Ben Simmons, projected to go No.1 in the 2016 NBA Draft, hasn’t done himself any favors by pulling out of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, according to league insiders.
Simmons informed Team Australia officials Friday his decision to withdraw from his country’s basketball team for the Rio Olympic Games which will be held between August 5 and 21.
“Ben Simmons will postpone playing with the Australian Olympic team this summer in order to concentrate fully on his NBA activities following the upcoming 2016 NBA draft,” Rich Paul, Simmons’ agent, said in a statement.
Paul, who also represents LeBron James, said his client intends to play for Australia down the road. “Australian Olympic Team training and competition takes place at the same time as the various NBA summer development programs, and therefore, Ben will look forward to his national team participation at some time later in his career.”
The decision has met severe criticism around the league, with certain unnamed NBA general managers and scouts questioning Simmons’ character and loyalty. The Australian media also came down hard on Simmons, with Fox Sports trying to justify the teenager’s decision. “The knee-jerk reaction is to question Simmons’ patriotism but, when looking at the facts, it’s easy to understand why the decision was a sensible one.”
According to Fox Sports, Simmons’ decision had a lot to do with fellow Australian Dante Exum suffering an ACL tear during an international friendly last year.
“While representing your country is extremely significant, the needs of your employer should take precedence. Simmons has nothing to prove, and everything to lose. Look no further than Dante Exum, a good friend of Simmons and someone who suffered a season-ending injury in an international game that had no value.”
Is Ben Simmons overrated?
Despite drawing premature comparisons with LeBron James and Magic Johnson, Simmons has been criticized for lacking urgency, with some opining that the 6-10 forward is “vastly overrated”.
In January 2016, Simmons was dubbed as the “the best all-round player since LeBron James” by Lakers legend Magic Johnson after the Australian prodigy became the first player in 20 years to aggregate at least 80 points, 70 rebounds and 30 assists in his first five college games.
Despite that early run, Simmons failed to guide LSU to the NCAA tournament, with certain scouts questioning his intangibles and ability to deliver at the big stage.
Though Ben Simmons is still projected to be a top-3 pick, there are significant worries about his shooting form, or lack thereof, as illustrated by the fact that he attempted only 3 three-pointers throughout his college career with LSU.
Will Brandon Ingram supersede Ben Simmons as the No.1 draft pick in June? It remains to be seen.