FIBA World Cup: Inexperience makes Team USA a flawed favorite

By Jonathan Von Tobel  (Senior NBA Analyst) 

August 4, 2023 07:53 AM

One glance at the roster for Team USA, and the first thing that comes to mind is youth and inexperience. 

Not a single player set to represent the U.S. in the Philippines at the end of the month has ever played on the Senior level. Some have played for the select teams, which practice with the Senior Team before competition, and others have played on the Junior level, but this is going to be a whole new experience for almost everyone.

Despite that, Team USA is the odds-on favorite at DraftKings to win the FIBA World Cup (-105), and those expectations are not lost on head coach Steve Kerr.

“They know what the goal is and what comes with it,” said Kerr at practice on Thursday. “Similar to the NBA, you know what you signed up for. We’re all competitors and that’s why we do this. You try like hell to win.”

The betting market has shifted somewhat against the Americans since odds for the FIBA World Cup opened at DraftKings. Team USA was as high as -115 to win gold, but that has since come down to the current price and rightfully so.

Every iteration of the American national team has had at least two players with Senior level playing experience since 1992, according to This is also the first of the 18 U.S. National Teams made up of NBA players that did not have a single player selected to an All-NBA team the previous year. 

Some reading this might believe that experience is an overvalued quality, but not in international play. Especially when there is so much talent on the opposing rosters.

Luka Doncic will lead Slovenia, which led all Olympic teams in scoring back in 2021 and finished fourth. France finished second that year, and it brings back its core of veterans like Rudy Gobert, Evan Fournier and Nicolas Batum. Team Canada is the second choice on the board to win gold, and they boast an extremely talented team led by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Australia has a great mix of veterans, like Joe Ingles and Patty Mills, as well as youth like Josh Giddey. Germany and the Dominican Republic even have NBA talent on their rosters as well.

This is not going to be a walk in the park for Team USA, and given the current price they are overvalued favorites. 

Team Canada (+400) is worth taking a wager on given the price that is out there. The gap between them and the Americans is not as wide as the market would indicate, and they are the odds-on favorite to win Group H (-165). There is still uncertainty around the status of Jamal Murray (More on that coming up), but right now they project to be a problem in the Philippines.

Jamal Murray’s status for World Cup play uncertain

Frankly, it was a surprise to see Jamal Murray’s name appear when Team Canada announced its roster. 

Murray played 65 regular season games and 20 postseason games for the Denver Nuggets this season, and he averaged 39.9 minutes per game in the playoffs. For him to add more to his workload by playing in the World Cup is something we do not usually see, so it makes sense that now the media is getting access to teams with training camps opening around the world there is now doubt emerging about what his role for Team Canada will really be.

Murray told Josh Lewenberg of TSN that getting his body ready was “a process” and that getting ready for World Cup play was “a little bit different than everyone else’s” at this time. Should Murray not participate that would obviously be a blow for Team Canada (+400) which is the second choice on the board at DraftKings to win the World Cup. 

The Canadians still have a loaded backcourt led by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, but having Murray alongside couldn’t hurt, especially if he’s nailing shots like this:

Team Canada plays its first Tuneup Game on Aug. 9 against Germany in Berlin.

Giannis Antetokounmpo unlikely to play for Greece in the World Cup

Nothing has been officially announced, but it seems that there is a growing sentiment that Giannis Antetokounmpo will not play for Greece this summer. Antetokounmpo underwent a “routine” procedure on his left knee back in June, and his recovery has made his status for the World Cup unknown.

“The information is that he is making an effort, and he will be reevaluated shortly, and we will have a final decision on whether he will make it or not,” said Greece head coach Dimitris Itoudis during media day.

Greece is tied with Serbia for the seventh-best odds to win the FIBA World Cup at DraftKings, but that number is sure to change should Antetokounmpo get ruled out for the tournament. The Greeks are not dead without the former NBA MVP though, as they beat Slovenia 98-91 in a tuneup game despite a triple-double from Luka Doncic.

Those who are either rooting for, or betting on Team USA this summer will want to keep their ear to the ground on this story. Greece is in Group C with the Americans, and are currently the second likeliest group winner (+500) behind Team USA, according to DraftKings.

Greece will play another tuneup with Slovenia on Friday. 

back to news

Live On Air

Streaming Now: The Greg Peterson Experience

play Watch Live radio Listen Live


A Numbers Game: Be careful betting baseball games right now, if they don’t involve teams still trying to make the playoffs. Teams that have clinched or teams that are completely out of it will be approaching games far differently. View more tips.

Ian Cameron: USC at Colorado - OVER (73.5). View more picks.