NBA First Basket: Predictions, Best Bets, Stats, & Odds 2023-24

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: 2:23 pm ET, 3/19/24

Braxton Reynolds (2023 Season): 113-880; +7.24u (3.2% ROI)

Braxton Reynolds (2024 Season): 91-744; +70.71u (18% ROI)

First basket picks will no longer be posted on this page. Follow Braxton (@BReynolds200) on Twitter for daily first basket picks and data.

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. One thing to consider is injuries. If a team’s starting center who dominates tip-offs has been injured for a while, it could have caused their team to fall significantly. For example, Mitchell Robinson being out significantly slashes the Knicks’ Game First FGA%. Remember, always look at the injury report.

Last Updated: 3/12/24

Game First FGA %
Boston Celtics67.1
Cleveland Cavaliers66.1
Phoenix Suns66.1
Memphis Grizzlies63
Miami Heat62.5
Oklahoma City Thunder57.8
Brooklyn Nets56.9
Denver Nuggets56.9
Milwaukee Bucks56.9
Los Angeles Lakers56
New York Knicks51.5
New Orleans Pelicans50
Philadelphia 76ers50
Charlotte Hornets49.2
Toronto Raptors47.6
Washington Wizards46.8
Dallas Mavericks46.1
San Antonio Spurs46.1
Orlando Magic44.6
Detroit Pistons43.7
Houston Rockets43.7
Indiana Pacers43
Minnesota Timberwolves43
Chicago Bulls41.5
Sacramento Kings41.2
Portland Trail Blazers40.6
Utah Jazz37.5
Atlanta Hawks35.9
Golden State Warriors34.3
Los Angeles Clippers33.3

The following table displays players with at least 17% 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 22.8% of the First FGAs in games where he starts. However, he attempts 35% 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: 3/12/24

Player (min. 30 starts)Game First FGA %Team First FGA %
Jaren Jackson Jr31.538.5
Jalen Brunson28.847.4
Joel Embiid26.452.9
Bam Adebayo2437
Nikola Jokic22.239.6
Jaylen Brown2230.5
Max Strus21.623.3
Jarrett Allen2026.6
Mikal Bridges19.230.7
Josh Giddey1931.7
Deandre Ayton1933.3
Kevin Durant18.925.8
Desmond Bane18.927
Jalen Green18.726.5
Kyrie Irving18.627.9
Damian Lillard18.326.6
Jusuf Nurkic1827.8
Jakob Poeltl1822
Anthony Davis17.722.5
Kyle Kuzma17.735.4
Jrue Holiday17.222.4
Kelly Oubre Jr17.125.7
Donovan Mitchell1734

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. 

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 1-2 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 Basket, 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, dunk, 3PT, or other 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. Names to remember for the tip-off: Kristaps Porzingis, Brook Lopez, Steven Adams, and Jusuf Nurkic. 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. 

Some Notable Players From 2022-23 Season 

  • Jaylen Brown
  • Jerami Grant
  • Kristaps Porzingis
  • Brandon Ingram
  • Jaren Jackson Jr
  • Deandre AYton
  • Jalen Brunson
  • Jonas Valanciunas
  • Joel Embiid
  • Wendell Carter Jr
  • Darius Garland

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 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 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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