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16/17 Punt Threes

Punting threes is a very viable strategy and it works well with many of the first-round picks. The only issue I have with this build is that it’s unlikely to be my first choice for any of the first-round targets. If I’m fortunate enough to draft Karl-Anthony Towns in the first round, I’m going to look to punt assists or points before I consider punting threes. If I select LeBron James, my first thought is going to be the punt FT% strategy. However, drafts don’t always go how you want them to and you may need to change strategies early on or halfway through the draft. This is where punt threes comes in.

If you take a look at the league’s top three-point shooters, you’ll notice that most of the time, their contributions are limited to triples and maybe two or three more categories. Because of this, ignoring threes, and focusing on players whose contributions are more varied makes a lot of sense. Big men receive a huge bump in this build and you will be looking to win rebounds, blocks, and FG% each week. As is the case with every punting strategy, the success of the build is not determined by the easy to find categories, in this case the big man stats, but by whether you can replace the stats that generally come with the punted category. When you punt threes, you will want to pay extra close attention to points, FT%, assists, and steals.

Offenses around the league are putting a greater focus on the three-ball and 1.2 3PG is roughly where a player needs to be in order to be an average producer in the category. This build is not just about targeting players like Elfrid Payton who almost never hit from deep. Almost all guards hit from beyond the arc at least occasionally. Any guard that hits around the league average is fair game in this build.

This strategy can be pulled off with any of the first-round big men as well as a handful of the first-round guards. Giannis Antetokounmpo is a natural match for this build (0.4 3PG), but he’s not a perfect fit. Owners will have to pay very close attention to FT% if they select the young Buck. The same goes for LeBron James. If you start your draft with either player, try to match them with big men who excel at the line. Russell Westbrook is an average source of threes (1.3 3PG) and this build is a great option for those who don’t want to get into a bidding war with the James Harden owner for the preferred punt FG% options.

Categories to target: Points, FT%, Assists, Steals

First-round Targets: Russell Westbrook, Karl-Anthony Towns, Anthony Davis, Giannis Antetokounmpo, LeBron James, Hassan Whiteside

R2) Paul Millsap – Millsap, like most fours, has expanded his game beyond the arc (0.9 3PG). However, threes were only Millsap’s seventh-best category last season and he contributes in the areas that this build tends to be weak in. He is an above-average passer for his position (3.3 APG) and is the best source of steals from the power forward spot (1.8 SPG). Millsap is also competent from the line (75.7 FT%) and has turned himself into one of the best defenders in the league (1.7 BPG).

R2) LaMarcus Aldridge – Aldridge is an outstanding option if you started this build with Giannis or LeBron. The only big man who had a greater positive impact on the FT% category (85.8 FT% on 4.1 FTA) last season was Dirk. Over the last three months of the season, Aldridge was a top-8 player in this build and averaged 20.1 PPG on 53.9% shooting, 8.1 RPG, and 1.3 BPG.

R2) DeMarcus Cousins – Cousins is a solid source of out-of-position threes (1.1 3PG), but that shouldn’t stop managers from targeting the counting stat monster. He fits well with Towns and Davis as both players, unlike Cousins (45.1 FG%, 71.8 FT%) are strong in both percentages. No big man will score more than Cousins this season (26.9 PPG), and the King will provide well-above-average numbers on the boards (11.5 RPG) and on the defensive end (1.6 SPG, 1.4 BPG).

R2) Jimmy Butler – Butler doesn’t lose any value in this build (1.0 3PG) and is strong in the other traditional guard categories. Butler is a willing passer (4.8 APG), one of the league’s better perimeter defenders (1.6 SPG), and converts a high percentage (83.2 FT%) of his free-throw attempts (7.1 FTA). Expect his assist numbers to slightly decrease now that he’ll be sharing the ball with Rajon Rondo. The presence of Dwyane Wade will take a chunk out of scoring average (20.9 PPG) as well.

R3) John Wall – Wall has improved from deep (1.5 3PG), but doesn’t lose enough value when threes are ignored to disqualify himself from the build. He’s another player who’s best paired with Towns or Davis as they are best equipped to handle his poor percentages (42.4 FG%, 79.1 FT%) and awful turnover rate (4.1 TOPG). He is exceptional in all of the other guard categories (19.9 PPG, 10.3 APG, 1.9 BPG) and is one of the few point guards who can help you both on the boards (4.9 RPG) and in the blocks category (0.8 BPG).

R3) Nikola Jokic – Jokic’s game was made for fantasy and the big man has the potential to be one of the better sources of out-of-position dimes (3.9 AP36) and steals (1.6 SP36). He’ll also help you in both efficiency categories (51.1 FG%, 81.1 FT%) and on the boards (11.6 RP36). In his rookie year, Jokic somehow managed to be a top-50 player in this build despite only playing 21.7 MPG. He is a spectacular per minute player who will be seeing a large bump in playing time.

R3) Brook Lopez – Lopez was the fifth-best big man in this build in 2015-2016 and should, at worst, be a top-20 player without threes this coming season. He provides excellent scoring numbers (20.6 PPG) that come with pristine percentages (51.1 FG%, 78.7 FT%). Lopez has also improved his rebounding (7.9 RPG) and is one of the league’s better shot blockers (1.7 BPG). His appears over his foot issues and the only thing owners should worry about when selecting the Net is the possibility that he’ll be rested during the fantasy playoffs.

R3) Blake Griffin – The only thing holding Griffin back from being an elite option in this build is his poor performance at the line (72.7 FT%). You’re not going to want to pair Blake with Giannis, Whiteside, or LeBron unless you want to punt FT% along with threes, but he works well with the other first-round options. Next to Draymond Green, Blake is the best source of assists from the power forward position (4.9 APG). He’ll also boost your points (21.4 PPG) as well as your FG% (49.8 FG%). Look elsewhere if you are in need of blocks (0.5 BPG).

R3) Eric Bledsoe – In the 31 games that Bledsoe played in last season, he showed an improved three-point shot (1.5 3PG), but before 2015-2016, he had never averaged more than 1.2 3PG. If Bledsoe can stay healthy, his line could look a lot like John Wall’s except with less assists (6.1 APG). The Sun will be one the league’s better thieves (2.0 SPG) and will contribute on the boards (5.2 RPG in 2014-2015) and in the blocks column (0.6 BPG). Like Wall, he has a negligible impact on FT% (80.2 FT%) and will make it difficult to win turnovers (3.6 TOPG)

R4) Jonas Valanciunas – The big man was a top-35 player in this build in 2015-2016 and should have a larger role for a Raptors team hoping that he can emerge as a top-tier third option. Valanciunas is one of few big men who can dominate the FG% category (56.5 FG%) without harming your FT% (76.1 FT%). He is also a strong rebounder (9.1 RPG) and shot blocker (1.3 BPG). He needs to be paired with point guards who can offset his lack of dimes (0.7 APG) and steals (0.4 SPG).

R4) DeMar DeRozan – This is your main target in the middle rounds (0.6 3PG). Be prepared to reach for DeMar in the fourth. He is the type of player that is almost always overdrafted and there’s no guarantee that he’ll be there if you’re picking late in the fourth round. The Raptor brings everything that this build requires. He was the seventh-best source of FT% impact last season (85.0 FT% on 8.4 FTA) and is one of the league’s leading scorers (23.5 PPG). He also provides useful assists (4.0 APG) that come with low-turnovers (2.2 TOPG). His biggest issue in this build is his mediocre FG% (44.7 FG%).

R4) Gorgui Dieng – Dieng is an outstanding fit for the punt threes build due to his extremely clean line. He is one of the few big men who is both excellent from the line (82.7 FT%) and competent in the steals category (1.1 SPG). He was a top-35 option in this build last season and should see his minutes increase (27.1 MPG) under new coach Tom Thibodeau. His big man stats will also likely be excellent. Last season, he averaged a very solid 7.1 RPG and 1.2 BPG and shot 53.3% from the field.

R5) Goran Dragic – Dragic is going to have a very big year and will likely do most of damage inside the arc (0.9 3PG). This build is very unfriendly to most guards, but the point guard has been able to post top-40 value in this build in the past. Next to Steph Curry, Dragic is going to be the best source of FG% impact from the point guard position. He hit over half his shots in both 2013-2014 and 2014-2015. He should also see his scoring (14.1 PPG) and dimes (5.8 APG) spike now that he’ll be the Heat’s first option.

R5) Pau Gasol – Gasol’s role and numbers are going to decrease, but the Hall of Famer has room to fall. He has been a first-round player in this build two seasons in a row and could very easily be a top-30 player without threes in 2016-2017. His big man stats will be very good (11.0 RPG, 2.0 BPG) and he’ll be one of the better sources of out-of-position assists (4.1 APG). Expect his FG% (46.9 FG%) to rise now that he is a Spur. LaMarcus Aldridge saw a significant increase in his efficiency after moving to San Antonio.

R5) Marc Gasol – Marc was the 13th-ranked player in this build two seasons ago and would be ranked much higher if he wasn’t coming off a major foot injury. The Grizzlies are already talking about resting Gasol throughout the regular season and that makes him a high-ceiling, low-floor option in the middle rounds. On a per game basis, he should still be a very strong option. His numbers dropped almost across the board last season, but he still managed to be a top-30 player in this build. He is an excellent source of out-of-position assists (3.8 APG) and is a major contributor on the defensive end (1.0 SPG, 1.3 BPG). Marc is also much better than most big men from the line (82.9 FT%).

R5) Jeff Teague – Teague’s upside, and usage, is capped by his new teammates, but he does contribute in the areas that this build needs to focus on. He is an excellent free-throw shooter (83.7 FT%) and has more upside than most point guards in the assists (7.0 APG in 2014-2015) and steals categories (1.7 SPG in 2014-2015). Indiana is expected to pick up the pace this season and that should help offset some of the usage he will lose to Monta Ellis and Paul George. He’s not great value in the fifth, but in H2H leagues, fit is just as important as raw value.

R5) Myles Turner – Big men like Turner who can provide the usual big man stats without dragging down your FT% (72.7 FT%) are essential to this build’s success. Turner should have a much bigger role in the offense this season (16.3 PP36) and is going to be one of the league’s best shot blockers (2.3 BP36). He’ll also be competent on the boards (8.8 RP36) and from the floor (49.8 FG%). He has top-40 upside in this build.

R6) Jabari Parker – Parker has the talent to become an elite scorer in this league and will do most of his scoring from mid-range and at the basket (0.1 3PG). Khris Middleton’s injury is a boon to Parker’s value and he’ll be the Bucks’ second option after Giannis. The former Blue Devil will see most of his time at the four and that should help his rebounding rate (5.2 RPG). What makes Parker especially attractive is that his points will come with strong FG% impact (49.2 FG%).

R6) Danilo Gallinari – You’d rather not draft Gallinari in this build (1.6 3PG), but FT% impact can be very hard to find when punting threes, especially if you missed out on DeMar DeRozan earlier in the draft. Only Kevin Durant and James Harden had a larger positive impact on that category in 2015-2016. He will also help boost your points (19.5 PPG) and is a solid rebounder for a wing (5.3 RPG). Gallinari is one of the most injury-prone players in the league and has missed 52 games over the past two seasons.

R6) Rudy Gay – Gay is currently available at a significant discount and doesn’t lose any value when threes are ignored (1.1 3PG). He was a top-45 player in this build last season and averaged 17.2 PPG on 46.3 FG% and 6.5 RPG. He was also a great source of defensive stats (1.4 SPG, 0.7 BPG) and will likely return value at this price regardless of where he plays this season.