NBA action stays hot Saturday with another full slate of games. Here is a look at some of my favorite plays for First Basket.
Saturday’s Best First Basket Scorer Picks
Charlotte Hornets at Indiana Pacers
The Pacers are on the second night of a back-to-back taking on the Charlotte Hornets. Last year they didn’t excel when it came to First Baskets and that had a lot to do with Myles Turner not being a strong opening tip winner. The springy Mark Williams is taking the tips for Charlotte and he’s been pretty solid. It’s a good matchup for Charlotte to score first.
Indiana gave up opposing first field goals to centers more often than any other position, but coming up second was power forward. That’s where my attention is drawn. PJ Washington is off to a career-best start this season, posting 19.0 PPG. His shooting numbers are way up, including FGA. He’s becoming a guy that the offense flows to even surrounded by some scorers.
That alone is enough to like him for First Basket, but he also led the Hornets in First Baskets last year. He’s growing even more into the offense this year and with a strong matchup against a tired team, Washington is a solid play for Saturday night.
Pick: PJ Washington (+700)
Boston Celtics at Brooklyn Nets
The Celtics travel to Brooklyn to take on the Nets. The Celtics have been on fire to start the season, still yet to lose. The offense has been incredible and they’ve been distributing the ball with a lot of mouths to feed. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown were both elite First Basket scorers last season. Boston then added Kristaps Porzingis and Jrue Holiday, solid First Basket cashers themselves.
I’m going to back the hot hand and target the Celtics here, particularly Porzingis. Last year the Nets allowed opposing centers to record 28% of their first scores. Porzingis isn’t a typical center, but plays a similar stretch role with Boston. With Nic Claxton missing some time with a sprained ankle already this season, the Nets have been playing small. Porzingis should be able to get an opportunity to score from anywhere on the floor and I love him to do so in this game.
Pick: Kristaps Porzingis (+400)
Utah Jazz at Minnesota Timberwolves
Minnesota and Utah face off in an early Northwest Division matchup. Utah surprised some teams last year getting off to a red-hot start. However, they weren’t really great when it came to First Baskets. In fact, they were one of the worst. I’ll be targeting Minnesota
In 2022-23 Minnesota was one of the strongest First Basket teams. This is no surprise since they’re chock-full of bucket-getters like Anthony Edwards and Karl Anthony Towns. However, it is Rudy Gobert that led the team in first team field goals. He’s my play for First Basket on Saturday night.
It’s a strong matchup for Gobert. Utah gave up over 25% of their first opponent field goals to centers. The number point to this being a really strong play and I’m going to back the numbers for a First Basket cash.
Pick: Rudy Gobert (+750)