3 NBA FanDuel Studs to Target on Thursday 12/15/22
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?
Giannis Antetokounmpo, PF/SF, Bucks ($12,000)
It wasn't Giannis Antetokounmpo's fault he was a bit of a fantasy letdown on Tuesday.
Giannis averaged 66.9 FanDuel points per 36 minutes in a dominant showing, but the struggling Golden State Warriors couldn't keep pace. He'll have a better chance at a competitive contest Thursday in Memphis with the Bucks currently listed as a 2.0-point underdog.
Jrue Holiday will sit with an illness again for Milwaukee in this contest, and with Jrue off the floor, "The Greek Freak" has lived up to his billing with freakish numbers. He's posted 59.8 FanDuel points per 36 minutes on a gaudy 41.4% usage rate, which leads all active players in their current floor condition on this slate.
A close, competitive contest is all Giannis needs to deliver a quality result on FanDuel given the heinous nature of this four-game slate.
Ja Morant, PG, Grizzlies ($10,800)
Given his salary is $1,200 more than the last time he was active on a slate, Ja Morant seems like poor value. He's anything but.
The Grizzlies continue to operate without Desmond Bane, and Ja has performed at this salary's level without his starting shooting guard. He's posted 54.2 FanDuel points per 36 minutes on a stellar 36.2% usage rate in the split.
Given Giannis and Morant are in the same game, the environment is worth propping up. The 226.5-point total in this one is healthy, and both Memphis (3rd) and Milwaukee (11th) play at an above-average pace. You really can't ask for more than that.
No position is more depleted on this slate than guard is. Behind Morant, the best available option will be a Phoenix Sun. It'll either be a hobbled Devin Booker returning from a hamstring injury, or it'll be his underachieving teammate who has passed 40 FanDuel points only twice this season. That's Chris Paul.
Neither of those two -- given their conditions -- have much of a prayer to hit 55 FanDuel points. It's a realistic median projection for Ja. Lock him into tournament builds.
Zion Williamson, PF, Pelicans ($10,200)
At the very least, it's a good one. Zion Williamson just demolished the Utah Jazz for 26 points in 25 minutes on Tuesday, and he'll get an immediate rematch on Thursday. The Pelicans were blown out in that one, so Zion's scoring output could be bananas if he gets some help.
Overall, Williamson has been the primary beneficiary of Brandon Ingram's extended leave. He's posted a healthy 29.5% usage rate -- which has turned into 50.1 FanDuel points per 36 minutes -- in this time. With this role, Zion's floor has been rock-solid, posting at least 46 FanDuel points in 8 of his past 10 games -- including Tuesday.
The big-man spots might be the most desolate positional group of all on Thursday. Incredibly, Zion is third in our projections in terms of value score at power forward, and he's not some supreme value due to New Orleans' rotation.
If injury news explodes from the Clippers and Heat (both of whom are on the second leg of a back-to-back) this afternoon, locking these three studs into a lineup with whatever morsel of value is available might go further in tournaments than you'd think.