Fantasy Hoops Strategy: 2015-16 Draft Targets When Punting Points
Punting is a staple strategy in head-to-head fantasy basketball leagues. It's not everyone's cup of tea, but some owners find great success in devaluing a category (or two) with the goal of stacking in the remaining stats.
Whether you believe in punting or prefer building a balanced team is completely up to you. If you want to make use of punting in your fantasy drafts this year, however, we've got you covered.
Over the next couple weeks, we'll be 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). We'll briefly discuss each strategy, then give you an "All-Punt" team, where we point out the best target at each position for the build in question (with a couple bonus targets to boot). 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").
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 the incomparable BasketballMonster.com.
People typically value points over all other categories in fantasy hoops 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 your standard head-to-head league can offer a real edge over your opponents. It sounds too simple because it is.
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. Resigning to punting points can free you up to fill your lineup with pass-first point guards, three-point specialists, and bigs that rebound, block, and shoot efficiently in small-scoring doses. Considering that low scoring tends to correlate with low usage as well, you will typically end up with players that don't rack up a lot of turnovers either.
Essentially, punting points allows you to stack in any and all of the other eight categories. Not bad, eh?
Point Guard - PG Ricky Rubio
Reg. 2014-15 Rank (Round): 81 (7)
Punting Points Rank (Round): 66 (6)
Ranking Difference: +15
Current Yahoo O-Rank: 71
Current ESPN Projection: 87
Ricky Rubio was the only point guard to finish with per-game value in the top-95 in standard nine-cat leagues last year while scoring fewer than 14.8 points per contest (10.3). That's because he was the only point guard outside of first-round stud Chris Paul to average at least his 8.8 assists and 1.8 steals per contest last season. That's elite-level stacking in two categories in the middle rounds, to go with excellent rebounding for his position (5.7) and reliable free throw shooting (80.3%). His horrible field goal percentage (35.6%) and the turnovers (2.9) that come with such a pass-dominant point man sting a little, but there are plenty of bigs that excel in those areas that are prime targets in this build and can smooth those categories out (see below).
Shooting Guard - SG/SF Danny Green
Reg. 2014-15 Rank (Round): 23 (2)
Punting Points Rank (Round): 13 (2)
Ranking Difference: +10
Current Yahoo O-Rank: 53
Current ESPN Projection: 114
Danny Green is underrated as a fantasy asset as it is, but you'd be downright silly not to grab him at his ADP if you're punting points. Last season, Green finished 23rd in nine-category leagues despite scoring only 11.7 points per game, thanks to his 2.4 triples, 4.2 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.2 steals, 1.1 blocks, a meager 1.1 turnovers, 43.7% shooting from the field, and 87.4% from the line. He was one of only two players to average at least one three, one steal, and one block per game last season (Draymond Green being the other). His subtle all-around game has him knocking on the door of first-round value if you take points out of the equation, so he's a no-brainer in this build.
Small Forward - SF/PF Draymond Green
Reg. 2014-15 Rank (Round): 20 (2)
Punting Points Rank (Round): 8 (1)
Ranking Difference: +12
Current Yahoo O-Rank: 25
Current ESPN Projection: 30
One good Green deserves another when punting points. Draymond's 20th-ranked finish in nine-category leagues last year jumped all the way to eighth when removing points from the equation. In other words, grabbing him near his ADP at the end of the second or beginning of the third round could be an absolute steal in this build. Like the other Green mentioned above, Draymond averaged a mere 11.7 points last season, but otherwise stuffed the stat sheet with 1.4 threes, 8.2 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.6 steals, 1.3 blocks, 1.7 turnovers, 44.3% shooting from the field, and 66.0% from the charity stripe. The percentages leave a little to be desired, but Dray covers you for just about every other category stack. Cool story.
Power Forward - PF/C Nerlens Noel
Reg. 2014-15 Rank (Round): 32 (3)
Punting Points Rank (Round): 56 (5)
Ranking Difference: +24
Current Yahoo O-Rank: 24
Current ESPN Projection: 36
Nerlens Noel only scored 9.9 points per game as a rookie, and he could conceivably see fewer touches with Jahill Okafor now in town. That shouldn't matter to you if you're punting points, however, since most of Noel's value comes from his popcorn rebounding and defensive stats. Last season, Noel was the only player to average at least 8.1 rebounds, 1.8 steals, and 1.9 blocks per game. As if that wasn't impressive enough, it doesn't even do justice to how he performed after the All-Star break. In his final 26 games of the season, Noel averaged a ridiculous 13.1 points, 10.0 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 2.1 steals, and 2.3 blocks per contest. That's 14th-ranked value in nine-category leagues, seventh-ranked if you're punting points. Yes, please!
Center - C Rudy Gobert
Reg. 2014-15 Rank (Round): 45 (4)
Punting Points Rank (Round): 17 (2)
Ranking Difference: +28
Current Yahoo O-Rank: 15
Current ESPN Projection: 14
Rudy Gobert is already a great pick in fantasy hoops this year, even if you're not subscribing to a punting strategy. If you're doing away with points, though, there are few centers in the game that act as a better team anchor. His averages of 8.4 points, 9.5 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 0.8 steals, 2.3 blocks, and 1.4 turnovers, with a shooting split of 60.4% from the floor and 62.3% from the line last season don't even tell the whole story, as he had his breakout post All-Star game (much like Noel). After getting the starting center spot from the traded Enes Kanter, Gobert averaged 11.1 points, 13.4 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.0 steal, and 2.6 blocks over his final 29 games, while shooting 57.6% from the field and 63.3% from the line. That was good enough for 19th-ranked value in nine-category leagues, but eighth in a points punt. Getting some combination of Kawhi Leonard, Serge Ibaka, Rudy Gobert, Nerlens Noel, and Draymond Green in the first three rounds of a draft would be an ideal start for this build. Keep that in mind on draft day.