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Punt Threes

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, is an excellent and fairly straightforward strategy. Big men, obviously, receive a huge bump in this build and you will be looking to win rebounds, blocks, and FG% every week. As is the case with every punting strategy, the success of the build is not determined by the easy to find categories, but by whether or not you can replace the stats that generally come with the punted category. In this case, you will want to pay extra close attention to points, FT%, assists, and steals.

Last season, roughly 1.1 3PG was the average for a rostered player in a standard 12-team league. This build is not just about targeting players like Elfrid Payton who never connect from deep. Almost all guards are competent from beyond the arc and any guard that hits around the league average is fair game.

This strategy can be pulled off with any of the first-round big men and a handful of the first-round guards. Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, and Jimmy Butler are your best options if you want to start your draft with a small. Westbrook and Butler were only average three-point shooters in 2014-2015. Paul did hit 1.7 3PG last season, but before 2014-2015, the point guard had never averaged more than 1.3 3PG.

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: Points, FT%, Assists, Steals

First-round Targets: Anthony Davis, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Kawhi Leonard, DeMarcus Cousins, Jimmy Butler, Al Horford

R2) LaMarcus Aldridge – The newest Spur has expanded his range (0.5 3PG) and will see his counting stats decrease now that he is in San Antonio. Despite the incoming drop in value, he still fits this build very well due to his elite out-of-position FT% impact (84.5 FT% on 5.1 FTA) and scoring ability (23.4 PPG). Owners can expect his previously mediocre FG% (46.6%) to rise now that he is part of the Spurs’ well-oiled machine.

R2) John Wall – After hitting 1.3 3PG in 2013-2014 and looking like he finally figured out how to shoot, Wall regressed from deep in 2014-2015 and only managed 0.8 3PG. Wall’s turnovers are still a major problem (3.8 TOPG) and his percentages could be better (44.5 FG%, 78.5 FT%), but the rest of his counting stats are spectacular (17.5 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 10.0 APG, 1.7 SPG, 0.6 BPG). In 8-category leagues, Wall is a reasonable first-round pick for managers looking to punt threes.

R2) Rudy Gobert – This build makes his poor free-throw shooting (62.3 FT%) difficult to offset, but his outstanding big man stats are such a huge help in H2H that he should still be targeted despite the glaring flaw in his line. Over the last three months of the 2014-2015 season, Rudy averaged 11.9 RPG and 2.4 BPG and shot 59.0% from the floor. Try to pair Gobert with one of the first-round guards and a mid-round scorer like DeMar DeRozan.

R2) Blake Griffin – Griffin has improved enough at that the line (72.8 FT%) that he can now easily fit into most punting strategies. He gets an especially large boost here (0.1 3PG) and should be targeted for his FG% impact (50.2 FG% on 17.1 FGA), scoring (21.9 PPG), and elite out-of-position assists (5.3 APG). Like Gobert, Blake is best paired with one of the first-round guards as his below-average steals (0.9 SPG) need to be offset. Over the last three months of last season, Griffin provided first-round value without threes.

R3) Marc Gasol – The newly re-signed big man has taken on a greater offensive role (17.4 PPG) and has managed to do so without sacrificing his efficiency (49.4 FG%). Marc was borderline first-round value in this build last season and will continue to be a very good source of rebounds (7.8 RPG), blocks (1.6 BPG), out-of-position assists (3.8 APG), and  FT% impact (79.5 FT%). The inevitable decline of Zach Randolph means Gasol’s role could grow even further in 2015-2016.

R3) Pau Gasol – Pau was a top-10 player without threes in 2014-2015 and if he can stay healthy, should provide owners with similar value in 2015-2016. The Bulls will be playing at a much faster pace this season, and that increased pace should offset a drop in Gasol’s minutes. The only hole in Pau’s line is his microscopic steals (0.3 SPG) so he another player who is best paired with Russell Westbrook or Chris Paul. The 35-year-old should continue to boost owners’ points (18.5 PPG), rebounds (11.8 RPG), dimes (2.7 APG), blocks (1.9 BPG), and percentages (49.4 FG%, 80.3 FT%).

R3) Victor Oladipo – Oladipo should lead the Magic in scoring this season and will do most of his damage inside of the three-point line (1.2 3PG). Victor produces in all of the categories that you need to pay special attention to (17.9 PPG, 4.1 APG, 1.7 SPG, 81.9 FT%), but owners need to watch out for his lack of efficiency (43.6 FG%) and high turnovers (2.8 TOPG). He should have a big year, but don’t overpay for Oladipo. I’ve seen him go in the second-round in some mocks and that is paying for his ceiling, something you never want to do.

R3) Eric Bledsoe – Very few point guards are completely incompetent from deep and lead guards, like Bledsoe, who hit triples at a league average rate (1.1 3PG), should not be ignored. With so little value tied up in threes, Bledsoe is one of the best targets for this build and brings the scoring (17.0 PPG), assists (6.1 APG), and steals (1.6 SPG) that you need. As a bonus, the Sun is a very good rebounder (5.2 RPG) and shot blocker (0.6 BPG) for his position.

R4) Rudy Gay – The reformed chucker produces league-average numbers in a number of categories including threes (1.2 3PG). Last season, Gay was a top-35 player without threes thanks to his strong scoring ability (21.1 PPG) and success at the line (85.8 FT% on 5.8 FTA). Rudy also hits the boards hard (5.9 RPG) and plays solid defense (0.6 BPG). He is a better 8-cat target than 9-cat target due to his relatively high turnovers (2.7 TOPG).

R4) Derrick Favors – Favors continues to develop as a scorer (16.0 PPG), but unfortunately, not as a free-throw shooter (66.9 FT%). Despite his struggles at the charity stripe, Favors posted top-25 numbers in this build in 2014-2015. Rudy Gobert’s emergence has not had a negative effect on Favors. After Gobert was inserted into the starting lineup for good, Favors averaged a very healthy 16.3 PPG on 49.8 FG%, 8.3 RPG, and 1.7 BPG.

R4) Jeff Teague – The Hawk has been an up-and-down player the past two seasons, starting extremely slowly in 2013-2014 and fading down the stretch of 2014-2015. His play in between those two periods was brilliant, and last season, he was able to post top-35 numbers without threes. Teague is only an average three-point shooter (1.0 3PG), but is very strong in all of the other traditional guard categories (15.9 PPG, 7.0 APG, 1.7 SPG, 86.2 FT%).

R5) Jonas Valanciunas – Dwane Casey has pledged to play Valanciunas more this season. Anyone who is familiar with the Raptors’ head coach knows that this is a promise that should be taken with a truck load of salt. Regardless of whether Jonas sees his minutes rise, the Lithuanian is a great bet for top-40 value in this build and will continue to be an efficiency monster (57.2 FG%, 78.6 FT%). Valanciunas’ big man stats are also very strong (8.7 RPG, 1.2 BPG), but he needs to be matched with point guards who dominate dimes (0.5 APG) and swipes (0.4 SPG).

R5) Giannis Antetokounmpo – The Greek Freak looked like he was well on his way to developing a decent three-ball, hitting 0.5 3PG in his rookie season. He intentionally took a step back in 2014-2015, rarely attempting from deep and only making 0.1 3PG. The change is style was actually great for his value as his improved FG% (49.1%) more than offset the drop in threes. Giannis’ is very good source of rebounds (6.7 RPG) and blocks (1.0 BPG), but is a surprisingly poor thief (0.9 SPG).

R6) Goran Dragic – No point guard shoots better from the field than Dragic (50.1 FG%) and very little of his value is tied up in threes (1.2 3PG). After the move to Miami, he depended on the three-ball even less (0.9 3PG) and was a top-45 asset in this build. Outside of that absurd FG%, none of Dragic’s numbers jump off the page, but you could do much worse than 16.6 PPG, 5.3 APG, and 1.1 SPG in the middle rounds.

R6) Karl-Anthony Towns – The first-overall pick has looked very good this preseason and Towns’ well-rounded game all but assures him of being this season’s most valuable rookie. Even as a rookie, Towns will likely help owners both from the field (56.6 FG%) and from the line (81.3 FT%). Foul trouble will limit his boards and swats early on, but he could be a devastating source of both down the stretch of the season (6.7 RPG, 2.3 BPG). The Wolves are not afraid to play their prize rookies major minutes. Last season, Andrew Wiggins averaged 36.2 MPG.

R6) DeMar DeRozan – The Raptors’ leading scorer should be targeted very aggressively by managers intent on punting threes. DeMar was a top-40 player without triples over the last two months of the season and provides FT% impact (83.2 FT% on 7.2 FTA) that usually isn’t available this late in the draft. His game is extremely reliant on the mid-range jumper and owners will need to find a way to offset his poor FG% (41.3%). DeRozan will, once again, be an excellent source of points (20.1 PPG) who contributes a handful of dimes (3.5 APG) and steals (1.2 SPG).

R7) Ricky Rubio – This build doesn’t rid Rubio of all of his flaws (0.6 3PG, 35.6 FG%, 2.9 TOPG), but makes it easier for owners to take advantage of his strengths. Rubio’s value is mainly derived from his elite assists (8.8 APG) and steals (1.8 SPG). Expect his steals rate to once again be over a two a night as he is healthier than he was at any point in 2014-2015.

R7) Reggie Jackson – Almost all of the point guards available in this range have obvious flaws and Jackson is no exception. He doesn’t hit from deep (0.9 3PG), steal the ball (0.8 SPG), and often struggles from the floor (43.4 FG%). However, he is in an outstanding situation as Brandon Jennings is nowhere near returning. Until Jennings returns and possibly turns the Pistons’ point guard spot into a timeshare, expect excellent scoring (17.6 PPG after the trade) and dimes (9.2 APG after the trade) from Jackson.

R7) Tyreke Evans – Tyreke was a candidate to be overdrafted until it was announced that Jrue Holiday will play very limited minutes until at least January. Evans is a counting stats machine who struggles with efficiency (69.4 FT%, 3.1 TOPG). He is able to maintain an acceptable FG% (44.7%) by limiting his attempts from deep (0.9 3PM). His greatest contributions this season will come in points (16.6 PPG), rebounds (5.3 RPG), assists (6.6 APG), and steals (1.3 SPG). The Pelican is also a sneaky source of out-of-position blocks (0.5 BPG).

R7) Elfrid Payton – I don’t recommend grabbing Payton unless he falls. Even without threes (0.1 3PG), the sophomore point guard has too many holes in line to be a consistent source of mid-round value. In addition to his inability to stroke it from deep, Payton doesn’t score (8.9 PPG) and is terrible from the field (42.5 FG%) and at the line (55.1 FT%). He’s more of a last resort for managers who missed out on point guard stats earlier in the draft. Even without threes, Elfrid wasn’t able to crack the top-130 in his rookie season. He was much better down the stretch of the season, but his flaws, and the presence of Scott Skiles, limit his upside and keep his floor uncomfortably low.

R8) Gorgui Dieng – Nikola Pekovic will be a non-factor this season and Kevin Garnett shouldn’t see more than 20 MPG. It will be the Towns and Dieng show all season long. Dieng was a top-35 player without threes in 2014-2015, and while he may not repeat that performance this season due to the presence of Towns, don’t expect a huge drop in value either. He helps you both from the field (50.6 FG%) and at the line (78.3 FT%). That kind of efficiency usually doesn’t come with big man stats like Dieng’s (8.4 RPG, 1.7 BPG). Once Towns comes off the board in the fifth or sixth round, Gorgui becomes your primary big man target.

R8) Dwyane Wade – I hate recommending Wade in any build due to propensity to miss massive chunks of the season, but his still excellent counting stats are a great fit for this build (0.5 3PG). The former superstar continues to get it done on the offensive end and averaged 21.5 PPG on 47.0 FG% and 4.8 APG in 2014-2015. Unfortunately, his out-of-position swats have disappeared (0.3 BPG) and he is only an average thief these days (1.2 SPG). Only Russell Westbrook had a higher usage rate than Wade last season so it should come as no surprise that Wade is among the league’s worst at taking care of the ball (3.4 TOPG).

R9) Al-Farouq Aminu – Aminu has locked up the Blazers’ starting small forward spot and should play heavy minutes in 2015-2016. Al-Farouq was a borderline top-50 per minute player without threes over the last three months of the season, and over that span averaged 2.2 SP36, 1.7 BP36, and only 0.8 3P36. He needs to be near the top of your late-round target list in any build, but especially when punting threes. Aminu is also a very good rebounder for his position (9.0 RP36).

R9) Robin Lopez – The Knicks’ center was a top-30 player without threes in 2013-2014 and should see his offensive role expand now that he is in New York. Lopez struggled last season, but still managed to average a very healthy 6.7 RPG and 1.4 BPG while shooting stellar percentages both from the field (53.5 FG%) and at the line (77.2 FT%). Like most of the big men available in this range, he provides almost no assists (0.9 APG) or steals (0.3 SPG).

R9) Ty Lawson – Lawson, when he first entered the league, was a very efficient player. Before Brian Shaw took over the Nuggets, Ty was routinely hitting nearly half his shots. Now that he is a Rocket and playing under Kevin McHale, expect Lawson’s FG% to be much higher than it was in 2014-2015 (43.6 FG%). Lawson’s scoring will suffer (15.2 PPG), and his dimes will drop (9.6 APG), but at least 13 PPG and five or six assists per night is still very likely. Expect the point guard’s steals to improve now that he’ll have more energy to expend on the defensive end (1.2 SPG).

R10) Roy Hibbert – The impending free agent has a terrible playoff schedule, but is cheap enough, and good enough from the line (80.9 FT%), that he’s worth gambling on late. Hibbert is set to take advantage of the cap exploding and owners should expect the former Pacer to improve on the 7.2 RPG and 1.4 BPG he averaged in 2014-2015. Watch out for his poor shooting from the field (45.0 FG%), lack of assists (0.9 APG), and nonexistent steals (0.3 SPG).

R10) Jarrett Jack – Jack looks like the unquestioned starter at point guard for Nets and is one of the best sources of guard stats available late in the draft. Jack will provide scoring (12.0 PPG) and playmaking (4.7 APG), but his most valuable contribution will come at the line (88.1 FT% on 2.8 FTA). Unfortunately, he’s never been much of a thief (0.9 SPG) and he could see his FG% drop now that defenses will be paying more attention to him (43.9 FG%).

R11) Jordan Clarkson – Don’t expect Clarkson to be more than a late-round asset whenever Kobe is in the lineup. There just isn’t enough ball to go around. However, due to his upside, and fit for this build (0.9 3P6), Clarkson is a decent option for those in search of a fourth point guard. Jordan posted top-30 numbers over the last month of 2014-2015 despite only hitting 0.9 3PG. He managed that impressive feat by averaging 18.5 PPG on 48.1 FG%, 6.1 APG, and 1.4 SPG. He’ll be a frustrating player to own, but the last three rounds are all about chasing upside and Clarkson has plenty.

R11) Darren Collison – Collison improved from deep in 2014-2015 (1.3 3PG), but needed 34.8 MPG to reach that mark. With Rajon Rondo in town, he’s unlikely to see enough minutes to hit more than one three per night. Even if his minutes do drop significantly, there’s no reason why he can’t continue to provide useful dimes (5.6 APG) and steals (1.5 SPG). What makes Collison stand out among his peers is his efficiency. The King is a career 85% shooter from the line and last season, he shot 47.3% from the field.

R11) Tony Allen – The elite defender is one of those low-ceiling type of players that I try to avoid late in drafts, but if there’s one build where he’s worth a look, it’s this one. Allen was a top-70 option in this build in 2014-2015, primarily due to his elite steals (2.0 SPG). The rest of his contributions are limited as blocks (0.5 BPG) and rebounds (4.4 RPG) are his only other notable counting stats. He shoots the ball well from the field (49.5 FG%), but the impact of that efficiency is brought down by his lack of attempts (7.2 FGA).

R12) Otto Porter – The Wizards’ versatile third-year player is a great bet for a breakout year and it likely won’t include more than league average threes (0.9 3P36). Porter was outstanding in the playoffs and could flirt with a steal (1.1 SP36) and a block (0.8 BP36) a night. Otto will also see his rebounding rate (5.6 RPG) improve as he’s expected to see extended time at the four.

R12) Tony Parker – Parker is no more than a flier in any build and shouldn’t be touched until the last two rounds of the draft. Tony’s only notable 2014-2015 contributions were his assists (4.9 APG) and FG% (48.6%). His scoring has dropped (14.4 PPG) and he’s never been a good source of threes (0.6 3PG) or defensive stats (0.6 SPG, 0.0 BPG). He’s declining, but if there’s one build he’s going to be useful in, it’s punt threes.

R13) T.J. Warren – The one category that holds Warren back from being an obvious breakout candidate is threes (0.3 3P36). He’ll score efficiently (52.8 FG%) and if given extended minutes, should be able to average a steal a night and a handful of boards. He’s unlikely to be worth a look late if he doesn’t beat out P.J. Tucker for the starting small forward job, but if Markieff Morris is moved, that would open up a lot minutes for Warren.

R13) Zaza Pachulia – Zaza doesn’t provide owners with the usual big man stats (45.4 FG%, 0.3 BPG), but will reward those who take the plunge with useful assists (2.4 APG), above-average steals (1.1 SPG), and steady free-throw shooting (78.8 FT%). Pachulia was able to post those averages in only 23.7 MPG. Now that he is in Dallas, he should see upwards of 28 MPG and should be a top-100 player in this build.

R13) Anderson Varejao – Varejao makes Nikola Pekovic look like A.C. Green. He’s not someone you want to depend on to carry you through the fantasy playoffs, but he’s a very good short-term play as long as Tristan Thompson continues his holdout. Anderson is an excellent per minute player who could average 8 points, 8 rebounds, and 1.5 steals over the first month of the season.

R13) James Johnson – He needs to get healthy so he can earn a spot in the Raptors’ rotation. Johnson hasn’t played in preseason yet and needs to doesn’t have Dwane Casey’s trust. I would still target Johnson late as his upside, especially in this build (0.3 3P36), is through the roof. James was a top-45 per minute player without threes in 2014-2015 and was even better in 2013-2014 when he was a top-25 per minute player without threes. If he earns extended minutes, he will be a defensive monster (1.4 SP36, 1.8 BP36) who will be one of the best sources of out-of-position FG% impact (58.9 FG%) in the league.

R13) Kyle O’Quinn – The Knicks’ signing of O’Quinn flew under the radar this offseason and the talented big man continues to fly under the radar in drafts. He should be able to carve out a decent role with the Knicks this season as he is currently their second best big man after Robin Lopez. O’Quinn was a top-40 per minute player in 2013-2014, and if given minutes, will be a very good source of big man stats, especially blocks (2.7 BP36 in 2013-2014).