3 NBA FanDuel Studs to Target on Thursday 1/5/23

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?

Luka Doncic, PG/SG, Mavericks ($12,800)

This enormous salary is nearly jarring, but there's actually very little question Luka Doncic is worth it.

Doncic's last six games are something we've never seen before on FanDuel. On top of setting the site record for FanDuel points (105.2), he's eclipsed 75 FanDuel points in four of his last six games.

During this time, the Mavericks have completely leaned into Doncic as the do-it-all magic man. He's occupied an absurd 41.0% usage rate, which is nearly unfathomable in a significant period of time.

Of course, you worry about the vaunted Celtics defense a bit in this spot, but that same defense just gave up 150 points to Oklahoma City on Tuesday. Oddsmakers are expecting the struggles to continue, forecasting a 233.0-point total for this showdown in Dallas.

Finding value to pair with him with be the challenging part, but if it becomes present on Thursday afternoon, "The Don" is worth every penny.

Jayson Tatum, SF/PF, Celtics ($10,800)

When differentiating from Luka in tournaments, I'm looking no further than the opposite sideline.

Jayson Tatum is your classic four-game main slate pivot. In recent games, J.T. has been outright disappointing. He's failed to eclipse 45 FanDuel points in four of his last six games, so he appears grossly oversalaried. Personally, he could flip back to worth it at any moment.

Jaylen Brown is the reason Tatum hasn't popped in the last six games. Brown's posted over 29 real-life points in all six games, shooting 53.3% in that stretch. J.B. has been scorching. The problem? It won't stay that way forever.

Plus, Tatum's usage rate in this stretch (34.8%) is actually still higher than Brown's (34.3%). Tatum just hasn't quite shot the ball as well (48.4%).

This is a marquee national television spot in Dallas, and don't get it twisted; Tatum can hear Nikola Jokic has stolen his MVP buzz, eating into a lead that was his to lose a month ago. A mammoth scoring night in the same fantasy-friendly environment as Luka could go a long way to reclaiming the top spot.

Kawhi Leonard, SF/PF, Clippers ($9,000)

Speaking of Jokic, his Nuggets host the Clippers in tonight's nightcap. Jokic's club is at full strength, and L.A. has allowed the 12th-fewest FanDuel points to opposing centers this year. I'm actually turning to the other sideline.

Kawhi Leonard might be a one-man band for the Clips tonight. With a back-to-back looming tomorrow in Minnesota, Los Angeles has listed Paul George as questionable due to a hamstring issue for tonight's game.

We only have a one-game sample where George sat and Leonard played full minutes, but it was dandy. "The Klaw" posted 51.2 FanDuel points on a whopping 44.6% usage rate in a win over Washington.

In a larger sample for the season, Kawhi has posted 45.7 FanDuel points per 36 minutes with George off the floor this season. That's come with a solid 29.8% usage rate.

In either sample, he's worth this elevated salary if George sits. PG13's random appearance on the report Wednesday lends me to believe he will.