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16/17 Punt FG%

Punting FG% is going to be a very popular strategy this year for two reasons. Russell Westbrook and James Harden. Both players are going to be drafted within the first three picks of most drafts and both players’ value is significant enhanced when FG% is ignored. Westbrook did not necessitate a FG% punt last season (45.4 FG%), but we can safely assume that his efficiency is going to drop significantly now that Kevin Durant is in Oakland. Due to your first-round targets, and the players who receive a boost when FG% is ignored, a punt FG% team is almost always going to be strong in points, threes, assists, steals, and FT%. That’s a good start, but you need to be strong in more than five categories to win consistently.

The difference between a good punt FG% team and a great one is how strong it is in the non-FG% big man categories. When punting FG%, finding enough boards can be tough, but it is doable. Westbrook and Harden are two of the best rebounding guards in the league and boards are one of the easier categories to find on the wire. Blocks are a much bigger issue for this build. Blocks are usually concentrated among a handful of players. Those players tend to be poor free-throw shooters and you want to do everything possible to avoid having too many FT% drags on your roster. If a punt FG% team isn’t winning FT% each week, it’s going to be in trouble. This is a much bigger issue for managers starting with Westbrook than it is for managers who drafted Harden. Westbrook’s FT% impact is above-average, but not elite. It doesn’t take much to negate his FT% impact. Harden led teams can handle more poor free-throw shooters, but you still need to be careful and stay away from players like DeAndre Jordan, Andre Drummond, or Clint Capela. It’s impossible for a team to not punt FT% if any of those players are on its roster. Most of the best block options for this build are in the early-rounds, so be prepared to go big at the end of the second and/or early in the third.

The other big issue with this build is that it is difficult to punt FG% without being weak in turnovers as well. Westbrook and Harden are a lock to finish first and second in turnovers this season and such a brutal start in the category is difficult to overcome. To avoid the unintentional double-punt, you need to do two things. You need to not go overboard with point guards and you need to stay away from big men who turn the ball over at a high rate. You don’t need to be dominant in turnovers, but you do want to be competitive in the category. The same goes for boards and blocks.

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 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 9-category leagues. 

Categories to target: Rebounds, Blocks, Turnovers

First-round targets: James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Paul George

R2) DeMarcus Cousins – The Cousins-Lillard combination is one of my favorite answers to the annual “What the heck should I do at the end of the first round” question. I’ve tried pairing Cousins with Paul George instead of Lillard, but that combination doesn’t work as well due to George’s lower assists and FT% impact. If you draft Cousins and decide to punt FG%, you need to pay a ton of attention to FT% (71.8 FT%) and turnovers (3.8 TOPG). Turnovers will be especially hard to compete in, but it is possible if you pay close attention to the category in the middle rounds. You won’t be near the top of league, but approaching average is a reasonable goal. Turnovers and FT% are Cousins’ only statistical downsides. No big man in the league has more impressive counting stats than Cousins (26.9 PPG, 1.1 3PG, 11.5 RPG, 3.3 APG, 1.6 SPG, 1.4 BPG).

R2) Damian Lillard – Lillard helps offset Cousins’ struggles at the line (89.2 FT% on 6.2 FTA) and his ability to stay healthy helps negate some of the risk that comes with drafting Cousins early. Lillard has only missed seven games in his entire career while Cousins has missed more games over the past three seasons than Anthony Davis. The point guard is also an elite scorer (25.1 PPG), an elite three-point shooter (3.1 3PG), and is a very good source of assists (6.8 APG). His below-average steals rate (0.9 SPG) can easily be offset by Cousins’ excellence in that category.

R2) Paul Millsap – The only big man who was more valuable in this build than Millsap last season was Anthony Davis. Millsap derives very little of his value from his FG% (47.0 FG%) and brings to the build the boards (9.0 RPG) and blocks (1.7 BPG) that the build so desperately needs. His knee injury appears to be minor and you should still feel comfortable drafting Millsap around the first/second-round turn. If he falls to the end of the second round, you have yourself a steal.

R2) Draymond Green – Draymond was the fourth-best big man in this build in 2015-2016 and should remain a top-20 option without FG% even with Kevin Durant in town. Green’s all-time great assists (7.4 APG) will drop this season, but he should still provide significantly above-average dimes. He’ll also give you the big man stats that you need (9.4 RPG, 1.4 BPG) and chip in from deep (1.2 3PG).

R2) Kyle Lowry – Only six players were more valuable than Lowry last season when FG% was ignored and the Raptors’ best player should once again flirt with first-round value. Lowry was also a top-15 option without FG% in 2014-2015 and will be in a contract year. The point guard is an especially good fit for this build due to his ability to post elite numbers (21.2 PPG, 2.8 3PG, 2.1 SPG) while turning the ball over less often than most of the early-round options (2.9 TOPG). Like Lillard, he compliments DeMarcus Cousins very well.

R2) LaMarcus Aldridge – The steady big man’s FG% spiked after the move to San Antonio (51.3 FG%), but Aldridge still produces enough elsewhere to be very useful to punt FG% managers. He won’t finish near the top of the rankings when FG% is ignored, but he can provide owners with invaluable big man stats (8.5 RPG, 1.1 BPG) and unmatched production from the power forward spot at the line (85.8 FT% on 4.1 FTA). Aldridge compliments both James Harden and Russell Westbrook very well. He’ll help you win FT% every week and help offset the guards’ terrible turnover rates (1.3 TOPG).

R3) Kemba Walker – Walker can provide owners with first-round numbers at a third-round price and is one of safest picks in the draft. Kemba has finished 11th, 16th, 22nd, and 17th the past four seasons in Punt FG%. Walker provides you with excellent point guard numbers (20.9 PPG, 2.2 3PG, 5.2 APG, 1.6 SPG) and selecting the Hornet is a great way to keep your team’s turnovers under control (2.1 TOPG).

R3) Kristaps Porzingis – The Knicks’ future star was made for this build. His perimeter-oriented game keeps his FG% in check (42.1 FG%) and he has the potential to be an elite contributor in the two categories that this build needs the most (7.3 RPG, 1.9 BPG). Porzingis is another player who helps your team’s turnover rate (1.7 TOPG), and the sophomore should be an above-average source of points (14.8 PPG) and threes (1.3 3PG) in his second year. Kristaps was a top-35 player in this build in his rookie year and it would surprise no one if he was a top-20 option this season.

R3) John Wall – Wall’s ADP has fallen to the end of the second round and that makes him a much more appealing option for this build. Wall won’t solve your turnover problem, in fact he’ll exacerbate it (4.1 TOPG), but he is another player who can provide you with first-round numbers without costing you a first-round pick. The Wizard provides unusually strong numbers on the boards (4.9 RPG) and in the blocks column (0.8 BPG), and can boost your points (19.9 PPG), threes (1.5 3PG), and steals (1.9 SPG) as well. Wall’s biggest draw is his elite dimes (10.3 APG). If you are able to pair Wall with Russell Westbrook or James Harden, you won’t need to look for a third point guard until the later rounds. Keep an eye on him throughout training camp. Wall is coming off of surgery on both his knees and may not be fully healthy.

R3) Serge Ibaka – Ibaka’s 2015-2016 season was a disaster, and got worse as the year went on, but the former early-round stud has upside that is hard to ignore. He was a top-15 player in this build in 2014-2015 and has the ability to fix your issues with blocks almost by himself (1.9 BPG in 2015-2016, 2.4 BPG in 2014-2015). Ibaka’s move to the perimeter has made him a natural fit for this build (47.9 FG%) and he should remain there on offense. However, on defense, I expect him to play closer to the rim this season due to Nikola Vucevic’s inability to protect the paint. Ibaka is a mediocre rebounder (6.8 RPG) and his awful steals (0.5 SPG) and assists numbers (0.8 APG) need to be offset.

R3) C.J. McCollum – McCollum’s line looks a poor man’s version of his his backcourt mate’s line and the shooting guard should continue to dominate in points (20.8 PPG) and threes (2.5 3PG). McCollum actually gives you more than Lilllard does on the defensive end (1.2 SPG) and turns the ball over less (2.5 TOPG) as well. Expect McCollum’s dimes to drop now that Evan Turner is in a Blazers’ uniform (4.0 APG). It’s also possible that we see his FT% drop (82.7 FT%). C.J. never came close to matching that number in his first two years in the league.

R3) Carmelo Anthony – Anthony is declining, but continues to have early-round upside in a build that negates his greatest weakness (43.4 FG%). What makes Carmelo especially attractive in this build is not his ability to fill it up (21.8 PPG) or hit from deep (1.5 3PG), it is his excellent rebounding numbers (7.7 RPG) and useful out-of-position blocks (0.5 BPG). Melo will also help you at the line (82.9 FT% on 5.6 FTA) and despite his reputation as a chucker, is a decent source of dimes from the small forward spot (4.2 APG).

R4) Isaiah Thomas – Like most point guards, Thomas gets a major boost in this build (42.8 FG%). Isaiah was a top-25 player in punt FG% last season and there’s no reason why he can’t repeat that finish in 2016-2017. Thomas is extremely proficient from deep (2.0 3PG), helps you win points every week (22.2 PPG), and is a much improved playmaker (6.2 APG). Thomas is only a good, not great, fit for this build due to his below-average, even for a point guard, contributions in rebounds (3.0 RPG) and blocks (0.1 BPG).

R4) Gorgui Dieng – The middle rounds are absolutely crucial for this build and you must go into the final rounds in good shape in both rebounds and blocks, as it is almost impossible to make up ground in those categories late without dragging down your FT%. Dieng is not going to finish near the top of the rankings in punt FG%, but pulling off a successful punt is about fit, not just stacking your roster with early-round players. Gorgui could see a minutes bump this season and will be a very good source of big man stats (7.1 RPG, 1.2 BPG). He provides an exceptionally clean line and will help you in the steals column (1.1 SPG) and at the line (82.7 FT%).

R4) Trevor Ariza – Ariza has been a top-30 player when FG% is ignored three years in a row and should make it four under Mike D’Antoni. The swingman’s poor shooting (41.6 FG%) is not an issue here and owners can enjoy his elite threes (2.3 3PG) and steals (2.0 SPG) without reservation. Ideally, you’d like to take him in the fifth, but he’s a solid pick late in the fourth round.

R4) Ricky Rubio – Rubio is an obvious target for this build and he no longer tanks your turnovers like he did in his earlier days (2.6 TOPG). The Spaniard will drag down your points (10.1 PPG), but this build has enough high-scoring targets that you’ll likely be able to offset his lack of scoring. Rubio could set a new career-high in dimes (8.6 APG) and is arguably the favorite to lead the league in steals (2.1 SPG). He also the ability to be a major contributor on the boards (5.7 RPG in 2014-2015).

R4) Nicolas Batum – Batum’s versatility makes him a great fit for just about every build and the Hornet gets an especially big bump when his poor shooting can be disregarded (42.7 FG%). Like Carmelo Anthony, it is not Batum’s strong guard numbers (2.0 3PG, 5.8 APG) that make him a great fit for this build, although those numbers certainly don’t hurt, it is his ability to provide out-of-position boards (6.1 RPG) and blocks (0.6 BPG). I’m fine with Batum in the fourth round, and if you get him in the fifth, do a little happy dance, because you just got a steal.

R5) Myles Turner – Turner is a very good option for those playing on ESPN as he is still ranked in the sixth round. Those playing on Yahoo are not as fortunate. The sophomore is currently going just outside of the third-round. That inflated ranking on Yahoo is a shame as Turner is an excellent fit for this build. The Pacer should provide owners with strong rebounding numbers this season (8.8 RP36) and should be one of the league’s best sources of blocks (2.3 BP36). Turner is also respectable from the line (72.7 FT%) and should see his scoring rate (16.3 PP36) go up in his second NBA season. Don’t take him within the top-40 picks, but if he falls, and I think he will in some drafts, don’t be afraid to scoop him up in the fifth.

R5) Pau Gasol – I like Pau slightly more than his brother Marc in this build due to his higher rebounding and block numbers (11.0 RPG, 2.0 BPG). Pau also doesn’t have any injury concerns coming into the season. Gasol’s numbers, and minutes, will drop now that he is in San Antonio, but the future Hall of Famer will still be able to offer this build excellent big man numbers, decent scoring (16.5 PPG), and very useful out-of-position dimes (4.1 APG). His poor steals rate (0.6 SPG) is fairly easy to offset in this build as most of the guard targets are strong in that category. Don’t get too caught up in worrying about the Spurs resting their studs during the fantasy playoffs. Most teams look to rest their stars late in the calendar and Popovich has cut back on that practice recently. Kawhi wasn’t rested at all in 2014-2015 and was only rested last season once the fantasy playoffs were over. LaMarcus Aldridge saw similar treatment in his first year with the Spurs and only missed one game during the fantasy playoffs.

R5) Marc Gasol – Marc would be a no-brainer mid-round pick in this build if there weren’t still concerns about his surgically repaired foot. The Grizzlies are already talking about resting Marc at different points during the regular season and that makes him a hard player to depend on. When he is in the lineup, he has top-30 potential. He reached that mark in 2014-2015 and like his brother, should provide solid big man numbers (7.0 RPG, 1.3 BPG) and very useful out-of-position dimes (3.8 APG).

R6) Aaron Gordon – Gordon will be spending most of his time at the three this season and that makes it unlikely that he improves his middling FG% (47.2 FG%). He’ll be asked to create more for a Magic squad that could be offensively challenged. Gordon is going to provide owners with tasty across-the-board production and he has a chance to join the one three (0.8 3P36), one steal (1.1 SP36), one block (1.1 BP36) club in his third year in the league. He should also be one of the best rebounding small forwards in the league (9.8 RP36) and improve on his previously anemic scoring rate (13.9 PP36)

R6) Danilo Gallinari – The Nugget is a steal here if he can stay healthy. Last season, Gallinari was a top-30 player without FG% before going down with a season ending ankle injury at the end of February. Gallo is a solid rebounder (5.3 RPG) and can fill it up from deep (1.6 3PG). Where he really earns his money is at the line. Only James Harden and Kevin Durant had a larger positive impact on FT% in 2015-2016 (86.8 FT% on 8.2 FTA).

R6) Nikola Mirotic – The Bulls’ stretch four has early-round potential in this build. Mirotic was a top-40 player over the last two months of 2015-2016 and averaged 14.1 PPG, 2.8 3PG, 4.7 RPG, 0.9 SPG, and 0.8 BPG over that span. His three-point shooting improved as the season went along and he became more comfortable in his role. Over the second half of the season, he shot a blistering 43.5% from deep. That number is likely unsustainable, but if he can come anywhere close to repeating that, he should become one of the elite sources of threes.

R6) Dirk Nowitzki – Dirk may be 38, but the Maverick can still deliver early-round numbers. Nowitzki was a top-30 player in this build in 2015-2016 and should be able to produce top-50 numbers this coming season. He can contribute in the categories that this build tends to struggle in. Dirk is no where near elite on the boards (6.5 RPG) or in blocks (0.7 BPG), but those numbers are respectable enough that you can still be competitive in both categories if you select the German. Nowitzki’s primary strengths are his points (18.3 PPG), out-of-position threes (1.7 3PG), and FT% impact (89.3 FT% on 3.7 FTA). Dirk may be rested a few times throughout the season, but that shouldn’t be a deal breaker for potential owners. The Mavericks will be on the playoff bubble and will need Dirk to play as many games as possible.