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NBA First Basket Stats

Malcolm Darnley

Updated: Apr 24, 2024

What Is NBA 1st Basket Betting?

Traditionally, NBA betting has been dominated by conversations around point spreads over/unders and, to a lesser extent, moneylines.

As sports betting legalization continues to mature across North America, we are seeing a huge spike in prop betting, including NBA prop betting.

NBA First Field Goal betting and the related NBA First Basket bet are two NBA game props quickly gaining in popularity with NBA bettors.

This bet can provide some very enticing odds and is similar to betting on the 100m sprint, not a two-hour marathon.

Don’t be late for the opening tip. This high-drama wager is over as soon as the game’s first field goal is made.

Bettors who enjoy wagering on the first field goal also enjoy betting on the NFL 1st Touchdown Scorer.

How Does NBA First Basket Scorer Betting Work?

Sportsbooks will provide odds on a total of 10 players. (5 from each team)

Typically, odds range from +300 to +2000, depending on the player and their ability to score points.

A bettor must decide which of the ten players will score the game’s first field goal. The most common strategy for this wager is to divide your betting unit into smaller units and make multiple bets to increase your odds.

When we are betting on the NBA’s 1st field goal, we must remember that foul shots do not count in the outcome of this bet.

What is NBA First Basket Betting?

While most sportsbooks offer us an NBA First Field Goal betting product, FanDuel has its own variation of this wager called NBA First Basket betting.

The difference between First Field Goal and First Basket betting is how they handle made free throws.

With first-field goal betting, free throws are excluded and don’t count toward settling the bet.

With first-basket betting, FanDuel asks you to wager who will score the very first point of the game, and free throws count toward determining this bet.

How NBA 1st Scorer Odds Work

First Field Goal odds are pretty easy to read, with each player being assigned their own moneyline for us to bet.

In our example game below, if a bettor wanted to wager on DeMar DeRozan of the Chicago Bulls, DeRozan’s odds to score the first FG are +650.

First Field Goal – Boston Celtics vs. Chicago Bulls

Players:
J. Brown +350D. DeRozan +650G. Williams +1000Z. LaVine +1000
N. Vucevic +750Al Horford +800P. Williams +1100M. Smart +1200

Bettors will often devise a strategy where they are dividing up their bet unit and making multiple wagers.

Example First Field Goal Bet Card

PlayerOddsWagerPotential Profit
DeMar DeRozan+650$12.50$81.25
Al Horford+800$12.50$100
$25 Total

Our table above shows us what it would look like if we took a $25 unit and divided it equally among two players. In this case, DeMar DeRozan and Al Horford.

If either player successfully scored the first field goal, there would still be a sizable profit. Taking three or even four players is not uncommon for this wager.

Assuming you have a standard unit bet size, we suggest you don’t go over that unit size when playing this bet.

In the example above, our bettor had a bet unit size of $25, so they divided that equally into two wagers of $12.50.

How To Use The BestOdds.com NBA 1st FG Betting Table

Tip Win %

If you want to score the first basket of a game, chances are you are going to need your team to win the opening tip. An obvious correlation exists between teams winning the opening tip and scoring the first basket.

Tip Win % is a team stat, not an individual player stat. Tip Win % is important, because it tells us how often a team wins the opening tip to start a game.

The more a team wins the opening tip-off, the more likely that team scores the game’s first basket.

Team First FGA

This individual stat helps us understand ball and shot distribution for teams to start the game.  Team First FGA tells us how often a player takes the first shot of a game for his team.

With five players on the floor, each player would be at 20% if there was equal shot distribution. But obviously, each player does not take an equal amount of shots during a game.

Interesting that Harrison Barnes of the Sacramento Kings has started 72 games, but only 13% of the time has he taken the team’s first shot attempt. (9 of 72 games)

In this situation, you would expect the odds on Harrison Barnes to score the game’s first basket to reflect the fact that he rarely takes his team’s opening shot.

Team First FG

This stat is a continuation of the Team First FGA stat. Instead of looking at opening shot attempts, we are talking about the first field goal made percentage.

As an example, Pascal Siakim of the Toronto Raptors scores the first basket for his team 33% of the time. That means Siakim is the first Raptor to make a successful bucket in one of every three games.

This is just more great information to help us make more informed decisions.

1st FG

The holy grail of first-basket betting stats. This tells us how often a player has scored the game’s first basket. Not his team’s first shot attempt, not his team’s first basket, but the first basket scored in the game.

Why is the information of interest to a bettor? Since this is what we are betting on, it’s probably worth including in our analysis.

Last 10

An NBA season is long. What happened in October isn’t necessarily the same as what’s going on in March.

The Last 10 stat column is of interest to us as bettors because we can use it to see if a player’s season-long trends are still holding up over his most recent 10 games.

NBA First Field Goal Betting Strategies

Opening Tip

The single most researched stat for NBA First Field Goal betting is the opening tip. Who are the players involved in the opening jump ball, and how successful have they been at winning the opening tip?

Statistics have shown that the team who wins the opening tip will score the first field goal somewhere close to 65% of the time.

It can be challenging to find opening tip and jump ball information. However, there are some tools that can help with this research.

OtherBasketballStats.com is one resource that does an excellent job tracking jump ball information and then breaking it down by team and individual player.

If a bettor can accurately predict who will win the opening jump ball to start an NBA game, they have definitely given themself a big advantage in predicting who will score the game’s first field goal.

Splitting Units

With ten player options to choose from, betting on the game’s first field goal is not the same as trying to predict which team will cover the point spread or whether the final total will go Over or Under.

Obviously, when we make traditional bets like point spreads, moneylines, and totals, we have fewer options to bet on.

We either like Team A or Team B, The odds provided will reflect that our choices are limited, and we have somewhere close to a 50% chance of making the proper selection.

When we talk about splitting units, we mean taking our standard bet unit and dividing it among multiple players to increase our odds of winning. At the same time, we don’t want to increase the amount of money we wager on a specific game.

Let’s look at an example:

Boston Celtics vs. Chicago Bulls – First FG betting card

PlayerOddsBet SizePotential Profit
DeMar DeRozan+650$10$50 ($65 – $15)
Nikola Vucevic+750$8$43 ($60 – $17)
Zach LaVine+1000$7$52 ($70 – $18)

Looking at our example above, we can see this bettor has chosen to back three different Chicago Bulls players.

Their standard unit size is $25, so in this case, they have taken that $25 and split it up into three wagers that total $25.

When we are trying to calculate the potential profit of this strategy, we need to remember to subtract the two losing wagers from the profit of our winning bet.

Recent History / Injury Analysis

It can take a lot of work to track down all of the relevant data that can help us make a successful NBA first field goal wager.

When evaluating teams we are interested in betting on, one interesting resource for us is Play by Play data from recent games.

  • The image above is taken from a Philadelphia vs. Charlotte game. We can see that Montrezl Harrell of the 76ers won the opening tip. (to teammate De’Anthony Melton)
  • We can also see that the first shot attempt of the game was a Harrell dunk, which would have cashed the first field goal bet.

Each NBA game has a box score and a play-by-play associated with it. You can easily find these on all the major sporting news websites. (ESPN / CBS Sportsline / ETC)

It’s never a bad idea to go back over the last 5, 10, or even 15 games to understand how teams start.

A bettor can get an idea of a player’s recent success winning the opening tip, along with data on who is most likely to get an early shot attempt.

If a team is missing a player or two because of injury, looking at previous box scores and play-by-play data to see how their rotation adjusts is also beneficial for bettors.

When a skilled player is injured, and that player is averaging over 17 shots per game, how are those 17 shots going to be distributed during the injury?

Are there one or two players who will benefit more than others? Looking through recent box scores and play-by-play data can help give us some insight and information the general public is unaware of.

Variations Of This Bet

NBA First Basket Betting

Most sportsbooks offer NBA first field goal betting, meaning that a basket must be scored from a field goal attempt during game action and does not include foul shots.

FanDuel is the main sportsbook that offers a variation of this wager, a bet they call NBA First Basket (and not NBA First Field Goal).

There is one main difference between First Field Goal and First Basket betting, and that is NBA First Basket betting allows a made free throw to be the winning shot for this wager.

When FanDuel asks us to bet on the first basket, they are asking us to bet on the player who will score the game’s very first point, which can be accomplished either with a field goal or a foul shot.

You will notice that the odds between the two bets can be similar but still different.

Because some players are more likely to draw a foul than others, potential free throw opportunities must be factored in when FanDuel creates their odds.

Possible foul shots are irrelevant and not factored into the odds if you place a first field goal bet with Caesars, BetMGM, or DraftKings.

Shop Around

Most of us start with a goal of trying to be profitable against the sportsbooks and evaluate ourselves and our betting strategies from there.

Many of us enjoy the data analysis and time spent handicapping games, looking for an edge against the ‘books.

However, many of us don’t realize that our single greatest advantage when trying to show a profit is the ability to shop around and find the Best Odds for the bet we want to make.

Celtics vs. Bulls

PlayerDraftKingsCaesarsBetMGM
Jaylen Brown+300+400+350
DeMar DeRozan+650+550+650
Grant Williams+1000+950+1200
Zach LaVine+800+900+900
Ayo Dosunmu+950+1400+1800

In our table above, we can clearly see the advantages to shopping around for the Best NBA Odds available.

Looking at Jaylen Brown, it’s possible to bet him at +300, +350, or +400. From a probability standpoint, +300 odds mean something has a 25% chance of occurring.

+400 odds suggest something has a 20% probability of occurring.

Without spending time in the data science lab, we have already given ourselves a significant advantage simply by shopping around.

The benefits increase as we analyze players with even greater odds than Brown.

Let’s look at Ayo Dosunmu, who pays out at +950 with DraftKings and a drastically different +1800 with BetMGM.

Ayo Dosunmu First Field Goal Odds

SportsbookOddsWagerPotential Profit
DraftKings+950$25$237.50
Caesars+1400$25$350
BetMGM+1800$25$450

For a $25 bettor, we are talking about a difference of over $200 in profit, just for this one single bet. Over time and as your bet volume increases, the benefits of playing your Best Odds only increase.

Looking for more stats? Check out the NFL Team To Score First stats for betting.

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About the author

Malcolm loves to watch all kinds of different sports. He also writes about them.

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