There will be 33 new events at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, including the debut of 3×3 basketball for both men’s and women’s teams. The fact that it’s a new Olympic sport makes handicapping 3×3 basketball odds a challenge. Consistent with the more popular 5×5 basketball event, the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) is the governing body for the 3×3 basketball games as well.
The Olympic 3×3 is an eight-nation tournament for both genders. The top-three nations in the men’s world rankings as of Nov. 1, 2019, automatically qualified. Team USA was ranked fifth at the time, behind Serbia, Russian Olympic Committee (ROC), China and Mongolia, despite winning the world title four months earlier.
With a loss to Netherlands in the quarterfinals of the qualifying tournament, the U.S. men’s team failed to qualify for the first 3×3 Olympic event. Its absence from this year’s games will mark the first time in history that the U.S. failed to qualify for an Olympic men’s or women’s basketball event. It qualified for the 32 traditional Olympic basketball tournaments and earned a medal all 30 times in which it participated.
U.S. Men’s Team
The disappointing results were a bit surprising considering the men’s team won the 2019 world title with former Purdue All-Big Ten forward, Robbie Hummel, also on this year’s roster. This year, however, Hummel was the only player on the roster with NBA experience, joined by Dominique Jones, Joey King, and Kareem Maddox, all who played Division I college basketball but never recorded any time in an NBA game.
Active NBA players do not compete in international 3×3 competition and were not going to be on the Olympic team had the U.S. men qualified.
Men’s 3×3 Basketball Odds
With the U.S. men’s team involuntarily sitting out the Games, Serbia is listed as the favorite to win it all at DraftKings Sportsbook followed closely by Latvia. There’s a considerable gap next with the ROC listed at +700 to walk away champions.
If the FIBA 3×3 men’s player rankings are to be taken seriously, Serbia and Latvia should face off in the finals as both nations start a combined six of the world’s top-10 players. Serbia starts the second, third, and fifth-ranked players while Latvia’s Nauris Miezis is the No. 1 player in the world and his fellow starters rank sixth and seventh.
While it’s tempting to take a juicy underdog in a brand-new event with so many unknowns, these games have the same feel to them as all five Warriors-Cavs NBA Finals in a row, with two teams separating themselves greatly from the rest of the field.
Results: Second-favored Latvia took home the gold over Russia, with pre-tournament favorite Serbia capturing bronze.
U.S. Women’s Team
Not as surprising as the men’s lack of success was the U.S. women’s team’s domination of the field at qualifying. Their squad consists of four solid WNBA players in Stefanie Dolson, Kelsey Plum, Allisha Gray, and Katie Lou Samuelson, and all four were completely dominant in their qualifying games, winning by an average of 21-10. France was the only team to score more than 12 points against the United States, losing 21-17 in the second round.
Women’s 3×3 Basketball Odds
FIBA’s women’s rankings for 3×3 basketball diverge a bit from the Team Futures odds listed at DraftKings Sportsbook. DK lists the United States as favorites, yet France and the Russians lead the federation’s team rankings.
Results: The Americans defeated Russia in the finals, with China taking the bronze.
3×3 Basketball Rules
If you’ve ever played 3×3 pick-up basketball on any court on planet Earth, you already know most of the rules for the Olympic event.
- Each made basket inside the arc is worth one point and each made basket from beyond the arc is worth two points.
- One team wins when they score 21 points, but there is also a 10-minute game clock and a 12-second shot clock, both of which stop during dead balls and free throw attempts.
- If the game clock expires before either team reaches 21 points, the game goes to overtime where the first team to score two points wins.
Action resumes the same way from every dead ball, including the start of the game. The offensive player standing at the top of the arc passes it to the defensive player guarding them, who passes it back to the offensive player to initiate a live ball (a.k.a. “check-ball”).
When a shot is missed and rebounded by the offensive team, they can simply try to score again. If a missed shot is rebounded by the defensive team, they must dribble or pass out to beyond the arc before being allowed to attempt to score.
There are a few important differences, however, between normal pickup ball and the Olympic event. For starters, a made field goal or free throw is not a “make-it-take-it” or even a dead ball situation. After the ball goes through the net, the defensive team gains possession and must pass or dribble the ball from directly beneath the hoop, while still fully inbounds, not from out-of-bounds like a 5×5 game. After they’ve cleared the arc with both feet, they are free to score within the 12-second shot clock.
Free throws are also awarded to players fouled in the act of shooting (one point for a field goal attempt inside the arc and two points for a shot attempt beyond it) or when a team gets called for more than six fouls combined, giving the opponent two free throw attempts. After a team commits more than nine fouls, each subsequent foul is a technical, awarding the opponent two free throw attempts and possession of the ball.