DraftKings is offering up a four-game Olympic basketball slate starting at 9 p.m. ET on Saturday, and it should be an absolute blast. Not only is Team USA on the slate, but so are some of the other top international teams. It will give us the chance to look at some NBA players in starring roles for their countries and possibly discover some new talent, as well.
I could not be more excited.
Let’s dive into some of my favorite plays at each position.
Damian Lillard, USA vs. France ($10,400) – Expectations for Team USA have been diminished following two exhibition losses, but they remain the favorites to win the Gold Medal at -320 on DraftKings Sportsbook. Unsurprisingly, they own the highest implied team total on the opening slate (94.5 points), which makes them an obvious target.
Lillard stands out as one of their strongest options. He led Team USA in a host of categories during their four exhibitions, including points per game (17.0), minutes per game (29.3), 3-pointers made (16) and steals (six). His 48 field-goal attempts were also tied for the highest mark on the team.
Other Options – Patty Mills ($9,500), Tomas Satoransky ($6,900)
Mohammad Jamshidijafarabadi, Iran vs. Czech Republic ($3,100) – I’m not going to try spelling this name again, but “Mo Jam” is someone I have my eye on. He was Iran’s leading scoring during their exhibition contests, averaging 14.2 points per game. He also ranks second on the team in minutes per game, so he has some upside at this price tag. Iran does have the lowest implied team total on the slate at just 67.25 points, but “Mo Jam” looks like one of their best options.
Other Options – Gabe Vincent ($5,100), Joshiko Saibou ($4,400)
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Evan Fournier, France vs. USA ($6,800) – France has arguably the toughest matchup of the first round against the USA, but Fournier still stands out as an excellent option. He led Team France with 29 minutes in their final exhibition game and he also led the team with 13 shot attempts. Eight of those shots were from 3-point range, so expect him to launch against the U.S.
One caveat worth mentioning here involves Team USA. They could be a bit thinner than expected at shooting guard in their first game. Bradley Beal is out due to COVID-19 protocols, while Devin Booker, Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton are all arriving in Tokyo following a grueling NBA Finals. Those three players may not suit up, and Zach LaVine ($8,700) would become an elite option in that situation.
Other Options – LaVine
Miye Oni, Nigeria vs. Australia ($3,100) – Nigeria is one of the most intriguing teams on this slate. They put themselves in the conversation with upset wins over the U.S. and Argentina during the exhibition season, but they got beaten badly by Australia in their final tune-up before the Olympics. They also have an extremely deep roster, which makes them tough to decipher for DFS. Eleven players averaged at least 13.7 minutes per game during their three exhibitions, but they will likely condense their rotation a bit in the Olympic tournament.
Oni is one of my preferred targets on their squad. He logged 19 minutes in their final exhibition – the third-highest mark on the team – and he was good enough to crack the rotation for the Jazz during the NBA season.
Other Options – Stefano Tonut ($4,300), Josh Okogie ($4,200)
Kevin Durant, USA vs. France ($10,600) – Durant and Lillard are co-alphas for the U.S. squad, and I want both in my DFS lineups. There’s plenty of value to be had with some of the other squads, so pairing both together shouldn’t be that difficult. Durant is obviously one of the most talented scorers in the NBA, and there’s no reason to think he can’t duplicate that production in Tokyo. He also racked up the second-most rebounds and fourth most assists during the USA’s four exhibition contests.
Other Options – Joe Ingles ($9,000), Danilo Gallinari ($8,200)
Achille Polonara, Italy vs. Germany ($5,400) – Italy’s team stats during exhibition season are a bit out of whack since Gallinari wasn’t available, but Polonara was arguably their best player. He led the team with an average of 15.7 points per game, and he also added 7.7 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 2.3 steals and 0.7 blocks. That’s a lot of potential production at just $5,400. He will likely lose some touches with Gallinari in the fold, but he still seems underpriced.
Other Options – Nicolas Batum ($5,000), KZ Okpala ($3,200)
Jan Vesely, Czech Republic vs. Iran ($6,500) – Vesely is a former lottery pick in the NBA Draft, and while he didn’t pan out, it wasn’t due to a lack of confidence. An ESPN reporter asked him during the draft if he thought of himself as the European Blake Griffin, and he responded that he likes to think of Griffin as the American Jan Vesley. That’s how you enter a league!
Vesley was one of the Czech Republic’s best players leading up to the Olympics, averaging 10.8 points, 8.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 2.3 steals and 0.8 blocks over his past four games. The Czech Republic also has the third-highest implied team total on the slate, trailing only the U.S. and Australia.
Other Options – Draymond Green ($8,600), Arsalan Kazemi ($6,300)
Nicolo Melli, Italy vs. Germany ($4,000) – Hardcore NBA fans and DFS players are familiar with Melli, who has spent time with the Pelicans and Mavericks over the past two seasons. Melli is not shy about getting his shots up, which does make his game DFS friendly. He ranked fourth in points per game and second in rebounds per game during Italy’s exhibition games.
Other Options – Chimezie Metu ($4,500), Guerschon Yabusele ($3,100)
Hamed Haddadi, Iran vs. Czech Republic ($8,900) – Haddadi had a cup of coffee in the NBA, and he has been balling for Iran recently. He’s averaged 27.0 minutes per game during two contests for the squad, which is the third-highest mark on the team. He’s averaged 13.5 points, 11.0 rebounds, 7.0 assists and 3.5 blocks in those contests, which makes him extremely appealing for fantasy.
Other Options – Rudy Gobert ($9,900), Bam Adebayo ($7,500)
Jahlil Okafor, Nigeria vs. Australia ($5,700) – Center is arguably the deepest position on this slate, and I would recommend playing two of them if possible. Okafor stands out as a strong value option for Nigeria. Getting buckets has never been a problem for Okafor, and he led Nigeria in scoring during their exhibition contests.
Other Options – Johannes Voigtmann ($5,900), Ondrej Balvin ($3,000)
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is mlamarca) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.
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