R3) John Collins – Collins is a dream fit the punt blocks build. Yes, he did block 1.6 shots per game in 2019-2020, and he will lose a fair amount of value when swats are thrown out. However, punting is about more than picking players who gain value when the punted category is thrown out and avoiding players who lose value. When we punt, we need to make sure we are shoring up the build’s natural weaknesses, and drafting Collins allows us to do just that. Clint Capela joining the Hawks will hurt Collins’ boards and FG% – this build’s two most problematic categories – but not by enough to prevent Collins from being a force in either (10.1 RPG, 58.3 FG%). He should still do more than most bigs available in his range in both categories while providing his owners with excellent out-of-position points (21.6 PPG), above-average threes for a big (1.4 3PG), and a minor, but helpful, positive FT% impact (80.0 FT% on 3.7 FTA). As a bonus, drafting Collins in the third is a great way to keep your turnovers in check (1.8 TOPG).
R3) Chris Paul – Yes, he’s ancient, but how do you say no to a player who finished as a top-seven asset to this build in 2019-2020, especially one that shot 48.9 percent from the floor. I expect Paul to slip a bit in his first season in Phoenix, but not by enough to make him a bad pick in the third. He should still provide his owners with well-above-average numbers in all of the guard categories, with his best contributions coming in assists, steals (1.6 SPG), and FT% (90.0 FT% on 4.0 FTA). It’s also fair to expect a bump in his dimes. Paul’s year-end average of 6.7 APG is a little deceptive. He started off the year struggling in the category before looking like his old self in the second half of the season. While all those numbers are nice, what I love most about Paul in nine-category leagues is his turnover rate. Because many high-volume/high-turnover guards get major bumps in this build, punt blocks teams usually end up in a rough spot in turnovers. That’s not going to be the case if one of your early-round guards is Paul. With the Thunder, the Point God average only 2.2 TOPG.
R3) Nikola Vucevic – Vucevic is a great pick in the second round and a steal if he lasts until the third. That goes for every build, but in punt blocks, he is a dream in three. The big man is shooting a lot of threes these days (1.5 3PG), so his FG% isn’t what it used to be (47.0 FG%), but he still dominates on the boards (11.0 RPG) while allowing us to fill a center spot on our roster with very solid out-of-position threes and points (19.5 PPG). Vucevic also rarely turns the ball over (1.4 TOPG), hits his free throws (78.4 FT%), creates more than most centers (3.6 APG), and is very unlikely to rest late in the season with the Magic looking destined to be part of the NBA’s new play-in tournament.
R3) Pascal Siakam – Playoff Siakam is not the real Siakam. As ugly as his finish to the season was, it’s not something to worry about. The All-Star didn’t touch a ball over the COVID break and paid the price for it. With the Raptors off since September, I would expect Siakam to come back better than ever. He has made significant jumps every summer and will have had extra motivation this offseason. Spicy P will once again be a strong contributor for his position in all of the categories that dry up quickly (23.6 PPG, 3.6 APG, 80.0 FT%) and will also do solid work on the boards (7.5 RPG) and from deep (2.2 3PG). His FG% is the big mystery. I expect some improvement because a lot of last season’s disappointing result in the category (45.9 FG%) was due to the forward just missing open shots. In 2018-2019, Siakam shot 67.9 percent on open two-point shots and 77.1 percent on wide-open two-point shots. In 2019-2020, the All-Star shot 48.8 percent on open two-point shots and only 62.2 percent on wide-open shots. As a Raptor fan, I can tell you that those stats match up with the eye test. He looked like one of the best finishers in the league two years ago and was blowing bunnies left and right last season. His FG% has no chance of reaching 2018-2019 levels because his game is much more perimeter-oriented now, but with a small FG% increase, there’s a good chance that Siakam cracks the second round in this build. Last season, before the bubble, Siakam was a top-35 asset when blocks were ignored.
Other Round 3 Options: Deandre Ayton, Bam Adebayo, Donovan Mitchell, Jrue Holiday, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (don’t take him in two)
R4) Khris Middleton – The Bucks’ picking up Jrue Holiday is not great news for Middleton. The All-Star will see his points and assists dip (21.1 PPG, 4.1 APG), and Milwaukee may end up being so far ahead of the competition in the East that Middleton gets some nights off late in the year. However, I still like him a lot in the fourth in this build. It’s hard to take a player who finished as a first-round asset when blocks were thrown out in 2019-2020 any lower than this. In addition to what should still be very useful points and assists, Middleton offers his potential owners stellar rebounds (6.4 RPG), above-average triples (2.4 3PG), and extremely valuable percentages impact. Only two SG-eligible players had a larger positive impact on the FG% category last season before the shutdown (49.9 FG% on 15.5 FGA), and only 11 players helped their owners more at the charity stripe (90.8 FT% on 3.6 FTA).
R4) Zach LaVine – You’ll notice a pattern with the mid-round targets. Most of the recommendations are going to be high-scoring options with decent dimes. This is because both categories dry up quickly after the fifth-round. If we don’t go heavy on both early, there’s a good chance that we don’t end up where we need to be in either. With Lauri Markkanen and Otto Porter getting healthy, and Coby White ready to take the next step, LaVine won’t be quite as productive as he was in 2019-2020 in either category this season, but he’s still going to be a force in the scoring department (25.5 PPG) while providing low-end dimes (4.2 APG). The Bull is also elite from deep (3.1 3PG) and averaged an excellent 1.5 SPG before the league shut down. LaVine was a top-30 nine-category punt blocks player last season, and if you played in an eight-category league, the shooting guard cracked the top-20.
R4) Brandon Ingram – In most cases, I would stay away from Ingram at his third-round ADP on ESPN, but he’s a reasonable pick in the fourth. Jrue Holiday taking his talents to Milwaukee puts an early-round finish for Ingram back on the table. His numbers dipped once Zion Williamson debuted, but he could approach his early 2019-2020 usage rate now that he less competition for touches on the perimeter. There’s not a lot to dislike about Ingram line outside of his turnover rate (3.1 TOPG). All of his offensive counting stats are in very good shape (24.3 PPG, 2.4 3PG, 4.3 APG), and the Pelican is a sneaky source of boards (6.3 RPG). The big question is how much of his improvement from three and at the line will stick (85.8 FT%). That’s hard to say given how enormous the jump was. However, even if there’s a little regression that hurts both of his percentages (46.6 FG%), he should still end up as decent value here, especially in eight-category leagues. In nine-category leagues, Ingram was a top-35 player without blocks, and in eight-category leagues, he finished inside of the top-25.
R4) DeMar DeRozan – DeRozan does everything we need our top guards to do when punting blocks. He is one of the best sources of points in the middle rounds (22.1 PPG), passes like a point guard (5.6 APG), is a major source of positive FT% impact (84.3 FT% on 6.6 FTA), has a low turnover rate for a high-usage player (2.4 TOPG), and produces strong out-of-position numbers on the boards (5.7 RPG) and in the FG% category (52.6 FG% on 15.7 FGA). His impact on FG% is especially potent. Last season, the only guard-eligible player who did more to help his owners win the category was Ben Simmons. DeMar’s lack of triples is not a major concern. It’s not something to ignore, but it should not be a serious problem. Threes are the easiest category to find on the wire, so if you don’t get to where you need to be in the category by the end of the draft, it will be possible to make a comeback. Also, unlike most of the other guard categories, threes are readily available in the later rounds.
R4) Fred VanVleet – If VanVleet can match last season’s numbers, he’ll be a steal, even at his fourth-round pice. Before the league shut down, the now very rich Raptor was playing like a borderline top-15 player in this build. He’s going to be a stud in all of the guard categories again, and we have likely not seen his ceiling yet. In his first year as a starter, FVV averaged a nasty 17.6 PPG, 2.7 3PG, 6.6 APG, and 1.9 SPG. The big drawback to drafting Fred is that he makes this build’s problem with FG% harder to deal with. His size limits what he can do inside, and he’s unlikely to improve significantly on last season’s 40.9 percent shooting from the floor. If you plan to target VanVleet – and you should – make sure you go heavy on FG% impact early as it is not a category that is easily found in the later rounds.
R4) Domantas Sabonis – This is an obvious one, although the Paccer a much better pick in the fifth round than he is at his current fourth-round ADP. Sabonis is one of the few bigs that gains a lot of value in this build (0.5 BPG), and he dominates the categories that this strategy needs its bigs to dominate in. The Pacer finished among the league leaders in rebounds in his first All-Star season (12.4 RPG) and had a massive positive impact on the FG% category (54.1 FG% on 13.7 FGA). He’ll also score more than any big available after the early rounds (18.5 PPG) and is one of the best sources of dimes from the center spot (5.0 APG). Keep a close eye on your threes if you draft the big man. It is difficult to get away with rostering low-3PG players like Sabonis these days (0.3 3PG) since the category mean is now a whopping 1.6 3PG. You’ll also want to pair him with some low-turnover players to offset the high turnover rate (2.8 TOPG) that is an unfortunate side effect of his excellent playmaking.
Other Round 4 Options: Jamal Murray, DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry, Jusuf Nurkic
R5) Jonas Valanciunas – Valanciunas is a no-brainer selection in either the fifth or the sixth. He loses a little value when swats are ignored (1.1 BPG), and that is OK. As mentioned in the introduction, pulling off a successful punt is about a lot more than just grabbing players who gain value when a category is ignored and passing on players who lose value. We love Big Science here because the man delivers the goods in the remaining two big-man categories. In only 26.3 MPG, Valanciunas averaged 11.2 RPG while shooting 58.6 percent from the floor. He also usually hits his free throws. I say usually because he is coming off of his worst performance of his career in the FT% category (74.8 FT%). It’s fair to expect some positive regression there given his history and given the fact that FT% has arguably the most year-to-year variance of any category. Those drafting Big V will want to keep an eye on their steals. The big man is a significant drag on the category (0.4 SPG).
R5) Gordon Hayward – I don’t think we’re getting prime Utah Hayward back, but we could get something that is pretty close. Hayward was extremely productive last year and likely would have been an early-round asset if he wasn’t on such a loaded team. Despite being the fourth-option on his squad, Hayward still managed to a top-35 player without swats (0.4 BPG). Not only should he easily outpace his ADP, he’s going to do it by contributing in the categories that usually give this build headaches. In his final season in Boston, Hayward averaged a very useful 6.5 RPG and connected on 50.2 percent of his pre-bubble shot attempts. In addition to his helpful boards and FG%, Hayward should drop 20+ a night, do more in the assist category than most forwards (4.1 APG), and do good work in the FT% category (84.7 FT%). The only real hole in his line is his lack of steals (0.8 SPG).
R5) Tobias Harris – Harris is currently ranked in the third round on ESPN for some reason, but I have him in the fifth because in most drafts, he’s going to last until at least the end of the fourth. The Sixer works in just about any build, and punt blocks in no exception. When you throw out blocks (0.5 BPG), the only issue with Harris’ line is his steals (0.7 SPG). Everything else is in good shape. The swingman scores his points fairly efficiently (47.2 FG%, 80.6 FT%) and posted some very useful rebounding numbers (6.8 RPG) in his first full season in Philadelphia despite playing beside Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Harris also provides his owners with average triples (1.8 3PG) and dimes (3.2 APG).
Other Round 5 Options: De’Aaron Fox, C.J. McCollum, LaMarcus Aldridge
R6) Christian Wood – Houston is a dream landing spot for Wood, especially now that Russell Westbrook is in Washington. Wood is going to get a chance to eat in his first full season as a rotation player. He’s not going to be the 20-and-9 guy he was as a starter with the Pistons, but he should score in the mid-teens while doing a little bit of everything. 16 and 8 with plenty of extras seems feasible, and that would be enough for Wood to return value at a fifth-or-sixth-round price. 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%), and he will manage that without hurting your chances in threes (1.5 3PG). The big man is ranked in the sixth on ESPN, but I would usually aim to draft him a little earlier. When to take him comes down to how sharp you think the other players in your league are. If it’s a competitive league, I wouldn’t get cute. Wood will be a hot sleeper pick for the masses and there’s likely going to be a handful of managers in every competitive league gunning for him. He’s fine as early as the fourth. I think if you go any higher than that, you’ll be paying for his ceiling.
R6) Malcolm Brogdon – The Pacers’ point guard had an up-and-down 2019-2020 season. He started the year on fire, producing top-10 punt blocks numbers for a month and change before slipping and playing like a top-100 player for the rest of the year. In the end, he finished as a borderline top-50 player without swats (0.2 BPG). I expect his line to look a little different next year with Victor Oladipo (hopefully) healthier and ready to take on a larger role on offense. Brogdon should play off the ball more this year, and that will likely lead to a drop in dimes (7.1 APG) and an improved FG%. I would very surprised if his FG% did not improve (43.9 FG%). The huge drop from his 50.6 percent 2019-2020 connection rate was mostly due to a flukey drop in his 3P% that is very likely to correct itself. Before last season’s disastrous 32.6 percent performance, Brogdon had cracked 40 percent from deep twice in his career and had never shot worse than 38.5 percent from three.
Other Round 6 Options: Buddy Hield, Ricky Rubio, Victor Oladipo, Draymond Green, Al Horford
R7) Dejounte Murray – Despite Pop being Pop and only playing Murray 25.0 MPG, the Spurs’ lead guard managed to finish as a top-55 player in the punt blocks build in 2019-2020. There is no guarantee that Pop gives Murray the minutes he deserves this year, but he doesn’t need to for the point guard to return value at his current price. Of course, if Pop does give Murray close to 30 MPG, you may have a borderline early-round asset on your hands. Murray is a solid choice in the middle rounds, not just because of the value he produces, but because of how he produces that value. This build struggles to find enough boards, and Murray is one of the best rebounding point guards in the league (5.8 RPG). His lack of three-ball (0.6 3PG) also works in his favor here. This build usually has no problems finding enough threes while struggling to find enough FG% impact. Murray only has a neutral impact on the category (47.5 FG% on 9.3 FGA), but we will gladly take neutral from the guards we take in the second half of the draft. The Spur also comes with low-end dimes (4.1 APG) and is one of the league’s better sources of steals (1.7 SPG).
R7) Jaylen Brown – Brown is a monster pick-up for this build, especially at his surprisingly cheap price on ESPN. He reinforces this strategy’s natural strength in points (20.4 PPG) while helping clean up two of its weaknesses. The Celtic is both an excellent rebounder (6.4 RPG) and very efficient from the floor (49.0 FG%) for someone who averaged 2.1 3PG before the stoppage. He’s also a solid fit because his weaknesses line up nicely with the strengths of most of the players who get a boost in this build and that we will be targeting early. When punting blocks, we are usually taking two elite guards or wings within the first three rounds, and those players are usually going to be strong enough in dimes and FT% to cover for Brown (2.2 APG, 73.6 FT% on 4.3 FTA).
Other Round 7 Options: Eric Bledsoe, Lauri Markkanen, Kemba Walker, Michael Porter Jr.
R8) Thomas Bryant – Bryant is a solid shot blocker (1.5 BP36), but he does enough in this build’s key categories to make the guide. The center shot an excellent 58.1 percent from the field last year, and that percentage is likely going to go up with Russell Westbrook feeding him easy buckets this season. Bryant is also a strong rebounder (10.4 RP36), although his per-minute rebounding is going to dip to about 9.0 RP36 with Westbrook in town. He also does more than most centers who are selected in the second half of the draft on the offensive end (19.1 PP36, 1.2 3P36). His well-rounded line gives him top-50 upside even in a build where he loses a little value. Whether or not he realizes that upside will be determined by his minutes. He was unleashed in the bubble but was only seeing minutes in the low-20s before that. Keep an eye out for any Bryant-related news during training camp and preseason. If it sounds like Bryant is going to see 28+ MPG this year, I would aggressively target the Wizard on draft day.
R8) Brandon Clarke – Clarke is a major mid-round target for this build due to his outstanding efficiency from the floor. As a rookie, the Grizzly was a top-10 source of FG% impact (62.3 FG% on 8.2 FGA) despite only playing 21.7 MPG. Assuming his minutes jump into the mid-20s this year, Clarke could have a top-five impact on the FG% category while providing his owners with respectable numbers in most of the other categories. The Canadian was a very strong per-minute scorer in his rookie year (19.6 PP36) and did a nice job on the boards (9.5 RPG) despite spending a significant amount of his minutes playing beside Jonas Valanciunas. Like most bigs, the 24-year-old won’t help in the steals (0.9 SP36) or the assists (2.3 AP36) categories, but that’s not a huge issue here as the early-round targets for this build tend to be very strong sources of both.
Other Round 8 Options: Marcus Smart, Aaron Gordon, Otto Porter Jr.