Team USA’s Biggest Threats

USA Basketball is headed to Tokyo for the Opening Ceremonies, which begin tomorrow at 7:00 a.m. ET.

Losers in two exhibition matches, the Americans have some reinforcements on the way. Devin Booker, Khris Middleton, and Jrue Holiday will go from Finals rivals to international teammates.

“We haven’t said a word to each other,” Middleton said of Booker.

The Americans have won three straight Olympic gold medals dating back to 2006. But with the globalization of the sport comes more competition around the world.

  • Australia: Their eight-point win over the U.S. might not have been an anomaly. The Boomers have six NBA players on their roster, led by Patty Mills, Joe Ingles, and Matisse Thybulle.
  • Spain: This is a team with a bunch of current or former NBA players — Ricky Rubio, Marc and Pau Gasol, and the Hernangomez brothers. 

Elsewhere, Slovenia is surely a threat with Luka Doncic, and Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert leads France, whom the Americans face to open up tournament play on Sunday. 

“It’s different. Now you go out there, and the whole starting five are NBA players that are in the rotation,” Damian Lillard said.

The Americans are still favorites (-320*) to win the whole thing. Australia (+750*) and Spain (+900*) are next.