3 NBA FanDuel Studs to Target on Thursday 1/19/23

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?

Stephen Curry, PG, Warriors ($9,500)

While Kyrie Irving is a given on the slate in Kevin Durant's continued absence, Stephen Curry is an interesting pivot in tonight's NBA Finals rematch.

Of course, Curry had no issues navigating the stingy Boston defense last summer, but the Celtics are a strong unit (112.1 defensive rating) again this year. That's really the lone drawback to Curry in a game with a slate-high 240.0-point total.

Curry's production, for this salary, is already good. He's averaging 49.4 FanDuel points per 36 minutes in a turbulent Warriors season where everyone -- including himself -- has gotten hurt at some point. Just in the nick of time, they're at relatively full strength for the C's, and that's great news for Curry.

Jordan Poole always ensures to get his -- even in the lineup next to one of the all-time greats. Poole's 30.2% usage rate is headed to the bench on Thursday in favor of Klay Thompson and Andrew Wiggins, and Curry sees upticks in usage rate (0.5 percentage points) and FanDuel points per 36 minutes (+1.56) with Poole off the floor.

With a slightly better role for him coming in a game with this lofty total, don't go crazy with Kyrie to the point where you forget about the reigning NBA Finals MVP.

Pascal Siakam, PF/C, Raptors ($9,300)

Without much of a salary adjustment, we're still honed in on the five Toronto starters on Thursday. All of them are still seeing playoff-level minutes.

In fact, Pascal Siakam saw his salary drop entering this matchup with the Minnesota Timberwolves. In 40 minutes on Tuesday, Siakam still scored 23 points, but his assist total (3) was well below the 6.4 he averages on the year. He also had just one block and zero steals to four turnovers. That'll produce a dud on FanDuel.

Still, Siakam leads the team in usage rate (28.6%) and FanDuel points per 36 minutes (44.5) from the center spot. That's a recipe for upside in his large amount of minutes.

There's a reason I'm writing up Siakam over Joel Embiid for a big-man spot. Minnesota, Siakam's opponent, will likely be without Rudy Gobert due to a groin injury. That provides two key reasons to pivot to Spicy P.

First, the T-Wolves' defense plummets to a 117.2 defensive rating without Rudy. They're simply bad without him on that end. Second, Gobert's replacement, Naz Reid, becomes a no-doubt value plug at center and makes Embiid harder to roster.

Siakam is the highest-salaried Toronto starter, but all five Raptors are viable given they've nearly abandoned their bench entirely. Pascal and OG Anunoby are the buy-low candidates on the squad.

Jaylen Brown, SF/SG, Celtics ($8,300)

Injury news could impact this section, too.

Though Jaylen Brown is questionable with a groin issue that's caused him to miss three games, there is optimism growing he plays tonight for the Celtics. He was at the team's shootaround.

To be transparent, there is re-injury risk with a groin issue specifically. We've seen Gobert and Devin Booker quickly reinjure themselves just this season, so Brown is not without risk in daily fantasy tonight. He's still a no-brainer option if he plays full minutes after it's all said and done.

Jayson Tatum's salary is up to $11,000 thanks to his work in Brown's stead, but these two shouldn't be this far apart in salary. Up until J.B. got hurt, he and Tatum were nearly identical players offensively. Since December 1st, Tatum has posted 47.8 FanDuel points per 36 on a 33.4% usage rate, and Brown has almost matched him with 44.8 FanDuel points per 36 on a 31.9% rate.

As mentioned with Steph, these two teams are expected to put up points tonight in Boston. The lofty total might have something to do with the fact Golden State's defensive rating on the road (119.3) is the third-worst in the NBA.

If Brown sits, Tatum is more than acceptable at his mark, but if J.B. is cleared to play, this salary is just too low.