Fantasy Hoops Strategy: 2016-17 Draft Targets When Punting Points

Which players should you target at each position if you're punting points in fantasy basketball?

One of the most common strategies in head-to-head fantasy basketball leagues is category punting. That is where you devalue or "punt" a category (or two) in order to focus on stacking your team in other areas.

You may choose to go into a draft with the intention of punting, but that strategy can leave you stuck if your top options get snagged before you get the chance to pick them. The best thing to do is evaluate your team after a few picks and see if a punt build emerges as a feasible option. If your team is growing strong in some categories but is already way behind your leaguemates in others, you may want to embrace the punt rather than reaching for players of lesser value just to fill in your missing stats.

That's where these punting guides will come in handy.

Over the next couple of weeks, we'll be rolling out punting guides for each of the nine standard-league stat categories (points, threes, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, field goal percentage, free throw percentage, and turnovers). When they are all done, they can serve as a useful reference on your draft day if the opportunity to punt arises (or as a buying guide of sorts for trades after your draft has finished).

In each guide, we will discuss each punt's inherent challenges and best categories to stack, then give you an "All-Punt" team, where we highlight the best target at each position for the build in question (with a couple bonus targets for other rounds as well). When possible, we'll try to make sure the targets at each position don't overlap in terms of average draft position (ADP), so that you can conceivably grab all five guys (or at least fill out a full lineup by using the additional options listed below each top target).

Always remember: punting doesn't mean you're actively trying to be bad in a category, just that you don't mind not being successful in it. The goal is always to target players who bring lots of value outside of the punting category in question, while avoiding guys that draw a large portion of their value from it.

All stats, rankings, and punt values come from

Punting Points

Casual fantasy hoops players tend to value points over all other categories. This is most likely because high scoring correlates so closely with winning and stardom in the real NBA. Remembering that the other eight categories are worth just as much as points in standard head-to-head leagues can provide you with a real edge over your opponents if they get caught up in the flash of scoring buckets.

Guys who fill it up with points but don't do much else are almost always taken at a higher ADP than specialists in other categories. If you decide to punt points, that can free you up to fill your lineup with pass-first point guards, three-point specialists, and bigs who rebound, block, and shoot efficiently in small-scoring doses. Considering that low scoring usually means low usage as well, punting points will generally give you a team filled with players who don't rack up a lot of turnovers either. That's a bonus in nine-category leagues.

Essentially, punting points allows you to stack in any of the other eight categories. That level of flexibility is generally not present in other category punts, so it's a major advantage to the points punter.

Point Guard - PG Ricky Rubio

Reg. 2015-16 Rank (Round): 47 (4)
Punting Points Rank (Round): 21 (2)
Ranking Difference: +26
Current Yahoo O-Rank: 43
Current ESPN Projection: 76

Ricky Rubio has two major downfalls in fantasy hoops: his scoring and his shooting efficiency. If you're punting either of those two things and can therefore survive his 10.1 points per game (the lowest average by anyone who finished ranked in the top 50 in nine-category leagues last year) or 37.4% shooting from the field, then he's the point guard for you. Even his low shooting efficiency and semi-high turnovers (2.6) won't hurt that much in a point punt because you can easily compensate by stocking your bench in the late rounds with low-scoring, high-efficiency bigs who don't commit many turnovers, such as Andrew Bogut and Tristan Thompson. And if you get Rubio on your team, you'll have many solid stacking options to choose from. Rubio finished fifth in assists (8.7) and second in steals per game (2.1) last year, while throwing in excellent rebounding for the position (4.3 per game) and a triple to boot (0.8). His 84.7% from the free throw line doesn't hurt either.

Early-round targets: PG Chris Paul, PG Ricky Rubio
Mid-round targets: PG Jeff Teague, PG/SG George Hill, PG/SG Monta Ellis
Late-round targets: PG Marcus Smart, PG/SG Patrick Beverley, PG Rajon Rondo, PG Elfrid Payton

Shooting Guard - SG/SF Rondae Hollis-Jefferson

Reg. 2015-16 Rank (Round): 135 (12)
Punting Points Rank (Round): 83 (7)
Ranking Difference: +52
Current Yahoo O-Rank: 81
Current ESPN Projection: 138

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson had his rookie season cut short to 29 games in 2015-16 due to an ankle injury, so he's not on a lot of fantasy radars. In those 29 games though, he showed some extreme promise, averaging 5.3 rebounds, 1.3 steals, and 0.6 blocks in only 21.2 minutes per contest. Prorate those numbers to their per-36-minute equivalents and you get 9.0 boards, 2.3 steals, and 0.9 blocks. If his mere 9.8 points per 36 minutes isn't a problem for you, as it shouldn't be in this build, then you have elite steals, solid boards and blocks from your shooting guard position, and decent shooting numbers (45.7% from the field and 71.2% from the line) available to you in the late rounds in RHJ. What's more, his minutes and touches are likely to increase in his second season on a Brooklyn Nets team full of no-name players.

Early-round targets: SG/SF Trevor Ariza
Mid-round targets: SG/SF Danny Green, SG/SF Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
Late-round targets: SG/SF Kent Bazemore, SG/SF Kyle Korver, SG/SF J.R. Smith

Small Forward - SF/PF Draymond Green

Reg. 2015-16 Rank (Round): 13 (2)
Punting Points Rank (Round): 8 (1)
Ranking Difference: +5
Current Yahoo O-Rank: 19
Current ESPN Projection: 18

Most Warriors players will slip below their normal draft slots this year because everyone is terrified of what impact the arrival of Kevin Durant will have on the numbers of the Golden State incumbents. Thankfully, Draymond Green's value doesn't come that much from his shooting the ball, so KD taking a few of his shots wouldn't be the end of the world for his fantasy owners. If you're punting points, Green is the perfect second-round target with first-round upside. If you look past the 14.0 points per game (likely to drop a bit this season), he offers you 1.2 triples, 9.5 rebounds, 7.4 assists, 1.5 steals, and 1.4 blocks per contest, while shooting a respectable 49.0% from the field and 69.6% from the charity stripe. The 3.2 turnovers are an eyesore, but he offers you stacking options in literally every other category beyond that and scoring. 7.4 assists from your forward slot is the big get in this build.

Early-round targets: SF/PF Draymond Green
Mid-round targets: SF/PF Jae Crowder, SF/PF Aaron Gordon, SF Otto Porter, SF/PF Thaddeus Young
Late-round targets: SF/PF Robert Covington, SF/PF DeMarre Carroll, SF/PF Marvin Williams, SF/PF Al-Farouq Aminu

Power Forward - PF/C Gorgui Dieng

Reg. 2015-16 Rank (Round): 53 (5)
Punting Points Rank (Round): 30 (3)
Ranking Difference: +23
Current Yahoo O-Rank: 45
Current ESPN Projection: 55

All the excitement about the future of the Minnesota Timberwolves revolves around the superstar potential of Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, the high-flying acrobatics of Zach LaVine, and the Magic Johnson-esque passing of Ricky Rubio (and all that without even mentioning rookie Kris Dunn). Lost in the background is the solid play of one Gorgui Dieng. Dieng finished 53rd in nine-category leagues last year while scoring a mere 10.1 points per contest, but he jumps up to 30th in a point punt. He brings excellent rebounding (7.1), steals (1.1), blocks (1.2), and turnovers (1.7) to the table, while shooting 53.3% from the field and 82.7% from the line. You're going to have a hard time finding any better efficiency combo than that, while he's also one of only nine guys in the league who averaged over a steal and a block per game last year.

Early-round targets: PF/C Al Horford, PF/C Serge Ibaka
Mid-round targets: PF/C Myles Turner, PF/C Gorgui Dieng, PF/C Nerlens Noel, PF/C Kenneth Faried
Late-round targets: PF/C Tristan Thompson, PF/C Mason Plumlee, PF/C Jared Sullinger

Center - C Andrew Bogut

Reg. 2015-16 Rank (Round): 82 (7)
Punting Points Rank (Round): 45 (4)
Ranking Difference: +37
Current Yahoo O-Rank: 133
Current ESPN Projection: 112

Andrew Bogut will always be a risky draft-day selection due to health concerns, but when he's one the floor, he provides a stuffed stat line in limited minutes. Last year, Bogut averaged 5.4 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 1.6 blocks in only 20.7 minutes per contest, while shooting 62.7% from the field and 48.0% from the line. The points are obviously not a problem in this build, and the low free throw mark won't even hurt you that much because he attempts only 0.7 freebies per game. He was gradually phased out of Golden State's rotation last year as they went smaller more regularly, but now that he's in Dallas -- where the Mavericks always like to pair a center with Dirk Nowitzki -- he should be in for an increased role.

Early-round targets: C Hassan Whiteside, C Nikola Jokic, C Rudy Gobert
Mid-round targets: C Steven Adams, C Marcin Gortat, PF/C Greg Monroe
Late-round targets: PF/C Clint Capela, PF/C Bismack Biyombo, C Andrew Bogut