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USA Still Major Favorite to Win Gold at 2020 Tokyo Olympics

Team USA
Despite back-to-back losses this week, Team USA are lined as -1000 favorites win gold at the 2020 Olympics. Photo By @TheNBACentral (Twitter)
  • Quarterfinal loss to France on Wednesday ended Team USA’s 58-game winning streak in major tournaments
  • Loss to Serbia in consolation game ensures Team USA will finish no better than seventh, its worst finish in a major international tournament
  • Despite early exit from FIBA World Cup, Team USA still favored to win gold in Tokyo next year

No James Harden. No Damian Lillard and no Anthony Davis.

Still, those absenses were supposed to add up to no problems for Team USA at the FIBA World Cup in China. But that notion went up in flames on Wednesday once France put the finishing touches on an 89-79 upset in the quarterfinals.

As a result, the team failed to win gold at a major international tournament for the first time since taking bronze at the 2006 World Cup.

The defeat also brought the team’s 58-game winning streak in tournaments featuring NBA players to a shuddering halt. It also raised questions about the team’s chances of taking home Olympic gold next year.

Odds Team USA Wins Gold at the 2020 Olympics

Result Odds at BetOnline
Yes -1000
No +500

*Odds taken on 09/11/19

Personnel Problems

There’s no question that fielding a roster devoid of the NBA’s brightest and best talents was going to bring some problems. When the likes of Davis, Harden and Zion Williamson all turned down roster spots, it ensured that the World Cup squad was very much a B-team. It certainly showed.

Aside from Donovan Mitchell’s 29-point game against France, the highest single-game output was 22 points from Harrison Barnes against Serbia.

Consider that just two of the 2019 roster were 2019 All-Stars (Mitchell and Kemba Walker), compared to nine of the 12-man squad who were 2016 All-Stars on the Rio Olympic team that routed Spain by 29 points to win gold.

The return of some of the NBA’s higher-echelon talent for the Olympic tournament should ensure that there’s no repeat of this 2019 debacle. Maybe that might even include LeBron.

Offensively Challenged

While the roster problems were well documented long before the World Cup, the team’s lacklustre play at the tournament was something that was hard to predict.

Compared to previous iterations of Team USA basketball, this squad lacked the offensive firepower that had characterized much of the program’s success. Case in point, this team managed only 111 points per 100 possessions, compared to at least 122 per 100 in each of Team USA’s last six international tournament appearances.

Again, with a return to a true All-Star roster, it’s hard to imagine that Team USA’s offensive efficiency doesn’t trend back towards the norm.

Three-point Woes

While the team’s shooting efficiency was barely over 50% in China, registering at a 51.2% clip, that continued a downward trend that has been in place since winning gold at the London Olympics in 2012.

Worse yet, the team’s three-point shooting was particularly wide of the mark. Having converted 39.7% of its three-point shots in its last five international tournament – a mark that would have put it on top of the NBA last season – the World Cup team managed just 33%.

In today’s three-point-happy basketball world, that would only have been good for 29th in the NBA last season.

As ESPN NBA analyst Kirk Goldsberry put it, “Only the Phoenix Suns converted a lower share of their 3s, and folks, that’s not good company for a group trying to be the best national team on the planet.”

Expect the Team USA’s Olympic squad to be a lot better in that department and to reutrn to the global basketball summit in Tokyo.

Pick: Yes (-1000)
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