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Punt to Win: Part 3 – Punt Field Goal Percentage

Punt to win is a series of articles dedicated to foregoing a particular category in order to dominate your fantasy basketball league. Today we look at Part 3 – punting field goal percentage.

Punting field goal percentage is slightly different from the punt assist and punt free throw percentage builds. It’s not necessarily a strategy that I’m actively looking to employ heading into a draft, however, it can be dominant when paired with the correct first round targets.

Punting Field Goal Percentage

Last year, James Harden and Russell Westbrook dominated fantasy basketball. Harden finished second in the league in points per game, first in assists, first in free throws made and attempted, third in threes, and nineteenth in steals. Westbrook didn’t make as many threes as Harden, but made up for it by finishing in the top 10 in both steals and rebounds per game. They were nearly perfect as fantasy assets, with the key exception being that they killed your team field goal percentage.

Both players haven’t exactly been efficient scorers thru ought their careers – Harden has a career field goal percentage of 44.4 percent, Westbrook 43.3 – and both became even more inefficient thanks to the massive jump in volume they enjoyed last season. Both players were negative contributors in the field goal percentage category on the ESPN Player Rater last season, yet they still finished first and second overall by a wide margin. If we remove field goal percentage from the equation – which will increase their value while subsequently reducing the value for the majority of their competition – their gap over the field becomes even larger

Player Name Player Rater Value Difference from #1 “Punt FG%” Value Difference from #1
James Harden 20.37 0.00 21.18 0.00
Russell Westbrook 19.24 1.13 21.01 0.19
Steph Curry 17.46 2.91 16.99 4.19
Karl-Anthony Towns 17.12 3.25 13.31 7.87
Giannis Antetokounmpo 17.05 3.32 14.50 6.68
Anthony Davis 16.29 4.08 14.11 7.07
Kawhi Leonard 14.49 5.88 13.35 7.83
Kevin Durant 14.38 5.99 11.64 9.54
Isaiah Thomas 14.12 6.25 13.86 7.32
John Wall 14.06 6.31 14.34 6.84

The gap between the number one player and the number three player1 increases from 2.92 to 4.19, while the gap between the number one player and the number 10 player increases from 6.31 to 8.06. That’s an absolutely massive difference in Player Rater value – it’s equivalent to the overall fantasy production provided by DeMar DeRozan last year, who was the number 37 rated player. Putting it another way, the 8.06 gap between the number one player and the number 10 player is greater than the gap between the number 10 player and the number 70 player. Both players will likely lose some value this season with the addition of new All-star caliber teammates, but they will likely still finish as the top two players in this build. If you have the opportunity to grab one, embrace it, and embrace the field goal percentage punt.

Potential Pitfalls

The punt FG% build does for guards what the punt FT% build does for big men: virtually every point guard is going to see their value spike. For that reason, finding point guards all throughout the draft will be relatively easy, and will likely leave your team in good shape in points, assists, steals, and three pointers.

The categories free throw punters are most likely to be weak in are blocks and rebounds. You’re not going to want to target big men who do the majority of their work in the paint – think DeAndre Jordan, Andre Drummond, or Dwight Howard – but you’re still going to need a solid base of big men early in the draft if you want to stay competitive in those categories. You’ll also want to win the free throw percentage category each week, so targeting big men who aren’t butchers at the line is also a priority.

Additionally, if you play in a nine-category league you’re going to have to decide how to approach the turnover category. It’s possible to overcome the massive turnover numbers from Harden and Westbrook, but you’re going to need to make drafting low turnover guys a priority with virtually every pick. You can also steer into the skid and just punt turnovers as well, but that does lower the ceiling of your team a bit.

Targets

In addition to Harden and Westbrook, which players see the largest boost in value after removing field goal percentage from the equation? Lets break it down by position.

Point Guards

Early Rounds: John Wall – 2016 Player Value Rank: 10, 2016 “Punt FG%” Rank: 5, ESPN ADP: 10.6

2016-17 Stats: 23.1 PPG, 10.7 AST, 4.2 REB, 2.0 STL, 0.6 BLK, 1.1 3PM, 45.1 FG%, 80.1 FT%

The only other first round player I’m considering besides Westbrook and Harden in this build is Wall. He averaged a career high 23.1 points per game and 10.7 assists per game, and was also one of the top steals guys in the league at 2.0 per game. He also provided the eighth most rebound value at the point guard last season, which is a major plus for teams punting the field goal percentage category.

With virtually every point guard seeing a bump in value in this build, there are plenty of awesome second, third round, or fourth targets as well. Damian Lillard, Kemba Walker, Kyrie Irving, Isaiah Thomas, and Jeff Teague all finished in the top 20 of last year’s Player Rater after removing FG%. I personally prefer to focus on grabbing versatile big men after my first round pick due to the depth at the PG position, but there’s nothing wrong with double dipping on a couple of elite assist guys.

Other Targets: Irving (13.2 ADP), Lillard (17.0 ADP), Walker (24.2 ADP), Teague (43.8 ADP)

Mid Rounds: Ricky Rubio – 2016 Player Value Rank: 35, 2016 “Punt FG%” Rank: 24, ESPN ADP: 60.3

2016-17 Stats: 11.1 PPG, 9.1 AST, 4.1 REB, 1.7 STL, 0.1 BLK, 0.8 3PM, 40.2 FG%, 89.1 FT%

Rubio finished just outside the top-20 last season in the “Punt FG%” ranks, and saw one of the bigger jumps in value among the top point guards. He’s long been an elite source of assists and steals, and was one of the best fantasy assets in the league post All star break. He upped his usage to 22.4% — which would be a career high if he sustained it over a full season – and averaged 16.0 points and 1.0 made three pointer per game. He should have more opportunities to showcase his offensive game playing in Utah this season, and he’s currently coming off the board as the 19th point guard in ESPN drafts.

Other Targets: Dennis Schroder (50.2 ADP), D’Angelo Russell (52.8 ADP), Dennis Smith Jr (88.5 ADP)

Late Rounds: Marcus Smart – 2016 Player Value Rank: 75, 2016 “Punt FG%” Rank: 47, ESPN ADP: 112.8

2016-17 Stats: 10.6 PPG, 4.6 AST, 3.9 REB, 1.6 STL, 0.4 BLK, 1.2 3PM, 35.9 FG%, 81.2 FT%

Smart was a top-50 fantasy asset last season after removing field goal percentage, and has been solid contributor across the board thru out his career. Among point guards last season, he ranked 12th in rebound value, 6th in steal value, and 7th in block value, while also shooting a career high 81.2 percent from the free throw line.

Other Targets: Rajon Rondo (90.4 ADP), Lou Williams (95.8 ADP), Patrick Beverley (97.9), Emmanuel Mudiay (140+ ADP)

Shooting Guard

Early Targets: Devin Booker – 2016 Player Value Rank: 57, 2016 “Punt FG%” Rank: 43, ESPN ADP: 43.5

2016-17 Stats: 22.1 PPG, 3.4 AST, 3.2 REB, 0.9 AST, 0.3 BLK, 1.9 3PM, 42.3 FG%, 83.2 FT%

Booker has scored the ball well early in his young career, however, he’s done so in an inefficient manner. That makes him perfect in this format, where we can take advantage of his point, three point, and free throw upside without taking the hit to our field goal percentage. He also figures to handle the ball more this season, which gives him more upside than most shooting guards in the assist category. He’s the ideal early shooting guard if you miss out on Harden.

Other Targets: Andrew Wiggins (42.0 ADP)

Mid Rounds: Victor Oladipo – 2016 Player Value Rank: 97, 2016 “Punt FG%” Rank: 80, ESPN ADP: 65.5

2016-17 Stats: 15.9 PPG, 2.6 AST, 4.3 REB, 1.2 STL, 0.3 BLK, 1.9 3PM, 44.2 FG%, 75.3 FT%

Oladipo is one of my favorite targets this season regardless of format. He should take on a huge role this season in Indiana, and can contribute in all categories across the board.

Other Targets: Dwyane Wade (69.1 ADP), Tim Hardaway Jr (89.5 ADP), Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (92.4 ADP)

Late Rounds: Kent Bazemore – 2016 Player Value Rank: 133, “Punt FG%” Rank: 94, ESPN ADP: 105.7

2016-17 Stats: 11.0 PPG, 2.4 AST, 3.2 REB, 1.2 STL, 0.7 BLK, 1.3 3PM, 40.9 FG%, 70.8 FT%

No offense to the previously mentioned shooting guards, but Bazemore is the perfect fit in this build. He was a significantly better value last season after removing FG%, and he should have a substantially bigger role this year. He should provide steady contributions in points, threes, and steals, and he provided the second most block value last season among shooting guards. That’s especially helpful for punt FG% teams since they’re typically light on traditional centers.

Other Targets: Wesley Matthews (111.8 ADP), Bojan Bogdanovic (123.4 AD), Danny Green (140+ ADP), Jamal Crawford (140+ ADP)

Small Forward

Early Rounds: Draymond Green – 2016 Player Value Rank: 22, “Punt FG%” Rank: 16, ESPN ADP: 24.3

2016-17 Stats: 10.2 PPG, 7.0 AST, 7.9 REB, 2.0 STL, 1.4 BLK, 1.1 3PM, 41.8 FG%, 70.9 FT%

This is easily one of the best builds to incorporate Green’s diverse skill set. His two biggest weaknesses2 are FT% and points, and both of those categories should be strengths for the rest of your squad. No one matches his defense statistics, and he should also be an awesome source of assists and rebounds.

Other Targets: Carmelo Anthony (35.9 ADP)

Mid Rounds: Robert Covington – 2016 Player Value Rank: 53, “Punt FG%” Rank: 38, ESPN ADP: 64.8

2016-17 Stats: 12.9 PPG, 1.5 AST, 6.5 REB, 1.9 STL, 1.0 BLK, 2.0 3PM, 39.9 FG%, 82.2 FT%

Covington is another player who has been featured in all three of my punt write-ups, but this is definitely his best build. He shot sub 40 percent last year from the field, and while that’s likely his floor, he sees a massive boost in value after removing it. He’s an elite source of threes and steals, and also provided 6.5 rebounds and 1.0 blocks per game last season.

Other Targets: Dario Saric (67.7), Trevor Ariza (69.8)

Late Rounds: Taurean Prince – 2016 Player Value Rank: 200+, “Punt FG%” Rank: 200+, ESPN ADP: 140+

2016-17 Stats: 5.7 PPG, 0.9 AST, 2.7 REB, 0.7 STL, 0.5 BLK, 0.6 3PM, 40.0 FG%, 78.7 FT%3

Like his teammate Bazemore, Prince should see more minutes on the wing this season after the Hawks lost Tim Hardaway Jr and Thabo Sefolosha. He had impressive per 36 numbers in rebounds (5.8), steals (1.6), and blocks (1.0) last season.

Other Targets: Rondae Hollis Jefferson (115.6 ADP), Marvin Williams (116.7 ADP)

Power Forward

Early Rounds: Myles Turner – 2016 Player Value Rank: 20, 2016 “Punt FG%” Rank: 23, ESPN ADP: 27.0

2016-17 Stats: 14.5 PPG, 1.3 AST, 7.3 REB, 0.9 STL, 2.1 BLK, 0.5 3PM, 51.1 FG%, 80.9 FT%

It’s a really tough call between Turner and Kristaps Porzingis for the top PF spot. Both give you outstanding block and three-point production for big men, and neither is going to hurt you at the free throw line. I’ll give the slightest of edges to Turner because he’s been the better rebounder to this point in there careers, but there’s a chance you can grab both players at the round 2/3 turn after starting with Harden or Westbrook. That’s my dream scenario for this build.

Other Targets: Porzingis (26.9 ADP), Kevin Love (38.9 ADP)

Mid Rounds: Marquese Chriss – 2016 Player Value Rank: 159, 2016 “Punt FG%” Rank: 156, ESPN ADP: 81.5

2016-17 Stats: 9.2 PPG, 0.7 AST, 4.2 REB, 0.8 STL, 0.9 BLK, 0.9 3PM, 44.9 FG%, 62.4 FT%

Chriss is another player who has shown in virtually all of my write-ups. FG% was his worst category as a rookie, and he’ll help teams in this build specifically with his block and rebound production. Regardless of format, the sky is the limit for this kid in year two.

Other Targets: Markieff Morris (96.3 ADP)

Late Rounds: Nikola Mirotic – 2016 Player Value Rank: 119, 2016 “Punt FG%” Rank: 88, ESPN ADP: 115.7

2016-17 Stats: 10.6 PPG, 1.1 AST, 5.5 REB, 0.8 STL, 0.8 BLK, 1.8 3PM, 41.3 FG%, 77.3 FT%

There are lots of intriguing big men that fit this build in the late rounds, but none possess the potential upside of Mirotic. There’s a good chance that he’ll lead the Bulls in usage while Zach LaVine is out with an injury, and he will likely chip in around two threes, one steal, and one block per game. He’s also a solid rebounder, averaging 8.3 per 36 minutes thru out his career.

Other Targets: Zach Randolph (100.2 ADP), Dirk Nowitzki (110.4 ADP), Ryan Anderson (114.2 ADP), Ersan Ilyasova (118.3 ADP)

Center

Early Rounds: Marc Gasol – 2016 Player Value Rank: 25, 2016 “Punt FG%” Rank: 20, ESPN ADP: 34.0

2016-17 Stats: 19.5 PPG, 4.6 AST, 6.3 REB, 0.9 STL, 1.3 BLK, 1.4 3PM, 45.9 FG%, 83.7 FT%

Fielding centers that fit this build is the toughest part about punting field goal percentage. Gasol is one of the best fits because his game is almost guard like: he averaged 1.4 threes and 4.6 assists per game last season while shooting just 45.9 percent from the field. He’s a mediocre rebounder at just 6.3 per game, but theres a chance that number goes up this season with Zach Randolph no longer gobbling up every rebound in sight. He’ll also give you solid block production and is an excellent contributor at the free throw line.

Other Targets: Joel Embiid (30.8 ADP), Jusuf Nurkic (40.8 ADP), Brook Lopez (44.8 ADP)

Mid Rounds: Nikola Vucevic – 2016 Player Value Rank: 55, 2016 “Punt FG%” Rank: 55, ESPN ADP: 59.7

2016-17 Stats: 14.6 PPG, 2.8 AST, 10.4 REB, 1.0 STL, 1.0 BLK, 0.3 3PM, 46.8 FG%, 66.9 FT%

Vucevic doesn’t technically gain any value in this build, but he doesn’t lose any either. That’s a rare occurrence for a big man, particularly one who averaged 10.4 rebounds, 1.0 block, and 1.0 steal last year in just 28.8 minutes per game. He shot just 66.9 percent at the line last season, but was over 75 percent in each of the three previous seasons. I love the idea of targeting him in the fifth or sixth round.

Other Targets: Willy Hernangomez (98.3 ADP)

Late Rounds: Dewayne Dedmon – 2016 Player Value Rank: 143, 2016 “Punt FG%” Rank: 181, ESPN ADP: 140+

2016-17 Stats: 5.1 PPG, 0.6 AST, 6.5 REB, 0.5 STL, 0.8 BLK, 0.0 3PM, 62.2 FG%, 69.9 FT%

Dedmon doesn’t see a bump in value in this format, but he’s still going so late that he can be an addition on punt FG% teams. He’s the best late source of rebounds and blocks, and is a decent enough shooter from the line in a very limited number of attempts.

Other Targets: Willie Cauley-Stein (111.2 ADP)

Overall, those with the opportunity to draft one of Harden or Westbrook are extremely lucky, and punting the FG% category is the best way to maximize their skill set. The best punt FG% teams will also target versatile big men early, particularly ones that can block shots and wont hurt you from the free throw line. If you can get enough blocks and rebounds to go with Westbrook or Harden, you should be in an excellent position to contend in all categories.

  1. Steph Curry in both formats  (back)
  2. outside of FG% obviously  (back)
  3. In only 16.6 minutes per game  (back)

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