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Punt Blocks

Blocks are very difficult to find as they tend to be concentrated among just a handful of players. In 2014-2015, only six players managed to block at least two shots a night and only two of those players shot better than 63% from the line. Owners will often reach for blocks at the expense of other categories due to their scarcity. Because of this, it makes a lot of sense to just ignore the category completely.

Point guards and wings get a bump in this build, but as always, it’s about more than just looking at the rankings without blocks and picking the highest ranked player. You will be aiming to dominate the guard categories, but you also want to be strong in as many categories as possible. When ignoring blocks, you still want to be competitive in FG% and rebounds. You’ll also want to keep a close eye on your turnovers, as many of the players who receive a bump in this build turn the ball over at a high rate.

All of the guards and wings that are currently going in the first round are reasonably good fits for this build. I would give LeBron James and Kevin Durant a slight advantage over their first-round peers, as they provide the FG% and boards that this strategy needs in order to be successful. The only first-round picks who shouldn’t be paired with this strategy are Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins.

Note: 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 draft. All punting guides are for standard, 9-category leagues. 

Categories to target: FG%, Rebounds, Turnovers

First-round Targets: Steph Curry, James Harden, Chris Paul, Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, Jimmy Butler, Al Horford

R2) LaMarcus Aldridge – The Spurs’ prize free agent will see his minutes (35.4 MPG) and counting stats drop this season, but the move could actual improve his fit for this build. Aldridge doesn’t depend on swats to boost his value (1.0 BPG) and will still be an excellent source of points (23.4 PPG) and rebounds (10.2 RPG). Both his scoring and rebounding will take slight hits, but his efficiency will likely improve (46.6 FG%). Aldridge posted back-to-back seasons of at least 50% shooting in 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 and Popovich’s genius could help LaMarcus exceed that mark once again.

R2) Paul Millsap – Millsap is a jack of all trades and provides neutral value in blocks (0.9 BPG). He could be more efficient (47.6%), but makes up for the middling efficiency with outstanding counting stats. No player with power forward or center eligibility averaged more steals in 2014-2015 than Millsap (1.8 SPG). The Hawk also provides out-of-position threes (1.1 3PG), decent boards (7.8 APG), and more assists than most big men (3.1 APG).

R2) Nikola Vucevic – One of fantasy’s most underrated assets is the poster boy for the punt blocks build (0.7 BPG). Vucevic had a top-6 impact on FG% last season (52.3 FG%) and unlike most FG% anchors, doesn’t hurt you from the line (75.2 FT%). He is also one of the leagues’ best rebounders (10.9 RPG) and is a drastically improved scorer (19.3 PPG). The only players with center eligibility who were more useful in this build last season were Anthony Davis, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Paul Millsap.

R2) Blake Griffin – DeAndre Jordan’s ascension has hurt Blake’s rebounding numbers (7.6 RPG), but Griffin more than makes up for his middle-of-the-road boards with his very strong FG% (50.2% on 17.1 FGA) and historic out-of-position assists (5.3 APG). How impressive are Blake’s dimes? Last season, the Clipper averaged more assists than Kyrie Irving, Derrick Rose, Kemba Walker, and George Hill. Grabbing Griffin in the second all but guarantees assists each week and he’s improved enough at the line (72.8 FT%) that his presence not longer requires a FT% punt.

R3) Kevin Love – With Kyrie Irving’s return still very much up in the air, Love, assuming he himself doesn’t miss significant time to start the season, could be looking at an extended role in 2015-2016. The move to Cleveland has not been kind to Love’s fantasy value and the stretch four has seen his numbers drop across the board. However, Love’s counting stats (16.4 PPG, 1.9 3PG, 9.7 RPG) and lack of blocks (0.5 BPG) makes him a great third-round target for this build. He doesn’t provide the FG% impact that you are looking for (43.4%), but is much better than most bigs at the line (80.4 FT%) and will help keep your turnovers in check (1.6 TOPG).

R3) Kyle Lowry – You don’t want to overreact to preseason performances, but the slimmed down point guard has looked like the player we saw at the beginning of 2014-2015. Lowry, despite being terrible for the second half of the season, was a top-15 option in this build in 2014-2015. He was even better in 2013-2014 when he posted top-10 value without blocks. He’ll hurt you from the field (41.2 FG%), but with blocks discounted, the rest of his line is flawless (17.8 PPG, 1.9 3PG, 6.8 APG, 1.6 SPG). Adding to Lowry’s appeal are his reasonable turnovers (2.5 TOPG) and his above-average rebounding (4.7 RPG).

R3) Kyrie Irving – Irving, like all guards, receives a boost in the build and was a top-10 asset without blocks in 2014-2015. At his current third-round ADP, that kind of upside is worth gambling on. His guard stats are spectacular (21.7 PPG, 2.1 3PG, 5.2 APG, 1.5 SPG, 86.3 FT%) and Kyrie is an especially good fit for this build due to his neutral FG% impact (46.8 FG%). He’ll miss time to start the year, and be handled with kid gloves throughout the season, but it’s hard to turn down a potential top-15 player that’s available in the third round.

R4) Chris Bosh – Bosh’s expanded offensive role (21.1 PPG) in 2014-2015 came at the expense of his defense (0.5 BPG) and his efficiency (46.0 FG%). Bosh has turned into lazy rebounder (7.0 RPG), but his threes (1.4 3PG) and always solid free-throw shooting (77.2 FT%) are very useful out-of-position contributions. He is a good fit for this build, but managers shouldn’t reach for him as his 35.4 MPG average is sure to come down.

R4) Dirk Nowitzki – After a decade of first-round production, Father Time finally got his hands on Dirk and the Hall of Famer, even without blocks (0.4 BPG), was only a top-40 option in 2014-2015. Continue to expect solid scoring (17.3 PPG), out-of-position threes (1.4 3PG), and elite FT% impact (88.2 FT%) from Dirk and not much else (5.9 RPG, 1.9 APG, 0.5 SPG).

R4) Gordon Hayward – The Jazz’s go-to scorer continues to improve and will be a top-30 option without blocks (0.4 BPG). Hayward provides very useful dimes from the small forward spot (4.1 APG) and continues to improve his scoring ability (19.3 PPG, 1.6 3PG). Hayward’s FG% (44.5%) is manageable and he should continue to be a very good source of rebounds (4.9 RPG) and steals (1.4 SPG).

R4) Trevor Ariza – Ariza finished 16th-overall without blocks in both 2013-2014 and 2014-2015. Talk about consistency. Expect Ariza’s poor FG% to climb in 2015-2016 (40.3 FG%) and for his threes (2.4 3PG) and steals (1.9 SPG) to be as steady as ever. What makes him especially interesting in this build is his rebounding (5.6 RPG) and lack of turnovers (1.6 TOPG).

R4) Jeff Teague – The Hawks’ All-Star point guard, when he is on, is an elite asset in just about any build and like most guards, his value receives an especially large boost in this strategy. Last season, Teague was a top-20 player without blocks and averaged a very impressive 15.9 PPG on 46.0% shooting, 7.0 APG, and 1.7 SPG. Jeff is also outstanding from the line (86.2 FT%), but hurts you on the boards (2.5 RPG).

R5) DeMarre Carroll – Carroll’s value is going to take a hit now that he is a Raptor, but he will likely still produce mid-round value that includes strong threes (1.7 3PG) and steals (1.3 3PG). DeMarre is especially valuable to this build as he scores efficiently (48.7 FG%) and doesn’t block shots (0.2 BPG). Grabbing Carroll in the middle-rounds is also a great way to manage your turnovers (1.1 TOPG).

R5) Nikola Mirotic – A major breakout season is coming from Mirotic and it likely won’t involve many blocks (0.6 BPG). The Bull is going to be a major source of points (18.2 PP36), triples (2.2 3P36), and rebounds (8.8 RP36). Owners need to have a plan to deal with his FG% (40.5%) as the hit is going to be significant. Like Carroll, Mirotic will be able to provide his very strong counting stats without hurting your turnovers (1.9 TOP36).

R5) Greg Monroe – Monroe was spectacular down the stretch of 2014-2015, posting second-round value without blocks (0.8 BPG) over the last three months of the season. Over that span the newest Buck averaged 16.9 PPG on 50.2 FG%, 10.8 RPG, and 1.5 SPG. Besides the steals, those averages are repeatable as Monroe will be clear focal point of the Bucks offense. What will determine Monroe’s value is his FT%. In 2014-2015, the big man shot 75.0% from the line. What makes Monroe a risky pick is that he has only topped 70% from the line twice in his career.

R6) Goran Dragic – No point guard was more efficient from the field than Dragic in 2014-2015 (50.1 FG%). After the trade, Goran averaged 16.6 PPG, 0.9 3PG, 5.3 APG, and 1.1 SPG. All of those numbers are repeatable and his triples should rise. Dwyane Wade limits his upside, but expect Dragic to return top-50 value in this build.

R6) Nicolas Batum – Coach Clifford has stated that Batum is going to the focal point of the Hornets’ offense and that is exciting news for a player who, in the past, has managed to post early-round value in a much more limited role. The newest Hornet has a chance to repeat his 2013-2014 performance which saw the versatile wing finish within the top-35 without blocks. That season, Batum averaged 13.0 PPG on 46.5 FG%, 1.8 3PG, an incredible 7.5 RPG, and 5.1 APG. He is worth reaching for.

R6) Khris Middleton – Middleton is one of the league’s best 3-and-D players and his triples (1.4 3PG) and swipes (1.5 SPG) are not accompanied by many blocks (0.1 BPG). The return of Jabari Parker does hurt Middleton’s 2015-2016 outlook, but he should still be targeted aggressively in the middle rounds. Middleton has not yet developed the name value that causes so many players to be overrated. Take advantage of other managers sleeping on him and enjoy his threes, steals, and strong percentages (46.7 FG%, 85.9 FT%).

R6) George Hill – The Pacers’ lead guard was phenomenal last season and was a top-20 asset in this build. Hill scores efficiently (47.7 FG%) and gives you the point guard stats that you are aiming to dominate (1.6 3PG, 5.1 APG, 1.0 SPG). He also helps control your turnovers (1.6 TOPG) and is decent rebounder (4.2 RPG). With Monta Ellis in town, Hill will see his counting numbers drop, but the former Spur is still a very good bet for top-45 value without blocks.

R6) Tyson Chandler – Chandler is no slouch on the defensive end (1.2 BPG), and even when swats are ignored, is a very valuable asset. Tyson finished within the top-55 without blocks last season, and provides managers with the rebounds (11.5 RPG) and FG% impact (66.6 FG%) that this build needs. In 2014-2015, only DeAndre Jordan, Hassan Whiteside, and Anthony Davis had a greater impact on FG% than Chandler.

R7) Zach Randolph – After failing to crack the top-90 three seasons in a row, Randolph returned from the dead and was a top-55 option without blocks (0.2 BPG) in 2014-2015. Zach only provided positive value in three categories last season (16.1 PPG, 10.5 RPG, 48.7 FG%), but doesn’t kill you swipes (1.0 SPG) like many big men do and has a neutral impact on FT% (76.5%).

R7) Reggie Jackson – Brandon Jennings isn’t returning any time soon which means Jackson will play all the minutes he can handle in what should be an improved offense. This is great news for Jackson as he wasn’t a top-100 per minute player in 2014-2015 and could struggle if placed in a timeshare. Reggie has some holes in his line (0.9 3PG, 0.8 SPG), but was an excellent source of points (17.6 PPG) and assists (9.2 APG) after the trade. Don’t reach for him as his lack of threes and dimes, and high turnover rate (3.5 TOPG after the trade), limit his upside.

R7) Tyreke Evans – With the news that Jrue Holiday is going to be limited to 15 MPG for the first two months of the season, Tyreke has a great chance to repeat his top-80 2014-2015 finish. Evans is a very good rebounder for his position (5.3 RPG) and should provide owners with a good number of dimes (6.6 APG) and steals (1.3 SPG). As always, Evans’ upside will be limited by his lack of range (0.9 3PG) and high turnovers (3.1 TOPG).

R8) Ersan Ilyasova – The stretch four posts an unusual line that includes out-of-position triples (1.3 3PG), middle-of-the-road boards (7.6 RP36), and nonexistent turnovers (0.8 TOPG). Ersan saw extended run down the stretch and was able to post top-45 numbers over the last two months of season in only 28.4 MPG. He’ll see close to that minutes average now that he is in Detroit and is one of the bigger boom/bust picks in the draft. Ignore his poor 2014-2015 FT% (64.5%). Ilyasova is a career 77.6% shooter from the line.

R8) Markieff Morris – Markieff is one of the few already very useful bigs who gain value in this build (0.5 BPG). He provides across-the-board production that includes out-of-position threes (0.7 3PG) and steals (1.2 SPG). Morris is a mediocre rebounder (6.2 RPG), but his out-of-position contributions and scoring (15.3 PPG) more than make up for the lack of boards. Last season, Markieff was a top-65 option without blocks.

R9) Meyers Leonard – The Blazers’ frontcourt is full of interesting options and Leonard is the best of the bunch for this build (0.6 BP36). Leonard is currently slated to start, and while he won’t be able to maintain his absurd percentages on increased volume (51.0 FG%, 93.8 FT%), he’ll still provide above-average production in both categories. As long as Leonard is starting he will be a consistent source of boards (10.6 RP36) and out-of-position threes (2.0 3P36).

R9) Ryan Anderson – Even before Alex Ajinca and Omer Asik went down with injuries, Anderson was ticketed for a much larger role in Alvin Gentry’s offense. There is massive upside here and that upside is enhanced when blocks are ignored (0.3 BPG). The sharpshooter is never going to be the first-round option he was in his final year in Orlando, but a repeat of his 2012-2013 numbers is possible. That season, he was a top-40 asset in this build with averages that included 16.2 PPG, 2.6 3PG, and 6.4 RPG. Due to his perimeter oriented game, Anderson will continue to be a drag on your FG% (42.4% in 2012-2013).

R10) Enes Kanter – I’m hesitant to recommend Kanter in any build as he was never a productive fantasy option in Utah and is looking at a bench role now that the Thunder are healthy. However, his biggest weakness is his lack of defensive stats (0.5 SPG, 0.4 BPG), and that is somewhat offset by this strategy. Don’t expect any dimes (0.7 APG) either, but his popcorn stats (15.5 PPG, 8.9 RPG) and FG% impact (51.9 FG%) will be useful.

R10) David Lee – It’s easy to forget that Lee was a top-50 option without blocks in 2013-2014. Lee has looked like his old self in preseason and there has been talk of running the offense through him. He won’t touch his 2013-2014 averages of 18.2 PPG and 9.3 RPG, but 15 and 8 with his usual solid percentages (52.3 FG% and 78.0 FT% in 2013-2014) is not out of the question. Lee is also an above-average passer and should flirt with 3.0 APG.

R10) Jared Sullinger – Sullinger will likely come off the bench to start the year, but that may not last as both David Lee and Amir Johnson are good bets to miss extended time this season. When they do, Sullinger should be a mid-round asset who gets a boost in this build (0.7 BPG). Expect useful out-of-position threes (0.9 3PG) to go along with solid boards (7.6 RPG) when his opportunity does arise. If you target Sullinger, make sure you picked up plenty of FG% impact early, as the Celtic will hurt you from the field (44.0 FG%).

R11) Patrick Patterson – It has not been a pretty preseason for Patterson and if the Raptors’ had any decent options behind 2Pat, he’d probably lose his starting spot. Patterson is not a starting caliber player, but fantasy is as much about opportunity as it is talent. The stretch four provides a clean line with his greatest contributions coming in threes (1.3 3PG) and boards (5.4 RPG).

R11) Darren Collison – George Karl is doing everything he can to find minutes for Collison, including starting him at shooting guard in the Kings’ latest preseason game. It’s clear that Collison is going to have a major role this season, and his top-50 upside, and strong shooting from the field (47.3 FG%), make him a no-brainer pick at this point in the draft for those punting blocks. Last season, Darren was a top-35 player in this build.

R11) Harrison Barnes – With the help of Steve Kerr, Barnes finally looked like a useful player in 2014-2015. His improvement translated into fantasy value and the Warrior was able to post top-95 value without blocks last season. Barnes is a strong rebounder (5.5 RPG) who shoots well from the field (48.2 FG%). He managed that impressive FG% while hitting 1.1 3PG. Barnes is a solid defender, but so far, hasn’t been able to consistently produce steals (0.7 SPG) or blocks (0.2 BPG).

R12) Zaza Pachulia – Now that Pachulia is wearing a Mavericks’ jersey expect his previously mediocre FG% (45.4%) to rise. If it does, mid-round value without blocks (0.3 BPG) is very possible. Over the last month of 2014-2015, Zaza was a top-45 option without blocks despite only playing 26.8 MPG. Pachulia could see upwards of 30 MPG this season and will continue to provide owners with very useful steals (1.1 SPG) and boards (6.8 RPG) that don’t come with a FT% hit (78.8 FT%).

R12) P.J. Tucker – There’s been conflicting reports of who is ahead in the battle for the Suns’ starting small forward spot, but due to his defensive prowess, Tucker should see plenty of minutes regardless of where he starts the game. P.J. is a great late-round target for any build due to his threes (1.1 3PG) and steals (1.4 SPG). What makes him especially interesting here is are his boards (6.4 RPG). Tucker will spend more time at power forward this season and could his already impressive rebounding rate rise.

R13) Mo Williams – Williams is going to start for the Cavaliers until Kyrie Irving returns, and until he is moved up in Yahoo’s rankings, needs to be targeted in every build. Mo isn’t an especially good fit for this build (2.6 RPG, 39.7 FG%), but I’m going to keep putting him in these guides as a player with Williams’ upside usually isn’t available this late. Expect very strong contributions in points (14.2 PPG), threes (1.8 3PG), and assists (6.2 APG) whenever Kyrie is out of the lineup.

R13) Anderson Varejao – Tristan Thompson’s ridiculous holdout could continue into the regular season and until Thompson returns, Varejao should see enough minutes backing up Kevin Love and Timofey Mozgov to be very useful. In 2013-2014, before suffering his annual year-ending injury, Anderson was a top-80 asset without blocks. In 2012-2013, he was posting first-round value without blocks before going down. He’s more of a short-term play, but Varejao could average 8 and 8 with over a steal a night on very good percentages for the first month of the season.

R13) Donatas Motiejunas – Terrence Jones is the Rockets’ power forward that you want to target. However, Donatas is a decent consolation prize that should be available in the final round. His issues at the line (60.2 FT%) make him no more than a flier, but Motiejunas’ out-of-position threes (0.7 3PG), boards (5.9 RPG), and FG% impact (50.5 FG%) will make the big Lithuanian worthy of a roster spot all season long. Despite being 7’0, Motiejunas is not a shot blocker (0.5 BPG).