What Category Should I Punt?

The decision around what category you should punt comes very much from choosing the best players available to you (with some wriggle room to choose your preferred options) in the first 2-4 rounds.

The longer you delay this decision the more flexibility you have to pick up bargains and players others are sleeping on through out your draft BUT you are forgoing the opportunity to optimise your strategy.

I’ll go through specific fits for different players in my Draft Guide but want to highlight something that isn’t often touched on. I talk about Category Synergy and Correlation here but one thing I haven’t mentioned yet is each categories connection to draft position.

Below you can see a series of graphs – these map the Z-Scores of each category against the corresponding players draft rank. Click to enlarge.

The key takeaway here is the trend lines. As you can see points is by far the steepest gradient, followed by assists and then rebounds. That is because these are greatly influenced by draft position. The further you go in your draft the value drops off significantly quicker than other categories. You have to get these earlier in your draft or you will have missed out. On the opposite end of the spectrum 3s and blocks have the lowest gradients at .0036 and .0034 respectively. A quick look at the graph highlights why – there are specialists in these categories available all throughout the draft, including in the last 50 picks. Meaning we can focus elsewhere early in the draft and top these up later.

Turnovers is inversely related to draft position – the further we go the fewer turnovers we typically acquire as players later in drafts typically have smaller offensive roles and touch the ball less.

So what does this all mean in terms of punting? Well when we punt categories in h2h, what we are trying to do is focus our teams on a smaller subset of categories in order specialise our teams into 6, 7 or 8 categories that we win more consistently. This distorts the standard draft board, bringing players from further up the board and making them better players in our particular subset of categories.

Where these graphs come in handy is in choosing which categories offer us the highest upside to punting. Take points for instance – it’s got the steepest gradient, meaning to be good in scoring we need to spend high draft picks acquiring it. Punt points and all of a sudden while everyone else is chasing scoring we can accumulate rebounds, assists, steals, blocks and percentages – disregarding whether players score or not. Players like Chris Paul and Robert Williams become top 10 players in this build. Meaning we can come away from the first 3 rounds with 3 first round picks. Draymond Green becomes a top 30 player in this build, meaning in the 6th round we can acquire a third round player. This doesn’t mean reach for these players too far, but you can start to see the potential of punting.

Key Takeaways:

  • Points, Assists and Rebounds are the 3 highest potential punts, these most closely link to draft position
  • 3s and Blocks can be had via specialists late making these not incredibly valuable punts
  • You should determine your punt somewhere around your 3rd pick in the draft, you can do so earlier if you have taken a player that forces a punt such as Giannis or Gobert in punt FT or Chris Paul or Robert Williams in Punt Points.
  • After determining your punt, consider whether you need to punt a second category you are weak in. By looking at the Category Synergy and Correlation to see which categories link to others you can determine which categories make sense. Points and 3s are correlated therefore they make a suitable punt pairing if you have decided to punt points early in your draft and find yourself weak in 3s late.