The assist punt strategy is so effective for one simple reason: turnovers is the most underrated category in fantasy basketball. In reality, most fans aren’t celebrating because a player posted zero turnovers in a game. Likewise, in fantasy basketball, turnovers is not as sexy of a category to win as others (3PT, AST, and BLK). So if you are as (over-)competitive as I am and have winning as your first priority, this may be the build for you.
The other reason this build excels is because there is no clear positional weakness to it. While there may be a slight preference towards big men, who typically don’t get as many AST, it is also reasonably easy to find shot-first wings who can provide the 3PT, PTS, and FT% contribution that you need. So you should find yourself flexible as the draft progresses, with a reasonable amount of options at each position – unlike a FG% punt, where it is critical to get your big men in the early rounds to get the most value out of them.
- Due to the nature of the players on an AST punt team, you will have much lower turnovers within your league. In a few particular instances, it would actually behoove you to pick up a high TO to AST ratio player if it helps you across all the other categories, such as DeMarcus Cousins.
- If there is a natural weakness, it would be the STL category – there are a limited selection of players that get 1.5+ STL and less than 5.0 AST, so this is a build where you’ll want to draft players that contribute to steals throughout (you’ll want to make note of players that can get you at least 1.0 per game)
- You’ll want to find wings that can get you 3PT, FT%, PTS, and STL, and ideally a shot-first PG to fill up that spot; there are a decent amount of wing players that have PG-eligibility, so you may not end up drafting a true PG at all on your roster
- With your big men, you’ll want to get PTS, AST, BLK, and STL, but in my opinion, it is more important that they have solid FG% (easy) and FT% (not as easy) – after all, we might as well go after as many “non-sexy” categories as we can here
Assist Punt Cheat Sheet
Here’s our cheat sheet for drafting in this build. To quickly explain our potentially confusing categorization of players:
- Great Value: players who get the largest value bump from the build (“core” strategy players); you can often reach for these players (sometimes multiple rounds) before their ranking / ADP and still get great value
- Good Value: players who get a reasonable value bump in this build; probably not worth reaching too far ahead to draft, but decent picks around or at their ranking / ADP
- Complementary: players who do not get a significant value bump (or modest at best); however, these are important to round out the build’s natural weaknesses, so feel free to reach a bit as necessary
- Even: players who are fairly neutral to this build, either because they (a) are decent in the punted stat or (b) get a slight value bump, but do not have a particular strength in the complementary stat categories; probably not advisable to reach on these players
- Bad Value: players who offer similar stats to the core players, but do not receive the value bump and should therefore be bypassed for other options
- Do Not Draft: players whose strengths and weaknesses are the opposite of this build
Here’s our analysis on some of the best players for the build:
Kevin Durant – One of my two preferred cornerstones for this build. You’re typically looking for a high-volume, high-percentage shooter to anchor your FG% and FT% in the early rounds, and there’s no better option than KD. The build loves his 3PTM (2.6) and PTS (28.2) contributions, while tolerating his TO (3.5). KD actually averaged a fair amount of AST last year (5.0), and that could go up even more in the pass-friendly GSW offense, but it’s not so valuable that it takes him out of the running here.
Kawhi Leonard – The other preferred building block – I’m surprised that Kawhi finished as the third-best fantasy player last year and is still only ranked sixth by Yahoo, but if that gives me a higher chance of grabbing him, I’m be happy. After removing AST contribution (2.6) , Kawhi leapfrogs KD for second best player in all of fantasy with his efficient game. He improved significantly as a shooter last year, hitting 87.4% from the line, and can also grab you the STL (1.8) that you need.
Karl-Anthony Towns – KAT is another great first rounder here, deriving hardly any value from his AST last year (2.0). It’s scary to think that he’s only a sophomore, but as a fantasy owner, you hope that he can make the usual sophomore jump (or not, if someone else drafts him). That said, the ability to find other quality big men for this build in later rounds gives me a (very) slight preference towards KD and Kawhi.
Hassan Whiteside – His per-36 AST of 0.5 in 2015-2016 puts him just above Joel Anthony and JaVale McGee, and he still finished as the seventh-best player in fantasy basketball. So yeah, he’s a pretty great pick up when punting AST.
DeMarcus Cousins – One example of a player whose abysmal AST:TO ratio (0.87) can be tolerated by the build. Counting stats have never been an issue for DMC, but his FT% last year was terrible, so you’ll be hoping for a rebound there. He’s also a pretty significant injury risk.
LaMarcus Aldridge – Falling just outside first round value in this build (14th), LMA is a consistent performer for this punt. His low AST output (1.5), coupled with his excellent percentages (51.3 FG%, 85.8 FT%) make him a solid choice here in the second. He’s a little weak on the defensive stats for an early round selection, so you’ll have to try and make up for that later.
Kristaps Porzingis – If you feel like gambling on upside near the end of the second round, Kristaps is a solid alternative to LMA. One of the editors here is all-in and has drafted him in multiple leagues. He won’t give you the percentage-anchoring that LMA does, but he offers 1.1 3PTM and 1.9 BLK, and hopefully the new environment in NY will benefit him even more.
Serge Ibaka – At 0.8 AST in 2015-2016, Ibaka is another good choice. He’s in a contract year, has percentages that won’t hurt you, and if he can bounce back to his 2.5+ BLK averages from prior years, could be great value here. The Orlando situation seems a bit messy right now, but for fantasy owners, anything is better than Scott Skiles, right?
Klay Thompson – Unless you snagged KD in the first round, this is your first shot at a volume 3-point shooter that doesn’t get any value from AST. C.J. McCollum is another choice here if you miss out on Klay but doesn’t bring the superb percentages and 3PTM volume that Klay does. If you’re in need of threes, go with Klay and hope that there are enough shots to go around in Golden State.
Brook Lopez – The other big that you’ll be targeting in this round, Brook falls just outside the first round in this build. When healthy, he provides great contributions across the board, particularly in PTS (20.6), REBS (7.9) and BLK (1.7), and has reasonable shooting percentages to boot. The worry with him is not his own-court production, but the chances of an injury (high probability), exacerbated by the Nets tanking (also high probability). In the third round, however, he’s probably worth the risk.
Gorgui Dieng – Common theme for big men in this build applies here: shooting percentages that do not hurt you, a few swats per game, and solid rebounding. The FT% is important – it becomes increasingly difficult to find good FT-shooting big men in later rounds, so someone like Gorgui (82.7 FT%) is great here.
Trevor Ariza – Ariza’s 2.3 3PTM and 2.0 STL help to address the slight weaknesses in those categories that this build has. He’ll hurt your percentages a bit, but he’s not a volume shooter so don’t expect it to weigh them down too much.
Jae Crowder – Ariza-lite for this build, Crowder’s 1.7 3PTM and 1.7 STL function very similarly. In exchange for the slight drop in volume in those categories, Crowder offers slightly better shooting percentages, so he makes a great choice in the middle rounds.
Otto Porter – Continuing with our trend of 3-and-D wings, Porter will chip in 1.3 3PTM and 1.4 STL, along with decent shooting. Kelly Oubre could be a threat for minutes, but it’s hard to see Oubre stealing his spot and there’s a decent chance that Porter improves even more going into his fourth season.
Dirk Nowitzki – Dirk was second round value in this build last year and a great source of PTS (18.3), 3PTM (1.7) and FT% (89.3%). I’ve seen Dirk being drafted anywhere from Rounds 4 to 8 so far – it all depends whether you think this is the year that he’ll finally drop off or not. There’s also the risk of rest, but since the Mavericks should be fighting for a playoff spot down the stretch, there’s a decent chance he’ll play in most of the games.
Marcin Gortat – Third round value in this build last year, Gortat is not only a great fit (1.4 AST), but terribly underrated at his current ranking. He’s a slightly questionable FT shooter (70.2% last year, which was a career-high), but doesn’t shoot enough at the line to have too large of an impact. He’s a great source of REB (9.9), BLK (1.3) and FG% (56.7%).
Rudy Gay – Gay has often been criticized for being a shot-first, selfish player, but in this build, that’s not a problem at all. He put up third round value in the AST punt last year and provides helpful contributions in PTS (17.2) and STL (1.4). That said, if you have a pick around here, you may want to consider…
Avery Bradley – Arguably the best choice to fill your PG spot in this build, Bradley is more of a two with PG eligibility. His 1.9 3PTM and 1.5 STL are valuable, he doesn’t get many assists (2.1), and last year he showed major improvement in his FG%, getting it to usable levels (44.8%). As long as that doesn’t fall off, he’s a great choice here since you’ll need to start at least one PG – if you don’t grab him, Jordan Clarkson and George Hill provide decent alternatives.
Rodney Hood – Here for his 3PTM (2.0) and FT% (86.0%) contributions, Hood may be forced to step into more of a playmaking role with Gordon Hayward out for the first portion of the season. Even if he racks up more dimes that don’t help us here, those aforementioned strengths make him an option for anyone feeling a bit light on 3PTM at this point of the draft.
Marvin Williams – Marvin Williams is probably showing up on a lot of these guides, partially because he’s well-rounded, but largely because he’s extremely underrated at this point. He set career highs across the board last year and it’s tough to say whether he can keep it up, but he has a fairly safe spot as the starting PF for the Hornets, and is a great source of 3PTM (1.9), while also chipping in 1.0 BLK and 6.4 REB.
J.J. Redick – J.J. has really found his niche in LAC, offering fantasy owners specialist production in PTS (16.3), 3PTM (2.7), and shooting percentages. Ignore his meager 1.4 AST and you are looking at fifth round value, making him a great pick in the late middle rounds.
Danny Green – Similar to J.J. above, Green has specialist potential in 3PTM (1.5) and STL (1.0). You’ll definitely be hoping for a bounce-back if you’re grabbing him here, but he could be one of the steals of the draft if he does. At this point, you should be starting to keep track of where your weaknesses are and thinking of how to fill them in – that could help you decide between Redick, Green and some of the other late rounders.
Gary Harris – In a crowded Denver backcourt, Harris has emerged as one of Coach Malone’s favorites and if he can continue to see 30+ MPG as he did last season, provides helpful boosts in 3PTM (1.4), STL (1.3) and reasonable shooting percentages. That was good enough for fifth round value in this build last year, making him a great option here.
Joel Embiid – Embiid is probably one of the biggest risk-reward plays of the draft. If his preseason is any indication, he has the potential to be dominant, even as early as his first year. That being said, the injury risk, minute limitation, and lack of back-to-backs are what keep him drafted after 100. I expect him to be a double-double guy with a few blocks when healthy and starting Round 10, I’m usually thinking about high upside guys since if they don’t pan out, I can drop them without feeling too much regret.
Round 11 and beyond:
The following are a few late-round specialists (Round 11 and beyond) that can help to fill out a team’s weaknesses:
Cody Zeller – With solid FG% (52.9%) and FT% (75.4%) for a big man, Zeller makes a nice late round option if you find yourself short on big man stats. He’ll chip in a little bit on defense with just under a block and a steal per game and did enough last year to be seventh round value in this build.
Josh Richardson – Someone will need to step into the void left by D-Wade, and while Justise Winslow will certainly be relied upon a lot, I’m betting on Josh Richardson being the main beneficiary. Post All-Star last year, he averaged 1.7 3PTM on 53.3% 3PT shooting – while that is probably unsustainable, with increased opportunities this year he could easily provide 2.0+ 3PTM and 1.0+ STL for teams lacking there.
Taj Gibson – The frontcourt situation in Chicago is messy, and despite outplaying the other bigs significantly this preseason, Gibson may still find himself behind Mirotic when the season starts. That said, he always seems to find himself into fantasy relevance every year, and with the possibility of increased minutes following Gasol and Noah’s departure (Robin Lopez offsets Noah, perhaps), he should do so once again this year.
Kyle Korver – A specialist if you are looking for some 3-point shooting help – even in an extremely disappointing season, Korver managed to drop 2.0 3PTM. With a full offseason to prepare, he’s a bounce back candidate, and with Schroeder playing exclusively at PG now (instead of sliding to SG to accommodate both him and Teague), there should be adequate minutes for Korver.
Feel free to comment or hit us up if you have any questions!