Trade Targets Based on Punting FT%


Today we are going to look at some potential trade targets for seasonal fantasy standard leagues based around punting a single category. A lot of people will also punt 3’s with FT% but for the purpose of keeping the list smaller, for now, we will just focus on a single category and as always we ignore turnovers in any type of build.

As explained in our Punt FG% article, percentages may be a little misleading as value is based on volume. A player may be a negative or positive FT% shooter however the volume will dictate how much it affects the percentage value positively or negatively. Eg. Damian Lillard and JJ Redick, both are shooting 88% from the free-throw line so far this season. However, Lillard averages 7.9 attempts per game, which is more than double the amount than Redick at 3.1 attempts per game. Therefore Lillard is a bigger contributor to the FT% category with a Z-score or standard deviation of 2.23 vs Redick’s 0.85. To get a better understanding of Z-score or standard deviation take Andre Drummond and Lonzo Ball. Ball is actually a worst free-throw shooter than Drummond, averaging 56% on the season compared to Drummond who is averaging 58%. However, Drummond negatively impacts your FT% far more because he attempts just under five times the amount that Ball does. If you have Drummond you should be punting free throws regardless but understand to increase your free throw percentage starting from 1/2 vs 5/10 is the difference between recoverable and must punt.

Example; if you were hoping to achieve league average 77% after 50 attempts when starting 1/2 you would need to make 38 out of your next 48 attempts, just over 79%, more than achievable right?

If we were trying to achieve 77% after starting 5/10 you would need to make 33 from your next 40 attempts, which is over 82%. A 3% increase may not seem like much but check how often a fantasy team exceeds 82%, it’s not often, in a standard league maybe 2 or 3 teams a week. And this is only to achieve league average not exceed it! Giving you a Z-score or standard deviation of 0. To be competitive you need to be at 3 or more.

Next thing to consider is if you have Drummond on your roster with 3 or 4 games a week you are starting at 9/15 or 12/20. Therefore to get back to 77% after 100 attempts you would need to go 69/85 and 65/80 respectively, just over 81%. That is an extreme of attempts from a lot of good free-throw shooters to achieve. This will not happen very often and to have this many good free-throw shooters on your roster you will find you will more than likely be deficient in other categories in an attempt to make up for Drummond’s poor free-throw shooting thus Drummond is strictly a punt FT% player.

People are influenced by overall rankings but realistically the difference of overall value between a player ranked 65th vs 80th or 85th vs 105th is really quite insignificant. It’s all about acquiring the right players to fit your build and improving your weaknesses while being aware of your competition. Example; if you already are winning the assists category convincingly every week, there is no point going out and trying to acquire Ja Morant whos value is concentrated in assists.

Just like when you draft, if you decide on a punt FT% strategy that doesn’t mean you have to get all the players with the worst FT%. Otherwise, it is likely you will end up with all bigs and weak in threes, assists and steals. Same goes for trading, you are focusing on the stats you are looking to acquire based on your current rosters strengths and weaknesses as well as your competitions, while ignoring the FT% category, doesn’t mean you have to trade for players that give you minimal or zero FT% value. That being said, if a player is a top 80 player but has a big deficiency in one or more categories then he is really strong in others to get him to that ranking position. Thus if you are ignoring that deficient category or categories they tend to offer a lot more value in the other categories than another player ranked in a similar position. If you are losing a specific category a majority of weeks then it doesn’t matter if you lose it by more when acquiring a player who offers nothing in that category, you are still going to lose it.

It’s important to note that your current team and competition should always be reviewed before making any trade. I’ll use Ja Morant as an example again. As mentioned if you are already miles ahead in the assists category there is less value in acquiring him and you should focus your efforts and resources elsewhere. On the flip side, his weakest category is rebounding however it is far from punt territory. If you are punting rebounds, even better.

Another method is attempting to do 2 for 1 trades if you happen to have someone on your roster that you have picked up with solid short term value or upside while another player is injured. Rather than just dropping that player I will attempt to try and trade that player, plus another player for a player of similar value (of the better of the two) for a player that better suits my build. Example right now for punting FT% is Jrue Holiday, while far from punt territory as a guard you should be getting a positive contribution in the FT% category.  Fred VanVleet and Lou Williams or Markelle Fultz for Jrue Holiday. People may be panicking on Jrue with the introduction of Zion also.

You’ll notice a majority of players who gain the most value in a punt FT% builds are bigs, as their value is generally all concentrated in rebounds, blocks and FG%, keep this in the back of your mind when trading so you don’t end up with too many bigs and lack in other categories that are generally tied to guards such as assists and steals.

There are not as many players who gain for punting only FT% only compared to other categories so I would recommend punting 3s with FT%. Let’s get into a few examples of players who’s values increase substantially when punting FT%.

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Zion Williamson

Value gained: 10-30 ranking spots

Projected: 25-35 ranked player

Punting FT%: 5-15 ranked player

The much-anticipated debut of Zion is here and his first game did not disappoint. However, don’t let the 4/4 from 3 in his debut fool you, Zion will not be a contributor to the 3 point category. He has not made a 3 aside from that first game and has only attempted 5 since. Extremely strong in the FG% category with points being his next best category the rebound, steal and block numbers have not been there as we expected just yet which may allow you to buy low on Zion if you can point out to someone that he is ranked well outside the top 100 on a per-game basis. People are drawn to the ‘shiny new toy’ most of the time though. If you are also punting 3s Zion will comfortably be inside the top 20 once he finds his rhythm.



De’Aaron Fox

Value gained: 10-30 ranking spots

Projected: 40-50 ranked player

Punting FT%: 20-30 ranked player

A breakout candidate after a strong 2018/19 campaign Fox has not disappointed. Fox’s strengths have always been assists and steals but this seasons he has increased his scoring again bringing him into the top 50 players. A great FG% for a guard with a majority of his shots coming inside the arc, therefore, he does not provide any 3s as a guard but 3s are the easiest replaced stat. His FT% is punt only and Fox knocks on the door of the top 20 players if you also punt 3s.

Julius Randle

Value gained: 10-30 ranking spots

Projected: 65-75 ranked player

Punting FT%: 45-55 ranked player

After a slow start to the season, Randle has turned it up in the new year. With Morris now traded to the Clippers, it should only solidify Randle’s value. On a team rotation that seems to change from game to game, Randle’s role is about the only one that seems consistent. A PF/C eligible player that gives good 3s and some assists for a big, with strengths being points and rebounds. Randle does lack in blocks and rebounds for a big man, which need to be taken care of from other bigs on your roster, if you are punting FT% they shouldn’t be hard to find. His FT% is recoverable from but you will need to be very strong.

Stay tuned for our players to target when punting points article.

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