3 NBA FanDuel Studs to Target on Thursday 1/13/22

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?

Nikola Jokic, C, Denver Nuggets ($11,500)

While the opposing center, Jusuf Nurkic, grades out slightly better in terms of point-per-dollar value, you can't go wrong with Nikola Jokic.

Last time out, it took a freak performance from Aaron Gordon to deny Jokic 50 FanDuel points for the first time in six games. Gordon posted 30 points and 12 boards in his best effort with the Nuggets. Still, Jokic is on a fairly historic run of production for a Denver team lacking in talent.

It speaks volumes that "The Joker" is averaging 1.64 FanDuel points per minute on a 30.4% usage rate in the month of January and that both of those marks are down from last month. The breakout performance from Gordon may lead to lower popularity for Jokic in a dream matchup.

The Portland Trail Blazers' defense is terrible. They have a 114.5 defensive rating, which is the second-worst mark in the entire NBA. They're also allowing the ninth-most points in the paint per game (21.7). That sounds like a recipe for disaster against an inside force like Jokic.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, PF/SF, Milwaukee Bucks ($11,300)

Giannis Antetokounmpo fought the same issues for FanDuel production on Tuesday as Jokic -- a teammate erupting.

Khris Middleton posted 27 points and 11 assists for Milwaukee in a close loss to Charlotte, but even in Antetokounmpo's "floor performance" as the second act, he still posted 53.6 FanDuel points.

The reason why is his current role. In three games as the acting point guard for the injured Jrue Holiday, Antetokounmpo has a whopping 36.2% usage rate, wich he's turned into 1.73 FanDuel points per minute.

The 1.5-point spread in the Bucks' battle with Golden State is the closest projected game of the day, and with both teams sitting as top-10 units in pace, the 223.5-point total isn't disappointing, either. Antetokounmpo should have his usual large piece of the action in this fantasy-friendly affair.

James Harden, SG/PG, Brooklyn Nets ($10,000)

A trend I'll look to watch carefully the rest of the season is James Harden following Brooklyn's stints on the road.

Kyrie Irving still can't play home games for the Nets, and unless FanDuel begins to account for that trend when assigning salaries, Harden should be a decent guy to roster when Brooklyn heads back home.

This season, with Irving off the floor, Harden has a 28.6% usage rate that he's turned into 1.30 FanDuel points per minute. That's a bulk of his entire sample, and the limited returns thus far indicate that Harden is still good value at this salary even if Irving was playing.

The overall Nets' offensive efficiency should drop without Kyrie, but their opponent on Thursday makes that less of a concern. They host the lowly Oklahoma City Thunder, and Brooklyn's implied team total of 112.0 points tells us they're in a money spot.

The key to targeting Harden at guard on Thursday? This game also carries just an 8.5-point spread. On the second leg of a back-to-back, Brooklyn might be less equipped than normal to blow the Thunder out of the water. Harden and his perpetually dangerous ceiling should see a full workload if that holds true.