3 NBA FanDuel Studs to Target on Thursday 2/23/23

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 post 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?

Damian Lillard, PG, Trail Blazers ($10,500)

In Portland at the moment, it's "Dame Time" all of the time.

The Blazers come out of the break with more significant injuries than most teams. Per the injury report, Jusuf Nurkic (calf) and Anfernee Simons (ankle) will continue their absences into the second half. That's meant a healthy dose of Damian Lillard thus far.

Without the pair on the floor this season, Lillard has an absurd 40.6% usage rate that he's turned into 58.4 FanDuel points per 36 minutes. Lillard has put the squad on his back -- especially with Jerami Grant failing to eclipse 25 real-life points in any of his past seven.

Tough defensive matchups could double and stimy Dame down the road, but the Sacramento Kings aren't one. They've got the ninth-worst defensive rating in basketball (115.2) and are allowing the ninth-most FanDuel points per game to point guards.

If the 6.5-point spread in Sactown holds roughly true, Lillard will have to have easily eclipsed 30 real-life points himself.

LeBron James, SF/PF, Lakers ($10,100)

There are two teams already in playoff mode due to early holes. The 10th-seeded Raptors are one team out east, and the 13th-seeded Lakers are one on the west coast.

Los Angeles is two games out of a play-in spot at the moment, so they'll need to do plenty of damage down the stretch. That should mean a lot of LeBron James, who is probable to play tonight amidst his previous foot injury and the hand injury from Sunday's All-Star exhibition.

James' salary declined through his absence, but this mark just objectively seems too low. In his last 14 games in which he's logged at least 30 minutes, James has eclipsed the 50-FanDuel-point threshold in 11 of them. His absolute floor in that stretch is 41.0 FanDuel points.

A tough opponent isn't on the other side, either. Not only are the new-look Lakers 5.5-point favorites tonight, but they'll also get to score against a Golden State defense with the league's third-worst road defensive rating (118.9).

James' low salary headlines a deep group of wings today that also includes Jaylen Brown and Brandon Ingram.

Domantas Sabonis, PF/C, Kings ($9,600)

The best center on the slate is opposite of Dame, so the correlation element of a single-entry lineup is complete.

Domantas Sabonis earns those honors pretty comfortably today. Nikola Jokic has teammates returning entering his matchup with a Cleveland defense that is ceding the fewest FanDuel points to opposing centers, and Joel Embiid's matchup isn't much easier facing Memphis' 109.8 defensive rating.

Sabonis draws a Portland frontcourt that, as mentioned, is missing its starting center, and they've allowed the sixth-most FanDuel points per game to centers as is.

As for Domas, this salary is more than fair given that he led the fully-healthy Kings in FanDuel points per 36 minutes (46.9) in the first half, and the environment should only be a boost to his counting stats.

There isn't a ton of salary-based value with teams getting healthy after the break, but it's possible to put these three stars hovering together in a single lineup.