Part 1 of this 3-Part series will be focused on punting Rebounds, Assists, and Steals. Be on the lookout for Part 2 coming soon, where we dial in on punting Blocks, 3’s, and FG%. Then, Part 3 will round out the rest of the categories.
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 won’t rob you of your time by telling you that Steven Adams is a great FT%-punting 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 Guards who strongly benefit from a Punt Rebounds build. It’s much more difficult to find Power Forwards and Centers that work so well in this build though. Let’s look for some.
C – Brook Lopez
Strengths: Blocks, 3’s, FT%, TO’s
Lopez has rediscovered some of his Fantasy value in Milwaukee. Barring the off chance that Lopez takes a veteran’s minimum contract, it’s hard to envision him staying there next Summer when the Bucks will have so many other FA’s they might prioritize over the big man. Hopefully he maintains something close to this level of value next season.
PF/C – Jaren Jackson Jr
Strengths: Steals, Blocks, FG%, FT%, TO’s
Admittedly, JJJ’s whole Fantasy strength outlook could change. There’s a chance that his Steals regress to what he produced in college (about half what he’s producing now). Considering his FT% a “strength” might be a bit of a stretch at the moment but I could certainly see it getting up to reliable, Brook Lopez-type numbers. Also, his 3’s could eventually evolve into a Strength, which would, obviously, increase his value even further.
SF/PF – Kyle Kuzma
Strengths: Points, 3’s, TO’s, maybe FG%
Kuzma breaks about even in a Punt Rebounds build. By that I mean he’d currently be just as good in a non-Punt build. I think his FG% this season is more along the lines of what his career average will be compared to his rookie year. Kuzma has been on a hot streak lately, putting up at least 20 points in 10 of the 12 games he played from November 25 to December 18, including a 33-point outburst against the Heat. Here’s to hoping he can keep it up. Kuzma is also a nice PF play in a Blocks-punting build.
SF/PF – Jonathan Isaac
Strengths: Steals, Blocks, TO’s
I’m getting a little exhausted of bragging on Isaac. Hopefully, he gets his Triple-1 upside together soon. He still holds a ton of potential in Dynasty leagues.
There’s plenty of obvious big men who strongly benefit from a Punt Assists build. It’s much more difficult to find Point Guards who work so well in this build though. Let’s look for some.
PG – Dejounte Murray
Strengths: Rebounds, Steals, more TBD
Dejounte Murray looks like the prototypical Assist-punting PG as distributing does not appear to be his primary responsibility. I’ll confess that he’s still young enough to develop into a decent playmaker, and we were robbed of seeing what he could’ve blossomed into in his third season. But as things stand now, that’s not his strong suit.
PG/SG – Malcolm Brogdon
Strengths: Points, 3’s, FT%
At least somewhat decent at distributing, Brogdon finds himself here because Coach Bud currently needs him more as a SG – especially now that George Hill is in town to eat up the backup PG minutes. Next season, we don’t know what Brog’s role will be. Brogdon, Hill, Eric Bledsoe, and Khris Middleton will all be Free Agents in the Summer of 2019. It’ll be tough for Milwaukee to maintain their entire roster with the amount of money that’ll be expected from each of their FA’s (that includes Brook Lopez too). You can make an argument for either way, but regardless of the way things fold out, Brogdon may be better served as a score-first, secondary/third playmaker, which makes him a candidate for punting Assists.
PG/SG – CJ McCollum
Strengths: Points, 3’s, FT%
Before this 2018-19 season, Coach Stotts stated that he might like to see McCollum handling the ball and distributing less than in recent years. It’s shown so far. His usage rate is currently as low as it’s been since the 2014-15 season. He’s also averaging about 1 less Assist per game. That may not sound like a lot but, for a player who wasn’t getting a ton in the first place, it’s a relatively large drop-off.
PG/SG/SF – Josh Richardson
Strengths: Points, Steals, FT%, and even some Blocks
Yes, J-Rich is averaging a career-high in Assists this year. And yes, he’s becoming Miami’s primary ball-handler. But Richardson contributes so well across the board that he could fit snug into several different Punt builds. Plus, the career-high Assist numbers he’s producing are still well below the NBA average from high-usage, starting PG’s.
There’s plenty of obvious big men who benefit from a Punt Steals build. It’s a bit more difficult to find Guards, and even Wings that work so well in this build though. Let’s look for some.
PG – Damian Lillard
Strengths: Points, Assists, 3’s, FT%
Obviously, Lillard isn’t a value play that you’ll be able to swipe in the mid-rounds of your fantasy drafts. As a late 1st-/early 2nd-round selection, he could be a starting foundation for your Steals-punting build though. You’ll probably have to trade big to acquire him mid-season. Admittedly, Lillard usually averages around 1 Steal per game. Don’t let that average number deter you. He still jumps up a few spots in the rankings if you’re ignoring the Steals category. Lillard is one of the best early-round selections when it comes to being strong in FT%.
SF/PF – Tobias Harris
Strengths: Points, Rebounds, 3’s, FG%, FT%
From journeyman to potential All-Star, Harris seems to have finally found a home with the Clippers. His looming Free Agency might make his Dynasty owners a bit uncomfortable. What if he opts to join a squad with established stars just to become the third option on his team? What if another star chooses to join him in LA in 2019? Yeah, his fantasy rank could drop a bit, theoretically. Regardless, I believe Harris is for real. I don’t think he’ll take too hard of a hit if either of those hypothetical options come to fruition. He’ll remain a Top 50 play for as long as his body will allow. He just has too many strengths to worry about that. Tobi is a nice option for a Punt Blocks build as well.
SF/PF – Danilo Gallinari
Strengths: Points, 3’s, FT%, TO’s, and some Rebounds
The INJ one himself, the Rooster finds himself next door to his teammate, Tobias Harris, in the Top 30 of the 9-cat fantasy rankings at the moment. That rank jumps inside the Top 20 if you’re punting Steals. The BIG, obvious question that always tags along with Gallinari is about injuries. Let’s just keep our fingers crossed and hope his current picture of health remains constant throughout the rest of his years. Injuries aside, I wonder what Gallo’s role will be if LA reels in a big fish in the Summer. Nonetheless, he should hopefully maintain his spot in the high-ups for as long as he’s healthy this season. Like Harris, Gallo is also a great Blocks-punting play.
SG – JJ Redick
Strengths: Points, 3’s, FT%, TO’s
Redick may be struggling to hold his place as a Top 100 player in standard 9-cat leagues but if you filter the rankings to punt Steals, he takes a mighty leap into the Top 50 the way things stand as I’m writing this. At 34 years of age, Redick might not be the best Dynasty play. It should also leave his owners a bit uneasy that Philly has multiple youngsters breathing down his neck; Landry Shamet, Furkan Korkmaz, Shake Milton, and even Markelle Fultz and Zhaire Smith, once healthy, could all be looking to eat off of Redick’s plate soon. I wouldn’t fret too much this season as Redick gives the 76ers the best shot at postseason success out of all those guys. But as early as next year, we could be seeing one of those young Wings/Guards move into his role.
SG/SF – Bojan Bogdanovic
Strengths: Points, 3’s, FT%, TO’s
Bojan is a nice late-round, end-of-bench player in standard leagues. While punting Steals still doesn’t push him anywhere near the Top 50, it does help his value to the tune of a Top 80-ish play. He’ll always provide you with a cozy level of 3’s and FT%.