Team USA overwhelming favorite in Olympic men’s basketball odds

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Team USA, with Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson offering a sneak peak at what the Golden State Warriors’ superteam will look like during the NBA season, has been winning their pre-Olympic men’s basketball games by more than 30 points.

The Americans are always the favorite before the Olympics, but having their odds shrink all the way to -1600 is eye-opening. Part of that is that even though international basketball isn’t a priority to most NBA stars, the sting of Team USA’s bronze medal at the 2004 Olympics is still fresh enough that players are determined to not let it happen again.

The other reason for those -1600 odds is the lack of an identifiable challenger in Rio. The only team capable of stopping Team USA is probably Team USA. Between the Warriors’ trio and F Carmelo Anthony, who is playing in his fourth Olympics, Team USA will likely be built around perimeter shooting, which can be boom or bust. Team USA has only two true centers, DeMarcus Cousins and DeAndre Jordan, to chase after offensive rebounds.

Spain, which earned the silver medal in 2008 and 2012, is the nominal second favorite at +1000. Half of Spain’s roster, including C Pau Gasol and PG Jose Calderon, are over 30 years old. International basketball officials tolerate a lot of physical play, and the short turnaround time between games can take a toll on 30-somethings. Spain also boasts Minnesota Timberwolves PG Ricky Rubio, and usually plays well as a unit.

Veteran San Antonio Spurs PG Tony Parker and Charlotte Hornets SF Nicolas Batum willed France to the last Olympic berth by leading it to victory in a qualifying tournament in the Philippines in early July. On top of battling through that all-or-nothing qualifier, France has also added Utah Jazz C Rudy Gobert as a double-digit rebounder and shot blocker. Unlike Spain, France faces Team USA in group play on August 14, which hurts their chance of surprising the Americans in a one-game showdown in the medal round.

Like France, Serbia, which is listed at +2200 on those Rio Olympics odds, earned a lower betting line from the oddsmakers due to the fact it won a qualifying tournament. Denver Nuggets C Nikola Jokic, who is an emerging star, is part of a physical front line.

Two of the South America representatives, host Brazil and Argentina, and perennially solid Lithuania are listed at +2800 at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. From there, the board spreads out to Croatia (+5000), Australia (+15000) and China, Nigeria and Venezuela, all at +50000. Venezuela qualified at the FIBA Americas last summer by upsetting Canada.

The tournament begins on August 6 when Team USA plays China, and the gold medal game is on August 21, the final day of the Games.

WNBA President Lisa Borders stepping down

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NEW YORK – WNBA President Lisa Borders is stepping down.

The league announced Tuesday she will become the first president and CEO of Time’s Up – an organization dedicated to safe, fair and dignified work for women. Borders says it was fully her decision to leave.

NBA Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum will oversee the WNBA on an interim basis while a search for a successor begins,

Borders joined the league in 2016. She helped the WNBA grow in areas such as live streaming of games on Twitter and the availability of one-day daily fantasy.

Borders is the third executive to leave the league in the last six months. The league is coming off a season in which it had its highest TV ratings in four years. It begins its 23rd season next year.

Lakers move up NBA championship odds after LeBron James’ decision

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It’s important to remember the Golden State Warriors’ toughest challenge is just getting out of the Western Conference.

While four-time all-star forward DeMarcus (Boogie) Cousins likely won’t suit up for Golden State until late in the regular season as he rebuilds strength in a surgically repaired Achilles tendon, his signing has moved the Warriors into minus money on the NBA futures.

The two-time defending champion Warriors are a -175 favorite on the NBA championship odds for 2019 at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. However, the balance of power in the NBA has moved even farther westward with LeBron James joining the Los Angeles Lakers, so it’s not a sure thing that the Warriors will be able to run a gauntlet through the conference to play in the NBA Finals for the fifth season in a row.

In both 2016 and 2018, the Warriors went the full seven games in the Western Conference Finals, going a combined 5-0 when facing elimination. That’s a tough margin to live on, even for a dynasty that will soon trot out five all-stars with Cousins, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Kevin Durant.

James’ decision has led to the Lakers (+650) having the fourth-best odds, although Los Angeles will have to make further acquisitions – Kawhi Leonard, perhaps – in order to transform from a 35-win also-ran into a serious challenge to Golden State.

Unlike the Eastern Conference that James dominated for nearly a decade, there are more good teams to scale over on the climb to the top. The upshot of the Lakers drawing action is that it might protect the value on challengers that came almost sadistically close to making the 2018 NBA Finals.

The Boston Celtics (+550) were minutes away from the NBA Finals last season and are looking forward to a full season from small forward Gordon Hayward and point guard Kyrie Irving, who were out much of the season while their supporting cast gained valuable on-the-job experience.

The Houston Rockets (+600) also came close to dethroning the Warriors and their current odds to win the 2019 NBA championship are enticing since they have yet to make a major offseason move, as they still have to come to terms with center-forward Clint Capela, while also hoping to add veteran small forward Carmelo Anthony.

The Philadelphia 76ers (+1600) round out the top five and could be worth a flier in conference championship futures, where the Celtics will be favorites.

For more odds information, betting picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes or listen to it at OddsShark.libsyn.com.