Punting has become a very common strategy in Fantasy Basketball. There are always obvious candidates that make for good punt builds. Certain players, and even certain positions, sometimes go hand-in-hand with specific punts. I might briefly touch on those obvious candidates, but those aren’t the primary players I’ll be discussing here. I won’t rob you of your time by telling you that Steven Adams is a great FT% play. Instead, I want to talk about some players whose positions aren’t normally correlated to a specific punt build. One quick example to help me explain would be Ben Simmons as a great Punt 3’s player. Guards and Wings aren’t the usual suspects of a Punt 3’s Build. That title is often awarded to traditional big men who don’t space the floor (who are, admittedly, becoming extinct).
Remember that a player who loses value and drops in the rankings due to their struggles in a particular category gains significant value to you when you’re punting that specific stat. Meaning, drafting Andre Drummond in the early/mid 2nd round of your draft is not a reach if you’re punting FT%.
One last thing to note is that when you’re punting, you’re not intentionally trying to be awful in a stat. You should just be ignoring the category completely when building your roster.
Now let’s find some out-of-position Punting plays that you could target through trades now that the season is underway and player roles have been somewhat established.
There’s plenty of obvious big men who benefit from a Punt FT% build. It’s much more difficult to find Guards and Wings that work so well in this build. Let’s look for some.
SF/PF – Lebron James
Strengths: Points, Rebounds, Assists, 3’s, FG%
Lebron gonna Lebron, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. The best real-life player in the world and a perennial Top 15 Fantasy player for what seems like forever now, Lebron catapults multiple spots even higher when punting FT% and TO’s.
PG/SF – Ben Simmons
Strengths: Rebounds, Assists, Steals, FG%
His Usage Rate has not taken any significant hit since Jimmy Butler’s arrival, which is obviously a comforting sign. As the primary playmaker for a fun, upcoming 76ers team, Ben isn’t without his faults. His shooting woes are not news. In addition to punting FT%, Simmons is also a solid play for punting 3’s and TO’s. All downfalls considered, his youth and ceiling will at least uphold his Top 50 value, with an obvious upside for much, much more.
PG – Russell Westbrook
Strengths: Points, Rebounds, Assists, Steals
As documented in Part 2 of this series, Westbrook was a very reliable Free Throw shooter just a couple years ago. Seems like so long ago now. So much so that he may never escape the scrutiny of a Punt FT% build.
PG – De’Aaron Fox
Strengths: Points, Assists, Steals
Somewhat similar in style to Westbrook, but on the opposite (and more favorable) end of the upside spectrum because of his youth, Fox brings enough of a ceiling to consider him a possible future Top 30 player – especially if he can control his efficiency issues. As of now, Fox is a strong play when punting Rebounds and TO’s in addition to FT%.
PG – Lonzo Ball
Strengths: Assists, Steals, and some Rebounds
Amidst a funk of a year considering what the hopes were going into the season, Ball still offers Top 100 production when punting FT%. It apparently hasn’t been easy for the Lakers youngsters to grow next to some of the veterans that were brought in. I do believe Lonzo will finish better than he started at least. I worry about the years to come if LA manages to snag a star FA or two.
SF/PF – Justise Winslow
Strengths: Some Rebounds, Assists, and Steals
Recently named the starting Point Guard by Coach Spo, Winslow has seen a nice uptick in Assists through a small sample size. It’s a situation to monitor closely as Josh Richardson ran the Point for a small while as well. If Winslow finds himself without the ball in the near future, his value could easily drop. The way things stand now, Winslow is on the rise, and is a Top 75 play when punting FT%.
Points is a category that does not discriminate. It’s not partial to any specific position. You have a team like Portland that primarily relies on their backcourt to score. Then there are other teams who are more privy to letting their bigger guys tally up this particular category, like Detroit. This allows us to go with a no-holds-barred, free-for-all approach in this section. Here are some guys who work well in a Points-punting build.
SF/PF – Robert Covington
Strengths: Steals, Blocks, 3’s, TO’s
Covington was previously mentioned in another category of Part 2 of this series so I’ll be brief here and just mention that he’s been a sneaky Top 20 player this season. He even wiggles his way into the Top 10 when punting Points.
C – Rudy Gobert
Strengths: Rebounds, Blocks, FG%, TO’s
As one of the best in the business at supplying big man stats, Gobert evolves into an early-2nd round-level talent when punting Points. The growing number of unicorns in the league might put a damper on Fantasy managers’ appreciation for guys like Gobert; maybe you can put your feelers out there with some buy-low offers. As one of those traditional Centers that seem to be becoming extinct in today’s NBA, he’s an obvious candidate for punting FT% too.
PF/C – Al Horford
Strengths: Rebounds, Assists, Blocks, TO’s with a positive FG%
A player who should be losing a step according to Father Time, Horford’s game has aged well so far. He still maintains a Top 40-50 value, which becomes even closer to a Top 30 ranking when punting Points. Already well into his age-32 season, Horford hasn’t shown significant signs of slowing down just yet, and should continue to hold at least a Top 70 spot for a couple more years.
PF/C – Draymond Green
Strengths: Rebounds, Assists, Steals, Blocks
Green is another player previously mentioned in Part 2 of this series, so let’s not dwell in the past too much. In the midst of a somewhat down season, Green is just barely in the Top 70 at the moment. His fantasy ranking literally doubles in quality in a Punt Points build – climbing into the Top 40, right around 35. That’s a rather large jump.
C – DeAndre Jordan
Strengths: Rebounds, Blocks, FG%
Jordan has been hard to peg over the last handful of seasons. His value has jumped around erratically. The most notable aspect of his recent Fantasy changes is his FT%. Slowly working his way out of FT%-punting territory, DJ is also experiencing a career-high in Assists, and also TO’s. The odd thing is that his Usage is lower than it’s ever been over the last few seasons so I expect some regression in those categories. If you would enjoy reading more about DeAndre Jordan and the evolution of his Fantasy value, we just published an entire article about it. I think competitive GM’s would find it most useful.
PG/SG – Darren Collison
Strengths: Assists, Steals, TO’s, and normally FT%
DC currently resides outside the Top 100 due to poor percentages, which is unusual for him. He’s been a big positive in FT% up until this season, and has never really been a detriment to FG%. I expect some positive regression in those areas. Regardless, Collison moves into the Top 80 when punting Points because of some young breakouts in Indiana. Don’t be surprised if he’s wearing a different jersey next year though. He, along with Tyreke Evans, Cory Joseph, and Bojan Bogdanovic, will be a Free Agent this coming Summer. It’ll be a tall task for the Pacers to retain all those guys given Turner’s new deal and Sabonis’ nice breakout. Plus, Aaron Holiday’s immediate production makes at least one or two of those Guards expendable. I digress. Look for Collison to right the ship this year and hop back into Top 100 value at the least once he tightens up his percentages. That would bode well for your Points-punting team too.
SG/SF – Kyle Anderson
Strengths: Steals, Blocks, FG%, TO’s
SloMo is a player who has appeared in another section already because he’s a great player for multiple types of punting – 3’s, FT%, and, of course, Points. Punting Points currently moves Anderson, a player who would be barely inside the Top 100 in standard 9-cat, into the Top 60. He was slow to start the season (hence the nickname? Sorry.) but seems to be growing more comfortable in Memphis now.
C – Nerlens Noel
Strengths: Rebounds, Blocks, FG%, TO’s, and some Steals in limited minutes
Noel has been an end-of-roster hidden gem for Fantasy GM’s this season. He doesn’t average a ton of minutes but has still been able to manage standard-league relevance behind Steven Adams with beautiful backup hustle stats. His per-36 numbers are monstrous with 12.1 Rebounds, 2.6 Steals, 3.8 Blocks, and 58.2% shooting. If Adams ever has to miss time, Noel would instantly become Fantasy gold. Look for him to get a sizable raise this coming Summer.
PG/SG – Marcus Smart
Strengths: Assists, Steals, TO’s
Smart’s development as a playmaker has been relatively impressive lately, and he’s always been projected as a nice supplier of Steals. Boston is so deep that it seems like they get a bit too passive sometimes. Smart is an exception. He brings intensity constantly. Already possessing a plethora of young assets, and four potential 1st-round draft picks in the coming 2019 Draft, the Celtics have a ton of options for their future, while also competing now. Don’t be surprised if they look completely different next season. That makes Smart’s future a question mark. Boston’s surplus of youth and picks is impressive but it adds a shroud of mystery to the upside of non-star rotation guys like Smart. Either way, he’s a non-Top 100 player who takes a strong leap into the Top 70 range when punting Points.
PG – Tyus Jones
Strengths: Assists, Steals, TO’s
This one is more of a deeper league play at the moment. Coach Thibs has made it clear he’s not a fan of playing Jones big minutes if he doesn’t have to, which is just a shame. Tyus would be a great contributor of Assists and Steals if he were granted more playing time. We’ll have to keep our eye on the situation this Summer to see if his grass become any greener. The way things stand now, Jones is not a standard league-relevant play unless you’re punting Points, which would, admittedly, still leave him as an end-of-roster Top 150 guy.
Turnover-punting is a tricky task given that plenty of GM’s utilize this strategy subconsciously. It’s a common occurrence given that it’s the most overlooked category in Fantasy Basketball. One main aspect that differentiates punting TO’s from punting any other category is that almost all studs residing in the Top 40 – 50 rankings benefit from this strategy because of such high Usage Rates among them. As we know, Usage Rate commonly correlates to Turnovers. This is why most Point Guards, primary ballhandlers, and teams’ ‘first options’ work so well in Punt TO builds.
In keeping with the theme of this series, we’ll be focusing more on Forwards and Centers who benefit from ignoring Turnovers. Let’s go about it a little differently this time. I’ll just list them here, minus the blurbs, as most of the names on this list have appeared in a previous category already. Here we go.
SF/PF – Giannis Antetokounmpo
C – Karl Anthony Towns
SF/PF – Kevin Durant
PF/C – Nikola Jokic
SG/SF/PF – Paul George
SF/PF – Lebron James
PF/C – Blake Griffin
PF/C – Draymond Green
PF/C – Andre Drummond
SG/SF – Khris Middleton
PF/C – Julius Randle
SF – Taurean Prince
We hope you found this three-part series interesting and useful. Check back often for other weekly articles, like @BasketBlogBoy’s weekly Streaming advice, @Starks_industry’s new, entertaining Fantasy Kombat series, and @kevinso’s upcoming mystery projects as well. Also, don’t forget to check up on all of our RoS Rankings and my 2019 Rookie Prospect Rankings. We update them regularly.
Until next time, Fantasy Fiends, this has been Jay, the Fantasy Unicorn Doc. Catch me on Twitter @FantasyNBALayup if you’re looking for any advice or thoughts.