Fantasy Basketball: The Punting Game

Can punting cats optimize your fantasy lineup?

What makes fantasy basketball different from fantasy football is its scoring categories. In football, you get points from each player to total one number for the week. In basketball (and baseball and hockey, usually), you can select categories for your league that your players compete in.

In a standard league, there are nine categories: Points, 3-Pointers Made, Rebounds, Assists, Steals, Blocks, FG%, FT%, and Turnovers.

As you would expect, some NBA players are good in some categories, but not so great in others. You don’t compile raw value like in football, but you actually try to build a team – one where your players work together to win specific categories. For example, Dwight Howard is an elite rebounder and has a good FG%, but he is an atrocious free throw shooter. In football, all you’re looking for is production from your starters. In basketball, you want the right production from your starters.

This leads to the idea of punting categories. You can build your team in two ways: you can grab the best value at the time in your draft and hope to be competitive in all nine categories (Note: this is the best strategy in roto leagues), or you can focus on 6 or 7 categories and hope you are so elite in those than you can “sacrifice” the other two.

I’m a believer in punting (if you’re in a head-to-head league). In one league, I have Dwight Howard, Larry Sanders, Thad Young, and Andre Drummond. It's perhaps the worst free throw shooting squad to ever be compiled. However, I’m fine with this. Those guys, while terrible in FT%, are top of the league in FG%, Rebounds, and Blocks.

I've put together some tables for each category, with the help of some data from the awesome, to rank the top-10 players through the first week-ish of games (through 11/6 games). Obviously with just one week of data, this will change throughout the season. Hopefully through these tables, however, you can start to get an idea of how to build your team to optimize victories in categories. I will update them weekly and give some commentary on which players to focus on.

Punting Points

RankPlayerRegular ValuePunt ValueValue Difference
1Chris Paul1.131.01-0.12
2Anthony Davis1.010.96-0.05
3Klay Thompson0.700.55-0.15
4Paul George0.720.53-0.19
5Kyle Korver0.420.47+0.05
6Kevin Love0.640.43-0.21
7Brook Lopez0.520.43-0.09
8LeBron James0.590.39-0.20
9Stephen Curry0.440.38-0.06
10Spencer Hawes0.400.37-0.03

Punting 3PM

RankPlayerRegular ValuePunt ValueValue Difference
1Anthony Davis1.011.27+0.26
2Chris Paul1.131.25+0.12
3Brook Lopez0.520.72+0.20
4Kevin Love0.640.63-0.01
5Nikola Vucevic0.410.59+0.18
6LeBron James0.590.57-0.02
7Paul George0.720.54-0.18
8Al Horford0.370.51+0.14
9Zaza Pachulia0.300.48+0.18
10Klay Thompson0.700.44-0.26

Punting Rebounds

RankPlayerRegular ValuePunt ValueValue Difference
1Chris Paul1.131.32+0.19
2Klay Thompson0.700.88+0.18
3Anthony Davis1.010.87-0.14
4Paul George0.720.69-0.03
5LeBron James0.590.65+0.06
6Kyle Korver0.420.57+0.15
7Stephen Curry0.440.56+0.12
8Brook Lopez0.520.56+0.04
9Damian Lillard0.450.53+0.08
10Kevin Martin0.320.46+0.14

Punting Assists

RankPlayerRegular ValuePunt ValueValue Difference
1Anthony Davis1.011.23+0.22
2Klay Thompson0.700.88+0.18
3Paul George0.720.75+0.03
4Chris Paul1.130.72-0.41
5Brook Lopez0.520.71+0.19
6Kevin Love0.640.640.00
7Chris Bosh0.340.50+0.16
8Kyle Korver0.420.49+0.07
9Al Horford0.370.48+0.11
10Nikola Vucevic0.410.48+0.07

Punting Steals

RankPlayerRegular ValuePunt ValueValue Difference
1Anthony Davis1.010.94-0.07
2Chris Paul1.130.93-0.20
3Kevin Love0.640.78+0.14
4Klay Thompson0.700.78+0.08
5LeBron James0.590.72+0.13
6Paul George0.720.69-0.03
7Damian Lillard0.450.67+0.22
8Brook Lopez0.520.61+0.09
9Spencer Hawes0.400.55+0.15
10Chris Bosh0.340.55+0.21

Punting Blocks

RankPlayerRegular ValuePunt ValueValue Difference
1Chris Paul1.131.38+0.25
2Klay Thompson0.700.83+0.13
3Paul George0.720.82+0.10
4Kevin Love0.640.77+0.13
5LeBron James0.590.71+0.12
6Anthony Davis1.010.60-0.41
7Damian Lillard0.450.58+0.13
8Stephen Curry0.440.57+0.13
9Kyle Korver0.420.50+0.08
10Dirk Nowitzki0.350.50+0.15

Punting FG%

RankPlayerRegular ValuePunt ValueValue Difference
1Anthony Davis1.011.26+0.25
2Chris Paul1.131.23+0.10
3Paul George0.720.79+0.07
4Kevin Love0.640.79+0.15
5Carmelo Anthony0.230.62+0.39
6Damian Lillard0.450.56+0.11
7Klay Thompson0.700.55-0.15
8Trevor Ariza0.340.54+0.20
9Kevin Durant0.370.54+0.17
10Michael Carter-Williams0.260.50+0.24

Punting FT%

RankPlayerRegular ValuePunt ValueValue Difference
1Anthony Davis1.010.88-0.13
2Chris Paul1.130.88-0.25
3Klay Thompson0.700.72+0.02
4Paul George0.720.71-0.01
5Al Horford0.370.68+0.31
6Kevin Love0.640.63-0.01
7LeBron James0.590.61+0.02
8Brook Lopez0.520.55+0.03
9Andre Iguodala0.340.55+0.21
10Spencer Hawes0.400.54+0.14

Punting Turnovers

RankPlayerRegular ValuePunt ValueValue Difference
1Chris Paul1.131.43+0.30
2Anthony Davis1.011.08+0.07
3Paul George0.720.97+0.25
4LeBron James0.590.87+0.28
5Stephen Curry0.440.80+0.36
6Kevin Love0.640.78+0.14
7Kevin Durant0.370.70+0.33
8Klay Thompson0.700.68-0.02
9James Harden0.280.67+0.39
10Spencer Hawes0.400.56+0.16