3 NBA FanDuel Studs to Target on Thursday 12/8/22

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 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 an excellent 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 will likely leave your lineup drawing pretty close to dead.

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

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

There's really only one stud on this three-game slate who I'd consider at his salary on a full slate: Nikola Jokic of the Nuggets.

Jokic's floor situation remains the same, and, outside of a clunker Tuesday against the glacial-footed Mavericks (last in the NBA in pace), he's been consistent inside of it. With Michael Porter Jr. off the floor this season, Jokic has turned a respectable 27.0% usage rate into 58.1 FanDuel points per 36 minutes.

With Porter Jr. still out Thursday in Portland, Jokic feels like a must-have in all formats given his stable production. Tuesday was the only time in eight games he's fallen short of 47 FanDuel points, and our projections are stating the obvious -- per-dollar value isn't a must on this poor slate.

As an added bonus, the Blazers allow the seventh-most FanDuel points per game to centers. Jokic truly checks every box whereas most stars check only a few on this slate.

Bam Adebayo, PF/C, Heat ($9,000)

Similar to Jokic, Bam Adebayo has a consistent level of production, and that's valuable on a day when most high-salaried guys are set up to fail.

Adebayo's floor has come with or without Jimmy Butler in the lineup. As the Heat's best player cycles in and out of the lineup, Adebayo's posted at least 38.0 FanDuel points in seven of his past eight games. That's not the standard at this salary, but his upside could come from Butler's potential absence.

Surprisingly, Bam is tied with Tyler Herro for the team lead in usage rate (28.5%) with Jimmy off the floor. That added scoring is in addition to the 10.7 rebounds per 36 minutes that Adebayo posts during that floor condition.

Bol Bol just recorded 20 points and 9 boards last night on this Clippers team in Orlando, so perhaps Los Angeles' top-notch defense (fifth in the NBA in defensive rating) is starting to crack a bit on the interior. They're also on a back-to-back, which could set up Bam for additional success.

Paul George, SF/SG, Clippers ($8,300)

If Jimmy Butler and Paul George both play in Miami tonight, George is a no-brainer for me if I am spending at small forward.

Not only does Butler's near-five-digit salary have him grading out terribly on a point-per-dollar basis in our projections, but he'd effectively squash Tyler Herro at $8,400 since Herro has been salaried for Butler's continued absence. On the other hand, George should benefit from his team's lineup being shallower than normal.

Marcus Morris, Norman Powell, and John Wall didn't play last night against the Magic. Morris, battling an illness, could return tonight, but Kawhi Leonard is also a massive question mark in this back-to-back situation. Doing my best prognostication, I'm expecting Morris to play and the others to sit. In that event, George is an excellent play.

With a team-best 32.3% usage rate with that trio off the floor, George has posted 42.1 FanDuel points per 36 minutes in the split. Given Morris' pedestrian 22.4% usage rate in the split, he largely defers to PG13, so the outlook is about the same with or without Morris.

George should be viable if he's set to play -- and he expects to. Obviously, the Miami matchup isn't ideal with both teams sitting in the top 10 in estimated defensive rating, but it features studs in uniform with reasonable salaries. That's hard to come by on Thursday.