By Mark Strotman | | 3 mins
Ben Simmons Out of FIBA World Cup 2019 for Australia
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Fresh off a five-year, $170 million max extension, Philadelphia 76ers point guard Ben Simmons has opted not to represent the Australian national team in this summer’s FIBA World Cup.
It’s obviously a blow for the Aussies, who will now be without their NBA All-Star point guard whose length and transition prowess would have played perfectly in the international tournament. But they’re still the favorites to come out of what should be one of the most competitive groups in the tournament, touting +110 odds to advance. That’s a hair better than Canada (+200) and Lithuania (+250).
Australians Still A Solid Team
There’s no doubt the Aussies would love to have Simmons running the point, but they’re still a deep team. They’ve got current NBA players Joe Ingles, Patty Mills, Matthew Dellavedova, Jonah Bolden (Simmons’ Sixers teammate), Aron Baynes, Andrew Bogut, and Deng Adel.
The Australians are currently ranked 11th in the FIBA rankings and have gone 3-3 in each of the last two FIBA championships in 2010 and 2014. There’s optimism they can improve on that record with a bevy of talented NBA players, though admittedly Simmons would have made them clear-cut favorites in the group.
Canada, Lithuania Will Be Tough Outs
Team Canada won’t be an easy out in Group H. They’re also headlined by some talented NBA’ers, including Jamal Murray, Tristan Thompson, Kelly Olynyk and potentially third overall pick R.J. Barrett, who received an invite to the camp. They’ve also got championship experience on their side, with Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse leading the team in 2019.
The Lithuanians went 8-1 in the World Cup in 2010 on their way to winning bronze, while their 8-3 mark in 2014 was impressive in its own right. They’ve got star power in the frontcourt with NBA’ers Domantas Sabonis and Jonas Valanciunas leading the way.
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Simmons Wants To Work Out With Sixers
Simmons is on the fast track to greatness in Philadelphia. Jokes about his non-existent jump shot aside, he’s one of the best young players in basketball with one of the league’s most unique skill sets. He’s one of the keys to the Sixers’ championship hopes in 2020, which took a major jump in the wake of their busy free agency period.
The Sixers re-signed Tobias Harris, signed All-Star center Al Horford and traded for Josh Richardson in the Jimmy Butler deal. Simmons said his decision to skip the World Cup stems primarily from his desire to work out with his new teammates, and two weeks in China (the FIBA Tournament runs from Aug. 30 to Sept. 15) would take away valuable time in the leadup to training camp in late September.
The extra work could pay off. Simmons and the Sixers are excellent dark-horse picks in a top-heavy East. They’re currently +1200 to win the 2020 title.