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Assist Punt Strategy 2023

Only viable in 9-CAT, due to the basis of the strategy is winning turnovers


 (FG%, FT%, 3PM, PTS, RB, AST, STL, BLK, TO)


Designed for use in Yahoo, the default settings require two starting centers


(PG, SG, G, SF, PF, F, C, C, UTIL, UTIL)


Stacking PF/C early creates scarcity in an already thin/injury-prone position, forcing the rest of the league to start weaker options in the second C slot.


PF/C producing a strong FT% are rare, 7 of the top 15 shot blockers last season finished with a FT% over 75%. Only two of the top 15 finished above 80% (Embiid and Porzingis).


Cornering the market on an already limited skill set can potentially influence managers to chase blocks early in drafts. Targeting low FT% shooting options like Claxton, Kessler, Gobert, Capela, and Poeltl.


If blocks dry up early enough, some managers may choose to transition into FT% punt builds. Making it that much easier to sacrifice your own FT%, allowing the ability to stack other categories harder.


Stacking blocks early also forces other managers to stream blocks off the waiver wire. The available PF/C waiver wire options are usually limited to FG%/RB production, offering minimal scoring with a poor FT%.


Select 4 PF/C within the first five rounds, mixing in one SG/SF within those five rounds based on the flow of the draft. Then stagger two more SG/SF with one more PF/C in the following three rounds. In total that makes five PF/C and three SG/SF in the first eight rounds.


Unless a mid-round point guard value falls (Maxey, Beal, Herro, Simons), wait on later options like Trent Jr. and Melton. Carry one point guard and stream the position when needed based on the schedule.


An example of a starting lineup might look something like this:

Melton – PG/SG, Vassell – SG/SF, Williams SG/SF, Hield – SG/SF, Davis – PF/C

Jackson Jr. – PF/C, Turner – C, Porzingis – PF/C, Harris – SF/PF, Valanciunas – C


Stacking early PF/C builds a strong floor in FG%/ RB/ BLK while limiting TO, the rest of the league is left to draft high-usage point guards with high turnover rates early.


The following three SG/SF balance out the lack of 3s/ PTS/STL, while not damaging turnovers heavily as point guards do.


Bench slots and waiver wire adds are used to stream SG/SF daily, abusing the schedule and high/ low volume days to maximize games played.


This makes up for the lack of guard production drafted, the free agent pool for guards (%s/3s/stls) is much deeper than PF/C. 


Guards tend to carry a strong FT% but weak FG%, which is counterbalanced by the PF/C drafted early. They also carry lower TO rates due to playing off-ball next to ball-dominant point guards.


 Picks 1-5 (PF/ C (C) or SF/PF builds)


Nikola Jokic – C – DEN – 1st 

Last season (69 GP/ 33:40 MPG)

63.2 FG%, 82.2 FT%, 0.8 3PG, 24.5 PPG, 11.8 RB, 1.3 STL, 0.7 BLK, 3.6 TO

2023 Yahoo Projection:

61.9 FG%, 81.9 FT%, 1 3PG, 23.2 PPG, 10.9 RB, 1.1 STL, 0.6 BLK, 3.4 TO

The consensus 1st overall pick, combining all-around production aside from blocks and is a much safer option for games played than Embiid. The main drawback is that Jokic’s elite assist production for a center is wasted, given the strategy punts the category.


Joel Embiid – C – PHI – 2nd

Last season (66 GP/ 34:36 MPG)

54.8 FG%, 85.7 FT%, 1 3PG, 33.1 PPG, 10.2 RB, 1 STL, 1.7 BLK, 3.4 TO

2023 Yahoo Projection:

52.4 FG%, 83.4 FT%, 0.9 3P, 25.5 PPG, 8.6 RB, 0.9 STL, 1.2 BLK, 2.6 TO

The reigning MVP, Embiid offers elite FT volume on strong efficiency (career 8 FTM/ 81.9%). Possibly rested on b2b games and has a lengthy injury history (66, 68, 51, 51, 64, 63 GP). Plan for 10-15 games missed which is much easier to handle with multiple IL+ slots. 


Jayson Tatum – SF/PF – BOS – 3rd

Last season (74 GP/ 36:55 MPG)

46.6 FG%, 85.4 FT%, 3.2 3PG, 30.1 PPG, 8.8 RB, 1.1 STL, 0.7 BLK, 2.9 TO

2023 Yahoo Projection:

46.1 FG%, 85.2 FT%, 2.9 3PG, 25 PPG, 73 RB, 0.9 STL, 0.6 BLK, 2.6 TO

Tatum has a pre-rank of 4, with several point guards mixing in around him (Doncic, SGA, Haliburton, Curry, Ball). Tatum offers similar scoring production to Embiid and is a safer bet for games played but has less RB/ BLK production. 


Kevin Durant – SF/PF – PHO – 4th 

Last season (47 GP/ 34:48 MPG)

56.4 FG%, 88.3 FT%, 2.3 3PG, 27.8 PPG, 6.5 RB, 0.5 STL, 1.4 BLK, 2.8 TO

2023 Yahoo Projection:

52 FG%, 89.5 FT%, 1.5 3PG, 20.9 PPG, 5.1 RB, 0.6 STL, 0.7 BLK, 2.5 TO

Given age and injury history likely a rest candidate on b2b games (47, 39, 55, 35, 78 GP).  Still one of the most efficient scorers in the league, usage likely takes a hit with the addition of Beal.


Early SF/PF allows for more C flexibility later on in the draft with the PF slot set. Creates a strong 3PG/ PPG foundation but with higher RB/BLK rates than early guards offer.


Anthony Davis – PF/C – LAL – 5th 

Last season (56 GP/ 34 MPG)

56.3 FG%, 78.4 FT%, 0.3 3PG, 25.9 PPG, 12.5 RB, 1.1 STL, 2 BLK, 2.2 TO

2023 Yahoo Projection:

55.1 FG%, 76.9 FT%, 0.2 3PG, 18.5 PPG, 9.5 RB, 0.9 STL, 1.6 BLK, 1.6 TO

Similar to Embiid must plan for potential rest on b2b games and given a lengthy injury history plan for 10+ games missed (56, 40, 36, 62, 56 GP). While it looks like a reach based on Yahoo pre-rank projections (12th), Davis offers the closest production to Embiid and his PF eligibility adds more roster flexibility.


Early SG/SF requires even more investment into PF/C in the next several rounds.

Devin Booker – SG/SF – PHO (16 pre-rank)

Anthony Edwards – SG/SF – MIN (17 pre-rank)

Mikal Bridges – SG/SF – BKN (19 pre-rank)


Early-mid round PF/ C (C)


Early SF/PF secures the SF slot allowing more flexibility in passing over PF/C for C. At the same time, it is a good idea to secure PF depth filling both the PF and F slots. 


Both C slots need to be filled in the middle rounds with a PF/C or C in one of the UTIL slots, making for a total of five centers drafted. 


Tier 1

Adebayo – C, Turner – C, Siakam – PF/C , Wembanyama – PF/C

Tier 2

Porzingis – PF/C, Mobley – PF/C, Holmgren – PF/C, Vucevic – C

Tier 3

Ayton – C, Sengun – C , Allen – C, Lopez – C, Williams – C

Tier 4

Smith Jr. – PF/C, Collins – PF/C, Okongwu – C, Nurkic – C


Victor Wembanyama is a 19-year-old PF/C out of France, drafted 1st overall by the Spurs.  Standing 7”4, weighing 230 lbs with an 8-foot wingspan, making him one of the most unique prospects in league history with immense potential.


A player comp who has had success in the league is Kristaps Porzingis. Porzingis was the 4th overall pick in 2015 by the Knicks, entering his 8th season now with the Boston Celtics. Currently listed at 7”3 – 240 lbs.


Kristaps looked like a potential superstar early on in New York, but injuries throughout his career derailed his development and production. While nowhere nearly as hyped of a prospect as Wembanyama, he has had a solid career making one AS team in 2018.


Rookies especially centers have had a limited history of 1st-2nd round production, the last being Karl Anthony Towns with Minnesota in 2015.


Wembanyama production/ projections vs. Karl Anthony Towns rookie season

LNB Pro A season 34 GP/ 32 MPG

47 FG%, 82 FT%, 1.3 3PG, 21.6 PPG, 10.4 RB, 0.7 STL, 3 BLK, 2.6 TO

Yahoo projection:

45 FG%, 71 FT%, 0.7 3PG, 14.2 PPG, 7.7 RB, 0.7 STL, 2.3 BLK, 2.6 TO

Towns first season (82 GP/ 32 MPG)

54 FG%, 81 FT%, 0.3 3PG, 18.3 PPG, 10.5 RB, 0.7 STL, 1.7 BLK, 2.2 TO

Porzingis career (402 GP/ 31 MPG)

45.3 FG%, 85.1 FT%, 2.1 3PG, 19.6 PPG, 7.9 RB, 0.7 STL, 1.8 BLK, 1.7 TO


For Wembanyama to match Towns rookie season production, he will have to maintain his shot efficiency. His shot-blocking prowess will carry most of his value while providing significant 3-point production, something Towns lacked early in his career.


Early-mid round SG/SF


If drafted one of Booker, Edwards, Bridges, Bane, or Brown, only draft two more mid-round SG/SF. 


Target a 43 FG%/ 35 3pg%/ 80 FT% production floor, with high steal and low TO rates.


Tier 1:

Onunoby – SG/SF, LaVine – SG/SF, Ingram – SG/SF/PF

Tier 2:

Vassell  – SG/SF, Williams – SG/SF, Wagner  – SG/SF/PF

Tier 3:

Thompson  – SG/SF, Hield  – SG/SF, Reaves  – SG/SF


Mid-round PG/SG or solo PG/SG build late


If one of Maxey, Beal, Herro, or Simons slip in the draft, can think about taking over a mid-round SG/SF. They offer similar production to mid-round SG/SF but have higher TO rates.


Targeting one of Trent Jr. or Melton late allows for more PF/C – SG/SF depth in the middle rounds.


Gary Trent Jr. – PG, SG – TOR

(Yahoo Rank 114)


Last season finished 9th in total steals (104), 4th in 2021-22 (122)


2021 (70 GP/ 34:58 MPG)

41 FG%, 85 FT%, 3 3pg, 18.3 PPG, 2.7 RB, 1.7 STL, 0.3 BLK, 1 TO


2022 (66 GP/ 32:05 MPG)

43 FG%, 83 FT%, 2.5 3pg, 17.4 PPG, 2.6 RB, 1.6 STL, 0.2 BLK, 0.8 TO


2023 Yahoo projection: 

41 FG%, 83 FT%, 2.6 3PG, 14.9 PPG, 2.2 RB, 1.4 STL, 0.2 BLK, 0.8 TO


VanVleet signed with the Rockets, replaced by Dennis Schroder in the starting lineup. Barnes is expected to take on a larger ball-handling role allowing Trent to continue to play more off-ball. Trent Jr. has a volatile FG% but has one of the highest steal rates in the league and is an above-average scorer with a very low TO rate.


DeAnthony Melton – PG, SG – PHI

(Yahoo Rank – 109)


Last season (77 GP/ 27:55 MPG) 

42.5 FG%, 79.3 FT%, 2 3PG, 10.1 PPG, 4.1 RB, 1.6 STL, 0.5 BLK, 1.3 TO


2023 Yahoo projection:

41.6 FG%, 77.5 T%, 1.8 3PG, 9.5 PPG, 4.1 RB, 1.4 STL, 0.6 BLK, 1.8 TO


Melton had a better outlook before the signing of Kelly Oubre, especially when it came to potential shot volume. Oubre is an inefficient offensive player but has never been shy from hoisting up bad shots. James Harden stated that he would never play for a team run by GM Darrell Morrey. Harden has been away from the team and his status for the opener is unclear as he awaits a trade. If Harden stays on the roster along with the addition of Oubre, Melton will be more of a steals specialist with limited usage and shot attempts. Melton’s ros value will hinder on the return in a Harden trade.


Potential Builds (4 PF/C (C) – 1 SG/SF)


PF/C (C), PF/C (C), PF/C (C), PF/C (C), SG/SF build: 

Davis – PF/C, Jackson Jr. PF/C, Turner – C, Porzingis – PF/C, Wagner- SG/SF/PF


PF/C (C), PF/C (C), PF/C (C), SG/SF, PF/C (C) build: 

Davis – PF/C, Adebayo – C, Mobley – PF/C, Vassell – SG/SF, Ayton – C


PF/C (C), PF/C (C), SG/SF, PF/C (C), PF/C (C) build: 

Davis – PF/C, Jackson Jr.- PF/C, Brown – SG/SF, Adebayo – C, Williams – C


PF/C (C), SG/SF, PF/C (C), PF/C (C), PF/C (C) build:

Davis – PF/C, Bridges- SG/SF, Holmgren – PF/C, Ayton – C, Smith Jr. – PF/C



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