Betting the NBA First Basket Prop

With the NBA playoffs in full swing, it’s time to start giving some serious thought to how you can make money off of the NBA First Basket Prop. Betting on this prop requires doing some research into trends in order to have any chance of coming out ahead. We offer some strategies in this post.

Key Points

– The NBA First Basket Prop is all about tendencies.

– Finding value on the NBA First Basket Prop is a key to success.

What Players to Target

When it came to the first few possessions of games during the NBA season, Joel Embiid was nearly impossible to stop. Embiid finished the season as the leader in the NBA in first team field goals made. In 48% of the games that Embiid started for the Philadelphia 76ers, the Sixers scored first.

Now, he didn’t score the first basket in all of those games, but he did lead the league in first baskets scored in a game. Embiid and New Orleans’ Jonas Valanciunas tied with 20 first baskets on the season. 

For Embiid, that represented 31 percent of the games in which he started. Valanciunas only did so in 25 percent of his games with the Pelicans. It’s easy to see why Embiid would have such a high number of first baskets considering his early-game usage rate of 1.21.


It’s Not All About Usage Rate

Despite having the second-highest early possession usage (1.01), Boston’s Jaylen Brown did not place among the top players in the NBA First Basket Prop. Both Nikola Jokic and Nikola Vucevic each scored 16 first baskets, which tied them for third place. Pascal Siakam of Toronto scored the first basket 15 times for his team.

While early usage rate certainly helps in this case, it’s more interesting that the majority of players in the top ten in this prop category are center. During the 2022-23 NBA season, centers scored the opening basket in 26 percent of all games played. 

A significant number of those same players are still active participants in the playoffs.

Zeroing In on the NBA First Basket Prop

When considering all of the information gathered throughout the season, it becomes somewhat less difficult to guess who will score first in a playoff game. Take, for instance, the Philadelphia 76ers. Tobias Harris, Tyrese Maxey, and Joel Embiid scored the majority of Philadelphia’s first field goals. We already know Embiid tied for the NBA lead in first baskets scored.

In this year’s opening round Sixers-Nets playoff series, Embiid was the favorite to score in each game that he played in. He was given +270 to score the first basket in Games 1, 2, and 3. He did not play in Game 4.

At online sportsbooks, Maxey was typically given odds in the +700 range and Harris checked in around +900 to +950. In Game 2, Embiid missed a 28-footer 24 seconds into the game. The Nets missed a shot, Embiid rebounded, and passed to Harris who scored on a layup.

If you had bet $10 on Embiid, Maxey, and Harris; you would have still come out ahead with Harris at +950. You would have won $95 and lost $20 on the other two bets.

NBA First Basket Prop in the Postseason

When it comes to betting on the First Basket proposition during this postseason, the Philadelphia 76ers, Memphis Grizzlies, Sacramento Kings, and Phoenix Suns have the highest concentration of first basket scorers among the most predictable teams. 

Even armed with great information, you still have to proceed with caution. Take Miami’s Bam Adebayo as an example. During this season, Adebayo took Miami’s opening shot 24 different times. Vucevic was the only player in the NBA who attempted the opening shot more than twenty-eight times this season. Embiid attempted 27 first shots.

During last year’s regular season, Adebayo was responsible for making the opening basket for the Heat 34% of the time. That did not translate to the postseason. In the Heat’s playoff games last year, Adebayo scored the first basket just 10 percent of the time.

Be on the lookout for a discernible rise in the number of first baskets as well. In the 2021–22 season, Memphis’ Desmond Bane, for example, was only successful in making 16 percent of the Grizzlies’ opening baskets. During last year’s playoffs, Bane was responsible for 46 percent of the team’s opening scores.

Value Is the Key

NBA player props are becoming more and more popular. In fact, player props in all sports may soon become the go-to bets for many serious bettors. You can read why these bets are so popular by going HERE.

The crucial step is, of course, to locate some value in the First Basket prop. In Game 2 of the 2022-23 playoff series between Minnesota and Denver, the odds of Jokic scoring first were +410, making him the betting favorite. 

During the course of the regular season, the two-time Most Valuable Player scored 24 of Denver’s first baskets. Out of those 24, Jokic was responsible for scoring the first basket of the game 16 times.

In Game 2 of the series against Minnesota, Jokic did not score first. In Game 3, Jokic was once again given a betting line of +410. This time, he came through and scored the game’s opening field goal.