Best NBA First Basket Scorer Picks for Tuesday, March 19 (Target Nikola Jokic, Nic Claxton)

Breaking down the best first basket scorer picks in the NBA for the action on Tuesday, March 19.

Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic.
Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic. / Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
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There are just five NBA games on Tuesday night, which means the options to bet on a first basket scorer are a bit limited, but that's not going to stop us from finding value somewhere in this market.

One of the plays that I'm looking at is in the Denver Nuggets-Minnesota Timberwolves game, as there is a star player that has dominated this market for most of the 2023-24 season.

Even though betting a first basket scorer is risky, it also could pay out at some favorable odds, making it a fun bet to place a smaller wager on.

Let's break down the players to target for Tuesday's action:

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NBA First Basket Scorer Picks and Predictions

  • Nikola Jokic First Basket Scorer (+425)
  • Miles Bridges First Basket Scorer (+600)
  • Nicolas Claxton First Basket Scorer (+600)

Nikola Jokic First Basket Scorer (+425)

There isn’t a single player in action tonight that takes the first shot of the game more than Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (24.2 percent of the time), and that’s resulted in 14 first baskets on the season for the two-time league MVP. 

This could be a favorable matchup for Jokic, as the Minnesota Timberwolves are down Karl-Anthony Towns and have sat Rudy Gobert in back-to-back games. If Gobert can’t suit up tonight, the undersized Naz Reid will have to deal with Jokic in the paint. 

Jokic has scored the first basket in 21.2 percent of his games this season. I’d expect him to get a touch early for Denver tonight. 

Miles Bridges First Basket Scorer (+600)

This is a volume play for Charlotte Hornets forward Miles Bridges against the Orlando Magic on Tuesday night. 

Orlando wins the tip just 41.2 percent of the time this season, so don’t be shocked if Charlotte gets the ball first – setting up a great chance for Bridges to be the first basket scorer. 

Bridges is behind only Jokic in first shot percentage among players in action on Tuesday (21.1 percent), but he has just six first baskets on the season. Still, he is the most likely choice for the Hornets, which is interesting that he’s at +600 since Charlotte has an inside track to getting the ball first. 

Franz Wagner and Paolo Banchero have better odds than Bridges, but I think he’s the best value to score first in this game. 

Nicolas Claxton First Basket Scorer (+600)

Brooklyn Nets big man Nicolas Claxton is a first basket machine, making it in 15 games this season. 

He’s also been great at winning the jump ball (55.9 percent), which should give him and the Nets an edge against the New Orleans Pelicans, who win the tip in just 46.3 percent of their games. 

Claxton has the highest percentage of games that he’s started and scored first of any player in action tonight, and he’s still taken the first shot 17.2 percent of the time for the Nets. He’s worth a bet at these odds.


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.