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2024 Paris Olympics: Men’s Basketball Odds & Predictions

The 2024 Paris Olympics are just over a month away. The final rounds of qualifying play for this year’s men’s basketball tournament are scheduled for early July, so I’m writing this tournament preview before the full field is set. You can return here for updated odds once the field is set. A few notable squads still have to qualify, including Greece, Slovenia and Spain. Without further ado, let’s dive into the Olympics odds and my basketball picks and predictions for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

2024 Paris Olympics: Men’s Basketball Odds, Picks & Predictions

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2024 Paris Olympics: Men’s Basketball Odds

TeamOdds 6/24
United States-390
South Sudan+21000
Odds via FanDuel; current as of June 24, 2024.

The United States, home of the NBA and where basketball itself was invented, has claimed the gold medal for men’s basketball in its last four attempts. Team USA has won gold 16 times in 19 tries (not counting the 1980 Moscow Olympics).

The United States’ only losses in knockout play came against the Soviet Union in 1972 (in a controversial ending that remains contested), the Soviet Union in 1988 (in the semifinals) and Argentina in 2004. Betting against the Americans hasn’t often been profitable.

With a stacked roster heading to Paris that includes the likes of LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Anthony Davis and more, the books don’t expect the Americans to fumble this year. FanDuel lists Team USA as a massive -390 favorite, which equates to an 80% chance of winning gold.

But should Team USA be so heavily favored — or could we have a repeat of 2004 brewing?

2024 Paris Olympics: Men’s Basketball Tournament Predictions & Picks

Team USA deserves to be the favorite and to argue otherwise would be incorrect. That said, does Team USA really win the gold medal 80% of the time? I’m not sold. There are several key rule differences between the NBA and FIBA that I discuss in my guide to Olympic basketball betting.

In short, FIBA basketball better rewards strong defensive play, especially rim protection, as goaltending rules are relaxed, there is no three-second violation and officials tend to permit more contact. With a shorter 3-point arc as well, the lane can get crowded quickly.

Team USA has a loaded roster this year. I tried to highlight just a few players, but leaving anyone’s name off the list didn’t sit right. It’s a list that includes several future Hall of Famers along with a few pieces who will prove essential on defense.

But the stacked nature of this year’s Team USA roster is exactly why I’m skeptical in the first place. Every player except for Bam Adebayo and Jrue Holiday are high-usage superstars. Worse, seven of the 12 players are older than 30, and another three are older than 35.

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As the United States enters the 2024 Paris Olympics on a high note, the host country, France, is coming off a brutal group-round exit at the 2023 FIBA World Cup. The tournament laid bare the flaw with the team’s roster construction over the last few years: poor playmaking. The team lacked a true point guard, which hurt their 3-point shooting and assist-to-turnover rate.

But that French team looks far different than this one. Victor Wembanyama will play for the French this year, giving them the most versatile player on the floor at all times who undoubtedly gets a major boost in value with the rule differences. Wembanyama will be freed up to do more work in the backcourt with Rudy Gobert as a stopper in the backcourt.

The French also have a few additional options in the backcourt. While none of Killian Hayes, Frank Ntilikina or Theo Maledon were good in the NBA, they could all contribute to this team as pass-first point guards, taking the pressure off 37-year-old Nando De Colo to be the workhorse facilitator, if they make the team.

By the time the tournament rolls around, the French starting lineup could look like Killian Hayes/Theo MaledonEvan FournierNicolas BatumVictor WembanyamaRudy Gobert, with Wembanyama flexible enough for a bigger player like Guerschon Yabusele to slide him into Fournier or Batum’s spot. That may not sound like a great NBA lineup, but it will be an effective FIBA lineup.

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Pride also matters more to this French team than anyone else in the field. The embarrassing loss in last year’s FIBA World Cup combined with the opportunity to win a gold medal at home isn’t lost on the players, especially not Gobert, who has had this summer circled since Paris was announced as the host in 2017.

I’m also keen on the French because of how the groups are working out. Group A will be an absolute bloodbath between Australia, Canada, the winner of the Greece qualifier (likely Greece or Slovenia) and the winner of the Spain qualifier (likely Spain). Group C should be United States at No. 1 and Serbia at No. 2 over the winner of the Puerto Rico qualifier (likely Lithuania or Italy) and South Sudan.

In Group B, France will line up against Germany, Japan and the winner of the Latvia qualifier, likely Latvia (now without Kristaps Porzingis) or Brazil. Although France’s disastrous World Cup showing has dropped them to No. 9 in the FIBA rankings, with Wembanyama on the roster, they should win Group B, and they’ve got a better shot to win gold than the +1600 (5.9%) at FanDuel suggests.

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Isaiah Sirois


Isaiah Sirois

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