3 NBA FanDuel Studs to Target on 2/23/21
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.
Kyrie Irving, PG, Brooklyn Nets
FanDuel Salary: $8,800
While Kyrie Irving is listed as a point guard on FanDuel, he's actually playing the shooting guard position for the Brooklyn Nets -- that's important for tonight's matchup with the Sacramento Kings. On the season, Sacramento ranks dead last in the league against shooting guards, according to numberFire's DvP tool.
At tonight's salary, Irving would need 44 FanDuel points to achieve our baseline value figure of 5.0, and that's a number he's exceeded in 12 of his last 17 games, including outputs of 47.8, 52.3, and 58.8 in three of his last five. With Kevin Durant off the court, Irving leads Brooklyn with a 33.5% usage rate while averaging 1.32 FanDuel points per minute, according to RotoGrinders. Given that KD will be inactive once again tonight, an outing in the 50s is easily attainable for Kyrie.
According to Brandon Gdula's matchup sheet, Brooklyn's astronomical implied total of 124.5 is the highest on the slate -- we want as much exposure to that as we can get. At a salary under $9,000, Irving could wind up being of the elite studs of the night.
Kawhi Leonard, SF, Los Angeles Clippers
FanDuel Salary: $9,800
The biggest danger of rostering someone like Kawhi Leonard ($9,800) against a team like the Washington Wizards is the blowout factor, but that's less of a concern given Washington's recent play. The Wizards have won five in a row, including victories over the Lakers, Nuggets, Blazers, and Celtics -- that's impressive.
The average combined total in Washington's last four games has been a whopping 247 points, which helps explain why the Los Angeles Clippers have an implied total of 123.0 tonight (second-highest on the slate).
Kawhi in a shootout is just about the ideal scenario we can ask for, especially in this matchup -- the Wiz have ceded the most fantasy points to small forwards over their last 15 games, per FantasyPros. That includes being bottom-five in real-life points, rebounds, assists, and steals surrendered to the position during that stretch.
Leonard would need 49 FanDuel points for 5X value tonight (or 5.0 fantasy points for every $1,000 in salary), and he's topped 50 -- often with ease -- in more than half of his contests this season.
numberFire's algorithm projects Leonard to be the only small forward to surpass 40 FanDuel points tonight, and has him as the fourth-best point-per-dollar play at the position.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, PF, Milwaukee Bucks
FanDuel Salary: $11,300
Our models project Giannis Antetokounmpo to be the highest scorer on tonight's slate by 5.3 FanDuel points, but there's more to this pick than just that factor.
Most important is the value that Giannis brings at the power forward position. Not only is the two-time MVP projected to outscore the third-highest scoring power forward by 19.6 fantasy points, but he is also our model's top point-per-dollar play at the position. Let me be the first to tell you -- that is quite a rare projection for a player with his salary.
The projection makes sense. Antetokounmpo is averaging an insane 66.6 FanDuel points over his last seven games, and he's posted a 1.73 fantasy-point-per-minute average with Jrue Holiday off the court this season, according to RotoGrinders. Holiday is still listed as out for tonight.
Oh, and then there's the matchup. Over their last seven outings, the Minnesota Timberwolves have allowed the third-most fantasy points to small forwards and the eighth-most to power forwards. On the season, the Wolves rank eighth-worst in defensive efficiency, per NBA.com.
Like the Nets and Clippers, the Bucks also has an implied total above 120 tonight, and the Greek Freak is a great way to get exposure to those points.