NBA First Basket Prop March Report: Team Frequency, Player Frequency, Best Bets, Future Players To Watch

The First Field Goal Scorer player prop is exciting for two reasons. It is settled in the first moments of the game, so there is no sweat throughout the game. You either win or lose, and you know it right away. This knowledge is an advantage since the direction of your live betting can be forged on this knowledge of gain or loss. Secondly, the plus odds (virtually always between +350 and +1250) can multiply your money fast. However, the drawback is that the first scorer is somewhat random, so it’s extremely hard to predict. Can a trend be identified though? Any insight can boost your expected value and help make educated bets. (As a side note, DraftKings moved First FG from the player props section to the game props section)

The 5 teams to watch after February’s report were the Celtics (First FG 81.8% of the time), Warriors (80%), Spurs (72.7%), Bucks (70%), and Grizzlies (66.6%). The 7 players to watch after February’s report were Jaylen Brown (First FG 54.5% of Celtics total games), Luka Doncic (40%), Miles Bridges (33.3%), Jarrett Allen (30%), Julius Randle (30%), Kevon Looney (30%), and Jae’Sean Tate (30%). Who continued their hot streak into March? Who fell off a cliff in First FG?

Team First FG Breakdown

The chart below shows what percentage of their total games in March that the team scored the First FG. For example, the Suns are at 46.66%, which means they scored the First FG in 46.66% of their March games.

March Team First FG

The Grizzlies built upon their excellent February and utterly dominated March with a First FG Scorer percentage of 85.71%. It makes sense because Steven Adams is an elite tip-off player who actually studied film on referees when they throw the ball up. The Nets, Timberwolves, and Celtics were the only other teams above 70% in March. The Celtics were the best February team, and they remained on top in March. Will Robert WIlliams’ injury affect them though? It remains to be seen, but it is likely the Celtics dip some because of this injury. The Warriors plummeted, going from 80% in February to 31.25% in March. There were more games in March because of the All-Star break in February, so perhaps they were a fluke earlier. Knowing which team scores first is important, but the bet is on the player, not the team.

Player First FG Breakdown

The chart below shows what percentage of their teams’ March games that they were the First FG scorer in. For example, Dillon Brooks is at 21.42%, which means he was the First FG scorer in 21.42% of the Grizzlies March games. The top 27 players based on percentage are represented in the chart.

March Player First FG Scorer

MVP-candidate Nikola Jokic was the best First FG scorer at 43.75%. He didn’t beat Jaylen Brown’s remarkable 54.5% February mark, but Jokic had to play more games. Karl-Anthony Towns and Nikola Vucevic both came in at 40%, while Joel Embiid rounded out the top 4 at 37.5%. Notice a trend at the top? The top 7 players are all centers. It makes sense because centers take higher percentage shots than guards do, and teams often want to set the tone early in the paint. None of the top 3 scorers in February were centers, so March saw a change in positional value for First FG. Jaylen Brown ranked 9th at 28.57%, so he has been a cash cow the past two months. 

The Grizzlies were the best team, but they were extremely balanced in terms of which player scores first. Memphis had 4 players crack the top 27 – Jackson Jr, Adams, Brooks, Bane – and they were all at 21.42%. It will be worth watching whether one of them can break out and start to dominate the First FG.

Who Scores First FG Given That Their Team Scores First FG

We know which team scored first and which player scored first, so let’s look at how often the player scored first given that their team scored first. For example, Karl-Anthony Towns is at 54.54%, which means when the Timberwolves scored the First FG, Towns was responsible for it 54.54% of the time. The difference is the boundary: the last chart was the percentage for all March games, whereas this chart is the percentage for all games only where we know their team scored first.

March First FG Player Proportion Of Team

Jonas Valanciunas comfortably sits in 1st place at 83.33%, which means when the Pelicans scored first, he did it 83.33% of the time. Deandre Ayton comes in 2nd at 71.42%, and Jokic rounds out the top 3 at 63.63%. The four Grizzlies sit at the bottom because they were so evenly spread among their team’s First FG games. Robert Williams is at 30%, and Jaylen Brown is at 40%. Will we see a regression for the Celtics as a team but a boost in Jaylen Brown’s personal First FG rate? Centers also dominate the top of the chart and score a high proportion of First FG for their respective team. 

Players To Watch For Playoffs

With the playoffs around the corner, all players who don’t make it will be ineligible for the First FG bet (since they won’t be playing). The players in the top 27 who are guaranteed out are Davion Mitchell, Isaiah Jackson, Buddy Hield, Jae’Sean Tate, Saddiq Bey. The other 22 players are all at least in the play-in right now. In terms of players to watch for this prop, I would recommend Nikola Jokic, Nikola Vucevic, Jaylen Brown, and the Grizzlies. Jokic is shooting 58 FG% and is essentially their entire offense. He knows he must score if the Nuggets have any chance. 

The Bulls love going to Vucevic early in the game; they attack the paint in the beginning to open up the perimeter game later in the game. Vucevic can score from anywhere on the court, so he can still score first when he plays elite rim protectors like Embiid. Jaylen Brown is the consistent name from March and April. The Celtics also love to get him going early because it takes pressure off of Tatum. Brown is a lethal scorer both on and off-ball, so he is a great bet. Finally, the Grizzlies are worth monitoring. Steven Adams is a monster at winning tip-offs, and the Grizzlies’ success at being the First FG scorer has carried over. It’s worth tracking whether one of their players can start to assert themselves and score the ball first more frequently.

Braxton has been covering the NBA for Lineups since the 2022 season. He's worked with multiple collegiate coaching staffs regarding analytics and scouting, which has allowed him to understand the game on a deeper level. Braxton is also a contributor at Thunderous Intentions.

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