3 NBA FanDuel Studs to Target on Wednesday 3/23/22

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?

LeBron James, SF/PF, Los Angeles Lakers ($11,200)

It's actually absurd I'm leading a column on five-digit FanDuel salary stars with LeBron James deep into 2022.

One of the greatest players ever is only building his legacy despite a wonky season for the Los Angeles Lakers. James is within grasping range of the scoring title, and he's definitely shooting for it. He's kicked his usage rate up to 35.0% in March, but he's also been really, really good.

Plenty of those falling -- plus quite a few assists and boards along the way -- have James fourth in FanDuel points per game this month (55.6). He only trails Giannis Antetokounmpo, Nikola Jokic, and Kyrie Irving at 37 years old.

With a 230.0-point total on deck in Los Angeles, James is a great option at a desolate (at least at the top) small forward spot. He'll likely suit up in a national-television spot despite being questionable with his lingering knee issue.

The matchup seems brutal, but the stingy 76ers defense is actually a bit forgiving to wings, ceding the ninth-most FanDuel points per game to small forwards (41.6).

Joel Embiid, C, Philadelphia 76ers ($11,000)

On the other side of that matchup, Joel Embiid stands out at center like LeBron does at small forward.

The options aren't great at the top, but Embiid still stands out to spend coin at the pivot -- especially considering the abundance of value at guard and wing spots.

The arrival of James Harden has just made Embiid a less stable fantasy player night-to-night. Embiid's usage rate (37.5%) and FanDuel points per minute mark (1.55) in March are still excellent in a vacuum without the context of the tallies he had in January and February.

He's still scooted over 70 FanDuel points in two of his last six, so the upside he can present is still very much there.

With Karl-Anthony Towns in a brutal matchup with the NBA's top defensive rating, the scuffling Lakers' defense (fourth-worst defensive rating in March) is a cakewalk in comparison.

Given that he also correlates well with LeBron should this one stay high-scoring and closer, it's somewhat of a no-brainer at the top of the center pool.

Dejounte Murray, PG/SG, San Antonio Spurs ($10,100)

Key backcourt options like Luka Doncic, Ja Morant, and De'Aaron Fox are all sitting on Wednesday. That's going to fill up a ton of guard spots with value in most lineups.

I still wouldn't forget about Dejounte Murray. He's my top overall star of the day at the slate's fifth-highest salary.

The Spurs hit the road to visit the tanking Portland Trail Blazers, and Portland's commitment to a lack of excellence is especially present on the defensive end at the moment. Their 123.6 defensive rating is dead-last in the NBA by a mile for the month of March.

Murray's sensational run earlier this month was halted abruptly the past few days. He's failed to eclipse 40 FanDuel points in back-to-back contests after seven straight over 54 FanDuel points. It's not his role; he's had a 31.4% usage rate. It's just been a case of 15-for-42 (35.8%) shooting that will turn around before long.

San Antonio is actually a nine-point road favorite, but the scrappy Blazers have kept four of their last six games within single digits. Because of the recent downtrend, I'm in love with Murray in tournaments at what should be a far lower roster rate than this matchup deserves.