3 NBA FanDuel Studs to Target on Thursday 12/2/21

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 up for someone. Even with strong value plays in your lineup, paying up and getting a dud is likely going to leave your lineup drawing pretty close to dead.

Which top players should be the focal points of your lineups today?

Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF/PF, Milwaukee Bucks ($11,000)

On a slate that's really poor for studs, Giannis Antetokounmpo is the gold standard.

Antetokounmpo was one assist shy of a 40-point triple-double last night against the Hornets, and that continued to alleviate the concern around the return of Khris Middleton hurting the overall production of The Greek Freak.

In the past eight games with Middleton back, Giannis has posted more than 59 FanDuel points five times. His 1.82 FanDuel points per minute in that span are actually higher than his season-long mark of 1.70. He's totally fine -- if not better.

His upside just really isn't even comparable on this slate at any position. The Bucks are only 4.5-point favorites in Toronto, and if Giannis sees all four quarters of work, there's even less of a concern about his floor. Two of those three dud games with Middleton came in blowouts.

There's tons of value on this slate, as well, so there's really no reason to fade Giannis in any lineup outside of 150-max entry formats. He's outstanding compared to the alternatives.

Julius Randle, PF/C, New York Knicks ($8,500)

From Giannis on, it's an adventure. In cash games, Julius Randle is not an option. He's not even guaranteed a full workload under Tom Thibodeau.

However, in tournaments, the Knicks' forward has a role that can smash value on any night. That was the case Tuesday as he posted 49.8 FanDuel points in a near triple-double against Brooklyn.

Randle has a team-high 27.3% usage rate among the Knicks' regulars, and he's turned that into a team-high 1.13 FanDuel points per minute. That's a wildly fluctuating number on a nightly basis. Randle has scored 45 or more FanDuel points on nine separate occasions, but he's also failed to score 30 FanDuel points in seven others.

Boom or bust.

The boom is at least worth a look against Chicago. The Bulls are ninth in the NBA in pace -- a slight upgrade for the Knicks (16th). The Knicks may also be missing RJ Barrett due to an illness, and Randle sees a 0.5 percentage-point increase in usage when Barrett is off the floor.

Randle is one of only two big men with a salary above $8,000, and Nikola Vucevic has scored fewer than 40 FanDuel points in six of his last eight games as the tertiary option in Chicago. I prefer Orange Julius by a good bit.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PG/SG, Oklahoma City Thunder ($7,900)

Some of you may be stunned to see Chris Paul not featured here.

Last time out, Paul needed five steals and a half-game without Devin Booker to post 40-plus FanDuel points for just the second time in nine games. He's just simply over-salaried in this spot -- even with Booker set to miss Thursday's contest and Paul seeing an increase of 0.11 FanDuel points per minute without Booker on the floor this season.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is the opposite sans his teammate Josh Giddey. Gilgeous-Alexander actually woefully underperformed his 37-point scoring outburst Wednesday on FanDuel because he added just 4 rebounds and 2 assists.

Gilgeous-Alexander is the top overall guard Thursday regardless of salary. He took a whopping 26 shots on Wednesday, and his 34.9% usage rate without Giddey (missing Thursday due to an illness) on the floor blows away his next-highest qualifying teammate (21.4%). It is the SGA Show without Giddey in the backcourt.

There is some blowout risk as the Thunder are 8.5-point underdogs to a Grizzlies squad still without Ja Morant. However, with his massive piece of the pie, SGA could easily get his work done in three quarters if his rebounding and assisting regress closer to his season averages.