Fantasy Hoops Strategy: 2015-16 Draft Targets When Punting Turnovers
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 9 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.
To get an idea of how punting turnovers can change rankings in fantasy hoops, just find yourself a rankings website you trust that has both nine-category and eight-category lists and study the differences. Most of the changes in value, you'll notice, occur in the earlier rounds, since the league's biggest stars and early-round picks rack up a lot of turnovers as a natural extension of their high usage rates.
If you want to keep things simple, one of the easiest guidelines to follow when punting turnovers is to target big-name stars that get big minutes and rack up all kinds of counting stats. Efficiency matters less than usual here, since six of the eight remaining stat categories you have left as stacking options are volume-based (points, threes, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks). You should still keep an eye on your percentages, of course, but you'll notice that you'll naturally end up with a strong free throw percentage and low field goal percentage, since guards are usually the biggest culprits when it comes to giveaways.
One important thing to keep in mind is that you'll have many enticing options in the early rounds of this build, but that things will get a little thinner near the end. That's when low turnover glue guys and specialists typically make the best selections for creating a balanced team in nine-category leagues. You might have to get creative in the last few rounds or simply trust that you've done a good enough job of building your team up to that point and start grabbing the best available guys with your last few picks, regardless of turnover rate.
Point Guard - PG Michael Carter-Williams
Reg. 2014-15 Rank (Round): 166 (14)
Punting Turnovers Rank (Round): 72 (6)
Ranking Difference: +94
Current Yahoo O-Rank: 78
Current ESPN Projection: 89
If you're punting turnovers, picking a player like Russell Westbrook (4.4 giveaways per game) or John Wall (3.8) in the first round seems like a no-brainer. The reason we're going with Michael Carter-Williams as our ideal point guard for this build, however, is because DeMarcus Cousins is far and away the best center for this strategy and you'll have to spend your first-round selection on him if you want him on your team. Meanwhile, there are plenty of other turnover-prone guards littered all over the draft board, like MCW near the end of the middle rounds. Without his 3.8 turnovers per game last year, Carter-Williams saw his nine-category ranking skyrocket 94 spots to 72nd overall. His percentages are a drag, but as discussed in the intro, you should be more concerned with volume stats in this build anyway. And MCW is all about that volume, helping your team out in points (14.6), rebounds (5.3), assists (6.7), steals (1.7), and blocks (0.5), while tossing in the occasional three-pointer (0.5).
Additional Targets: PG Russell Westbrook, PG John Wall.
Shooting Guard - PG/SG Eric Bledsoe
Reg. 2014-15 Rank (Round): 47 (4)
Punting Turnovers Rank (Round): 19 (2)
Ranking Difference: +28
Current Yahoo O-Rank: 33
Current ESPN Projection: 27
Much like Michael Carter-Williams, Eric Bledsoe gives your team all kinds of juice in the volume-based categories. Once you take out his 3.4 turnovers per contest, you can truly enjoy his 17.0 points, 1.1 threes, 5.2 rebounds, 6.1 assists, 1.6 steals, and 0.6 blocks. He even shoots a decent percentage from the floor (44.7%) and from the line (80.0%) to boot. Bledsoe was a second-round asset last season with turnovers punted, so he's a fantastic pick in and around the third round as someone who can fill either of your guard positions.
Small Forward - SG/SF Gordon Hayward
Reg. 2014-15 Rank (Round): 38 (4)
Punting Turnovers Rank (Round): 23 (2)
Ranking Difference: +15
Current Yahoo O-Rank: 40
Current ESPN Projection: 26
Much like Russell Westbrook and John Wall are first-round point guards that might inspire you to punt turnovers, first-round wings like James Harden (4.0 turnovers per game), Kevin Durant (2.7), and LeBron James (3.9) would fit perfectly in this build. Once again, however, you want Boogie Cousins as your center, so you're better off filling this position later. Thankfully, ballhandling wings like Gordon Hayward and Rudy Gay are sitting there for you near the end of the early rounds. In the case of Hayward, you get his 19.3 points, 1.6 triples, 4.9 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 1.4 steals, and 0.4 blocks per game, with a shooting split of 44.5% from the field and 81.2% from the line, without having to worry about his pesky 2.7 turnovers per contest.
Additional Targets: SF/PF LeBron James, SF/PF Rudy Gay.
Power Forward - PF/C Markieff Morris
Reg. 2014-15 Rank (Round): 70 (6)
Punting Turnovers Rank (Round): 69 (6)
Ranking Difference: +1
Current Yahoo O-Rank: 98
Current ESPN Projection: 83
There are several power forwards in the first few rounds that would be a better starting option for this build than Markieff Morris, but it would be almost impossible to grab guys like Blake Griffin, Paul Millsap, or Pau Gasol if you're targeting DeMarcus Cousins (below) and some combination of John Wall, Eric Bledsoe, Gordon Hayward, and Rudy Gay. For that reason, a heavily-discounted 'Kieff Morris heading into the late rounds for your power forward position will do just fine. Morris had one hell of a controversial summer, but his role as Phoenix's starting power forward is still in tact and any trade for him would likely be to put him in the same role somewhere else. For that reason, you can absorb his 2.1 turnovers per game, while counting on his 15.3 points, 0.7 triples, 6.2 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.2 steals, 0.5 blocks, 46.5% shooting from the field, and 76.3% from the line.
Center - PF/C DeMarcus Cousins
Reg. 2014-15 Rank (Round): 10 (1)
Punting Turnovers Rank (Round): 7 (1)
Ranking Difference: +3
Current Yahoo O-Rank: 9
Current ESPN Projection: 7
DeMarcus Cousins' 4.3 turnovers per contest in 2014-15 placed him second in the whole Association in giveaways, barely trailing Russell Westbrook's 4.4. Cousins was the only center in the top-15 on that leaderboard (if you can call it that), and one of only two in the top-40 (Dwight Howard being the other with 2.8). If you are punting Boogie's gaudy turnover numbers, though, he becomes a nearly flawless stat stuffing machine. He gives you strong contributions in every other category outside of triples, posting monster averages of 24.1 points, 12.7 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.5 steals, 1.8 blocks, 46.7% shooting from the field, and 78.2% from the line last season. There's not another center that comes even close to Boogie's boost in value when punting turnovers, so he should be the cornerstone of any team being built around that strategy.