Let me start by saying this: do not go into a draft planning on building a punt FT (or punt anything for that matter) team. Never. Don’t. You aren’t being smarter than everybody else. You’re playing yourself. Unless you’re a late draft pick in a 36-team league, it’s probably not gonna work for you.
Also, never decide to build a punt FT team just because a punt FT guy falls a bit. I made this mistake last year and took Drummond in one of my leagues, after having Davis and Porzingis already on my roster. My thought process was, “I can definitely make some trades to make this work.” I did get Gobert, which helped, but throwing away a category to get better at stats your fantasy team already generates is, not only inefficient, it’s frustrating.
On top of this, do not draft guys when building a punt FT team just because they’re bad at free throws. I can not stress this enough. The point of drafting is to build a team that can win as many categories for you as possible, not to see how bad you can lose one. It’s comical how often people (myself included) try to see how bad they can get their FT percentage, thinking that they’re outplaying everyone else. You guys think this article is for you, it’s actually for me. I’m just trying to hold myself accountable when I’m drafting.
So when do you build a punt FT team? The simple answer is: when it helps you. What I’m hoping this article does is give you some scenarios when building a punt FT team makes sense. If you’re stubborn and are gonna go ahead and build one anyway, I’ll also give some advice on how to round out your team.
Wait, I forgot the most important piece of information you’ll see in this article. How the hell are there NBA players shooting less than 50% from the FT line? Seriously. I can’t wrap my head around it. That’s like an illiterate writer. That’s like a runner that can’t walk. That’s like the restaurant I used to work at who’s name was Burger’s etc. and stopped selling burgers. So many confused customers, just like there must be so many confused NBA fans.
There are way more scenarios in the first two rounds when I throw the punt FT strategy out the window than keep it as an option. I’m not gonna go over them all, but basically, if I get a guy who has a high FT percentage on strong volume I’m not gonna ruin that with DeAndre Jordan or Andre Drummond. That’s mainly Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, James Harden, Russell Westbrook, and Jimmy Butler. Also, I’m not gonna do it if I get a big-man-stat-getter that puts up a decent FT%. That’s mainly Karl-Anthony Towns, Anthony Davis, and Demarcus Cousins. In a lot of ways, I’d even be hesitant to go punt FT if I drafted Rudy Gobert or Hassan Whiteside. Sure, their FT% isn’t great, but I’m pretty confident I can still dominate big man categories by pairing them with other bigs throughout the draft, while at least being average in FT%. Again, the point is to make your team as good as you can, not as bad in one category as possible.
So who should you try to draft in the first two rounds to maximize a punt FT team? For the most part: point guard stat getters. Chris Paul would be my favorite option as a first round pick for a punt FT team. Yes, he does shoot a good FT percentage, but it’s not on that much volume that I would feel bad about it. He only took 4.3 FT attempts per game last year. In Houston, where he will be sharing the ball with James Harden, as well as the fact that he’s getting older, that number could go down even more. John Wall is also a solid option. I could also see myself building a punt FT team with Giannis Antetokounmpo, but I would need another assist-getter in the second round.
Why these guys? A) They aren’t putting up the FT numbers that would make drafting a punt FT big feel like a waste. B) They are getting assists and steals for their positions, statistics that tend to be difficult to find in big men. C) You have to have a solid base at the beginning of the draft to make sure your team is balanced by the end. If you have a team with Rudy Gobert, DeAndre Jordan, and Andre Drummond, you’re overdoing it. Later on in the draft you’ll look at another big man (Clint Capela, Dwight Howard?) and think it’s a good idea. If you weren’t overdoing it, it would be. It doesn’t matter if you win blocks and rebounds by 20 or by 100, it’s only two categories. You could still realistically lose your week 6-3 (winning blocks, rebounds and FG%). Keep your balance throughout the draft, even in a punt FT build.
In 12-team leagues, I’m not taking either Jordan or Drummond until at least the third round (fourth for Drummond). So who should we take in round two? Before we get started, here’s how my pre-draft rankings look for the first two rounds:
- 1. Giannis Antetokounmpo
- 2. Kevin Durant
- 3. Stephen Curry
- 4. Karl-Anthony Towns
- 5. Kawhi Leonard
- 6. Anthony Davis
- 7. Russell Westbrook
- 8. James Harden
- 9. Chris Paul
- 10. John Wall
- 11. Nikola Jokic
- 12. Rudy Gobert
- 13. Jimmy Butler
- 14. LeBron James
- 15. DeMarcus Cousins
- 16. Myles Turner
- 17. Damian Lillard
- 18. Kyrie Irving
- 19. Kristaps Porzingis
- 20. Hassan Whiteside
- 21. Draymond Green
- 22. Paul George
- 23. Kyle Lowry
- 24. Kemba Walker
My favorite option in round two for a punt FT build is Lebron James. Even as the best player in the world, he sucks at free throws. However, that’s not the main reason why. He gets you points and assists, two stats that you won’t find in punt FT bigs. Assuming my top eight are the first eight picks (pretty likely, in my opinion), Paul and Wall should be available at 9 and 10. There’s even a chance they’ll be available later. I’d rather pair them with Jokic, Gobert, or Butler, but assuming they’re all taken by the time I pick at 15 or 16, I’d take Lebron.
If you took Giannis with your first pick, I’d still go for Paul George, Kristaps Porzingis, Hassan Whiteside, or Draymond Green with your second pick. If they are all taken, grab either Kyle Lowry or Kemba Walker. The following logic will all apply, although you’ll be getting slightly worse value.
That would make my next pick at 33 or 34 (or at the beginning of round 3) where I’m definitely taking a big. If I got Paul/Wall and Lebron or Giannis and Lowry/Walker in the first two rounds, this is where I’d take Jordan. If I didn’t want one of those pairings, I have my bigs ranked as: Millsap, Love, Gasol, Embiid, and Horford, in that order. At that point, I’d probably just scrap the idea of going punt FT, if it wasn’t scrapped already.
Assuming I have Paul/Wall, LeBron and Jordan, I’m looking at either Goran Dragic, Jrue Holiday, or Andre Drummond in round 4. Dragic is the perfect punt FT point guard given that he will provide points on a decent field goal percentage, and has his value hurt due to a sub-par FT percentage. Take him if he’s available, but he might not be. In that situation, take Jrue Holiday. If neither are available, I would reach for Drummond, giving me a team of Paul/Wall, Lebron, Jordan, and Drummond. If I got one of those two point guards, I would pray that Drummond is available for me in round 5, which is pretty feasible. You may be wondering about other point guards like Ricky Rubio or Jeff Teague, but I think that a lot of their value comes from their FT percentage/volume, making them not as valuable on a punt FT team. I wouldn’t risk missing out on Drummond for them, but I can see why you might.
If I took Drummond in round 4, I’m looking at Porter, Ball, Batum, Oladipo, Harris, Ariza, Russell, or Payton in round 5, in that order. Ball should keep you elite in assists if he’s available, but if not, you still have Paul/Wall and Lebron to get assists. I have Harris and Ariza over Russell and Payton since I’m pretty confident that one of the point guards will be available in round 6, and I love Porter, Harris and Ariza for punt FT teams. If I took one of the two point guards in round 4 and Drummond was taken before I picked in round 5, I’d be mad, but I wouldn’t worry too much since…
Capela, Howard, Noel, or Cauley-Stein will be available in round 6. I have them ranked in that order for a punt FT team, but any order works. If I didn’t get Drummond, or got Drummond and a point guard in either round 4 or 5, I would definitely take one of them. If I’m only relying on Paul/Wall and LeBron for assists at this point, I would probably take either Payton or Russell and grab whichever of the four bigs is available in round 7.
Most likely, however, you’ll have Drummond by this point. There are a ton of scenarios that would change who you take in rounds 7 and 8, but basically you should have three assist getters and three punt FT bigs by the end of round 8.
Your team should look like one of these options through the first six rounds:
- Paul/Wall, LeBron, Jordan, Dragic/Holiday, Drummond, Capela/Howard
- Paul/Wall, LeBron, Jordan, Dragic/Holiday, Porter/Oladipo/Harris/Ariza, Capela/Howard
- Paul/Wall, LeBron, Jordan, Drummond, Ball/Porter/Oladipo/Harris/Ariza, Harris/Ariza/Payton/Russell
*Or the same thing with Giannis and Lowry/Walker as first two picks
The first option is obviously the best, and is actually quite possible. However, we must account for everything going wrong in a draft. Who you pick in rounds seven and eight will depend on who you took in the first six rounds. Just remember to have three assist getters and three punt FT bigs by the end of round eight.
If you got option 1, look for a point guard or wing in round seven. Lin, Murray, Rondo, Beverley, Hill, and Brogdan are all options as point guards, although the last four are a bit of a reach. You could take Tobias Harris, Thad Young (love him for punt FT), James Johnson, etc in round seven and the best pg available in round eight, or grab Lin/Murray if they’re available in round seven.
If you got option 2, I’d get another one of the punt FT bigs in round seven, then best PG available in round eight.
If you got option 3, you should’ve taken a point guard in round five or six. In this situation I’d go for the best punt FT big in round seven, and best wing in round eight.
At this point you should have three punt FT bigs. You should only take one more, even though you might not realllly need it. I like a guy like Steven Adams here, since his slightly low blocks won’t really matter if you have guys like Jordan, Drummond, and Capela around him. Dewayne Dedmon is also an option, but that’s a bit of overkill in the blocks department, not that that’s a bad thing.
I wouldn’t reach for these guys, though. You should keep in mind that your weaknesses (other than FT%) are most likely points and threes, and possibly assists if you didn’t get your desired point guards. Here is where you show off your drafting skills. There are a ton of wings that can offer you points and threes. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Tim Hardaway Jr., Evan Fournier, TJ Warren (although he’s not as useful for threes), JJ Redick, and Seth Curry are all great options, and should be targeted by you in rounds 9/10. I’d try to get your final point guard or big in the other.
In the next three rounds I’d fill in the gaps of my roster. I’m pretty big on wings like Wesley Matthews, Taurean Prince, and Kent Bazemore this year. I also think Buddy Hield or Seth Curry would be a great late pick for a punt FT team, given that they will get you points and threes (but probably nothing else).
Essentially, I want one point guard, one last big, and three points/three point getters in the last five rounds. I’d only grab a point guard or big in round nine if it was Rondo or Steven Adams, or somebody else that just fell way too low.
So what could your team look like? Here’s an example below, which I think is fairly realistic. Obviously, some guys could be taken by the time you’re picking in that round, but if I were to go over every conceivable situation we’d never be done here. I decided to make the last five rounds with what I ended up drafting in a RCL, just to make things easier.
- Chris Paul
- LeBron James
- DeAndre Jordan
- Goran Dragic
- Andre Drummond
- Clint Capela
- Jeremy Lin
- Thaddeus Young
- Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
- Marcus Smart
- Seth Curry
- Wesley Matthews
- JaMychal Green
You should be able to keep your team average in all categories other than FT%. Most likely, you’re gonna have to stream threes and points, but those are the two easiest categories to stream. You should be absolutely dominant in FG%, rebounds, and blocks. If you got your point guards early, you should be in the upper tier of your league in assists and steals, possibly even turnovers if you got Chris Paul.
Thanks for reading!