category (62.3 FG% on 8.2 FG%), respectable at the line (78.5 FT%), and is on pace to be solid in both the rebounds (5.8 RPG) and blocks (0.8 BPG) categories. The Canadian can also occasionally hit from deep (0.4 3PG), although his form makes Shawn Marion’s look technically sound. Clarke works on most teams, but he is an especially attractive pickup for those punting steals. He was a non-factor in the category as a rookie (0.5 SPG), and his clean percentages fit in nicely with one of the only builds that has a good shot at winning both categories consistently.
27) Serge Ibaka (PF/C) – The Clippers are a good spot for The Original Man. Ma Fuzzy should start and play at least as much as he did in his final season with the Raptors (27.5 MPG). That much run should make Ibaka a mid-round player with top-50 upside. His ceiling will be even higher than that in friendly builds if his blocks bounce back. After years of deriving most of his value from the category, the big man only averaged 0.8 BPG in 2019-2020. Some of that drop is likely age-related, but I don’t think we can write off his swats just yet. In the Raptors’ championship year, Ibaka averaged a much more helpful 1.4 BPG. In addition to his blocks, Ibaka will provide his owners with positive contributions in the FG% (51.8 FG%), rebounds (8.3 RPG), and points (16.0 PPG) categories while dragging down their assists (1.5 APG) and steals (0.5 SPG).
28) Brook Lopez (C) – If you are desperate for blocks and don’t want to pay up for Myles Turner or Mitchell Robinson, Lopez is your guy. Like Turner, Lopez dominates the blocks category (2.5 BPG) while not doing a whole lot else. After hitting a very useful 2.3 3PG in 2019-2020, Lopez only managed to splash from deep 1.4 times per game in 2019-2020, and he remains a major drag on your boards (4.5 RPG) and field goal percentage (42.7 FG%). His mastery of the swats category and perimeter-focused game makes him an ideal fit with the punt FG% build. That build desperately needs blocks and its early-round targets are usually strong enough in the points, assists, and steals categories to offset Lopez’s other weaknesses (11.0 PPG, 1.6 APG, 0.7 SPG).
29) Steven Adams (C) – The trade to Pelicans is a godsend for Adams’ value. He was going to be an extremely risky investment on draft day if he stayed with a Thunder team going nowhere fast. In his final season in Oklahoma City, he only played 26.7 MPG. He’s not a lock get back over 30 MPG in New Orleans, but his latest extension suggests that the team sees him as a key long-term piece. Assuming a small bump in playing time, Adams should be able to go back to flirting with early-round numbers in the punt FT% build (58.2 FT%). He was still a top-45 punt FT% weapon in his disappointing 2019-2020 campaign, and in 2018-2019, the big man finished in the second round when FT% was ignored. Expect close to a double-double from Adams (13.9 PPG, 9.5 RPG in 2018-2019), top-end FG% impact (59.5 FG% on 10.1 FGA), and a block per game (1.1 BPG). His steals were surprisingly mediocre last season (0.8 SPG, 1.1 SPG), but I’m not too worried about them. Swipes has a lot of year-to-year variance, and Adams averaged at least 1.1 SPG in his three previous seasons. I expect they’ll improve at least slightly in his first season in a Pelicans jersey.
30) Kevin Love (PF/C) – Love should outplay this ranking on a per-game basis, even with Andre Drummond in Cleveland. The reason why I don’t have him higher than this is the Cleveland part of that sentence. I have a hard time picturing any team being willing to trade for an aging Love making $30 million per year for the next three seasons, especially with COVID slowing down future cap increases. The power forward is very likely going to be playing the entire year with the Cavaliers, and unless the team surprises, that will make Love, once again, a rest risk during the most important stretch of the fantasy calendar. When active, I would expect about 16 and 8.5 from Love with minimal defensive numbers (0.6 SPG, 0.3 BPG) and plenty of threes (2.6 3PG). He did better in both the points and rebounds categories last year (17.6 PPG, 9.8 RPG), but it’s fair to expect a decline in both areas with Drummond in town and the Cavaliers’ young guards likely taking over a larger share of the offense. The likely drop in usage should also take a small bite out of his stellar FT% impact (85.4 FT% on 3.9 FTA). Love gains a lot of per-game value in both the punt FG% and punt blocks builds, but he is only a good, not great fit for both since he struggles to produce in one of each build’s problematic categories. The punt FG% build usually ends up short in blocks, and the punt blocks build usually has problems finding enough FG% impact.
31) Wendell Carter Jr. (C) – Carter’s block rate needs to bounce back to justify this ranking. His disappointing 2019-2020 top-110 finish was mostly due to his swats falling off of a cliff. As a rookie, the Bull produced an impressive 1.9 BP36. As a sophomore, that number dropped to 1.0 BP36. Carter needs his block rate to bounce back because he currently produces almost nothing in the guard categories. Right now, he doesn’t have the skillset to make up for any issues in the big-man categories. The center doesn’t have a three-ball yet (0.1 3PG), is low on the totem pole on offense (11.3 PPG), isn’t asked to create (1.2 APG), and has a forgettable steal rate (0.8 SPG). His very strong FG% (53.4 FG%) and rebounding numbers (9.4 RPG) can only take him so far. If his block rate does improve, he will have top-60 upside in friendly builds. In 2019-2020, Carter was a top-75 option in punt threes.
32) Jarrett Allen (PF/C) – I’d be more excited about Allen if his main competition for playing time wasn’t BFFs with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. It’s clear who is running the Nets, and that makes me nervous to draft Allen before the later rounds. On a normal team, he’d be getting the clear majority of the center minutes, and DeAndre Jordan would just be a bit player, but this is not a normal team. It is very possible that the Nets’ center minutes are split down the middle, and I could see Jordan being the team’s primary center at points this year. In a 25 MPG role, Allen can be a top-100 player. That’s what he was last season in 25.7 MPG. Even if his playing time is limited, he should be a very strong contributor in all of the big-man categories (64.6 FG%, 9.5 RPG, 1.3 BPG). He’ll be a drag everywhere else (10.6 PPG, 0.0 3PG, 1.3 APG, 0.6 SPG), and his FT% is going to be especially problematic. Allen looked promising at the line as a rookie (77.6 FT%), but has been trending down ever since and only connected on a hard-to-stomach 63.3 percent of his attempts from the charity stripe in 2019-2020.
33) Davis Bertans (PF/C) – Bertans going to back to Washington makes him a no-brainer late-round target in every build except punt threes. Yes, last year’s value was mostly driven by one category, but the sharpshooter did manage to finish as a top-60 player in 2019-2020. Targeting Bertans allows you to aggressively strengthen your big-man categories early in the draft. He can pull you out of a hole in threes created by loading up on boards, blocks, and FG% by himself. In addition to his Splash Bros-like three-point contributions (3.7 3PG), the forward will also score more than most players available in his range (15.4 PPG), and grabbing him in the second half of the draft is a great way of keeping your turnovers in check (1.1 TOPG). Don’t expect much in the way of rebounds (4.5 RPG), assists (1.7 APG), and steals (0.7 SPG) from the elite shooter.
34) Blake Griffin (PF/C) – It’s impossible to get excited about Griffin this year. Even if he’s healthy again (a big if) and 90 percent of what he was in his impressive 2018-2019 campaign, he’s still going to be an incredibly risky pick on draft day. The Pistons’ backcourt and wing rotation is very weak, and it’s hard to see the team being competitive enough to stay in the playoff race and give Griffin a reason to suit up during the fantasy playoffs. If you draft him, and he starts strong, try to trade him. When Griffin is active, he’ll be a strong contributor in four categories while hurting you in the other five. In his big 2018-2019 season, Griffin was a force in points (24.5 PPG), threes (2.5 3PG), rebounds (7.5 RPG), and assists (5.4 APG) and a drag on your defensive numbers (0.7 SPG, 0.4 BPG), percentages (46.2 FG%, 75.3 FT%) and turnovers (3.4 TOPG).
35) Larry Nance Jr. (PF/C) – Nance is one of the most difficult players to rank. He’s very likely to finish the year as a top-100 player and will probably have some top-40 stretches this year. The problem is we don’t know when those top-40 stretches will come, and they likely won’t come early in the season. Nance is stuck behind both Kevin Love and Andre Drummond, and unless one of two goes down, he’s not going to play more than 25 MPG. That’s enough playing time for Nance to crack the top-100, but it’s going to make him feel like a borderline hold when he’s stuck in that role. In 25 MPG, he should be able to come close to matching last season’s 10.1 PPG, 1.0 3PG, 7.3 RPG, and 1.0 SPG. I would expect his boards to drop due to having to spend time playing beside Drummond but also for steals to rise. In 2019-2020, Nance produced only 1.4 SP36. That is an excellent number for a big, but for Nance, it is a disappointment. In his three previous seasons, Nance produced at least 2.0 SP36.
36) Richaun Holmes (PF/C) – As a big Holmes guy, this offseason was heartbreaking. It was looking like we were going to get another mid-round season out of Richaun, and then the Kangz had to Kangz and ruin the fun. Hassan Whiteside joining the team is devastating news for Holmes’ value. The big man will now have to compete with both Whiteside and Bagley for center minutes. This setup makes a repeat of last season’s 28.9 MPG impossible and makes it likely that Holmes will be stuck in a low-20 MPG role. He’ll still be worth owning in a limited role, but he’s not going to come close to matching last season numbers, and a top-100 finish is not guaranteed. I would wait until the later rounds to draft Holmes and his likely still useful big-man numbers (65.4 FG%, 8.3 RPG, 1.4 BPG).
37) Montrezl Harrell (PF/C) – The Lakers are not a great match for Harrell. The Sixth Man of the Year is going to be spending a lot of time beside Anthony Davis, and that is likely going to lead to a drop in both his points (18.6 PPG) and boards (7.1 RPG). Harrell is an excellent P&R big, but LeBron isn’t going to be looking his way when he’s got one of the best P&R bigs of all-time as an alternate option. A fair expectation is for Harrell is for him to come close to matching his 2018-2019 averages of 16.6 PPG and 6.5 RPG while producing about a block per game (1.1 BPG) and providing elite FG% impact (58.0 FG%). Do not bother with Harrell outside of the punt FT% build. His FT% hit is extremely difficult to offset (65.8 FT% on 5.6 FTA), and he’s not valuable enough to be worth tanking your FT% for.
38) DeMarcus Cousins (PF/C) – I’m gambling on Cousins everywhere this year. There is no downside to spending a late pick on the former superstar, and the upside is obviously significant. Even if he looks like a shell of himself – and he probably will – the big man should play enough to be a plus contributor in points, rebounds, and steals. In his lone year with the Warriors, in only 25.7 MPG, Boogie averaged 16.3 PPG, 8.2 RPG, and 1.3 SPG. He’ll be best paired with teams already in good shape in both percentages. Cousins has been below average from the field for a big ever since he expanded his game to the perimeter and is only a 73.7 percent shooter from the line for his career.
39) James Wiseman (C) – Wiseman is my pick for fantasy rookie of the year. His role likely won’t be as large as LaMelo Ball’s, but he’s also not going to be the hot mess in the percentages and turnovers that the Hornet will be. Assuming the second-overall pick sees 25+ MPG, Wiseman will be a very strong source of FG%, boards, and blocks. He only played three games in college, so we don’t have a lot to go on, but he dominated all three categories in both high school and during his short college career and will be in a role where he’s asked to focus on those three areas and not much else. Expect lots of lobs, putbacks, and offensive boards from the Warrior in year one. His FT% is what could hold him back from producing top-100 numbers. On the EYBL in his senior year, Wiseman only shot 55.4 percent from the line. He was better at Memphis (70.4 FT%), but the sample size wasn’t big enough to be helpful. Wiseman’s success rate at the line will be hard to predict, and that makes him a natural fit for the punt FT% build.
40) Julius Randle (PF/C) – Randle is a difficult player to project. At no point last season did he play like the top-150 player that he finished as. He was either much better than that or much worse. From the start of the season until the third week of December, Randle was a top-250 player, and from then on, the Knicks’ first-option was a top-75 asset in nine-category leagues. He also now has rookie Obi Toppin to deal with. That may or may not be a major issue. On a normal team, it would be, but on a team coached by a man notorious for favoring veterans, it’s possible that Randle matches last season’s 32.5 MPG. With so much up in the air for Randle, I’m staying away unless he comes at a discount. Those more willing to roll the dice on the big man will be gaining a player who can be a major help in the popcorn categories while hurting you everywhere else. In his first year in New York, Randle finished the season with averages of 19.5 PPG, 1.0 3PG, 9.7 RPG, and 3.1 APG. Those are eye-catching contributions, but they are offset by some unfortunate results in steals (0.8 SPG), blocks (0.3 BPG), turnovers (3.0 TOPG), and in the percentages (46.0 FG%, 73.3 FT%). Due to his many weaknesses, Randle is a much better H2H option than Roto option as H2H allows you to punt one of his weak categories.
41) Nerlens Noel (PF/C) – The Knicks are a solid landing spot for Noel. Mitchell Robinson is too foul-prone to play over 30 MPG, so Noel should be at least able to match last season’s 18.4 MPG. That’s not a big number, but it is enough to make Noel a no-brainer late-round pick in builds that nullify one of his weaknesses. Despite only playing backup minutes last season, Noel finished as a top-50 player in nine-category punt assists and nine-category punt threes, and he was even better in nine-category punt points. If you’ve played fantasy before, you know what the former lottery pick can do. Noel is as elite as they come in the defensive categories on a per-minute basis (1.8 SP36, 1.9 BP36, 1.0 SPG, 1.5 BPG) and is always a sneaky source of FG% impact. Despite only taking 4.6 shots a night, Noel had a top-20 impact on the category in 2019-2020 (68.5 FG%). The newest Knick should also chip-in low-end, but useful, rebounds (4.9 RPG) while dragging down your points (7.7 PPG) and triples (0.0 3PG).
42) Marvin Bagley (PF/C) – Now that Hassan Whiteside is in town, the Kings’ frontcourt is looking very messy. Bagley, Whiteside, Richaun Holmes, and Nemanja Bjelica will split the Kings’ 96 frontcourt minutes, and that’s not even taking into account the nights that the team goes small with Harrison Barnes at the four. Due to the Whiteside signing, Bagley is now just a later-round gamble. Unless he plays more than 30 MPG, the third-year big is going to struggle to produce more than top-100 numbers. He doesn’t contribute in enough categories to be useful in a smaller role like his teammates Holmes and Whiteside do. Look Bagley’s way in the later rounds if you need points, rebounds, a block per night, and not much else. In the 13 games that the King played in his sophomore season, Bagley averaged 14.2 PPG, 0.3 3PG, 7.5 RPG, 0.8 APG, 0.5 SPG, and 0.9 BPG in 25.7 MPG.
43) Derrick Favors (PF/C) – Favors going back to Utah is not necessarily a bad thing for his value. He won’t be a starter like he was in New Orleans, but he should play a similar amount, and he will be back in a role that allowed him to post top-75 numbers in 2018-2019. The last time we saw Favors in a Jazz jersey, he played 23.2 MPG and averaged 11.8 PPG, 0.2 3PG, 7.4 RPG, 0.7 SPG, and 1.4 BPG while shooting 58.7 percent from the floor. Those numbers were good enough to make the big man a top-50 punt assists asset and a top-55 punt FT% weapon. If you are planning on punting either points or threes in addition to FT% (56.3 FT%), Favors becomes a must-grab late in the draft. In 2018-2019, Favors was a third-round player in punt threes/FT% and a fourth-round player in punt points/FT%.
44) Aron Baynes (C) – The Raptors are a great landing spot for Baynes. He’ll start and is very likely going to set a career-high in minutes played. That’s big news as Baynes showed that he can be very productive when given the opportunity to play with starters. When Deandre Ayton was serving his 25 game suspension, Baynes dropped a cool 14.8 PPG on 55.0 FG%, 1.8 3PG, 5.6 RPG, and 2.5 APG. Those numbers were good enough to make the Australian a mid-round player over that stretch. He won’t quite match those numbers in Toronto, as that shooting is not sustainable, but a top-100 ranking is possible. Baynes is a nice late-round flier, but he’s not for teams that didn’t find enough steals earlier in the draft. The veteran is a bigger drag on the category than most big men (0.4 SP36).
45) Chris Boucher (PF/C) – If you are looking for a potential final-round homerun pick, this is the guy. There were fewer than 25 players who were more productive on a per-minute basis than Boucher in 2019-2020. He was so good that he finished as a top-185 player despite only playing 13.2 MPG. Boucher looks like he’s going to take over as the Raptors’ backup center this year and 18+ MPG seems likely. If he sneaks into the low-20s, then he’ll likely be a top-100 player. If he can pass Aron Baynes, or Baynes goes down, then congratulations, you just drafted a top-50 player with your final pick. The Canadian produces incredible per-minute numbers in the rebounding (12.2 RP36) and blocks (2.7 BP36) categories. If you go into the late rounds down in either category, take a chance on Boucher, because if he hits, he’ll fix your’s squad’s issues almost by himself. In addition to his excellent big-man numbers, Boucher is a very strong per-minute producer in points (18.1 PP36) and threes (1.7 3P36).
46) Mason Plumlee (PF/C) – If you are planning on punting FT%, add Plumlee to the top of your sleeper list. The big man’s game has always been fantasy-friendly, and it looks like he’s finally going to get the chance to be a big minute player. Plumlee should be the Pistons’ starting center this year, and with only Jahlil Okafor behind him, a 28+ MPG role is very possible. The former Nugget should produce a fairly unique line this year. He’s always been an excellent passer for a center (5.2 AP36), and he hasn’t produced fewer than 1.1 SP36 since entering the league. In addition to his quality out-of-position contributions in assists and steals, Plumlee should be a force in all of the big-man categories (61.5 FG%, 10.8 RP36, 1.3 BP36). Don’t even think of trying to fit Plumlee into a build not named punt FT%. With Plumlee’s minutes about to spike, he’s going to have an Andre Drummond-like impact on the FT% category (53.5 FT% on 5.3 FTA36).
47) Maxi Kleber (PF/C) – I love Kleber as a final-round grab this season. When Kristaps Porzingis is healthy, Kleber is a rosterable, but borderline, 12-team asset. When KP is out of the lineup, the German eats. In the 21 games that he started in 2019-2020, Kleber averaged an extremely useful 9.9 PPG, 2.1 3PG, 6.4 RPG, and 1.6 BPG. In other words, when Porzingis is out, Kleber is a mid-round player. Kleber may not hold value all year, but he will likely be a very strong Week 1 and Week 2 play. Focusing on the long-term is important, but with the season being shorter than usual, you need to make sure that you start the season well, and drafting Kleber late is a good way of ensuring that.
48) DeAndre Jordan (C) – Jordan shouldn’t play more than Jarrett Allen, but due to his relationship with the Nets’ two stars, he might. I would be very surprised if Jordan didn’t play more than he did in 2019-2020 (22.0 MPG). If we assume Coach Nash splits the Nets’ center minutes almost evenly, Jordan should average close to a double-double (8.3 RPG, 10.0 RPG), and at least a block per game (0.9 BPG). The veteran will also be a close-to-elite source of FG% impact (66.6 FG%) despite his limited opportunities on offense (5.1 FGA). The big man is no longer only viable in the punt FT% build. He’s shot 68 percent or better from the line in each of his past two seasons. His steal rate is actually more of an issue than his free throw shooting. In 2019-2020, Jordan averaged a brutal 0.3 SPG.
49) Jakob Poeltl (C) – This will likely be LaMarcus Aldridge’s final season with the Spurs and it’s possible that the veteran finishes the year on another team. That’s big news for Poeltl as the Austrian can be a devastating punt FT% weapon (46.5 FT%) when given an extended look. In 2019-2020, Poeltl was a top-30 per-minute player when FT% was ignored. It’s hard to say how much he’ll play at the beginning of the year. When Aldridge was healthy last season, Poeltl often saw minutes in the mid-teens. Those taking the dive on Poeltl late will need to be patient. The big minutes may not be there at first, but once he starts playing minutes in the 20s, the center will be a no-doubter standard league player thanks to his sublime contributions in the big-man categories (11.4 RP36, 2.9 BP36, 62.4 FG%) and underrated passing ability (3.6 AP36).
50) Daniel Theis (PF/C) – Theis’ top-80 2019-2020 finish came in only 23.8 MPG, so while the Tristan Thompson signing definitely hurts him, it is not a death blow. Assuming Theis’ knee looks like it will be in good shape on opening day, he’ll be worth spending a late-round pick on once again. If the German can stay over 20 MPG, he should help in three of the big man categories while not hurting his owners at the line or in the turnovers column. In his 2019-2020 breakout year, the Celtic averaged 9.3 PPG on 56.5 FG%, 6.6 RPG, and 1.3 BPG while shooting 76.4 percent from the line and only turning it over 0.8 times a night. Punt points, punt threes (0.4 3PG), punt assists (1.6 APG), and punt steals (0.6 SPG) squads are best equipped to take a flier on Theis late.
51) Robert Williams (PF/C) – If the Celtics hadn’t signed Tristan Thompson, Time Lord would have been a mid-round player this year. Instead, we’re looking at an unfortunate three-way timeshare where none of the three Celtics’ center is likely going to be all that valuable. Williams still makes the list because Daniel Theis had knee surgery in October and may be limited to start the year. Grab him late and see what happens. Odds are you’ll get some useful games from Williams early in the season. If Time Lord was ever fully unleashed, he could be an early-round asset. In 2019-2020, only eight players were more productive on a per-minute basis thanks to the center’s absurd per-minute production in the blocks (3.2 BP36), steals (2.0 SP36), rebounds (11.9 RP36), and FG% (72.7 FG%) categories.
52) Tristan Thompson (PF/C) – Of the Celtics’ three centers, Thompson is the most likely to lead the group in minutes. Unfortunately, he’s also the least interesting of the trio from a fantasy perspective. Unless Brad Stevens surprises and gives Thompson close to 30 MPG, the former Cavalier is only going to be a late-round target for the punt FT% build. In 2019-2020, he did manage to creak the top-95 in punt FT%, but that finish came in 30.2 MPG. In a 25 MPG role, Thompson would be good for about 8 and 8 with low-end FG% impact (51.2 FG% on 9.9 FGA). His block rate is a bit of a mystery. Over the past four years, it has ranged from 0.3 BPG to 1.1 BPG. If he doesn’t land close to the high-end of that range this year, he’ll end up as only a deep-league player.