Fantasy Hoops Strategy: 2015-16 Draft Targets When Punting Field Goal Percentage
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.
This is Part 7 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 each installment, 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.
Punting Field Goal Percentage
There's a good chance that you will end up with a fairly guard-dominant team if you decide to punt field goal percentage, but guards are certainly not the only players that gain value in this kind of build.
Since the value in the player pool does lean to the guard side, though, you'll want to make sure you're focusing on staying competitive in your big-man stats like rebounds, blocks, and low turnovers (although it's hard to find someone who excels in blocks and not field goal percentage). This might mean grabbing power forwards and centers who are technically above league average in field goal percentage for the sake of their other stats. Just make sure you stay away from the bigs that derive a lot of their value from their field goal percentage (like Tyson Chandler) and focus on ones that stay at relatively the same value or get a slight bump without it (like Kevin Love).
Your natural stacks will be in the guard-led categories like assists, steals, and free throw percentage, but also in points. It seems a little counter-intuitive, but a lot of the league's best scorers are generally a drain on your field goal percentage.
As with all punt strategies, this approach is best decided on and implemented a few picks into your draft. A lot of the early-round guys have a less-than-desirable field goal percentage at a high volume, so if you end up with two or three of them early, then would be a good time to refer to this article to fill out the rest of your team.
Point Guard - PG/SG Kemba Walker
Reg. 2014-15 Rank (Round): 53 (5)
Punting FG% Rank (Round): 16 (2)
Ranking Difference: +37
Current Yahoo O-Rank: 56
Current ESPN Projection: 58
A lot of the early-round point guards fit well on a field goal percentage punting team, particularly Russell Westbrook, Damian Lillard, and Kyle Lowry. Even if you do grab one of those guys early, Kemba Walker is hard to pass up in the middle rounds of this build to slot in as your point guard or shooting guard. If you take away Kemba's 38.5% field goal percentage last year, he catapults up to a solid second-round value on his 17.3 points, 1.4 triples, 3.5 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 1.4 steals, 0.5 blocks, and mere 1.6 turnover per game, while shooting 82.7% from the line. He basically covers all the good guard stats you like, while being among the best at the position in the rebounds, blocks, and low turnovers you need.
Shooting Guard - SG/SF Trevor Ariza
Reg. 2014-15 Rank (Round): 36 (3)
Punting FG% Rank (Round): 18 (2)
Ranking Difference: +18
Current Yahoo O-Rank: 41
Current ESPN Projection: 92
Trevor Ariza isn't exactly the sexiest fantasy pick near the end of the early rounds, but he has finished in the top-35 in nine-category leagues for two straight seasons and gets an even bigger boost if you're punting his 40.3% field goal percentage. Ariza's value comes largely from his 2.4 threes, 1.9 steals, 85.3% free throw percentage, and 1.7 turnovers, while the 5.6 rebounds are a nice get for the position as well.
Small Forward - SG/SF/PF Paul George
Reg. 2013-14 Rank (Round): 11 (1)
Punting FG% Rank (Round): 8 (1)
Ranking Difference: +3
Current Yahoo O-Rank: 18
Current ESPN Projection: 14
Paul George only managed to play six games during the 2014-15 season, averaging a mere 15.2 minutes per contest, after horrifically breaking his leg in a Team USA scrimmage last summer. If you're banking on a return to his 2013-14 form, George's current ADP is discounted just enough by the leg injury and subsequent layoff to make him an excellent pick in the second round of a field goal percentage punt. Two seasons ago, PG finished his campaign as the eighth-ranked player in nine-category leagues when punting his 42.4% field goal percentage (on a whopping 17.0 attempts), because of all the category juice in points (21.7), threes (2.3), rebounds (6.8), assists (3.5), steals (1.9), and free throw percentage (86.4%). There's a level of risk associated with the pick, but George looks to be fully healthy in preseason play and all the concern about his starting at power forward sapping his value are likely overblown.
Power Forward - SF/PF Nikola Mirotic
Reg. 2014-15 Rank (Round): 127 (11)
Punting FG% Rank (Round): 103 (9)
Ranking Difference: +24
Current Yahoo O-Rank: 54
Current ESPN Projection: 79
Nikola Mirotic's full-season numbers from 2014-15 don't really tell the whole story of his fantasy potential. For a better idea, you should look at his final 23 games from last year, during which he ranked as the 44th-best player in nine-category leagues. That number vaulted even higher -- to 26th-ranked overall -- if you took away his 41.8% shooting percentage from that period. During that final month and a half of the season, Mirotic averaged 17.7 points, 1.8 threes, 6.6 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.0 steal, 0.9 blocks, and 2.0 turnovers per contest, while shooting 82.7% from the line. There's talk of Mirotic getting a starting opportunity from new Bulls coach Fred Hoigberg this year, but with Joakim Noah on the downturn of his career and Mike Dunleavy set to miss at least a few months following back surgery, the minutes and opportunity should be there for Niko regardless of whether he starts or not.
Center - PF/C LaMarcus Aldridge
Reg. 2014-15 Rank (Round): 14 (2)
Punting FG% Rank (Round): 13 (2)
Ranking Difference: +1
Current Yahoo O-Rank: 17
Current ESPN Projection: 20
There are only a handful of center-eligible players that get a bump when punting field goal percentage, and LaMarcus Aldridge is one of the most valuable of the bunch. As a result of his primarily being a jump-shooter (56% of his field goal attempts came from the mid-range last season), his field goal percentage of 46.6% is noticeably lower than your run-of-the-mill big that scores the bulk of his points in the paint. If you select a guard with a low level of shooting efficiency in the first round (Westbrook, Lillard, etc.) and then land Aldridge in the second to anchor your frontcourt, you might want to consider this punt. Your shooting percentage will rarely be competitive when your highest-volume shooters don't count field goal percentage as a strength, and you run the risk of spending the rest of your draft trying to compensate. Instead, accept LMA's help in rebounds (10.2), blocks (1.0), turnovers (1.7) -- three categories that are generally a challenge to keep up in this build -- as well as his points (23.4) and free throw percentage (84.5%), and roll with the punt.