Even before the Olympic committee allowed the USA to start letting NBA players compete in the Olympics, the USA was already the dominant force in men’s basketball. You can count on one hand how many times the USA did not win gold.
In Tokyo 2020 this Saturday, it will be more of the same thing: USA is a massive Olympics betting favorite despite not even coming close to fielding its best team. On top of that, several key players have already pulled out and more could be coming. Still, the USA checks in as the -350 favorites to capture gold on the online sportsbook.
The Current State of Team USA
The NBA season just came to a close and as we expected, the Milwaukee Bucks won the NBA Championship. It will then be a super short turnaround for guards Devin Booker and Jrue Holiday and forward Khris Middleton as they fly to Japan to bolster Team USA.
The trio need to carry their inspired performances from the NBA Finals to the Olympics as they will look to help pace the USA, which already lost two exhibition games and then lost Bradley Beal and Kevin Love.
Even at this less-than-ideal state, anything short of a gold would be surprising for a team that dwarfs every opponent in terms of star power. Still, we have seen Team USA upset before. And if it happens this year, any of these teams could do it and could go on to win it all.
To Win Gold: Who Has A Shot Other Than The USA?
Though a loss would strongly diminish the image of Team USA, this team has plenty of room for errors before the knockout stage. The USA can even lose two games and still make the quarterfinals. But that’s unlikely as they lead a rather soft Group A and should remain unchallenged until the semi-finals.
The second-ranked FIBA team is the obvious suspect at beating the USA and winning gold. However, despite having won eight gold medals in total, Spain has yet to win it all in the Olympics. They even lost to the unimpressive 2004 US team that finished third.
Spain has won every game this year so far except for one: you guessed it, their exhibition against the USA in July. These Spaniards are the oldest team in the tournament with half their roster born in the 1980s including 41-year-old Pau Gasol. They may not beat the USA, but they are likely a lock to win a medal at -110 like they have in the past three Olympics.
The Australians are the hottest team in basketball right now. Ranked third in FIBA, these Boomers were this close to winning its first Olympic medal in basketball in 2016. That’s something they could realize this year at the second-lowest odds to win a medal at -130 per the online bet.
The team is filled with scrappy shooters and defenders like San Antonio Spurs guard Patty Mills and Utah Jazz forward Joe Ingles. They should finish atop the least difficult group, Group B which should set them up nicely in the knockout stages.
France has underachieved relative to its talent, which includes three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert and six others with current or previous NBA experience. This team did win the bronze in the World Cup, so the potential is there.
But France has just one win this year, a two-pointer against 26th-ranked Montenegro. Otherwise it has lost twice against Spain and even lost to Japan. To make things more difficult, it is in the same group as the USA and will face them for their opening game. France will be an 11½-point underdog or +495 on the betting lines.
Before we can even write about Slovenia as the dark horse team of the tournament, several bettors have already put money on them. That’s the Luka Doncic effect. As an 18-year-old, Donic helped lead Slovenia to its first gold medal with an upset win in the 2017 Eurobasket Final over Serbia.
These Slovenians are now poised to make some noise in their Olympic debut. They’re in the toughest group along with Argentina, Spain, and the hometeam Japan. But Slovenia could win just one game and still make it to the knockouts. If they do, watch out.