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NBA First Basket Picks For Thursday | Apr. 11

Thomas Snodgrass

Updated: Apr 11, 2024

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There are only five games of NBA action on Thursday, but with a light schedule, bettors can still receive a good return on investment by selecting a few first basket scorers.

For reference, here were the eight players that scored first buckets on Tuesday.

Games (April 10th)First Basket ScorerConsensus Odds
MEM vs. CLEDonovan Mitchell (CLE)+450
CHA vs. ATLBogdan Bogdanovic (ATL)+625
DAL vs. MIABam Adebayo (MIA)+475
TOR vs. BKNGradey Dick (TOR)+875
ORL vs. MILMarkelle Fultz (ORL)+700
SAS vs. OKCShai Gilgeous-Alexander (OKC)+600
MIN vs. DENMike Conley (MIN)+1100
PHX vs. LACBones Hyland (LAC)+750

Los Angeles Clippers’ point guard Bones Hyland became a solid value in first-basket-betting after he was penciled into the starting lineup yesterday.

For the Clips, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, James Harden, and Ivica Zubac all took a seat, giving way to players like Hyland, Amir Coffey, and P.J. Tucker.

Hyland led the way offensively with 37 points, but his first two points of the game were his first first basket of the season.

The big value in yesterday’s first-basket-scoring was Mike Conley of the Minnesota Timberwolves, with consensus odds to make the first bucket at +1100.

BestOdds’ First Basket Stats page tells us that Conley is always a decent value for the odds.

Conley’s nine first baskets this season actually leads the T-Wolves, and with a 20% first field goal attempt percentage, he is always a threat to take that first shot for Minnesota.

Let’s examine some players that could make the first basket across the NBA’s light schedule for Thursday.

As always, all picks are paired with the best odds.

Jaden Ivey – PG, Detroit Pistons

Detroit Piston’s point guard Jaden Ivey sank the first basket in the Piston’s previous contest, and on Thursday, Ivey can make it two in a row tonight against the Chicago Bulls.

When looking for a player to make the first basket, selecting a player on the team that wins the opening tip is always a great start.

Here’s a look at the opening tip data at BestOdds EDGE:

Detroit’s center Jalen Duren has beat Chicago’s Nikola Vucevic on the jump in both of their meetings.

Also, Vucevic has won 14% less of his opening tips, so I would expect Duren to go 3-0 against Vucevic on the opening tip this season.

The Bulls have allowed the first basket in 53% of their games, and of all of those first baskets, 29% have been scored by opposing point guards (3rd-most in NBA).

Here’s a look at the key first basket stats for the Pistons’ expected starting five:

Cade Cunningham is still ‘day-to-day’, so I’ll be fading Detroit’s shooting guard on the first basket tonight.

Ivey’s first FGA% matches Cunningham’s, the Pistons’ highest volume shooter, and that signals to me that Ivey is getting involved regularly in the opening minute of the game.

As BestOdds EDGE shows in Ivey’s player info card, he has taken the first or second shot in each of the last three games.

I’m expecting Detroit’s point guard to decorate the scoreboard first.

Pick: Ivey – First Basket (+650) FanDuel

Kris Murray – SF, Portland Trail Blazers

The Portland Trail Blazers host Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors tonight, and while the Blazers are 13.5-point underdogs and are largely expected to lose, they can still score the first few points.

Portland’s DeAndre Ayton has done a respectable job at center court, winning 58% of his opening tips this season, and tonight, he’ll go toe-to-toe with the Warriors’ Trayce Jackson-Davis.

Jackson-Davis has won 54% of his jumps, signaling that this tip could be a nailbiter, but with Jackson-Davis being listed at 6-foot-9 and Ayton being seven feet tall, I’m going with the good ol’ fashioned height advantage in this one.

The Trail Blazers have scored eight first baskets in the last 20 games, and half of those eight first baskets have been scored by forward Kris Murray.

Here’s a look at Murray’s recent early shot data from BestOdds EDGE:

Murray has connected on one first basket in the last five games, and some potentially resting players for Golden State could be fortuitous on Murray’s first basket chances tonight.

The Warriors currently have power forward Draymond Green and shooting guard/small forward Klay Thompson listed as ‘questionable’, and if they were both to sit tonight, that could leave Murray open out on the wing.

Murray is not one to shy away from taking an early shot from beyond the arc, and he could give Golden State a taste of their own medicine to kick off this contest.

Pick: Murray – First Field Goal (+1000) BetMGM

Herbert Jones – SG, New Orleans Pelicans

Tonight’s matchup between the New Orleans Pelicans and Sacramento Kings will feature two centers that have won less than 50% of their opening tips at midcourt.

The Kings’ Domantas Sabonis has been especially disappointing on the opening tip, winning just 29% of his chances.

Simply because Sabonis continues to fail at the jump, I’m expecting Valanciunas to gain the first possession for New Orleans.

Sacramento has allowed 32% of all opposing first baskets to shooting guards, and that could be an opportunity for Pelican’s guard Herbert Jones to make the first bucket.

Here’s a look a Jones’ recent first shot data from BestOdds EDGE:

Jones has had to wait for his first shot in games against Phoenix and Orlando, which are both very strong clubs.

In games against not so strong clubs, Jones has taken the second shot for New Orleans both times.

I would classify the Kings as a strong club, but with current injuries to both of their shooting guards, Kevin Huerter and Malik Monk, the door is wide open for Jones to knock down the first bucket.

Pick: Jones – First Basket (+1150) BetMGM

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A fan of both the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers, which is rare! Thomas provides sports betting content with the intent to educate and enter...

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