Fantasy Hoops Strategy: 2016-17 Draft Targets When Punting Three-Pointers
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.
This is Part 2 of 9 in a series in which we are taking a look at punting in each of the nine standard-league stat categories (points, threes, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, field goal percentage, free throw percentage, and turnovers). In the end, these guides 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 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 of our main targets (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 that 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 BasketballMonster.com.
If you're punting three-pointers, you'll quickly realize that there is a pretty big value divide between bigs and guards/wings.
With only a few exceptions, most bigs don't add a lot of value from long range, so a lot of them get upgraded in this build. Conversely, only a handful of top-tier guards and wings in today's NBA don't have a good touch from long distance, so most of them lose value here.
In which case, you will find that stacking in big-man categories like rebounds, blocks, and field goal percentage will come easy when punting three-pointers, while you might have a hard time filling out your assists, steals, and free throw percentage.
Because you can't field a team entirely comprised of power forwards and centers and you don't want to be weak in all guard-led categories, you need to be very careful when you pick your guards and wings. The important thing to remember is that you're not trying to avoid three-pointers all together. Like any punting strategy, your goal is to find players who are equally or more valuable when threes are removed from the equation, not just to build a team that’s categorically horrible from long range.
Try to fill out your roster with players who help you a lot in the natural weak areas of the build (assists, steals, and free throw percentage) at the guard and wing positions but who only get about average standard-league value on threes (about 1.0 per game). All the mid- to late-round bigs will get a considerable upgrade in value if you're punting triples, and you'll have more than enough opportunities to fill out those positions and the stats associated with them then.
Don't worry, we've got plenty of examples of players who fit the build at all positions below.
Point Guard - PG Rajon Rondo
Reg. 2015-16 Rank (Round): 51 (5)
Punting Threes Rank (Round): 43 (4)
Ranking Difference: +8
Current Yahoo O-Rank: 109
Current ESPN Projection: 45
Rajon Rondo is admittedly past his prime, and how he'll co-exist with Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler in Chicago remains a mystery, but he is still one of your best possible point guard targets if you are punting three-pointers in fantasy hoops this year. He may have averaged a career-high 0.9 made triples per contest in Sacramento in 2015-16, but he still derives most of his value from categories in which three-point punting teams tend to be weak -- namely assists and steals. His 11.7 dimes and 2.0 pilfers per game last year placed him first and seventh in the Association, respectively, and you'll want that boost in the middle to late rounds if he falls to you at a reasonable spot in your draft.
Shooting Guard - SG/SF DeMar DeRozan
Reg. 2015-16 Rank (Round): 48 (4)
Punting Threes Rank (Round): 36 (3)
Ranking Difference: +12
Current Yahoo O-Rank: 53
Current ESPN Projection: 42
In today's NBA, DeMar DeRozan is one of the last remaining members of a dying breed of shooting guards who can't shoot -- at least not from long range. His 33.8% mark from distance in 2015-16 was a career best, but he still only made 0.6 per game. If you are punting triples and can take that hit, there's lots to like in DeMar's fantasy line. Beyond the elite scoring (23.5 points per game last year), he helps you out in all the areas that can be lacking in this build. His 4.0 assists and 1.1 steals per game are nice, and the 4.5 rebounds per contest are a bonus for the position, but most of DeRozan's worth to the three-point punter comes from the charity stripe. His 85.0% mark on a whopping 8.4 attempts per contest makes him one of the most valuable free throw shooters on the draft board, and that can be a great equalizer in a build like this one that generally favors bigs who struggle at the line.
Small Forward - PG/SG/SF Giannis Antetokounmpo
Reg. 2015-16 Rank (Round): 28 (3)
Punting Threes Rank (Round): 21 (2)
Ranking Difference: +7
Current Yahoo O-Rank: 7
Current ESPN Projection: 12
Giannis Antetokounmpo is perhaps the closest thing to a nine-category threat that exists in fantasy hoops. During his breakout season in 2015-16, the Greek Freak averaged 16.9 points, 7.7 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.2 steals, and 1.4 blocks per contest, while shooting 50.6% from the field and 72.4% from the line. If you can take the hit on his mere 0.4 threes per game, there's lots to like in just about every corner of that stat line. Landing Giannis in the first round gives you the option to consider punting threes right away, particularly if your second-round pick ends up being someone who doesn't hit a lot of triples as well. Because punting threes typically devalues a lot of guards, Antetokounmpo's point guard eligibility on Yahoo is a nice bonus as well.
Early-round targets: PG/SG/SF Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF/PF LeBron James, SF/PF Draymond Green
Mid-round targets: SF/PF Aaron Gordon, SF/PF Jabari Parker, SF/PF Rudy Gay, SF/PF Thaddeus Young
Late-round targets: SF/PF Terrence Jones, SF/PF Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
Power Forward - PF/C Blake Griffin
Reg. 2015-16 Rank (Round): 41 (4)
Punting Threes Rank (Round): 28 (3)
Ranking Difference: +13
Current Yahoo O-Rank: 35
Current ESPN Projection: 23
There are lots of big men who gain value in a three-point punt, so you will have several options at both power forward and center in all corners of your draft. When possible, though, you should set your focus on grabbing bigs who give you a little extra juice in categories typically associated with guards and wings. Blake Griffin is a great example of the type of big you want. His 21.4 points and 8.4 rebounds are why one would normally burn an early-round pick on him, but it's his commendable 72.7% free throw mark and 4.9 assists per game that make him a great get at the power forward position in this build. Even his ho-hum 0.5 blocks per game are easily covered up if you're punting threes because so many late-round block specialists get a value boost when you remove triples from the equation (think Dwight Howard and Bismack Biyombo).
Early-round targets: PF/C Anthony Davis, PF/C LaMarcus Aldridge, PF/C Derrick Favors, PF/C Blake Griffin
Mid-round targets: PF/C Myles Turner, PF/C Gorgui Dieng, PF/C Nikola Vucevic, PF/C Nerlens Noel, PF/C Andre Drummond
Late-round targets: PF/C Kenneth Faried, PF/C Greg Monroe, PF/C Clint Capela, PF/C Bismack Biyombo, PF/C Dwight Howard
Center - C Marc Gasol
Reg. 2015-16 Rank (Round): 42 (4)
Punting Threes Rank (Round): 27 (3)
Ranking Difference: +15
Current Yahoo O-Rank: 57
Current ESPN Projection: 39
Much like Blake Griffin, Marc Gasol's value in this build comes mostly from his positive output in categories that are typically weak at his position. Most centers will drag you down in assists, steals, and free throw percentage, but Gasol provides solid value in all three spots. His 3.8 assists and 1.0 steal per game are certainly a help if you're punting threes, but it's the 82.9% mark from the charity stripe that makes him a top target. It's worth mentioning that Gasol's average draft position (ADP) this season is fairly close to another top target that we've mentioned in DeMar DeRozan, so it might be hard to grab both. If you whiff on Marc, however, his brother Pau Gasol provides a respectable 4.1 assists and 79.2% from the free throw line about a round later and makes for a nice consolation prize.
Early-round targets: C Karl-Anthony Towns, C Hassan Whiteside, C Nikola Jokic, C Brook Lopez, C Rudy Gobert
Mid-round targets: C Jonas Valanciunas, C Marc Gasol, C DeAndre Jordan, PF/C Pau Gasol
Late-round targets: C Robin Lopez, C Jahlil Okafor, PF/C Tristan Thompson, C Andrew Bogut