The first weekend of NBA basketball is finally upon us, and Friday has a loaded schedule of action. Twenty-two teams will be playing on Friday night, so there are plenty of chances for one of the most exciting NBA props, First Baskets.
Here are a few of my favorite plays for the Friday slate.
Friday’s Best NBA First Basket Player Prop Bets
(Odds courtesy of FanDuel Sportsbook)
Denver Nuggets @ Memphis Grizzlies
The defending champs visit the Ja Morant-less Grizzlies in Memphis. Last year, the Grizzlies were one of the strongest First Basket teams in the league, winning the opening tip about 75% of the time and scoring the First Basket in almost two-thirds of games. One of their biggest bucket-cashers was Jaren Jackson.
Memphis was really strong last year, distributing the ball often, including with First Baskets. Jackson was still near the team lead in the prop last year. With Morant out due to suspension, he’ll continue to be relied on offensively and the matchup with Denver is strong. The Nuggets gave up 28% of first opponent baskets to centers. Jackson’s ability to stretch the floor makes him an even stronger play in this matchup. He’s one of my favorite plays of the night.
Pick: Jaren Jackson (+650)
Miami Heat @ Boston Celtics
ESPN hosts their first Friday night double-header, starting with a rematch of the 2023 Eastern Conference Finals. The Celtics are looking for big things out of the newly acquired Kristaps Porzingis, who went off for 30 points in his Boston debut on Wednesday night. I’m also targeting him for another strong start with a First Basket on Friday night.
Porzingis was one of the top First-Basket scorers in the NBA last season while playing for the Wizards. The Latvian forward joining the likes of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown would seemingly lower his value on the prop, but I think he will still be targeted quite a bit. Porzingis was brought in to take offensive load off of Tatum and Brown, which he’s more than capable of doing.
I love him in this matchup because Miami gave up 25% of their opposing first baskets to centers. Although Porzingis isn’t a typical center, he plays a similar role on this roster. He’s a great play for the First Basket.
Pick: Kristaps Porzingis (+500)
Golden State Warriors @ Sacramento Kings
Round two of the ESPN double-header pits divisional foes in the Warriors and Kings. It’s a matchup that the Warriors have dominated over the years. On Friday, I expect them to bring that same domination to the First Basket prop, specifically Klay Thompson.
Thompson has long been a strong scorer for the Warriors and has been one of the best First Basket scorers for years. Last year, Sacramento gave up 22% of their opposing first baskets to shooting guards like Thompson. With their struggles winning opening tips last year, it’s a strong bet to focus on the Warriors, and Thompson may have the best matchup of the bunch.
Pick: Klay Thompson (+600)