3 NBA FanDuel Studs to Target on 1/20/21

Our model is high on Kawhi Leonard in a matchup with the Sacramento Kings. Which other studs can we build around tonight?

Basketball is the most consistent sport for daily fantasy purposes.

A top slugger in baseball will have his fair share of 0-for-4 days, and an elite fantasy football player is at risk of having games where his team's offense as a whole is shut down. A high-salaried NBA stud is generally going to get his, though. With so many possessions in a game providing opportunities to produce, top fantasy basketball options will be posting high scores just about every night.

While this consistency puts us in a good position to identify top plays, it also means you can't afford to miss when you're paying a heavy salary to roster someone. Even with strong value plays in your lineup, getting a dud from a stud is likely going to leave your lineup lacking.

Let's get right into it and look at which top players should be the focal points of your lineups today.

[Editor's note: The Portland Trail Blazers and Memphis Grizzlies game has been postponed.]

Damian Lillard, PG, Portland Trail Blazers

FanDuel Salary: $10,000

It's a deep, 10-game slate, so we're not short on studs, but there's a clear priority play to me: Damian Lillard. C.J. McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic are out (for weeks), leaving the Portland Trail Blazers light.

Since the start of last season, Lillard has a 35.1% usage rate and a per-minute average of 1.32 FanDuel points without those two on the court. The usage rate is great; the FanDuel-point-per-minute mark is certainly strong but not entirely elite. Still, at that rate over the 37.0 minutes we project him for, that's 48.8 FanDuel points.

The Blazers draw the Memphis Grizzlies, who are a bottom-half adjusted defense against point guards since the start of last season. There's also just a 1.0-point spread in this game, indicating that Lillard could play even above that 37.0-minute projection (marginally) if it stays tight throughout. He easily could lead the slate in shot attempts, so the floor and ceiling is apparent.

Kawhi Leonard, SF, Los Angeles Clippers

FanDuel Salary: $9,100

Our model is again high on Kawhi Leonard at a salary that is dropping. If we just track the box score, we probably wouldn't like what we see from him: 27.5 and 30.8 minutes for 42.8 and 31.9 FanDuel points, respectively.

But he didn't play in the fourth quarter of either game due to blowout scores. Yes, one of those games was against the very Sacramento Kings team he plays again tonight, but if he gets the 35.6 minutes we project him for, we're really in business.

Leonard is projected for 20.0 field goal attempts, tied with Luka Doncic for the most of the night, and a 27.1-point, 5.0-rebound, 6.1-assist line for 46.3 FanDuel points. Leonard's involvement -- a 28.2% usage rate -- gives him a floor even if a blowout occurs again. The ceiling route is obvious if the minutes climb.

Bam Adebayo, PF, Miami Heat

FanDuel Salary: $8,800

Bam Adebayo doesn't have the typical checklist for a stud per se: the Miami Heat are slight underdogs, their implied total is below 110 points, and they play an ostensibly tough Toronto Raptors defense (they're 2nd in adjusted defensive rating since the start of last season).

However, the Raptors are only 13th in estimated defensive rating this season and actually 28th in player-adjusted FanDuel points per minute allowed to power forwards this season alone.

numberFire projects Adebayo for a per-minute average of 1.17 FanDuel points, pretty far from his actual season average of 1.31, but we also project him for 35.2 minutes. He has been around that mark the past two games, both 50-FanDuel-point outings from 28.0 points, 9.0 rebounds, and 5.5 assists with 3.0 combined steals and blocks in them.