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17/18 Punt FG%

Punt FT% remains the most popular punting strategy, but the punt FG% build is nipping at its heels. There are two reasons for this rise in popularity. One plays in Oklahoma City and the other makes his home in Houston. If you are fortunate enough to have the opportunity to draft either, don’t even think about trying to fit them into a different build. This will be your draft strategy. You have no choice. In fact, whether you like it or not, you’re likely going to be punting both FG% and turnovers. If you really wanted to, you could bring turnovers back from the brink, but I’m not sure what the point would be. At best, you’ll only be better than a couple other teams in your league in the category. Edging out a team or two in turnovers isn’t worth weakening yourself elsewhere.

Harden and Westbrook’s brilliance make it hard to completely botch this strategy, but that doesn’t mean that you can just pick one of the two and cruise to the top of the standings. The difference between a good and great punt FG% team comes down to how strong that team is on the boards and in the blocks column. It’s very common for a punt FG% team to be weak in one or both of these categories at the end of the draft. This is because rebounds and blocks are strongly correlated with FG% and discounting players who shoot well from the field limits our big man options. While this build does take some bigs off the boards, we’re still going to want to have a normal amount of big men on our roster. You’ll likely find yourself taking one or two strong FG% big men because you are going to be that desperate for blocks and boards. You should keep your eyes open for strong rebounding and shot blocking wings. Picking up wings who grab six boards a night or average 0.8 BPG is going to be necessary if you want to be competitive in both categories.

Last season’s top-2 MVP candidates are easily the best fits for this build, especially if you just accept the double-punt or play in 8-category leagues. However, they’re not the only viable first-round picks. One very strong first-round option that doesn’t get talked about enough when punt FG% is brought up is Anthony Davis. The Brow did shoot over 50% last season, but FG% was only his fourth-best category. He was still a top-5 player even when his stellar shooting was taken away. What makes Davis such a good fit for this build is that he solves your boards and blocks problem almost by himself. There will be plenty of great point guard options available throughout the first five rounds and finding stud guards to pair with Davis might be easier than finding stud big men to pair with Harden or Westbrook. Davis also adds a wrinkle to this build that the elite guards do not. He allows you to be competitive in turnovers.

There are plenty of great punt FG% options available at the top of draft, but that doesn’t mean that this build has forgotten about its unlucky friends stuck at the end of the snake. Just like last season, the very effective Damian Lillard/DeMarcus Cousins pairing will likely be available for those picking around the turn. Starting with this pair guarantees a strong start in all categories except FG% and turnovers. Lillard’s likely league-leading FT% impact more than cancels out Cousins’ mediocrity at the line and Cousins’ outstanding out-of-position steals makes up for Lillard’s struggles on the defensive end.

Note: The below list is not meant to be a complete list of all the players who 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. 

Categories to target: Rebounds, Blocks, Turnovers

First-round targets: Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Steph Curry, Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, John Wall

R2) Damian Lillard – Lillard is a better fit for the punt FG% build than the other elite point guards currently being drafted around the turn. He’s posted first-round value in this build three seasons in a row and looked better than ever once Jusuf Nurkic joined the squad. In the 20 games that Nurkic played for the Blazers, Lillard averaged an unbelievable 28.7 PPG, 3.4 3PG, 4.9 RPG, 6.1 APG, and 1.4 SPG. Only four players were more valuable than Lillard over that period. The counting numbers are obviously extremely good, but what makes Lillard a truly elite fantasy option is his FT% impact (89.5 FT% on 7.3 FTA). Only Isaiah Thomas did more to help owners win that category in 2016-2017.

R2) Draymond Green – Draymond’s shooting fell off a cliff last year (41.7 FG%), but aside from a small drop in scoring (10.2 PPG), that had no effect on his value to this build. He was still a steady source of out-of-position threes (1.1 3PG) and provided the boards (7.9 RPG) and blocks (1.4 BPG) that this build needs. Green also functions as an elite point guard by gifting owners with historic out-of-position assists (7.0 APG) and league-leading swipes (2.0 SPG). His weaknesses in the scoring column and at the line (70.9 FT%) are not major concerns. This build is naturally strong in both of those categories and you shouldn’t have any issue making up for what Draymond lacks.

R2) Kristaps Porzingis – If you start your draft with Russell Westbrook or James Harden, you’re probably going to find yourself drafting either Porzingis or Myles Turner at the end of the second round or at the beginning of the third round. Both are excellent options with the Knick offering a little more on offense. Porzingis is already a very good scorer (18.1 PPG) and is very comfortable behind the three-point line (1.7 3PG). Those top-notch out-of-position threes are also accompanied by elite blocks numbers (2.0 BPG) and a respectable amount of boards (7.2 RPG).

Other Round 2 Options: Paul George, Kyle Lowry, Jimmy Butler, Kyrie Irving

R3) Kemba Walker – Kemba hasn’t finished outside of the top-25 in punt FG% in five years and has missed a total of four games over the past two seasons. His floor is extremely high and his ceiling isn’t bad either. Just two seasons ago, he posted first-round value when FG% was ignored. There’s not a lot to dislike in Kemba’s line. He scores (23.0 PPG), is elite from deep (3.0 3PG), and few point guards do a better job of not turning the ball over (2.1 TOPG). If you go with Russell Westbrook or James Harden early, try to pair them with Kemba and either Myles Turner or Kristaps Porzingis.

R3) Myles Turner – Turner is going to show up on a ton of punt FG% teams due to how well he fits this build and his current draft position. Turner is almost always available when Russell Westbrook and James Harden-led teams are picking for the second time. The big man is going to see a major increase in usage this season with Paul George and Jeff Teague no longer on the roster. Expect his minutes (31.4 MPG), scoring (14.5 RPG), and boards to rise (7.2 RPG). He should still be one of the league’s best shot blockers (2.1 BPG), but he’s not a lock to improve his rim protection. It is common for players who are taking on a larger role on offense to see their defensive numbers slip.

R3) Joel Embiid – As long as I’m not punting FG%, I find it easy to resist Embiid. He doesn’t fit punt blocks or punt points particularly well and punt FT% and punt assists provides owners with plenty of quality big man options. He’s much harder to stay away from here. This build desperately needs what Embiid brings and the two top options for this build are both very sturdy. If you were to draft Russell Westbrook and Embiid, and Embiid was to stay healthy, you would almost have to intentionally sabotage the rest of your draft to avoid having a dominant team. The Process was a second-round asset in the double-punt in his rookie year (46.6 FG%, 3.8 TOPG) and will be among the league leaders in rebounds (11.1 RP36) and blocks (3.4 BP36). He should also be one of the top scoring centers in the league (28.7 PP36) and is going to give you more in threes (1.6 3P36) and steals (1.2 SP36) than most big men do.

Other Round 3 Options: Mike Conley, Marc Gasol, DeMar DeRozan