NBA First Basket 2022-23: Picks, Odds, Data, Stats, & Strategy

NBA First Basket props are offered on numerous sportsbooks and have become an incredibly popular bet. All season long, you can find NBA first basket picks, odds, stats, and strategy. 

NBA First Basket Odds

Search for any NBA player to bring up their player props & first basket across multiple sportsbooks. 

NBA First Basket Picks

Last Updated: 3:37 pm ET, 12/4/22

Braxton Reynolds: 18-111, (+0.01u) 

Jason Guilbault: 1-2, (+1.75u)

Nikola Vucevic First FG (0.25u, +600 BMGM) 

Although it’s unwise to select a Bulls player, the Kings are one of the only matchups where it makes sense. Vucevic is a favorite to win the tip-off over Sabonis, who is probably the worst in the league at this. Sacramento’s poor rim protection and rebounding is a perfect match for Vucevic. With Patrick Williams benched, Vucevic now leads the starting lineup in game and team First FGA%.

Author: Braxton Reynolds

Cameron Payne First FG (0.2u, +1000 BMGM) 

Ayton is favored to win the tip-off over Collins, and the Spurs rank 21st defending the pick and roll ball handler. In Payne’s 12 starts, he has taken the First FGA 5 times, or 41.6% of the time. Given his volume and decent matchup, +1000 is a bargain.

Author: Braxton Reynolds

Julius Randle First FG (0.25u, +550 DK) 

Because of Jarrett Allen’s injury, Mobley is the starting center. Robinson is favored to win the tip-off over Mobley, and Randle owns a great matchup against 6’6″ Lamar Stevens, who cannot handle Randle’s offensive arsenal or physicality. Randle ranks 2nd on the Knicks with a 30.4 team First FGA%.

Author: Braxton Reynolds

Jalen Brunson First FG (0.25u, +550 BMGM) 

I also like Brunson’s matchup, who ranks 1st on the Knicks with a 34.7 team First FGA%. Garland is a poor pick and roll defender, and Brunson has been a proficient driver this season. Look for Brunson to drive past Garland with ease and potentially convert a floater/layup.

Author: Braxton Reynolds

Kristaps Porzingis First FG (TBD) 

Another day, another Kristaps/Beal pick – may adjust depending on the odds though. Washington ranks 4th in game FGA%, and the volume nearly always goes to the duo. Beal ranks 3rd in the NBA (min. 15 games) with a 29.4 First FGA%, while Porzingis ranks  6th with a 27.2 First FGA%. The Lakers are bleeding First FGA to centers, so Porzingis has a great matchup here.

Author: Braxton Reynolds

Bradley Beal First FG (TBD) 

Same reasoning above for why Beal is a statistical favorite. The Lakers struggle keeping driving guards in front of them, and Beal is an effective driver who finishes around the rim. Beal can also create a jumper off the dribble against his man, so his options for scoring are limitless.

Author: Braxton Reynolds

NBA First Basket Data

The following table displays how frequently each team attempts the absolute First FGA in the game. It’s different than tip-off win percentage because a team can win the tip-off, turn the ball over, and allow the opponent to take the First FGA.

Last Updated After 11/25 games

Team% of Game First FGA
Minnesota Timberwolves84.2%
Milwaukee Bucks83.3%
Orlando Magic73.6%
Portland Trail Blazers68.4%
Washington Wizards63.1%
Memphis Grizzlies61.1%
Toronto Raptors61.1%
Los Angeles Lakers58.8%
Boston Celtics57.8%
Denver Nuggets57.8%
Brooklyn Nets55%
Miami Heat55%
Los Angeles Clippers50%
Phoenix Suns50%
Detroit Pistons47.6%
Dallas Mavericks47%
San Antonio Spurs45%
Atlanta Hawks42.1%
Cleveland Cavaliers42.1%
New Orleans Pelicans42.1%
New York Knicks42.1%
Houston Rockets38.8%
Utah Jazz38%
Philadelphia 76ers36.8%
Charlotte Hornets35%
Golden State Warriors35%
Sacramento Kings33.3%
Oklahoma City Thunder31.5%
Indiana Pacers27.7%
Chicago Bulls26.3%

The following table displays players with at least 20% for percentage of Game First FGA taken, as well as how frequently they attempt the First FGA for their respective team. For example, let’s say Anthony Davis attempts 42.8% of the First FGAs in games where he starts. However, he attempts 50% of his team’s First FGAs in games where he starts, which factors in times where the opponent attempted the First FGA of the game but Davis did so for his team.

We would expect players with an identical game and team First FGA percentage to see negative regression, while players with a much larger team First FGA percentage than game First FGA percentage to see positive regression.

Last Updated After 11/25 games

Player (min. 12 games)% of Game First FGA% of Team First FGA
Anthony Davis37.5%43.7%
Cade Cunningham33.3%41.6%
Paolo Banchero33.3%33.3%
D'Angelo Russell31.5%31.5%
Dillon Brooks31.2%37.5%
Marcus Morris27.7%50%
Keldon Johnson27.7%44.4%
Wendell Carter Jr26.6%40%
Michael Porter Jr25%37.5%
Fred VanVleet25%25%
Anfernee Simons23.5%29.4%
Bradley Beal23%46.1%
Jrue Holiday23%23%
Jalen Suggs23%23%
Kristaps Porzingis22.2%27.7%
Jaylen Brown22.2%22.2%
Brook Lopez22.2%22.2%
Grayson Allen21.4%21.4%
Jayson Tatum21%31.5%
Herb Jones20%33.3%
Royce O'Neale20%30%
Kyle Lowry20%30%
Tyrese Maxey20%26.6%

NBA First Basket Prop Rules

Although it’s one of the hardest props to hit, the rules of the NBA First Basket Prop are simple: a bettor places a bet on the player they believe will score the absolute first basket in the game. It must be placed before the game starts (there are no live bet forms of this prop), and it closes about 5-10 minutes before tip-off. An important note is that it’s not the first basket scored for a player’s respective team, but rather the literal first basket made. Missed attempts count for nothing, as the player has to actually make the shot. 

For example, let’s say the game started in this fashion: LaVine missed a three-pointer, then Tatum made a three-pointer, then DeRozan made a layup. Bettors who bet on Tatum would win, while bettors who bet on LaVine, DeRozan, and the other seven players on the court would lose. 

One distinction between sportsbooks in this prop revolves around the relevancy of free throws. Some sportsbooks (such as DraftKings) do not count made free throws as the first basket. For example, if the game began with DeRozan making two free throws followed by a Tatum made three-pointer, then bettors who bet on Tatum would win. Sportsbooks that do not count free throws will likely label the prop First Field Goal to clearly illustrate that free throws are irrelevant. 

However, other sportsbooks (such as FanDuel) count free throws and often label the prop as First Scorer, not First Field Goal. Make sure to check the rules of the sportsbook before betting, as free throws can significantly alter the prop landscape. 

Another distinction is the ability to bet on the method of shot along with the player. DraftKings only offers betting on which of the ten players will score the first field goal. FanDuel, on the other hand, also offers the option to choose the method of the shot. For example, a bettor could bet DeRozan to score first on a layup on FanDuel. If DeRozan scored first on a three-pointer, then the bettor who bet DeRozan layup would lose despite him being the first scorer in the game. The addition of the method significantly lengthens the odds, but it’s subsequently much harder to win. 

NBA First Basket Strategy 

There are a handful of variables in first basket props but here are a few crucial things to look at. To find more NBA advice, follow our LINEUPS YouTube channel.

Tip-off Win Percentage

The league average team turnover percentage last season was 12.3%, which means the team that wins the tip-off mostly attempts the first field goal. Therefore, the first matchup to consider when selecting a first basket prop is the center battle at tip-off. It’s generally favorable to assume the taller center with the longer wingspan will win, but there are plenty of exceptions. One name to remember: Steven Adams of the Grizzlies is without a doubt the best tip-off player in the NBA. Find NBA starting lineups here

This doesn’t mean players on the team that usually lose the tip-off should be completely avoided, but long-shots who don’t often score first should frequently be selected from the tip-off winning team. 

Player Shot Profiles 

Next, it’s important to know the shot profile of each player on the court. Do the majority of their shots come from high percentage areas like the paint? What are each player’s FG% on their most common shot attempt? How open are they on shot attempts? Do they generally force a shot or pass when heavily covered/doubled? Who is the favorite target of the ball-dominant player? Basketball-Reference is a useful tool that breaks down shot attempts by distance and percentage. 

Frequency of Opening Shot Attempts 

A player may take plenty of field goal attempts, but that doesn’t mean they frequently occur as the first attempt in the game. For example, Jayson Tatum paced the Celtics last season at 20.6 FGA, but Jaylen Brown and Robert Williams owned a much higher first basket attempt rate. Generally, the frequency of opening shot attempts radically shifts week to week for role players, and the stars who thrive in this prop remain consistent. This concept makes sense on a fundamental level since stars will maintain a steady usage percentage and diet of shot attempts, while role players can fluctuate in opportunities. 

Last 10-15 games 

Finally, it’s imperative to consider the last 10-15 games for each team. This stretch can provide which role player is currently receiving extra shot attempts, and whether injuries have changed the shot patterns of teams. It also provides which players have been recently taking the first shot attempt, which is one of the premier indicators for future success.  

Overall, there is far more luck embedded in this prop than others, but the idea that it’s random is incorrect. Finding trends with teams is the key, and the lengthy odds allow some leeway. 

Notable Players From 2021/22 Season 

  • Luka Doncic
  • Nikola Jokic
  • Jaylen Brown
  • DeMar DeRozan
  • Jarrett Allen
  • Karl-Anthony Towns 
  • Joel Embiid 
  • Kevin Durant 
  • Bam Adebayo

NBA First Basket Odds Shopping

Humans inherently fail to grasp the magnitude of differences at the level of extremely small and large numbers. While the provided odds on these props won’t be colossal, this principle still rings true for most bettors. The advantage gained from shopping is far more considerable than most bettors expect. 

Let’s say Marcus Smart’s true first basket percentage is 10%. One sportsbook offers the prop at +800, which means the prop needs to hit 1/9 (11.1%) of the time to theoretically break even. However, another sportsbook offers the prop at +900, so the prop needs to hit 1/10 (10%) of the time to theoretically break even. Therefore, the bettor who took the +800 and didn’t shop would lose units long-term, while the bettor who did shop would break even long-term. If a third sportsbook offered +950, the bettor would gain units long-term. 

It may not seem crucial to shop around, but increasing a bet’s expected value by a fraction of a unit adds up over time and can drastically improve profits or decrease losses. It only takes a few minutes at most to view three or four sportsbooks, so the opportunity cost is negligible compared to the unit boost. 

NBA First Basket Sportsbook Promos 

There are a number of promotions that sportsbooks offer for the first basket prop. The most popular one is an odds boost, although it’s usually accompanied by a maximum wager condition. Other promotions include a portion of losses either refunded or transformed into site credit. Just as shopping odds is vital, look for as many promotions as possible across multiple sportsbooks. They are usually offered every few days or at least once a week. 

SportsbookNew-User Promo ValueNew-User Promo DetailsNew-User Promo Code
DraftKings Sportsbook Promo Code$1,050$1,000 Deposit Match at 20% Rate
$50 Free Bet
No Code Click Link
BetMGM Sportsbook Bonus Code$1,000$1,000 Risk-Free BetLINEUPS
Caesars Sportsbook Promo Code$1,250Up To $1,250 Bet On Caesars plus get 1,000 Tier Credits and 1,000 Reward Credits®LINEUPSFULL
BetRivers Sportsbook Bonus Code$500$500 2nd Chance Free BetLINEUPS
FanDuel Sportsbook Promo Code$1,000$1,000 No Sweat First BetNo Code Click Link
Unibet Sportsbook Promo Code$500 MaximumRisk-Free Bet Up To $500 (PA)BETBONUS
PointsBet Sportsbook Promo Code$2,000$500 Risk-Free Bet Fixed Odds
$1,500 Risk-Free Bet PointsBetting
FoxBet Sportsbook Promo Code$50$50 Risk-Free BetNo Code - Click thru for Max Bonus
Bet365 Sportsbook Bonus Code$500$500 100% Deposit MatchLINEUPS

NBA First Basket Prop FAQ 

What Are NBA First Basket Props?

They are a certain type of player prop where the goal is to select the player who will score the first basket in the entire game regardless of team. There is only one chance per game, as the second basket made and beyond isn’t offered for live betting. 

Where Can I Legally Place NBA First Basket Props Online? 

You can legally place NBA first basket props online in any of the legal sports betting states. You must be physically located in a legal betting state to place an NBA first basket prop.

What Happens If My Player Doesn’t Start? 

If your player does not start the game, then your bet will be fully refunded. However, if your player starts and is injured during the game before the first basket has been scored (which is highly unlikely), then your bet will not be refunded. 

Can I Bet On Type Of First Basket? 

Only some sportsbooks (such as FanDuel) offer the ability to bet on the method of scoring (layup, three-pointer, etc.). The odds are significantly longer, but it’s far less likely to correctly identify both the scorer and the method in which they score.

Braxton has been writing for Lineups since December 2021, covering everything betting from NBA to NFL to PGA to ATP. He is a senior at the University of Pennsylvania with a sports analytics background.He is fascinated in the identification and breakdown of trends that optimize success in the sports betting world.

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