3 NBA FanDuel Studs to Target on Friday 12/2/22

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 as a whole 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 a good 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 is likely going to leave your lineup drawing pretty close to dead.

Which top players should be the focal points of your lineups today?

Nikola Jokic, C, Nuggets ($11,200)

I'm not sure everyone sees this as a supreme buy-low spot for Nikola Jokic, but it is.

Jokic is an entirely different fantasy basketball player when he's surrounded by both Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. and when he's not. Porter Jr. won't play on Friday, and Murray is listed with a quad issue but is expected to play.

Without just Porter Jr. on the floor this season, "The Joker" is averaging 59.5 FanDuel points per 36 minutes. That number balloons to 60.5 without both. With the two on the floor, he's oversalaried at this mark. Without them in Denver's lineup, he's back to the numbers that made him a two-time MVP.

It also helps the matchup is supreme here. Atlanta is already allowing the ninth-most FanDuel points per game to centers, and as the report above mentions, they'll now be without John Collins and De'Andre Hunter in their frontcourt. Plus, Clint Capela is questionable.

Especially considering the natural popularity discount that comes with a center-eligible-only stud, Jokic is a must for me in single-entry tournaments tonight.

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

Considering Giannis Antetokounmpo posted at least 44 real-life points in both games against the Lakers last year, he's terrifying to fade as a stud at small forward today.

However, Giannis isn't in excellent form for his lofty $12,000 salary. He's only eclipsed 60 FanDuel points twice in his last 10 games, and Khris Middleton is now returning on Friday to siphon a bit of usage away. In that event, I want to turn to LeBron James on the other side of this one.

This salary might be just a touch low for LeBron's role. Amazingly, amidst obvious rust and injury issues, James has still eclipsed 50 FanDuel points in three of his past five games. He also leads the team in usage rate (31.9%) since returning despite Anthony Davis' reemergence offensively.

The 230.5-point total in Milwaukee is one we want bits of in daily fantasy. However, Middleton's return makes it a bit difficult to target key Bucks. We can turn Los Angeles -- and its king -- instead.

Donovan Mitchell, SG/PG, Cavaliers ($8,700)

Not even two weeks ago, Donovan Mitchell had a five-digit salary. It's harsh to drop him here so quickly.

Mitchell hasn't eclipsed 40 FanDuel points in five games, and that's not even good enough for this salary, so I understand the precipitous drop. That's in large part due to a current 17-for-43 (39.5%) cold spell shooting the basketball. Still, I have hope he'll return to a better future, and it could be as soon as Friday.

The Cavaliers are still without center Jarrett Allen, and Mitchell has held a 31.1% usage rate with Allen off the floor this season. He's turned that into 44.5 FanDuel points per 36 minutes including this recent cold spell. That's more like it.

Mitchell will be contrarian in every sense of the word. There's only a 216.0-point total as they host Orlando, and his box score is atrocious. In that event, I think he's an incredibly interesting tournament play, and you can always turn to the supreme floor of Ja Morant in cash games if need be.