Fantasy Hoops Strategy: 2016-17 Draft Targets When Punting Free Throw Percentage
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 8 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 and 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.
Punting Free Throw Percentage
This is it. The granddaddy of them all.
Even if you're new to the game of punting in fantasy hoops, there's a good chance that you still know about punting free throw percentage. It's the most obvious of the punting strategies, since drafting a really bad free throw shooter like DeAndre Jordan, Andre Drummond, or Dwight Howard all but guarantees that you won't be competitive in that category anyway.
Since guys like Jordan, Drummond, and Howard shoot free throws so poorly and at such a high volume, you're often better off punting free throw percentage if you select one of them, rather than haphazardly trying to make up for it in the rest of your draft. Heck, if you really want to dominate the big man categories -- like rebounds, blocks, field goal percentage, and low turnovers -- see if you can grab yourself all three of those aforementioned bigs in the first few rounds.
It might seem challenging to make up ground in categories like threes, assists, and steals, but locking down multiple dominant bigs early leaves you lots of room to go after guards and wings in the middle of your draft to fill out your roster.
Point Guard - PG Rajon Rondo
Reg. 2015-16 Rank (Round): 51 (5)
Punting FT% Rank (Round): 36 (3)
Ranking Difference: +15
Current Yahoo O-Rank: 109
Current ESPN Projection: 45
With a lowly 58.0% mark from the charity stripe last year, Rajon Rondo is an obvious target for someone punting free throw percentage. When you remove efficiency from the line from the equation, Rondo came in as the 36th-ranked player in nine-category leagues last year. He averaged 11.6 assists and 2.0 steals per game, which are both fantastic gets in a build that devalues a lot of point guards that usually get you those numbers. You'd like to see more points (11.9) and threes (0.9) from the position, but we're splitting hairs here, considering the huge bump in dimes and pilfers. What's more, his 45.4% shooting percentage from the field, 0.1 blocks, and 3.9 turnovers would usually cause a fantasy owner problems, but the free throw punter will easily make up ground in those areas with all the boosted bigs. The change from Sacramento to a crowded backcourt in Chicago might sap some of Rondo's overall value, but there still might not be a better point guard for this build.
Shooting Guard - PG/SG Patrick Beverley
Reg. 2015-16 Rank (Round): 81 (7)
Punting FT% Rank (Round): 75 (7)
Ranking Difference: +6
Current Yahoo O-Rank: 104
Current ESPN Projection: 150
Patrick Beverley is a very unique fantasy asset in that he gives you plenty of good guard stats, but he only shoots 68.2% from the free throw line. In this build, his 1.7 threes, 3.4 assists, and 1.3 steals per contest will go a long way, while the 0.4 blocks and 43.4% shooting from the field won't hurt you that much with all the bigs that you'll have on your squad. It'd be nice if he scored more than 9.9 points per game, but that's only a minor gripe, since his 3.5 rebounds and 1.3 turnovers are both great for the position and will help in your natural stacks. Besides, who knows, maybe the "D'Antoni bump" ends up giving him a few more points and overall counting stats this season.
Early-round targets: PG/SG/SF Giannis Antetokounmpo
Mid-round targets: SG/SF Andrew Wiggins, SG/SF Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
Late-round targets: PG/SG Patrick Beverley, SG/SF J.R. Smith, SG/SF Josh Richardson
Small Forward - SF/PF Draymond Green
Reg. 2015-16 Rank (Round): 13 (2)
Punting FT% Rank (Round): 10 (1)
Ranking Difference: +3
Current Yahoo O-Rank: 19
Current ESPN Projection: 18
All of Golden State's premium fantasy assets might take a step back this season, as their numbers could conceivably dip to accommodate newcomer Kevin Durant. Don't overthink KD's impact on Draymond Green, however, since Dray's fantasy game isn't highly predicated on scoring. If you're punting his 69.6% free throw percentage, he's an even bigger target in your draft's second round for all the category juice he gives you with his 14.0 points, 1.2 triples, 9.4 rebounds, 7.4 assists, 1.5 steals, 1.4 blocks, and 49.0% shooting from the field. His 3.2 turnovers per game are a blemish, but that's easily hidden by stocking up on bigs who don't typically commit many. Otherwise, that's a whopping seven categories in which Green gives you stacking options. The threes, assists, and steals are particularly important in this build, so game on.
Early-round targets: SF/PF LeBron James, SF/PF Draymond Green
Mid-round targets: SF/PF Aaron Gordon, SF/PF Chandler Parsons, SF/PF Thaddeus Young
Late-round targets: SF/PF Ben Simmons, SF/PF Terrence Jones, SF Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
Power Forward - PF/C Andre Drummond
Reg. 2015-16 Rank (Round): 121 (11)
Punting FT% Rank (Round): 8 (1)
Ranking Difference: +113
Current Yahoo O-Rank: 66
Current ESPN Projection: 37
Andre Drummond technically plays as a center, but there are so many valuable players available to you at that position when punting free throws that you're almost better off taking advantage of his power forward eligibility. Whichever position you end up slotting him in, he's an absolute must-draft in this build, since removing his putrid 35.5% from his line last year vaults him up a ridiculous 113 spots to a top-10 value. His contributions in points (16.2), rebounds (14.8), steals (1.5), blocks (1.4), field goal percentage (52.0%), and low turnovers (1.9) are all drool-inducing when you don't care about free throws. Add in the fact that he's only 23 years old and hasn't even come close to hitting his ceiling yet, and there are an infinite number of reasons to get excited about him in this build.
Center - C DeAndre Jordan
Reg. 2015-16 Rank (Round): 71 (6)
Punting FT% Rank (Round): 4 (1)
Ranking Difference: +67
Current Yahoo O-Rank: 47
Current ESPN Projection: 38
If you decide to draft DeAndre Jordan, you basically have no choice but to punt free throw percentage. Last season, DJ hit only 43.0% of his whopping 8.0 Hack-a-DeAndre attempts per game, and that is simply irreparable damage to a fantasy team that wants to be competitive from the line. Of course, if you do decide to punt that category, you're looking at a sizable value jump. Remove free throw accuracy from Jordan's 2015-16 ranking of 71st in nine-category leagues, and he skyrockets up the charts by 67 spots to become the fourth-best asset in fantasy hoops (trailing only Stephen Curry, Hassan Whiteside, and Anthony Davis on a per-game basis). Fourth! His 12.7 points and 0.7 steals are nice, but all that value comes from the crazy category juice in his 13.8 rebounds, 2.3 blocks, 70.6% field goal percentage, and mere 1.4 turnovers per contest. DJ might fall to the third or fourth round in your draft because of his free throw shooting, but don't feel bad about grabbing him anywhere from the first onward if you're punting it. He's honestly that valuable.
If you want to commit to this punt from the get-go and things fall just right, it's not inconceivable that you could land up to five guys that all finished in the top-20 in nine-category leagues last year when punting free throw percentage. On Yahoo, in particular, the rankings for Hassan Whiteside (13th), Draymond Green (19th), DeAndre Jordan (47th), Andre Drummond (66th), and Dwight Howard (117th) are spaced out just enough that you could take them all in your first five rounds. The jumble of first-round upside that you would get with grabbing Whiteside (2nd in nine-category leagues when punting freebies in 2015-16), Green (10th), Jordan (4th), Drummond (8th), and Howard (17th) one through five is an opportunity that only exists in this build. Toss in Clint Capela (102nd), Rajon Rondo (109th), and Patrick Beverley (104th) in some order with your next three picks and you may never lose rebounds, steals, blocks, field goal percentage, or turnovers, while having a shot at competing in points, threes, and assists every week, depending on how you fill out the rest of your roster.
Early-round targets: C Hassan Whiteside, PF/C DeMarcus Cousins, C Rudy Gobert
Mid-round targets: C DeAndre Jordan, C Steven Adams, C Marcin Gortat
Late-round targets: C Jusuf Nurkic, PF/C Dwight Howard, C Andrew Bogut, PF/C Mason Plumlee