Best NBA First Basket Scorer Picks for Friday, March 22 (Target Jimmy Butler, Deandre Ayton)

Breaking down the best first basket scorer picks in the NBA for the action on Friday, March 22.

Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler (22) shoots.
Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler (22) shoots. / David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
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Friday is filled with March Madness games, but if you're looking for a quick bet to place in the NBA, you've come to the right place.

First Basket Scorer bets are decided in the opening minutes of games, and they usually are offered with some pretty favorable odds -- if you're right. That's the tricky part, there are a ton of variables that can mess up the start of a game, but there are ways to predict who will score in these markets.

I usually break it down using three key stats: Jump Ball Win Percentage, First Shot Percentage and First Baskets Scored.

Here are the players I'm targeting on Friday:

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NBA First Basket Scorer Picks and Predictions

  • Deandre Ayton First Basket Scorer (+390)
  • Jimmy Butler First Basket Scorer (+700)

Deandre Ayton First Basket Scorer (+390)

Deandre Ayton is becoming a first basket menace, recording nine of them on the season (in just 45 starts). He’s taken the first shot for the Portland Trail Blazers 22.2 percent of the time, and there’s a solid chance the Blazers get the ball first tonight against the Los Angeles Clippers. 

Los Angeles wins the jump ball just 27.9 percent of the time this season. 

Ayton has recorded the first basket in 20 percent of the games he’s played in, behind only Jaylen Brown, Jaren Jackson Jr. Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo amongst players in action tonight. 

He’s worth a bet since he’s been playing well as of late too, scoring 20 or more points in six of his last seven games. 

Jimmy Butler First Basket Scorer (+700)

I think there’s some value on this prop for Butler with Adebayo listed as questionable for this game.

The All-Star big man missed the team’s last game, and that means there is a huge void to fill in the first basket market. Adebayo currently leads the Heat this season with 12 first baskets and he takes the first shot of the game 22.4 percent of the time. 

Butler, who has 10 first baskets of his own this season, only takes the first shot 14.6 percent of the time this season. But, it’s possible the chance of him taking the first shot ticks up if Adebayo sits. 

Nikola Jovic took the first shot for the Heat on Wednesday, but Butler had the ball in his hands, getting the assist on that play. Don’t be shocked if Jimmy Buckets gets a chance to score first tonight.


Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.

Find Peter Dewey's NBA betting record here (futures included). You can also follow my daily plays on BetStamp here.