Ben Simmons skipping Olympics as career reaches crossroads

Ben Simmons won't play for Australia in the Olympics as he looks to get his NBA career back on track.

Struggling 76ers point guard Ben Simmons vows to not let his shooting struggles be the downfall of his career.

The Australian-born Simmons told his country’s national team that he will forego the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo. Instead, Simmons is expected to work out the kinks in his game.

It is a tough blow for the Aussies, as they were expected to compete for a medal. However, head coach Brian Goorjian said he supports the former No. 1 overall pick’s decision.

“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, but the Boomers are always here for him. We wanted him to know that in his time of need, the culture and the guys here are behind him and support him,” Goorjian said in a statement.

Simmons needs the extra work after losing his mojo in the playoffs. The 24-year-old broke an infamous free-throw record by shooting 34.2% from the line over throughout the playoffs, marking the lowest percentage ever in the postseason. The previous leader was Shaq, who shot 37.4% from the line in 2006.

Ben Simmons takes a free throw during the playoffs.
Getty Images

On top of Simmons’ free-throw woes, he has also struggled to look in the direction of the basket. In the series against the Hawks, Simmons went on a four-game stretch of failing to attempt a shot in the fourth quarter. He also scored just 19 points total in the last three games of the series, and only five points in a crucial Game 7.

After the disastrous series, Simmons, along with head coach Doc Rivers, were the subject of serious criticism. This caused a fed-up Rivers to create a game plan for Simmons to focus on improving his game this summer.

Ben Simmons plays against the Pacers.
Getty Images

“I think some of the stuff is obvious,” Rivers said. “We’re not hiding that Ben has to become a better free-throw shooter, and a more confident free-throw shooter. If that happens, I really believe a lot of the other parts of his game will follow. I said that before the season started. The first thing I said was, ‘We got to get him to the line 10 times a night.’ So, we’ve got to put in work so he can get there. But if we can get him there, man, his game goes to a different level.”

The 2018 Rookie of the Year and three-time All-Star could potentially be working on his game for a new team as well. Last week, there were reports that Simmons’ agent and Klutch Sports CEO Rich Paul met with the Sixers’ brass at the NBA combine in Chicago to discuss Simmons’ future on the team.

Philadelphia is hesitant to break up “the process,” and trade Simmons, but there are multiple teams who have been interested in the 6-foot-11 point guard. One team in particular, the Minnesota Timberwolves, reportedly wants Simmons ‘badly.’

This story originally appeared on: NyPost - Author:Evan Orris

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