The unpredictability of fantasy basketball drafts makes flexibility one of the most important traits that a manager can have. When I say flexibility, I’m not just talking about having a list of three or four acceptable players in each round. Sometimes your best option is to completely change your team building strategy while the draft is taking place. For example, say you draft Steph Curry somewhere in the middle of the first round with the goal of pairing him with the punt FT% build. You plan on taking another point guard in the second round and then Andre Drummond or Clint Capela in the third. Your second-round pick works out, but then the managers who took Giannis Antetokounmpo and LeBron James in the first swoop in and take both players before you have an opportunity to pounce. At this point, you’ll need to make a decision. You’ll have to decide whether to continue with your original plan even though your primary targets have already been taken or pivot to a different punting strategy altogether.
Punt blocks works with most of this season’s expected first-round picks and can also function as a reliable pivot in the middle rounds for teams whose early rounds don’t go as planned. Like assists, blocks are hard to find and are often reached for in drafts. In 2017-2018, only three players averaged at least 2.0 BPG and one of those players, Kristaps Porzingis, isn’t expected to make it back onto the court until the new year. What makes accumulating blocks even trickier, is that impressive blocks numbers are usually accompanied by weak production in the non-big man categories, especially FT%. By avoiding the big men who block shots and do little else, you should end up with a team that is stronger in the guard categories than its competition.
All punting strategies require more than just sorting the rankings without the punted category and picking the players who receive the largest boost. This is especially true when punting blocks. If you just follow the punt blocks rankings, you’ll end up dominant in the guard categories and terrible everywhere else. Guards usually receive a massive bump in this build and most big men lose a decent chunk of their value. Last season, only four of the top-25 players in the punt blocks build were big men. This build is naturally weak in both FG% and rebounds and those categories will need special attention throughout the draft. You will need to aggressively target the handful of big men who don’t lose much value when blocks are ignored and who are dominant on the boards. You’ll also want to keep an eye out for guards who score their points efficiently. You won’t be getting as much FG% impact from your bigs as you would in the punt assists or punt FT% builds and you’ll need to turn to your guards and wings to make up the difference. Turnovers and steals can also be an issue in this build, but you don’t need to pay nearly as much attention to those two categories as you do to FG% and rebounds.
If you want to punt an additional category alongside blocks, punting FG% is your best bet. Punting rebounds in addition to blocks makes it almost impossible to be competitive in FG%. However, it is still possible to be strong on the boards if you are punting both blocks and FG%.
The punt blocks build works well with the majority of the expected first-round picks and is an obvious match for most of the first-round guards and wings. Nikola Jokic is a particularly excellent match for this strategy as he loses little value when blocks are ignored (0.8 BPG) and has the ability to produce elite numbers on the boards and in the FG% column. Karl-Anthony Towns can also work well here since his sky-high FG% and top-end rebounding numbers are exactly what this build needs. Even Kevin Durant, who averaged 1.8 BPG and finished seventh-overall in this build in 2017-2018, and Giannis Antetokounmpo can work as this build’s starting point. Both players are outstanding sources of FG% impact and do great work on the boards. The only likely first-round pick that makes absolutely no sense in this build is Anthony Davis.
Note: The below list is not meant to be a complete list of all the players that fit into this build. The round that I recommend taking each player in is based off of Yahoo Fantasy Basketball’s rankings and where I think each player will or could be available in a standard 12-team 9-category draft. If you don’t see a player who you think fits the build well, it may be because I think that player is badly overpriced on Yahoo. For example, Donovan Mitchell and Bradley Beal will not be showing up on any of these punting guides unless Yahoo moves them out of the second-round.
Categories to target: FG%, Rebounds, Turnovers
First-round targets: James Harden, Steph Curry, Karl-Anthony Towns, LeBron James, Nikola Jokic, Russell Westbrook, Damian Lillard, Victor Oladipo, Kawhi Leonard
R2) Chris Paul – The only players that were more valuable than Paul last season when blocks were ignored were Steph Curry, James Harden, and Anthony Davis. Yes, he is a risk to be rested down the stretch, but it’s hard to pass on top-five upside at a second-round price. With blocks are ignored, Paul produces a near-perfect line. In 2017-2018, he was a top-20 three-point shooter (2.5 3PG), a top-seven assist man (7.9 APG), a top-15 thief (1.7 SPG), and a top-10 source of FT% impact (91.9 FT% on 3.8 FTA). The Rocket is also an above-average rebounder for a point guard (5.4 RPG) and does an incredible job taking care of the ball (2.2 TOPG).
R2) Kyrie Irving – Irving’s injury history makes him one of the riskiest second-round picks, but there’s no denying his upside in this friendly build (0.3 BPG). In 2017-2018, Kyrie was a top-10 player on a per game basis when blocks were ignored. His value was driven by excellent scoring numbers (24.4 PPG, 2.8 3PG) that were accompanied by elite percentages (49.1 FG%, 88.9 FT%). Gordon Hayward’s return shouldn’t have a major impact on Irving’s value. The Celtics are very deep, but Kyrie was always able to maintain a usage rate close to 30 percent while in Cleveland and while playing beside LeBron James and Kevin Love.
R2) Kevin Love – This is an obvious one. The last time Kevin Love was the first option on a team he was a top-six player in the punt blocks build. It’s hard to predict exactly how good he will look this year since that top-six finish came in 2013-2014, but it’s safe to say that he’ll be an early-round asset to this build in 2018-2019. He already managed that feat in his final season with LeBron James. More minutes and more usage makes a 20 and 12 season very possible. We should also see Love’s assists increase. With LeBron on the floor, Love had an 9.8 assist percentage last season. Without James on floor, that assist percentage increased to 12.1 percent. Love is also going to be a devastating weapon from deep (2.3 3PG) and an elite source of FT% impact (88.0 FT% on 4.5 APG). Like almost all stretch big men, he is not a strong source of FG% impact (45.8 FG%).
Other Round 2 Options: Paul George, Jimmy Butler