USA basketball is a -350 favorite to win the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics
Damian Lillard, Draymond Green among players that have committed to Team USA
LeBron James, Steph Curry among those likely to stay home
As of now, the Tokyo Summer Olympics are scheduled to go ahead as planned. Japan is still dealing with the pandemic in a big way, but another cancellation of the Summer Games appears unlikely. The opening ceremonies are set for Friday, July 23, while things will wrap up on Sunday, August 8.
As You May Expect, the U.S. Is Expected to Bring Home No Shortage of Hardware This Summer
Frankly, anything but a gold medal in men’s basketball would go down as a serious disappointment. Team USA has won the gold in each of the last three Summer Olympics dating back to Beijing in 2008. The string of success followed a dismal bronze-medal showing at the 2004 Games in Athens, which led to a complete teardown of the men’s basketball program.
The 2020-21 NBA playoffs will conclude before the Olympics begin, but it’s still fair to assume we’ll see a bit of a watered-down version of the team this summer. The condensed NBA regular-season schedule combined with a shortened offseason could lead to several big-name American players deciding to stay home.
Americans Still Favored for Gold
That said, the United States is so rife with basketball talent that even a lesser version of the men’s team will enter the Olympics as massive favorites for the gold medal. Sports betting sites have listed the Americans as early -350 favorites to win the gold. The full odds are listed as follows:
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On Tuesday, Shams Charania of The Athletic reported that Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard and Warriors forward Draymond Green have committed to join the team this summer. This will be the first Olympic showing for Lillard, who has become a perennial MVP candidate in recent years. Green was a part of the Olympic team that took home the gold at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro. Across eight games that year for Team USA, the First-Team, All-NBA defender averaged 1.9 points, 2.1 rebounds, and 1.2 assists.
Portland Trail Blazers’ Damian Lillard and Golden State Warriors’ Draymond Green are among the initial commitments to Team USA for the Tokyo Olympics this summer, sources tell me and @joevardon.
The team will be coached by San Antonio Spurs legend Gregg Popovich for the first time. Popovich has taken over for Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, who led the Americans to the gold at each of the last three Olympics. Popovich was a member of Larry Brown’s coaching staff at the aforementioned 2004 Games.
Playoff Obligations for Other Players
Earlier this month, Joe Vardon of The Athletic said that Warriors sharpshooter Steph Curry was “unsure” on whether to join the team. Curry finished third behind Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid in NBA MVP voting this past season after averaging a career-high 32 points per game for Golden State. The Warriors disappointingly failed to qualify for the playoffs, but Curry may decide to take the summer off in order to ensure he remains healthy before the 2021-22 campaign begins in the fall.
Lakers star LeBron James hinted at staying home this summer, too. After the Lakers were beaten by the Phoenix Suns in the first round of the playoffs, James said,
“Nah, I think I’m gonna play for the Tune Squad this summer instead of the Olympics.”
LeBron was referring to his starring role in the upcoming movie Space Jam: A New Legacy, which hits theaters next month.
James Harden, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Trae Young, Devin Booker, Kawhi Leonard, Donovan Mitchell, and Chris Paul are among the other potential Team USA targets whose NBA teams are still alive in the playoffs.
The Team USA roster is expected to be set by the end of the month, with Olympic training camp slated to get underway on July 6 in Las Vegas. The NBA Finals are scheduled to begin on July 8, which means at least some of the players listed above will likely be unavailable for Olympic selection.
Nikola Jokic will lead Serbia (+800) following his MVP-winning campaign for the Denver Nuggets, while Spain (+800) will be headlined by Ricky Rubio, Nikola Mirotic, Sergio Rodriguez, and others.
Taylor Smith has been a staff writer with GamblingSites.org since early 2017. Taylor is primarily a sports writer, though he will occasionally dabble in other things like politics and entertainment betting. His primary specialties are writing about the NBA, Major League Baseball, NFL and domestic and international soccer. Fringe sports like golf and horse racing aren’t exactly his cup of tea, bu ...
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