There are a ton of elite point guards that will be taken in the first three rounds of your draft. From Russell Westbrook to Mike Conley, there are not enough guys to go around for everybody. Okay, maybe there are, but nobody in any league I’ve ever been in was into sharing. There are even elite wings that will get you point-guard-like assists. This is mainly Giannis Antetokounmpo and LeBron James, but can even apply to guys like Kevin Durant and Jimmy Butler.
But what happens if you’re picking in round 3 and you haven’t gotten an elite assist getter yet?
Do you panic? No.
Do you reach? Not for a point guard, but maybe for your beer (unless it’s Bud Light– if it’s Bud Light you throw that shit in the trash and re-evaluate.)
This is where you can adopt the “punt assist” strategy. This punt strategy often gets overlooked by more common punting strategies such as punting free throws, but it’s very helpful if the assist dominoes don’t fall in your favour the first few rounds. Here are some guys to target if you decide to go down the punt assist route, and how your team should shape up by the end of the draft.
Obviously, if you draft a guy in the first two rounds that’s elite in assists, or elite in assists for their position, deciding to go punt assist is a waste. Basically anybody who averages around five assists or more from the wing, forward or centre position should not be on a punt assist team. Any point guard averaging more than six assists does not belong on a punt assist team either.
There are many combinations of guys in the first two rounds that won’t get you assists and could fit well on a punt assist team. The three first round guys are Kawhi Leonard, Anthony Davis, and Rudy Gobert. Given that you’ll be picking at the turn if you take Gobert, where there will be assist getters, we can rule him out of the equation. I had Leonard ranked at five, but with his recent injury news he’s probably moving to my “do not draft list”. If he’s available at the turn I’d probably grab him, but I doubt that happens. That leaves Davis, who I now have ranked at number five.
In a 12-team league (and assuming that you took him around five) that puts your second round pick at around 20. I would be hoping for Damian Lillard or Kyrie Irving there, but assuming they’re both taken, I’m going with the best player available. I’d most likely be getting Hassan Whiteside or Kristaps Porzingis here (who I have ranked 19 and 20). With one of those guys paired with Davis, you should dominate big man stats. I would rank Porzingis over Whiteside in this instance since Whiteside’s blocks would be slightly less valuable with another huge shot blocker in Davis.
Your next pick will be around 30, where you’ll be hard pressed to find good value on a point guard. Unless you want to reach for Eric Bledsoe (which I would not do), this is probably what you’re looking at.
- 28. Klay Thompson
- 29. Bradley Beal
- 30. Paul Millsap
- 31. Kevin Love
- 32. Marc Gasol
- 33. Joel Embiid
- 34. Gordon Hayward
If you took two bigs in the first two rounds, another one would be overkill. Therefore, I’d be grabbing the best player available between Klay Thompson, Bradley Beal or Gordon Hayward. CJ McCollum would be the GOAT pick for a punt assist team, but it’s unlikely he’ll be available.
If I’ve made it three rounds and don’t have a big assist getter, I’m not going to reach to get assists. Every major assist getter past this point comes with an asterisk, and trying to fix your assist issues by committee is going to weaken your team in other stats. I wrote in my draft guideline to stack up on point guards early, having at least two by the end of round five. If you’re punting assists, however, the only reason to draft a point guard is to fit eligibility issues.
I also wrote to value point guards and bigs significantly over wings like Otto Porter and Trevor Ariza. On a punt assist team, however, these guys are knights in shining armour. As long as you don’t fall behind in points, you should be excited about grabbing guys that can get you threes and steals, since these are two stats that are typically found in point guards. What I’m basically looking for on a punt assist team, is a team that dominates in big man stats without flopping on free throw percentage, as well as dominates threes without flopping on field goal percentage.
These are exciting rounds as a punt assist team. While everybody else is trying to secure their second point guard, there is great value to be had on bigs and wings. A guy like Otto Porter is very intriguing. He was a top 30 fantasy basketball player last year, and I don’t expect that to change. What’s even crazier, though, is he was the 11th-best player in fantasy last year if you don’t count assists. He was also the only non-big-man in the top 12 of being positively ranked for punting assists, according to Basketball Monster. Take a look:
On second thought, I’d probably rank this guy right after Klay Thompson on a punt assist team.
If you somehow miss out on him though, you can grab a guy like Brook Lopez in the mid-forties. His lack of rebounds should be negated by the other bigs you’ll have around him, and the threes and blocks that he gets you on solid percentages are b e a utiful. Serge Ibaka is also a good option in round 4, for the same reasons as Brook Lopez. He was also another player that was helped a lot by the punt assist strategy.
At number 13 on this list is the one, the only, Lord Robert Covington. He is basically made for a punt assist team (or a punt field goal percentage team). The elite steals will make up for the lack of point guards (who typically get the most steals) on your roster, and that’s not even mentioning the threes and blocks he will also average. You could make the argument that you should take Porter in round 3 and Covington in round 4 to make sure you get both, but I’d be weary of that given how many wings there are that should give you similar stats.
By the end of round 6, I’m hoping to have at least three bigs, and the rest of my picks will be wings. My team would probably look something like this.
At this point, I’m basically gonna keep going big and wing heavy. Punt assist is quite a beautiful strategy, since it lifts you of the burden of having to pick point guards. That being said, I’m going to want at least one PG eligible player by the end of round eight, and will probably take my second in round nine, just to make sure I don’t get too carried away and have nobody to fill the spots on any given week. I will take the best available player from Avery Bradley, Patrick Beverley, George Hill and Malcolm Brogdon in round eight, and grab Allen Crabbe or Lou Williams in round nine if one is available.
It’s hard to really give many tips beyond that, since most wings and bigs get a boost when not having to worry about assists. Basically just go with your gut, but try to make sure you have your fourth big by round seven. Other than maybe the punt FT guy, you should have the best big man rotation in your fantasy league. Try to stay away from major punt FT guys like Andre Drummond or Dwight Howard though, since you should be able to dominate big man stats without having your FT percentage suffer.
Time to fill out your roster. I would want to have three point guard eligible players by the end of the draft, simply for eligibility issues. You don’t want to be picking up point guards throughout the year just to fill the point guard position. Marcus Smart, Derrick Rose, and Austin Rivers are all options as you wrap up your draft; try to grab one as your third point guard. Seth Curry would’ve been perfect, but he’s hurt now.
On top of this, I would want my fifth big in the 10th round. If you feel one of your big man stats is lacking (maybe rebounds if you got Lopez, or blocks if you got Vucevic) you can even take a sixth. With four bigs in the first seven rounds, however, you’re probably more than fine. Other than that, you know what to do: take wings. I’m very high on Wesley Matthews and Taurean Prince this year, but take whoever your heart fancies.
The punt assist strategy is probably the easiest punt strategy to adopt. That being said, there are a few stats you should make sure you don’t also fall behind in.
Steals and threes are often found in point guards, so make sure you get some “3 and D” guys. Don’t just get guys like Devin Booker or Danilo Gallinari. If you go too hard on the “3 and D” guys, however, you may suffer in points. For this reason, I try to target bigs in the middle rounds that offer points like Lopez or Vucevic. For one, they help keep your field goal percentage solid, but they also allow you the luxury of going heavy on wings like Porter and Covington.
- Julius Randle/Thaddeus Young
- Robin Lopez
- Wesley Matthews
- Terrence Ross or any other wing (will become a stream position)
Obviously, this team would struggle with assists. It may also struggle with points, but shouldn’t be too bad. Given that points are the easiest category to stream, I wouldn’t be too worried. Other than that, it would most likely be near the top of the league in every other category, especially turnovers. Fantasy basketball drafts tend to overrate point guards as there are very few players outside of that position that can get you assists. Use this to your advantage, and try the punt assist strategy.