We’ll start off our draft strategy series with free throw punting, arguably the most well-known and commonly employed punting strategy. The rationale is fairly obvious: players like DeAndre Jordan, Andre Drummond, and Dwight Howard absolutely kill a balanced team’s attempt to remain competitive in FT% but provide elite stats in other categories. To put that into context – DeAndre Jordan goes from being the 71st most valuable player in fantasy basketball to the 4th in a free-throw punt. So while you won’t be drafting him 4th overall, there’s a lot of room in-between those numbers to grab him.
Our analysis will start with some general notes on the strategy, followed by a Top 100 cheat sheet, and then an analysis of some of our favorite players for this build
As noted in a previous article, it is equally as important (as you’ll see in our list below) to draft core strategy players as it is to complement them with players that can secure the categories that the strategy’s main players cannot. In the case of a FT% punt, where you’ll have no problem finding big men with strong FG%, REB, BLK and low TOs, you’ll want to complement them with players that can secure at least two, if not three of 3PTM, PTS, STL and AST. Steph Curry and Chris Paul make great foundational pieces for a FT% punt (especially because of their elite steals); however, if you draft Hassan Whiteside and/or LeBron James, while they are still great first round picks for this build, you will need to adjust your draft strategy accordingly.
- The naturally strong categories of this build are FG%, REB and BLK, with TO following closely (though it should still be managed properly) since the core players are big men
- STL is a top priority since both your guards and your big men can contribute
- 3PT, PTS and AST are the weaknesses as many of the top players in this build will not be contributing, so you want to focus your guard / wings to capture at least one of those three (if not two)
- We recommend grabbing at least one guard / wing in the first two rounds and three by the end of the sixth, ideally aligning on 2 of the 3 weak categories, and then some specialists near the end to remain competitive in the last weakness – for example, if you grab Chris Paul in the first round, you may want to grab Rubio for AST in the fourth/fifth and Korver near the end for 3PT
- It is a necessity to get at least 2 of Whiteside, DeAndre, Drummond and Gobert to anchor your rebounds and blocks
FT% Punt Cheat Sheet
Here’s our attempt at a 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 good value in this build
- 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 – if you compare this to the cheat sheet, you’ll notice that this is not a complete list, but rather a selection of our favorite ones for the build. If you choose to go with this strategy, you should definitely give some of the other players consideration – depending on how you build your team – and don’t feel restricted by the rounds that we categorize them in (those are based on a combination of Yahoo! rankings, ADP, and how high we think they can be drafted to still get good value).
Stephen Curry – Steph is the ideal building block for this build (and pretty much any build, to be honest) because of his elite contribution in 3PT, PTS, STL and AST – all the categories that this build needs – along with a great FG%. If you can get him, it allows you flexibility on your second guard / wing since he’s strong in all the aforementioned categories.
Chris Paul – Similar to Steph, without as great of a PTS and 3PTM contribution, CP3 is a great foundation for this build. If you grab him, you’ll want to target a second elite AST contributor in the early rounds, and then probably grab 3-point shooting to round out the team in later rounds.
LeBron James – LeBron’s ability to produce guard stats makes him a viable candidate for this build, as he produces across the board, except in 3PTM. Similarly to CP3, you’ll want to target AST early to secure that as one of your team’s strengths.
Hassan Whiteside – The second most valuable player in fantasy in a FT% punt build, Hassan makes a great pick near the turn of the first / second round for someone looking to do a FT% punt. He’ll anchor your big man stats – though if you’re grabbing him near the end of the first round, you’ll probably want to compliment him with a guard with strong PTS in the second (Lowry and Irving are good picks, though it may be reaching slightly).
DeMarcus Cousins – DMC is interesting in this build, as he trades off the usual FG% and TO strengths of big men for strong PTS (26.9) and STL (1.6). He also throws in over one 3PTM per game. He still fits this mold as his 72% shooting on 10.2 FTA last year was a huge liability, but works best when paired with DJ, Hassan or Gobert to solidify the blocks category.
Draymond Green – The league leader in sacks in 2015-2016, Draymond’s well-rounded game is typically limited only by his career 69.0% FT shooting. In this build, however, he produces elite contribution in AST (7.4) along with valuable contributions in STL (1.5), BLK (1.4) and 3PTM (1.2). There is some concern on if he’ll have to sacrifice anything to fit KD in the lineup, but if he can come anywhere close to last year’s numbers, he’ll be a great fantasy asset for this strategy once again.
DeAndre Jordan – One of the two current faces of this build, DJ was the fourth-best fantasy player in 2015-2016 with FT% ignored. His terrible FT% shooting is rivaled by few, but perhaps the best part of this build is that you can watch the following and not cringe too much (aside from the lost PTS):
As consistently bad as his FT% is, his big men stats are as consistent as they come and he’s only missed five games in the last four seasons, so even if you grab him near the end of the second round (his Yahoo! Ranking is 47), you can still get good value from him in this build. If you’re fortunate enough to grab him in the third round for this build, even better.
Andre Drummond – The second face of this build, Drummond goes from being a mediocre fantasy asset overall to first round value in this build. Nobody gets a bigger boost from this build, and nobody secures the rebound category like he does (14.8). Unfortunately he is not an elite shot blocker, so you’ll want to compliment him with one of Whiteside, DJ, and Gobert. Feel free to reach for him as early as the third as, despite a Yahoo! ranking of 66, his ADP is 43.2 so he may not make it to your fourth pick.
Eric Bledsoe – Bledsoe was on his way to a career year when his second major injury in 3 years cut his season short. Many players will see him an injury risk, but it’s tough not to want in on “Mini LeBron’s” upside. Before going down, Bledsoe was averaging awesome stats across the board, most notably (for this build) 6.1 AST, 2 STL and 1.5 3PTM. And the career 78% FT shooter isn’t getting any value from that category, so if he’s healthy, he’s a great piece for this build.
Rudy Gobert – Last season, Gobert was overhyped and was drafted in the second round, only to let his fantasy owners down in an injury-filled season. The Stifle Tower provides elite contribution in blocks (2.3) that is so difficult to find in fantasy basketball, and his 57 FT% shooting can be ignored in this build. He’s a great fourth round pick for anyone who misses out on Whiteside or DJ to anchor their blocks.
Trevor Ariza – A key target for players who have already grabbed two big men in the first three rounds, Ariza had a mediocre-at-best 78 FT% in 2015-2016, but contributed elite steals (2.0) and 3PTM (2.3). His FG% could be better (41.6%), but it is easily covered for by the plentiful big men in this strategy. And with D’Antoni expected to up the pace even more in Houston, his stats could improve across the board.
Ricky Rubio – Although Rubio has a terrible FG%, his elite assists and steals more than make up for it. There are not many guards who average over 2 steals and 8 assists per game (there were four last year, and two are being drafted in the first round of fantasy drafts) so the Spaniard works perfectly if you grabbed Chris Paul or Lebron in the first round to put a stranglehold on the assist category.
Evan Fournier – With the Most Hated Coach in Fantasy Basketball now gone from Orlando, it’s tough to forecast Fournier’s minutes, arguably the only constant in Skiles’ rotation. With Oladipo gone though, he’s a solid complement with 2.0 3PT, 1.2 STL and a reasonable 46% FG% that doesn’t hurt your team.
Thaddeus Young – Young has always been a favorite of this build for his ability to get steals (1.5 in 2015-2016) along with traditional big man stats. He’s been great in the preseason and if he can add a 3PT shot (as he is reportedly being encouraged to do) without too large of a hit to his FG%, he could flourish even more in this strategy.
Jae Crowder – Coming off a career year, Crowder is a First Team All-Underrated fantasy basketball player. He doesn’t provide eye-popping stats, but he contributes across the board, including elite STL (1.7) and a steady helping of 3PTM (1.7) which are a great complement for your big men. His FT% seems due for a drop (82% in 2015-2016, but career 77%) but in this build, we couldn’t care less.
Marcin Gortat – Another highly underrated player, all Gortat has done in recent years is quietly put up averages of 56% FG%, 9.3 rebounds, 1.5 blocks over three seasons as a starter in Washington. A career 68% FT shooter, he may not blow you away, but he’s a dependable big man in this build.
Avery Bradley – If he can maintain last year’s improvements, Bradley becomes a excellent complementary piece in the middle rounds. His FG% of 44.7% is solid enough to get him considered here, and he put up great averages of 1.9 3PTM and 1.5 STL last year. He is also a career 78% FT shooter, so he is not deriving much value from that category, if any.
Bradley Beal – Similar to Avery Bradley, he contributes averages of 1.9 3PTM and a solid 17.4 PTS, while shooting a surprising 76.7% from the FT line last year. His upside is probably higher than Avery Bradley, but the risk with his health is a cause for concern too.
Nerlens Noel – Stuck in a messy frontcourt situation in Philadelphia, a trade would do wonders for helping Noel reach his massive fantasy potential. The potential is pretty obvious – averaging just under two steals (1.8) and blocks (1.7) in less than 30 minutes per game over his first two seasons, Noel’s primary weaknesses are his 60% career FT% and 2.4 TO last year. This came primarily playing out of position because of Jahlil Okafor last year and the additions of Joel Embiid and Dario Saric only make things worse – a trade to the right situation, though, and he could be the steal of the fantasy draft.
Dwight Howard – The former poster child for the FT% punt strategy, Howard’s recent injuries have really hindered his overall fantasy statistics, dropping his ADP down into the eighth round. When healthy, however, Superman still gives you elite FG% and REB with a solid helping of defensive stats. His move back to his hometown team, who doesn’t have a proven superstar like Houston, could give him more touches in the post. As long as he can stay reasonably healthy, I like the risk-reward at this point of the draft.
Wes Matthews – Matthews’ FT% has fluctuated historically, but in a build that ignores it and is in dire need of 3PT support, he is an excellent fit. Even in an off-year in which he was hindered by injury, he averaged 2.4 3PT, so the potential for him to return to elite 3PT contribution is definitely there. His FG% will need to improve back to their old levels, but by all accounts, the early signs through training camp and the preseason are promising.
Clint Capela – As he steps out of Dwight’s shadow, Capela is perhaps the player the team here is most divided upon. If he is able to significantly increase on his 19.1 MPG last year, the per-36 stat stuffer (12.1 REB, 2.3 BLK per-36 minutes in 2015-2016) could be an elite fantasy player in the FT% punt build. On the other hand, with D’Antoni’s team expected to use a lot of smallball to push the pace and Capela’s tendency to get into foul trouble, he may never reach that potential. All that said, somewhere around the ninth round is probably a decent price to pay for the upside that this career 37.9% FT shooter possesses for this build.
J.J. Redick – J.J. Redick is a great option to consider as a specialist if you feel that your team is lacking in 3PTM. Last year, Redick averaged 16.3 PTS and 2.7 3PTM on 48% from the field – if you find yourself lacking in 3PTM and PTS, Redick fills the shallow SG position without hurting the precious FG% and TO categories that you will want to protect.
J.R. Smith – A regular in this build, J.R.’s 41.5% FG shooting is forgiven because of his elite contribution of 2.7 3PTM in 2015-2016. He’s as good of a 3PTM option (assuming he signs a contract…) as you’ll find in the latter half of the draft, and the career 73.4% FT shooter can’t hurt you in that area. Draft him and expect the unexpected when it comes to him.
Al-Farouq Aminu – The career 72.9% FT shooter helped himself in this build greatly last year by adding a 3PT shot to his arsenal, tallying 1.5 per game. He fell slightly short of the lofty defensive expectations that fantasy owners had for him last year, but certainly still has the potential to average over one steal and one block per game. And with Evan Turner and Allen Crabbe needing more minutes in Portland, expect them to use him more at the 4, where he played some of his best basketball last year.
The following are a few late-round specialists (Round 11 and beyond) that can help to fill out a team’s weaknesses:
Kyle Korver – Korver really struggled last year and his drastic drop in ADP reflects his decline. However, the 35-year old former all star is only two years removed from his career year and is still dependable for at least 2 3PTM each game. Helpful if you need extra 3PT shooting, regardless of his high FT%.
Terrence Jones – Finally freed from J.B. Bickerstaff’s doghouse, Jones is one of the top bounce-back candidates this year. A career 62.8% FT shooter, his 2014-2015 averages of 1.8 BLK can be very helpful for this team.
Tim Frazier – Probably only a short-term option in Jrue Holiday’s absence, Frazier’s averages of 7.5 AST and 1.4 STL in NOL in 2015-2016 could be helpful for this build in the first month while owners monitor the waiver wire for a more long-term solution.
Mason Plumlee – A late pick that is probably only possible in this build due to his career 58.3 FT%, Plumlee offers owners an interesting combination of 2.8 AST, 0.8 STL and 1.0 BLK from the center position. A decent backup big for any FT% punter that feels short on big men in the late rounds.
Tristan Thompson – With the departure of Mozgov, Thompson doesn’t have much competition for the starting center position in Cleveland. He’s good for consistent FG% and rebounding, but doesn’t offer much else.
Any questions on how certain players fit the build or disagree with any of our recommendations? Feel free to comment below or contact us!