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16/17 Punt Blocks

Blocks are very difficult to find as they tend to be concentrated among just a handful of players. In 2015-2016, only five players managed to block at least two shots a night and only two of those players shot better than 65% from the line. The theory behind punting blocks is similar to the theory behind punting assists. Owners like to reach for blocks, and by ignoring blocks, you can take advantage of all the value that other owners are passing on.

All punting strategies require more than just sorting 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 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 five of the top-25 players in the punt blocks build were big men.

This build works with most of the usual first-round picks and is a great backup option for those picking early in the first round. Usually you can get your preferred second-round player if you’re picking late in the first round, but that’s not always the case with an early first-round pick. You may go into the draft hoping to punt FT% with Steph Curry only to see both DeAndre Jordan and Andre Drummond come off the board by the time your turn comes around. Instead of reaching for less than ideal targets, you can pivot to the punt blocks build and still have a great team. This is also one of my preferred punting strategies for deeper leagues. Blocks become even harder to find when playing in a 16-team league and ignoring them all together makes even more sense.

The categories that you will need to pay special attention to when punting blocks are FG%, rebounds, and turnovers; the three other categories that big men tend to be strong in. Because of this, you want to try to target guards who are strong on the boards or who score efficiently. However, don’t worry too much about sticking to the list of guards that I have listed in this guide. Almost all guards work reasonable well in this build and the your team’s success will be determined by the quality of its big men.

Categories to target: FG%, Rebounds, Turnovers

First-round Targets: Steph Curry, James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Chris Paul, LeBron James, Paul George 

R2) LaMarcus Aldridge – Aldridge will likely finish outside of the top-25 when blocks are ignored (1.1 BPG), but is an excellent fit for a build that requires strong contributions from the floor (51.3 FG%) and on the boards (8.5 RPG). He is also one of the league’s best sources of FT% impact from the power forward spot (85.8 FT% on 4.1 FTA) and that sterling FT% makes him an ideal pick for those starting the build with LeBron James (73.1 FT%).

R2) DeMarcus Cousins – Cousins does lose some value when blocks are ignored (1.4 BPG), however, he remains a strong fit for this build due to his ability to win you rebounds almost by himself (11.5 RPG) and his phenomenal counting stats (26.9 PPG, 1.1 3PG, 3.3 APG, 1.6 SPG). He’s best paired with the first-round options who excel at the line. His FT% can be erratic (71.8 FT% in 2015-2016, 78.2 FT% in 2014-2015) and it comes with extremely high volume (10.2 FTA). Choosing Cousins in the second round will also change your mid-round point guard targets. His horrendous turnover rate (3.8 TOPG) will lead to a double-punt if paired with players Dennis Schroder or Rajon Rondo.

R2) Draymond Green – Green, despite averaging 1.4 BPG, was still a top-20 player in 2015-2016 when blocks were ignored. He provides across-the-board production and excels in the areas that this build tends to be weak in (9.4 RPG, 49.0 FG%). That already solid FG% could increase now that defenses will have to shift some of their attention away from Green to Kevin Durant. Green’s outstanding out-of-position assists are likely to drop (7.4 APG) in 2016-2017, but that decrease in dimes should be partially offset by the decrease in turnovers that is sure to follow (3.2 TOPG).

R2) Kyle Lowry – The Raptors’ lead guard is an above-average rebounder for his position (4.7 RPG) and was a top-8 player in this build in 2015-2016. His outstanding counting stats (21.1 PPG, 2.8 3PG, 6.4 APG, 2.1 SPG) come with a very manageable turnover rate (2.9 TOPG). He is best paired with Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, or LeBron James as their success from the floor can help offset Lowry’s struggles (42.7 FG%).

R3) Nikola Jokic – The Nuggets’ breakout candidate is one of your main targets in this build. Jokic has the ability to provide positive value in the other eight categories and will likely derive relatively little value from his blocks (1.0 BP36). The second-year player will boost both your percentages (51.1 FG%, 81.1 FT%) while averaging close to a double-double (16.5 PP36, 11.6 RP36). He’ll also chip in from deep (0.6 3P36) and be a very strong source of out-of-position dimes (3.9 AP36) and steals (1.6 SP36).

R3) Blake Griffin – If you’re aiming to punt blocks and select either James Harden, Russell Westbrook, or Paul George in the first round, Griffin should be one of you primary third-round targets. The Clipper helps offset their poor FG% (49.8 FG% on 17.3 FGA) and doesn’t lose any value when blocks are ignored (0.5 BPG). Blake also provides respectable numbers on the boards (8.4 RPG), and as always, will be one of the league’s best bets for out-of-position assists (4.9 APG).

R3) Kyrie Irving – The Finals’ hero has first-round upside in this build and in the past, has shown the ability to score at an efficient clip (46.8 FG% in 2014-2015). Irving was a top-10 player in this build two seasons ago and should provide, at least, top-20 numbers now that his surgically repaired knee has had over a year to heal. He’s not a perfect fit for this build due to his struggles on the boards (2.9 RPG), but the Cavalier does come with a lower turnover rate than most point guards (2.3 TOPG) due to the presence of LeBron James.

R3) Eric Bledsoe – Bledsoe is actually one of the best sources of out-of-position blocks from the point guard spot (0.6 BPG), but should provide top-20 numbers in this build if he can remain healthy. The Suns’ lead guard has a neutral impact on FG% (45.3 FG%) and has been one of the better rebounders at his position in the past (5.2 RPG in 2014-2015). He’ll also be useful from deep (1.5 3PG) and finish among the league leaders in steals (2.0 SPG). Bledsoe’s ceiling is capped by his exceptionally high turnover rate (3.6 TOPG).

R4) Isaiah Thomas – The diminutive point guard receives one the largest boosts when blocks are ignored (0.1 BPG) and was a second-round player in this build in 2015-2016. He doesn’t help make up your FG% (42.8 FG%) or rebounding (3.0 RPG) deficits, but he does contribute big numbers in the categories that you will looking to dominate. Last season, Thomas averaged close to elite numbers in the points category (22.2 PPG), from deep (2.0 3PG), and at the line (87.1 FT% on 6.6 FTA). He’ll also help you in the assists column (6.2 APG) and will do it without tanking your turnovers (2.7 TOPG).

R4) Kevin Love – The Cavaliers’ third wheel will help fix your rebounding problem (9.9 RPG), but unfortunately, will put you in a deeper hole in FG% (41.8 FG%). Because of Love’s perimeter-oriented game, he is best paired with the FG% anchors available in the first-round. Love was a top-10 big man in this build last season and should continue to be one of the league’s best sources of out-of-position threes (2.1 3PG). He’ll also provide owners with above-average points (16.0 PPG) and FT% impact (82.2 FT% on 4.1 FTA).

R4) Trevor Ariza – Ariza has been a second-round player in this build three years in a row and is a safe bet to return value given his current price. The swingman’s bread and butter has always been his top-notch contributions in threes (2.3 3PG) and steals (2.0 SPG) and he has also shown the ability to be a strong rebounder (5.6 RPG in 2014-2015). The Rockets will likely pick up the pace this season which gives Ariza a top-15 ceiling in this build.

R4) C.J. McCollum – McCollum was 2015-2016’s most improved player and got stronger as the year went on. Over the last three months of the season, McCollum managed to score 20.9 PPG on 46.1% shooting. That kind of efficient scoring from the shooting guard position is exactly what this build needs. The Blazer will be one of the league’s best sources of threes (2.5 3PG) not playing in Oakland and can also provide owners with a handful of dimes (4.3 APG) and steals (1.2 SPG) each night.

R5) Gorgui Dieng – Dieng should see more run under new coach Tom Thibodeau and that should help enhance the impact of his already very useful contributions on the boards (7.1 RPG) and in the FG% category (53.3 FG%). Unlike most big men, Gorgui doesn’t drag down your steals (1.1 SPG) and doesn’t hurt you at the line (82.7 FT%). He has early-round potential and should be motivated to reach that potential in what will be a contract year for Dieng.

R5) Nikola Vucevic – Vucevic has been a pillar of the punt blocks build for years and despite the addition of Bismack Biyombo, remains a no-brainer pick in the middle rounds. Only seven players with center eligibility scored more often than Vucevic did last season (18.2 PPG) and of those seven, only two were more efficient from the field (51.0 FG%). Vucevic will also be help you on the boards (8.8 RPG) and won’t drag down your FT% (75.3 FT%).

R5) Aaron Gordon – Gordon will be one of the Magic’s feature players this season and should destroy his previous career high of 23.9 MPG. Expect Gordon’s minutes to be north of 30 this season and for the versatile third-year player to be close to a top-50 player in this build. Gordon’s best category is likely going to be rebounds (9.8 RP36) and the Magic’s starting small forward should produce strong numbers across-the-board (0.8 3P36, 1.1 SP36, 47.2 FG%). The only category that is he likely to struggle in is FT% (68.1 FT%).

R5) Goran Dragic – Most point guards will, at best, have a neutral impact on the FG% category. Dragic can do much more than that. The 2015-2016 season was a down year for Dragic and even then, the Heat’s new first option shot 47.7% from the floor. In each of the two seasons before that, Dragic hit more than half of his field goal attempts. The last time Dragic was the first option on a team, he was a top-20 player in this build and averaged 20.3 PPG, 1.6 3PG, 5.9 APG, and 1.4 SPG.

R6) Dirk Nowitzki – In his prime, Dirk was the best first-round building block for this build and even in the twilight of his career, the big man is still talented enough to be worthy of a mid-round selection on draft day. Nowitzki was a top-25 option in this build in 2015-2016 and should continue to be an excellent source of out-of-position threes (1.7 3PG) and free-throw impact (89.3 FT% on 3.7 FTA). Last season, no player with center eligibility had a greater impact on FT% than Dirk. The legend is great value at his current sixth-round price, but won’t be the answer to your rebounding (6.5 RPG) and FG% (44.8 FG%) needs.

R6) Jabari Parker – The former Blue Devil will be the biggest beneficiary of Khris Middleton’s likely season-ending injury. Parker could flirt with 20 PPG this season and that impressive scoring output should be accompanied by a high FG% (49.3 FG%). The third-year player will be playing the majority of his minutes at the four and we should see an increase in rebounding rate (5.2 RPG). He should also be a decent source of steals (0.9 SPG), but his lack of three-ball (0.1 3PG), and limited passing ability (1.7 APG), keep his upside outside of the early rounds.

R6) Chandler Parsons – If Parsons can stay healthy, he likely end up being a steal for managers who select the small forward in the sixth. He offers efficient scoring (49.2 FG%) and before his time with the Mavericks, was a very good source of dimes from the wing (4.0 APG in 2013-2014). Parsons is also a decent rebounder (4.7 RPG) who can hit from deep (1.7 3PG). Before going down with his season ending knee injury, Parsons had been providing owners with borderline first-round value in this build for two months. He’s a risky pick, but his upside is immense.

R6) Nikola Mirotic – Mirotic has appeared in all of my punting guides thus far and for good reason. The Bulls’ likely starting power forward, when he’s rolling, offers across-the-board production and projects to be one of the best sources of out-of-position threes (2.0 3PG). He comes with some downside, as we saw last year, but his role should be more consistent in 2016-2017 given the Bulls’ need for shooting. He should also help out on the boards (5.5 RPG) and has some upside in the steals column (1.3 SP36). Mirotic is a much better target for those who started their draft with LeBron James or Kevin Durant than those who started it with Russell Westbrook or James Harden. The Bull’s three-point bomber comes with a sizable FG% hit (40.7 FG%).

R6) Evan Fournier – Fournier blocked exactly two more shots than you and I did during the 2015-2016 season. No swingman gets a bigger bump in this build than Fournier (0.0 BPG), and the shooting guard is one of the few players at his position who has the ability to average close to 20 PPG without hurting your chances of winning FG%. Over the last two months of the 2015-2016 season, Fournier averaged 17.9 PPG on 49.0% shooting. That was with Victor Oladipo in the lineup. Now that Oladipo is in Oklahoma City, Fournier’s upside in the scoring and threes (2.0 3PG) categories is massive. Fournier will be held back by his lack of rebounding (2.8 RPG), but his upside in this build is within the top-30.