Ben Simmons withdraws from Olympics to focus on ‘development’
Ben Simmons’ awful playoff performance for the Philadelphia 76ers seems to have led directly to his withdrawal from the Australia Olympic basketball team.
Basketball Australia confirmed Monday that Simmons had notified the team of his intention to withdraw from the Olympic squad. Coach Brian Goorjian said Simmons wanted to focus on “individual skill development” and Team Australia was supportive of the decision.
“I have spoken with Ben and whilst we wanted him to be a part of our team, we understand and support his decision and he has made it clear that this is something that he wants to be a part of in the future,” Goorjian said. “It is a pretty rough time for him right now and I know it is something that he wanted to do, but the timing just hasn’t worked.
“The best thing for everybody right now is for him to go on and develop that skill package and improve in a couple of areas for his next season in the NBA.”
Simmons’ decision is almost certainly linked to how his NBA season ended. The Philadelphia 76ers guard lost his confidence completely by the end of the team’s loss to Atlanta in the second round, with his free throw struggles progressing into an unwillingness to shoot at all. The manner of his playoff exit sparked further unflattering reports, and called his future in Philadelphia into question.
From the outside, it looks like Simmons is very motivated by how his playoffs went and is serious about taking the time to fix some things. Whether that translates next season remains to be seen, but if he’s willing to skip the Olympics to focus on himself, it’s not a bad sign for the 76ers.