3 NBA FanDuel Studs to Target on Thursday 12/29/22

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?

Julius Randle, PF/C, Knicks ($9,500)

As usual, the big-men spots are pretty loaded on this slate. The top option could easily be Pascal Siakam if Fred VanVleet ends up sitting due to injury.

Still, let's look at Julius Randle since he's already got one teammate, RJ Barrett, ruled out due to a finger issue. The Knicks also have Jalen Brunson (hip) listed as questionable after he sat last game.

With the other two leading scorers on the team off the floor, Randle's workload -- as you'd imagine -- is pretty hefty. He averages 47.7 FanDuel points per 36 minutes on a team-best 29.7% usage rate during that floor condition.

Randle's also been playing well already. He's played alongside Brunson and Barrett for the bulk of the last nine games, and in that time, he's eclipsed 49 FanDuel points seven times. His shooting during that span (48.2%) isn't all that different from his season-long mark (46.8%), so this production might be here to stay.

The opposing Spurs have the worst defensive rating in the league (118.6), so Randle could go bonkers in this one.

LaMelo Ball, PG, Hornets ($9,000)

Randle may have the easiest matchup, but LaMelo Ball is in the best overall environment.

There's a gaudy 239.0-point total in Charlotte tonight as the Hornets host the Thunder. The two squads are sixth and third, respectively, in pace, so this should be a wild shootout.

We know the upside LaMelo can carry in that type of environment. The triple-double threat is averaging 44.4 FanDuel points per 36 minutes overall, but his rate spikes to 48.7 FanDuel points per 36 minutes when Kelly Oubre is off the floor. Oubre missed the last game with a hand injury and is doubtful to play tonight.

Ball is the only player above $8,000 with a point-per-dollar value score of 5.00 or better, according to our model. He's got tremendous upside in addition to the solid floor that comes from his team-best 30.0% usage rate.

Jaylen Brown, SF/SG, Celtics ($8,800)

With four of the best wings across the entire NBA in one game on Thursday, chances are one should pop.

The Clippers and Celtics will square off in Boston, and a treat for basketball fans is upon us. Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Paul George, and Kawhi Leonard are all active and healthy. For FanDuel purposes, Tatum (and his gaudy $11,000 salary) is the only one I wouldn't consider, but I'll tab Brown as my favorite of these four considering his $8,800 salary.

Honestly, Brown's FanDuel production has been lower than it should be despite bursting over 47 FanDuel points in five of his past nine games. Brown has posted more than 24 real-life points in six of his past seven games, and when he does that, he should smash value at this salary. The peripheral stats just haven't always been consistent.

Overall, J.B. averages 7.3 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 1.7 blocks plus steals per 36 minutes. Those numbers with 25-plus points would eclipse -- and regularly have eclipsed -- salary-based value at this tag.

These two squads have top-seven defensive ratings, so this is no fast-and-fun shootout, but one of these star wings should put together a great night at TD Garden. I'll take my swipe that it's Brown.