*Updated for the latest ESPN rankings
The punt blocks strategy is another strategy that you should at least familiarize yourself with. Not because it’s guaranteed to show up in your league like punt FG% and punt FT% are, but because like its sister strategy, punt steals, it is one of the easiest strategies to switch to mid-draft. The early rounds don’t always go your way, so it’s important to have a backup strategy. Punt blocks tends to be one of the better mid-draft pivots because there are not a lot of early-round options that make a switch to the strategy inadvisable. The strategy is only a no-go zone if you come away from the first three rounds with one or more of Joel Embiid, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Anthony Davis, or Rudy Gobert. All of the other early-round bigs work fine in this build, and many are no-brainer targets for this setup.
Don’t let the pivot talk make you think that this is just a backup option. It’s not. The best team that I’ve ever had in my 15-year fantasy career was a Chris Paul-led punt blocks team. While this is a high-ceiling strategy, it is not one that should be attempted without first practicing it and planning out potential paths. This can be a tricky build to pull off due to the recent shift to one-big lineups and everyone and their grandmother putting up threes. There are just not that many great sources of FG% impact and rebounds in the middle rounds these days, and some of the best sources of both won’t come close to justifying their ADP when blocks are ignored. The same goes for the later rounds. Some of the more interesting late-round bigs this season are interesting because of their block rates. Our late-round big men options are lighter here than they are in builds that aren’t punting one of the big man categories.
Like all builds that boost the value of guards, the punt blocks strategy is more effective in eight-category leagues than it is in nine-category leagues. If you play without turnovers, this is one of your better options.
The correlation coefficients show us why punt blocks can be such a devastating strategy when properly implemented. Blocks has a negative relationship with FT%, points, threes, assists, and steals. That means that when we pass on swats, we will be strengthening ourselves in those five categories. That makes sense since outside of a small handful of elite bigs, most of the shot blockers that we will be passing on struggle in some, if not all, of those categories. The opposite is true for FG% and rebounds. Blocks has a positive relationship with both (in this case positive is bad). When we pass on the league’s dominant rim protectors, we will be making it more difficult to win FG% and rebounds consistently since those shot blockers usually do good work in all of the big man categories. Because of this, in order to find enough FG% impact and rebounds, we will need to draft some bigs who average 1.0+ BPG. And that’s fine. We have to do something similar when we punt FG% in order to find enough rebounds and blocks. As is the case with punt FG%, we just need to make sure that the bigs that we are targeting are the right bigs.
We will need to keep an eye on our turnovers when punting blocks in a nine-category league. Since most guards gain a significant amount of value in this build, we will be targeting plenty of them, and that usually leads to issues with turnovers. I would aim to be around average or just below average in the category by the time the final pick is made. This isn’t a build like punt assists or punt points where dominating the category possible.
Any punt blocks team that wants to bring home the ship needs to make sure that they end the draft in an excellent position in as many guard categories as possible, or at least a strong pickup or two away from being in that position. To end up in a great spot in points, FT%, and assists, you need to target all three categories early and often. Points dry up the quickest. The best sources of points are found inside the first two rounds, and almost all of the best sources of points will be off the board by the end of round four. By the end of round six, difference makers will be very hard to find. In the later rounds, almost all of the decent sources of points come with some serious issues elsewhere. Assists dry up almost as quickly. You’ll want to grab at least two strong contributors in the category during the first three rounds. Three strong dimes options by the end of round five is ideal. We have to be super aggressive with dimes because by the end of round six, almost all of the quality starting point guards will be off the board. The late-round assist sources are mostly low-upside options. FT% follows a similar pattern. You will want to grab at least two very strong sources of FT% during the first three rounds. FT% is not a category that you can find late in the draft. Very few late-round players get to the line enough to make a difference in the category. The best sources of steals are found in the early rounds, but you don’t need to target the category as aggressively as points, assists, and FT%. There is no point of no return like there is with those three categories, but it is not a category that can easily be found late. Threes is the one guard category that can be found throughout the draft. If you fall behind in the triples early, don’t worry. There are some specialists available late that can address any issue with threes almost by themselves.
We will need to keep a close eye on both FG% and rebounds throughout the draft, with rebounds being the harder category to manage. That is because on ESPN, rebounds dry up quicker than usual this year. Quality sources of boards are not easy to find during the final handful of rounds this year, especially when we are ignoring players who have a ton of value tied up in swats. In addition to making sure that you grab a couple of quality bigs early, you’ll want to bump guards and wings who provide above-average boards for their position up your draft board. FG% can be managed not only by picking up bigs who excel in the category and guards and wings who are efficient for their position, but by avoiding major hits. That second bit is going to be very important during the second half of the draft when most of the guard options are notable drags on the FG% category. By avoiding major drags late, you will make up ground in the category when your opponents take those major drags.
This is a build that can work with nearly all of the first-round picks. The only first-round options that I would not consider pairing this strategy with are Giannis Antetokounmpo and Joel Embiid. Neither player is a terrible match for this build, but there are better options for both. Any Giannis team is going to be punting FT% and punting blocks alongside FT% doesn’t make a lot of sense. Embiid is a better fit, but there are plenty of builds that complement The Process well while not wasting his 1.5 BPG. Luka Doncic and LeBron James are also awkward fits due to their struggles at the line, although neither necessitates a FT% punt like Giannis does. With some smart picks, you can offset their issues at the charity stripe. LeBron is a better option for this build of the two due to his excellence from the field (52.4 FG%). Don’t be scared off by his very solid 2021-2022 block rate (1.1 BPG). That is a number that is not repeatable. James’ swats were inflated by all the time he spent at center while Anthony Davis was sidelined. Without Davis on the court, LeBron produced a very impressive 1.2 BP36. When he had to share the court with Davis and was given fewer rim protection duties, his block rate dropped to a much more modest 0.6 BP36.
All of the first-round guards that hit their free throws are very strong matches for the punt blocks build. Steph Curry is the best starting point of the bunch. The Finals MVP is killer in all of the guard categories that this build will be looking to win consistently and is usually very efficient from the field. I say usually because that wasn’t the case last year. Curry shot only 43.7 percent from the floor in 2021-2022 thanks to a surprisingly mortal season from deep (38.0 3P%). It’s possible that last season’s dip from three was age-related, but I wouldn’t bet on it for two reasons. The first is that it’s Steph we’re talking about here. Did the greatest shooter of all time become a significantly worse three-point shooter almost overnight? Probably not. The second reason is that three-point percentage has a ton of year-to-year variance. It is very common for high-volume shooters to see their three-point percentage fluctuate three or four percent. One-off drops (and jumps) are common and usually correct themselves the next season. If Steph gets back to his usual 41+ percent from deep, he will shoot around 47 percent from the field.
If Trae Young can repeat last season’s connection rate from the floor (46.0 FG%), he will also be a top-tier starting point for the punt blocks build. Young gains a massive amount of value when swats are ignored (0.1 BPG). The Hawk finished seventh in the nine-category version of this strategy in 2021-2022 and third in the eight-category version. Trae helps ensure dominance in most of the guard categories that we will be looking to win each week, with steals being the one notable exception. Young is averaging a very mediocre 0.9 SPG for his career. That number is well below his position average of 1.2 SPG. If you grab Trae in one, make steals a priority in rounds two to six. Steals is not a category that is easily found late. Turnovers are the main drawback to starting your draft with Young. Even with Dejounte Murray in town to take away some touches, Young is likely going to end up around 4.0 TOPG.
Punt FG% should be your first option for LaMelo Ball, but if you find that you can’t make that build work as well as you’d like when planning out your team, try playing around with punt blocks. This build doesn’t come with the ceiling that punt FG% does, but it does tend to be a little easier to pull off, as there are more bigs who have a minimal amount of value tied up in blocks than bigs that have a minimal amount of value tied up in FG%. There are more obvious mid-round big man targets for punt blocks than there is for punt FG%, especially with Jaren Jackson Jr. looking like he’s going to miss some time to start the season and Kristaps Porzingis being a long shot to play 60 games. You’ll have to watch your points if you draft LaMelo in the first, as he’ll be a below-average contributor in the category for his draft position, but everything else should be very solid-to-elite. His excellent out-of-position boards (6.7 RPG) are especially valuable in this build. James Harden functions similarly to Ball. He’ll put you in a little bit of a hole in points (21.0 PPG in Philadelphia) and will make it tough to finish the draft in more than an average spot in FG% (41.0 FG%) while helping you almost everywhere else, including rebounds (7.7 RPG). If he’s a little healthier this year, Harden could end up inside of the top three in the eight-category version of this build (4.4 TOPG). He was still a top-six option when blocks and turnovers were ignored during his disappointing 2021-2022 season.
This is an obvious fit for the league-breaking Nikola Jokic. He loses minimal value here (0.9 BPG,) and the only problem with his line when blocks are thrown out is his turnover rate (3.8 TOPG). I prefer punting threes with Jokic, as that build juices his value more and is a better strategy in my opinion, but this build is still an excellent option. Big Honey solves your issues with rebounds (13.7 RPG) and FG% (58.3 on 17.7 FGA) and makes it extremely likely that you end up in a great spot in all of the guard categories. Jokic finished well ahead of the pack in both the eight- and nine-category versions of this build during his successful defense of the MVP award.
Karl-Anthony Towns is arguably the second-best starting point for this build after Jokic. He’s much more durable than most of the other first-round picks and makes it easier to be competitive in FG% (52.9 FG%) and rebounds (9.9 RPG). While he should be a strong contributor in both categories this year, I would expect some regression in both areas. With Rudy Gobert in the middle, Towns is going to have to spend more time on the perimeter. That should mean fewer boards and a higher 3PAr.
Kevin Durant would be the second-best starting point for this build if he could stay on the court. It’s a shame that he can’t because Durant’s outstanding out-of-position FG% impact (51.9 FG% on 20.3 FGA) and boards (7.4 RPG) are a great match for this strategy. Durant works well in almost every build, so if you do plan on targeting the Net, make sure that you spend plenty of time with the Team Building Tool. The tool will allow you to quickly figure out which strategies will be easier to pull off this year given the default rankings on ESPN.
Speaking of players who work well in almost every build, Jayson Tatum makes a lot of sense as a starting point for this strategy. He does good work for his position in all of the guard categories and is one of the league’s best rebounding forwards (8.0 RPG). He’s also shown signs that he’s about to make a jump in the efficiency department. Over the final three months of the 2021-2022 regular season, the Celtic shot a very encouraging 49.0 percent from the field.
Categories to target: FG%, Rebounds, Turnovers
First-round targets: Nikola Jokic, Kevin Durant, Karl-Anthony Towns, Luka Doncic, Jayson Tatum, LaMelo Ball, James Harden, LeBron James, Trae Young
Note: The below list is not meant to be a complete list of all of the players that fit into this build. The round that I recommend taking each player in is based on ESPN Fantasy Basketball’s rankings and where I think each player will, or could be, available in a standard 12-team, nine-category draft. If you don’t see a player that you think fits the build well, it may be because I think that player is badly overpriced on ESPN. All numbers and rankings are from the 2021-2022 season unless otherwise stated.
R2) Devin Booker – All of the second-round guards work here, but some are better fits than others. Booker stands out from the other perimeter options in this round for his ability to average points in the high-20s while helping us win FG%. That is not a skill that is easy to come by. The only two guards that scored in that range and had a higher FG% than Booker in 2021-2022 were Ja Morant and DeMar DeRozan, and both players only managed that because they shoot significantly fewer threes than Book. Over the final three months of the regular season, Booker produced a ridiculous 29.6 PPG on 48.6 FG%, 2.8 3PG, 4.7 RPG, 5.3 APG, and 1.3 SPG. He was also an elite source of FT% impact over the span (86.1 FT% on 6.0 FTA). If Booker can match last year’s steal rate (1.1 SPG), he will produce a flawless line in this build. However, that feels like a stretch. Before last year’s average performance in the category, Booker had never managed more than 0.9 SPG in a season.
R2) Kawhi Leonard – Kawhi in two is not a move that everyone will be comfortable with, but if you are willing to bet your season on the Clipper being in one piece during the fantasy playoffs, you will be rewarded with a top-five per-game punt blocks asset. Leonard has hit that mark in all of his somewhat healthy seasons going back to 2015-2016. In 2020-2021, he finished fourth in the nine-category version of this strategy thanks to averages of 24.8 PPG, 1.9 3PG, 6.5 RPG, 5.2 APG, and 1.6 SPG. He was also an absolute force in the percentages that year as well, hitting 51.2 percent of his 17.5 FGA and 88.5 percent of his 5.7 FTA. If you want to roll the dice on Kawhi in the second round, make sure that your other early-round picks are durable and have strong playoff schedules. The Clippers have a quiet schedule in March.
R2) Tyrese Haliburton – Haliburton is a very reasonable grab around the one/two turn in every build except punt assists and punt steals. He is one of the safer picks in that range from an injury standpoint and comes with a high per-game floor and ceiling thanks to his exceptionally fantasy-friendly game. After the move to Indiana, the point guard produced borderline top-15 numbers in this build that included averages of 9.6 APG and 1.8 SPG. Expect the Pacer to contend for the assists crown this year while being a top-10 source of swipes. Haliburton also did an incredible job in the percentages after the trade, shooting 50.5 percent from the field and 84.9 percent from the line. You will need to keep an eye on your points if you go with the former King in two. Haliburton is going to be a below-average source of points for his draft position (17.5 PPG in Indiana).
Other Round 2 Options: Damian Lillard, Jimmy Butler, Paul George, Ja Morant, Kyrie Irving, Dejounte Murray
R3) Domantas Sabonis – The move to Sacramento should not have a major impact on Sabonis’ value. The big man’s numbers with the Kings were almost identical to his numbers in Indiana. After getting shipped off to the west coast, Sabonis averaged 18.9 PPG on 55.4 FG%, 12.3 RPG, 5.8 APG, and 0.9 SPG in 33.6 MPG. The former Pacer is an obvious target for this build, not only because he will gain a significant amount of value when blocks are ignored (0.4 BPG), but because he addresses this strategy’s issues with rebounds and FG%. Grabbing Sabonis in three will make it much easier to scoop up some of the guards that gain multiple rounds of value when swats don’t count but who provide weak numbers in both of the big man categories that we care about here. Sabonis needs to be paired with strong free throw shooters. He’s not terrible from the line (74.1 FT%), but due to how often he gets there (5.4 FTA), he has a fairly large negative impact on the category.
R3) Chris Paul – Father Time is going to come for Paul eventually, but it’s hard to say when. There have no signs that he is on the verge of falling off of a cliff. He’s not the scorer he used to be (14.7 PPG), but everything else is holding up just fine. In his 17th season in the league, Paul somehow managed to finish inside of the top 20 in punt blocks. He would have done even better than that if he didn’t have a rare off-year from three. In 2021-2022, Paul shot only 31.7 percent from three. Some of that drop could have been due to age, but a lot of that dip is likely just noise. Three-point percentage has a lot of year-to-year volatility and large single-season drops are common and usually followed by regression towards a player’s career average, which in this case is 36.9 percent. The Sun should once again finish among the league leaders in assists and steals while producing excellent numbers in the percentages and turnovers. In his second season in Phoenix, the Point God averaged 10.8 APG, 1.9 SPG, and only 2.4 TOPG while shooting 49.3 percent from the floor and 83.7 percent from the line.
R3) Nikola Vucevic – Vucevic’s days of being a top-15 player in the punt blocks build are over, but he can still produce top-30 numbers when swats don’t matter. That’s what he managed to do in his first full season in Chicago. He remains one of the strongest big man options for this build because he produces above-average numbers for his position in every category except FG% (47.3 FG%). In 2021-2022, the center averaged an exceptional 17.6 PPG, 1.4 3PG, 11.0 RPG, 3.2 APG, and 1.0 SPG while shooting 76.0 percent from the charity stripe. He’s also on the perfect team. The Bulls are in the Goldilocks zone this year. They are not good enough to give any of their top players rest days and they are not bad enough to fall out of the playoff race. Unlike a lot of stars, Vucevic is a lock to be playing major minutes during the fantasy playoffs if he’s healthy.
Other Round 3 Options: Bradley Beal, Donovan Mitchell, Bam Adebayo, Fred VanVleet, DeMar DeRozan, Darius Garland, Pascal Siakam
R4) Shai Gilgeous-Alexander – SGA isn’t for teams that went risky in round one or two, but for squads that played it safe very early, he’s worth considering in the third or the fourth. He is especially attractive in leagues that start and end their playoffs early, as that setup greatly reduces the shutdown risk that accompanies the young star. Gilgeous-Alexander was shut down last season, but not until the final few days of March. When active, SGA can post first-round numbers. That’s exactly what he did down the stretch of the 2021-2022 season. Over his final 22 games, the Canadian produced a goofy 28.5 PPG on 51.7 FG%, 1.5 3PG, 5.5 RPG, 7.1 APG, and 1.7 SPG. That entire line is spectacular, but this build will find his top-notch out-of-position FG% impact especially useful due to its natural weakness in the category.
R4) Deandre Ayton – Ayton is one of this build’s primary big man targets. He’s a strong pick towards the end of the third and anytime in the fourth. The big man comes with an unpredictable block rate (0.7 BPG) and puts up massive numbers in the two categories that this build needs to watch the closest. In 2021-2022, the Sun finished as a top-12 source of rebounds (10.2 RPG) and second behind only Jarrett Allen in the FG% impact rankings (63.4 FG% on 12.0 FGA). In addition to his very helpful boards and FG% impact, Ayton brings above-average scoring numbers for a center (17.2 PPG) and neutral FT% impact (74.6 FT% on 2.4 FTA).
R4) Zach LaVine – LaVine’s well-rounded line and ability to produce big numbers in the threes category without dragging down your FG% make him a great option in either the third or the fourth. With the Bulls not adding any high-usage players in the offseason, there’s no reason why the shooting guard won’t be able to at least match last season’s top-30 finish. In 2021-2022, LaVine averaged 24.4 PPG on 47.7 FG%, 2.8 3PG, 4.6 RPG, and 4.5 APG while knocking down 85.3 percent of his 5.6 FTA. If you plan on grabbing the Bull early, make sure that all of your other early-round guard picks are very strong contributors in steals. LaVine averaged only 0.6 SPG last season.
R4) Terry Rozier – Rozier should be near the top of your round four wish list in every build except punt threes. The Hornet is extremely likely to outplay his ADP in every friendly build . In 2021-2022, Rozier finished as a second-round player in punt blocks and was flirting with the first round over the second half of the season. As nice as the combo guard was last year, what we saw wasn’t his ceiling. There is a good chance that he improves on some of last year’s numbers with Miles Bridges out of the picture. He should do a little more in the scoring categories (19.3 PPG, 3.0 3PG), and the extra touches made available by his former teammate’s legal problems should boost his assist rate (4.5 APG). Rozier will also be a clear positive in the steals (1.3 SPG) and FT% categories (85.2 FT%) while doing a great job of keeping your turnovers in check (1.3 TOPG).
R4) Khris Middleton – If Middleton’s three-ball bounces back this season, he’ll produce a line that does not have any notable holes in it in a punt blocks setup (0.3 BPG). After shooting over 41 percent from deep in back-to-back seasons, the Buck hit only 37.3 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc in 2021-2022. That caused his FG% to drop from the high-40s to 44.3 percent. We’d like to see some positive regression in FG%, but it’s not a requirement to make Middleton a strong pick at his fourth-round price. Despite having a down year from the field, the forward finished inside the top 30 in punt swats. He managed that by averaging above-average numbers in almost every category. In 2021-2022, Middleton provided his managers with 20.1 PPG, 2.5 3PG, 5.4 RPG, 5.4 APG, and 1.2 SPG while being one of the strongest sources of FT% impact in the league (89.0 FT% on 4.4 FTA).
Other Round 4 Options: Jrue Holiday, Jarrett Allen, Jaylen Brown
R5) Khris Middleton – If Middleton’s three-ball bounces back this season, he’ll produce a line that does not have any notable holes in it in a punt blocks setup (0.3 BPG). After shooting over 41 percent from deep in back-to-back seasons, the Buck hit only 37.3 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc in 2021-2022. That caused his FG% to drop from the high-40s to 44.3 percent. We’d like to see some positive regression in FG%, but it’s not a requirement to make Middleton a strong pick at his fourth-round price. Despite having a down year from the field, the forward finished inside the top 30 in punt swats. He managed that by averaging above-average numbers in almost every category. In 2021-2022, Middleton provided his managers with 20.1 PPG, 2.5 3PG, 5.4 RPG, 5.4 APG, and 1.2 SPG while being one of the strongest sources of FT% impact in the league (89.0 FT% on 4.4 FTA).
R5) Jonas Valanciunas – Valanciunas remains of this build’s top mid-round targets despite the return of Zion Williamson. The All-Star coming back will take a decent bite out of JV’s usage, but the center is still going to produce enough elsewhere to be a very strong option in this build. Zion isn’t going to have a major impact on Valanciunas’ boards (11.4 RPG), and it’s likely that the extra defensive attention paid to Williamson will allow Big Science to be a little more efficient this year (54.4 FG%). In a slightly smaller role this season, JV should also remain at least an average source of points for his position (17.8 PPG) while being one of the few mid-round bigs who can have a better-than-neutral impact on FT% (82.0 FT% on 3.9 FTA). Valanciunas’ threes (0.8 3PG) and assists (2.6 APG) are not major concerns, but his steals are. The center always comes with a significant swipes hit. Valanciunas’ career-high in the category is 0.6 SPG.
R5) O.G. Anounoby – A fair amount of this build’s better targets after round six produce mediocre numbers or worse in steals, so we want to make sure that we target the category aggressively during the early and middle rounds. Drafting Anunoby in the fifth is one of the better ways to give yourself enough wiggle room in the category to be able to target a bunch of those high-upside options later. The Raptor has averaged at least 1.4 SPG in each of his three seasons as a 30+ MPG player. Anuonby brings much more than high-end swipes. He has improved as a scorer (17.1 PPG on 44.3 FG%), is a very good three-point shooter (2.4 3PG), and does a solid job on the boards (5.5 RPG). Injuries are what stop Anuonby from being ranked at least one round higher. His body has struggled to handle the insane minutes that Nick Nurse plays his starters. The defensive stud has failed to hit the 50-game mark in each of his last two seasons.
Other Round 5 Options: Scottie Barnes, C.J. McCollum, Desmond Bane, Brandon Ingram
R6) Jusuf Nurkic – Nurkic’s block rate cratered moving from Terry Stotts’ defensive system to Chauncey Billups’. After years of posting big numbers in the category, Nurkic managed only 0.6 BPG in 2021-2022. If that number doesn’t bounce back, he’ll be a rough pick in this range in a lot of strategies. Fortunately, in this build, we don’t have to worry about that. He’s likely to be at least a decent pick for a punt blocks team in this range thanks his excellent boards (11.1 RPG) and FG% impact (53.4 FG%), very useful out-of-position assists (2.8 APG) and steals (1.1 SPG), and decent points (15.0 PPG). The downside to picking Nurkic somewhere around round six is his poor free throw shooting and his high turnover rate. Due to how often Nurkic gets to the line (69.0 FT% on 4.8 FTA), he is a very large drag on the FT% category. He’s not a punt FT%-only player, but it will take a fair amount of work to offset the hit. His high turnovers (2.6 TOPG) are also hard to offset because many of the best early-round targets for this build are high-turnover guards.
R6) Michael Porter Jr. – This is one of the better builds to gamble on MPJ in. When healthy, he’s a dream fit for the punt blocks strategy. With a back that works properly, Porter is a good bet to shoot over 50 percent from the field while being one of the best sources of boards for his position. The last time he was healthy, the glass cannon averaged 19.0 PPG on 54.2 FG% and 7.0 RPG. If his back holds up, Porter should also be a major help in threes (2.8 3PG in 2020-2021). He is only for teams that played it very safe early. There is early-round upside here, but there is also 12-games-played downside.
R6) Tyrese Maxey – Maxey’s extremely efficient scoring sets him apart from most of the guard options in this range. Despite playing beside Joel Embiid and James Harden, Maxey has the ability to score in the upper teens. After the Sixers traded for Harden, the 21-year-old was a top-40 punt blocks asset thanks to averages of 18.7 PPG on 52.3 FG%, 2.5 3PG, 3.5 APG, and 0.9 SPG. That very impressive FG% isn’t sustainable, as it was tied to some beyond-elite shooting from deep, but a FG% in the high-40s is likely. Maxey will also be one of the better sources of FT% impact found after the first few rounds. In his second year in the association, the Sixer hit 86.6 percent of his 3.3 FTA and did not lose any attempts after Harden joined the team.
R6) Jalen Brunson – Brunson not having much of a three-ball works to our advantage in punt blocks. It’s easy to offset his low output from deep (1.2 3PG) when swats don’t matter, but it’s not easy to find the level of FG% impact that he brings and is made possible by his low 3PAr. In New York, Brunson should shoot around 50 percent from the floor again. He’ll play more, which will up his PPG, but his usage shouldn’t spike, and that means that his FG% should hold fairly steady. As a full-time starter for the first time in his career, Brunson should score in the high-teens while averaging over fives dimes a night. He should also be one of the better sources of FT% impact available after the first five rounds. The newest Knick shot 84.0 percent on his 2.7 FTA in 2021-2022 and his performance in the category improved significantly as the year went on. It is likely that no player will gain more value than Brunson this year when blocks are tossed. The combo guard somehow managed to block only three more shots than you or I did last season. The massive value boost that Brunson receives in this build makes it very likely that he ends up outplaying his ADP.
Other Round 6 Options: John Collins, Tobias Harris, D’Angelo Russell, Mikal Bridges, Alperen Sengun, Devin Vassell
R7) Keldon Johnson – Keldon is going to do a lot of scoring as the leader of the Spurs’ tank brigade, and he should do that scoring fairly efficiently. Despite finally adding a reliable three-ball to his repertoire (2.1 3PG), Johnson shot a respectable 46.6 percent from the floor in 2021-2022. Points in the low-20s that come with a neutral impact on FG% are valuable in any build but especially in punt blocks. Johnson also makes sense here because he does a great job on the boards. He’s averaged at least 6.0 RPG in each of his two seasons as a full-time rotation player. Points, threes, boards, and decent FG% impact is all you will get from the Spur. However, at this price, it’s hard to complain too much. The forward will have top-50 upside this year when his horrendous block rate doesn’t matter (0.2 BPG).
R7) Wendell Carter Jr. – Carter is one of this build’s better big man options after round six. He doesn’t lose any value when swats are tossed (0.7 BPG) and brings the FG% impact (52.6 FG%) and rebounds (10.4 RPG) that this build needs. Paolo Banchero will take a bite out of Carter’s usage, but the drop shouldn’t be significant. He should still score in the mid-teens (15.0 PPG) while producing quality numbers for his position in threes (1.1 3PG) and assists (2.8 APG). This build’s natural strengths line up well with the holes in Carter’s line. In other builds, his steals (0.6 SPG) and FT% (69.1 FT% on 3.3 FTA) can be a major problem. Here, they are more of a headache since this strategy will be targeting plenty of guards early who excel in both areas.
Other Round 7 Options: Franz Wagner, Gary Trent Jr., Klay Thompson, Jamal Murray
R8) Gordon Hayward – If you didn’t take on too many injury risks early, Hayward will be a very attractive option for your squad somewhere around round eight. If he wasn’t made of glass, he’d be a fourth- or fifth-round pick who fits this build like a glove. He’s a nice fit here because more efficient than most perimeter options and does a better job on the boards than most small forwards. The last time Hayward played without a post-breakout Miles Bridges beside him, he averaged an impressive 19.6 PPG on 47.3 FG%, 1.9 3PG, 5.8 RPG, 4.1 APG, and 1.2 SPG. Those numbers were good enough to get him inside of the top 35 in this strategy. If you grabbed someone like Durant or Kawhi early, then you’ll need to be disciplined and stay away from Hayward. He is a major injury risk. The former All-Star has averaged 48 games played over his last three seasons.
R8) Collin Sexton – Sexton is not somebody that is going to finish high in the rankings due to the holes in his line, but he’s still someone to consider at the end of the middle rounds for his ability to put up big numbers in the points category without hurting you in FG%. The last time he was healthy and in a featured role, the combo guard averaged a blistering 24.3 PPG on 47.5 FG%. Sexton is not going to match those numbers in Utah because he’s not going to play 35.3 MPG coming off of a major injury on a team trying to lose, but he should still crack the 20 PPG mark. In addition to the efficient points, Sexton will provide his managers with low-end threes, assists, and steals. In 2020-2021, he averaged 1.6 3PG, 4.4 APG, and 1.1 SPG. You will need to watch your rebounds if you draft the former Cavalier. Sexton is one of the worst rebounding guards in the league (3.1 RPG in 2020-2021).
Other Round 8 Options: Saddiq Bey, Keegan Murray, Anfernee Simons, Kyle Lowry, Al Horford
R9) Lauri Markkannen – Lauri becomes an obvious target for this build now that he’s stepping into a major role in Utah. He’s not going to give us the FG% impact that we’d like (44.5 FG%), and his rebounds will only be good instead of great (6.6 RP36), but he will bring top-50 upside in this friendly build (0.5 BPG) and some very nifty contributions in points, threes, and FT%. As one of the Jazz’s top options, Markkanen should play minutes in the low-30s and average points in the high-teens. He should also average over 2.5 3PG. The out-of-position FT% impact that he brings is the most valuable part of his line. Very few bigs will do more in the category this season (86.8 FT% on 2.6 FTA).
R9) Brandon Clarke – Drafting Clarke late is a great way to guarantee that your team gets off to a great start. The Canadian is going to eat until JJJ is back and badly outplay his ADP. Once Jackson is healthy, Clarke will likely go back to being just a low-end option, but that’s not a major concern given his price. As long as the Grizzlies’ starting four is sidelined, Clarke should see minutes in the mid-to-high-20s. That’s enough run to turn him into one of the best sources of FG% impact in the league. In 2021-2022, in only 19.5 MPG, Clarke was a top-15 contributor in the category (64.4 FG% on 7.0 FGA). A larger role should also lead to his boards becoming above average (9.9 RP36) and his points sneaking into the low-teens (19.2 PP36). Everything else will be low-end and he will come with a material FT% hit (65.4 FT% on 2.0 FTA).
Other Round 9 Options: PJ Washington, Herb Jones
R10) Bones Hyland – Hyland has a good shot at finishing inside of the top 100 in this friendly build (0.5 BP36) and could crack the top 75 early in the season when the Nuggets are limiting Jamal Murray’s minutes. Barring another injury to Murray, Hyland isn’t going to play 30 MPG this year, but he doesn’t have to in order to be a major steal at his late-round price. Minutes in the mid-to-high-20s will be enough, and he should get into that range this year. Bones can produce helpful numbers in a somewhat limited role because he is an outstanding per-minute producer. As a rookie, the Nugget was a top-45 per-minute producer and improved his per-minute output as the season went along. Give him a look late if you need a points, threes, and assists boost. He should score in the mid-teens this season (19.2 PP36) while averaging around 2.5 3PG (3.6 3P36) and 4.0 APG (5.2 AP36).
R10) Bobby Portis – Portis isn’t going to match last season’s top-65 finish with Brook Lopez healthy again, but he doesn’t need to given that he’s going to be picked outside of the top 100 in most drafts. While some regression is coming, it shouldn’t be too severe. Last season’s big numbers came in only 28.2 MPG, so if he can stick around 26 MPG, he should still be solid value in the later rounds. Portis will be one of the few bigs who will gain value when blocks are tossed (0.7 BPG) and will provide his managers with some nice contributions in points, threes, and rebounds. During his big 2021-2022 campaign, the Buck averaged 14.6 PPG on 47.9 FG%, 1.8 3PG, and 9.1 RPG. You’ll have to look elsewhere for the FG% impact that this build needs to chase (47.9 FG% on 12.1 FGA).
R10) Jalen Smith – Smith is going to block a lot of shots this year (1.6 BP36), but that doesn’t mean that we should ignore him, especially at his now very affordable price on ESPN. Punting is not about avoiding any player who does well in the punted category. It’s about avoiding players who do not offer much once the category is ignored. The Pacer should still offer plenty when his swats don’t count. As Indiana’s starting power forward this year, Smith should see minutes in the mid-to-upper-20s. With that much playing time, he’ll have a good shot at improving on the 13.4 PPG, 1.4 3PG, and 7.6 RPG that he averaged after the change of address. Smith is a little more interesting than most bigs in the range because of his ability to help you win both FG% and FT%. In Indiana, he shot 53.1 percent from the floor, and through two years in the association, he is shooting a respectable 76.1 percent from the line.
Other Round 10 Options: Norman Powell, Ivica Zubac, Mike Conley, Harrison Barnes
R11) Josh Hart – The punt blocks build loves forwards who score efficiently and hit the boards hard. That’s exactly what Hart does. In his breakout 2021-2022 campaign, Hart averaged an outstanding 7.2 RPG while shooting 50.4 percent from the field. The rest of his line wasn’t bad either, although he is going to have a hard time matching last season’s points (14.9 PPG) and assists (4.1 APG) numbers. Both averages were made possible by the two teams that he played on being down their top offensive option. In his first full season with the Blazers, Hart should play around 30 MPG which makes a repeat of last year’s 1.4 3PG and 1.1 SPG very doable.
R11) Jarred Vanderbilt – Vanderbilt was made for the punt blocks build. The forward has the ability to produce juicy numbers in both rebounds and FG% in a somewhat limited role. We saw that last season when he averaged 8.4 RPG in just 25.4 MPG while shooting 58.7 percent on his 4.9 FGA. In what should be a 28+ MPG role this year, Vanderbilt could hit double-digits on the boards while having an even larger positive impact on FG%. In addition to the quality big man numbers, the 23-year-old will be an outstanding source of out-of-position steals (1.3 SPG). The rest of his line will be very mediocre (6.9 PPG, 0.0 3PG, 1.3 APG, 65.6 FT% on 1.8 FTA).
R11) Markelle Fultz – Fultz’s weak three-ball hurts in other builds, but we don’t mind it here. Since punt blocks will be targeting a lot of high-3PG guards early, the drag that accompanies Fultz can be easily offset. His lack of attempts from deep also leads to some solid out-of-position numbers in FG% (47.4 FG%), which is something this build needs to be on the lookout for. If the former top pick can lock down a 30 MPG role this year, he will be a very strong source of assists and steals. After returning from his ACL injury at the end of February, Fultz averaged 5.5 APG and 1.1 SPG in 20.0 MPG. That works out to 9.9 AP36 and 2.0 SP36, both of which are elite numbers. In fact, only two players had better per-minute numbers in dimes than Fultz last season. 30 MPG is not a lock with Jalen Suggs and Cole Anthony around, but it is possible. Fultz looked much better than both young guards down the stretch of the 2021-2022 season.
Other Round 11 Options: Bogdan Bogdanovic, Bojan Bogdanovic, Dorian Finney-Smith, Chris Duarte, De’Anthony Melton
R12) Cam Johnson – Johnson is ranked surprisingly low this year. He’s an obvious breakout candidate who doesn’t need to break out to be worth a late-round scoop. If the sharpshooter doesn’t improve at all, he’ll still comfortably outplay his current ADP. The Sun finished inside of the top-70 in the nine-category version of this strategy in 2021-2022 in only 26.2 MPG. Johnson should play a little more this year with Jae Crowder reportedly on the outs in Phoenix. He’s not going to play 32 MPG, but even 29 MPG would be enough to get his points in the mid-teens (12.5 PPG) and his already very helpful triples (2.5 3PG) into the 3.0 3PG range. In a slightly larger role, the Sun should also produce a handful of boards (4.1 RPG) and about average steals (0.9 SPG). Johnson’s FG% makes him an especially nice late-round target for teams punting swats. He is one of the few high-volume three-point shooters available after the early rounds who will not come with a FG% hit (46.0 FG% on 9.2 FGA).
R12) Isaiah Hartenstein – Hartenstein is a solid late-round target for all builds now that he’s sliding into Nerlens Noel’s old role. When healthy, Noel would play minutes in the low-20s for the Knicks. That’s not enough run to make most players useful, but it is enough for Hartenstein. The big man is a very strong per-minute producer who was relevant in standard leagues for extended stretches last season in an even smaller role. Hartenstein makes sense here because he can give us decent boards and FG% impact while hurting us less than most centers in assists. In only 17.9 MPG, the center averaged 4.9 RPG and 2.4 APG while having a top-30 impact on FG% (62.6 FG% on 5.4 FGA). Hartenstein will have mid-round upside if Mitchell Robinson goes down. In that scenario, Hartenstein wouldn’t play 30 MPG, but he would receive a big enough boost in playing time to put the top-50 in play.
Other Round 12 Options: Aaron Gordon, Kelly Oubre Jr., Alex Caruso
R13) Kevin Love – Love was worth a late-round pick in the build that he used to be the centerpiece of before Lauri Markkanen was moved to Utah. With Markkanen now in a Jazz jersey, Love goes from being someone worth considering to a very strong final-round target. The former All-Star’s minutes won’t be receiving a huge bump with Lauri gone, but his nightly upside does increase and so does his season-long ceiling. If Jarrett Allen or Evan Mobley were to go down, Love would immediately become a mid-round player. When the Cavaliers are healthy, expect some quality numbers from the stretch big in points, threes, rebounds, and FT%. In 2021-2022, in only 22.5 MPG, Love averaged 13.6 PPG, 2.5 3PG, and 7.3 RPG while shooting 83.8 percent from the line. He’s a stronger late-round target for teams in good shape in both FG% and steals. Love will come with a small FG% hit (43.0 FG%) and a significant steals hit (0.4 SPG).
R13) Bruce Brown – Brown should play enough in Denver to produce a very punt blocks-friendly line. He’s shown in the past that he can put up top-100 numbers in a mid-20s MPG role, and he should end up in that range in his first season with the Nuggets. Over the final three months of the 2021-2022 regular season, Brown was a borderline top-100 player in this build in only 26.2 MPG thanks to averages of 10.5 PPG on 51.6 FG%, 0.7 3PG, 5.0 RPG, 2.6 APG, and 1.0 SPG. All of those numbers are useful, but we especially like the positive FG% impact and boards here due to the build’s natural weakness in both. Who Brown is playing behind adds to his appeal. If MPJ’s back acts up again, Brown will have top-50 upside.
R13) Patrick Beverley – There is nothing in Beverley’s line that makes him more suited for the punt blocks build than for other strategies. He makes this list because like every strategy, the punt blocks build will gladly take on one of the few late-round players who is capable of producing a well-rounded line. Most players available this late are specialists, but not Beverley. In Los Angeles, he should be able to give his managers a little bit of everything. He should play a little more than he did in Minnesota (25.4 MPG) and that extra run should allow him to match most of last year’s numbers. In 2021-2022, the veteran managed 1.4 3PG, 4.1 RPG, 4.6 APG, and 1.2 SPG. His assists are especially valuable, as dimes are a category that usually cannot be found late.
Other Round 13 Options: Mason Plumlee, Steven Adams, Seth Curry, Derrick Rose, Kevin Huerter, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Jaden McDaniels, Tari Eason, Kyle Anderson, Santi Aldama
Deep League Options: Andre Drummond, Joe Harris, Victor Oladipo, Larry Nance Jr., Immanuel Quickley, Nicolas Batum, Reggie Bullock, Jonathan Kuminga, Malik Monk, Cody Martin, Gary Payton, Bennedict Mathurin, Malik Beasley
Below are five punt blocks teams that I created using this guide and the ESPN rankings. The teams are not meant to be thought of as a best-case scenario for the build. They are meant to give you an idea of what a strong punt blocks team will look like.