Ben Simmons has decided against playing for the Australian Men’s National basket team. Will that decision help or hurt his game?

As the Australian Boomers prepare for a promising Olympic Games in Tokyo this coming week, one notable Australian NBA player will not be fighting for the gold. That being, the Philadelphia 76ers own Ben Simmons. Before training camp started for the Australian team, Simmons notified head coach Brian Goorjian that he will be skipping out the 2021 Games to “focus on individual skill and development.”

Surely, the last thing Simmons wants to do after being brutally berated by not only Sixers fans but by anyone who has access to a Twitter account is to get on television again and play basketball for millions to see. Choosing to opt-out of the Olympics will only be a detriment to his game and hinder his development this offseason.

Confidence was something Simmons clearly lacked in the postseason this year. It was obvious he second-guessed every move he made, every drive to the basket, every free throw, and every open dunk he passed out. That’s just before getting into his shooting woes. Simmons has notoriously kept his shooting under wraps without much development after his rookie season back in 2017. His free throws were just another hill to climb. At 32.8% this postseason, he put himself in second place behind Ben Wallace for the worst free throw percentage by a player in a single playoff run.

By playing in the Olympics against some of the world’s best players would have only forced Simmons to work out some of his issues and boost his confidence levels. Playing in an actual game with stakes on the line is very different to putting up shots in an empty gym. He has proven through his summer workout videos in the past that he has no problem shooting threes and having free throw after free throw sink in; he’s just yet to see that work pay off when it matters most. It’s easy to turn into Jordan when no one is there to see it, but it’s another thing to excel with all eyes on you. By staying in the gym, his mentality will stay stagnant.

Ben Simmons needs to learn to fail without fear. It’s okay if a 20ft jumper did not go through, but if you keep shooting them, they’ll eventually start to fall. Playing for the Australian Boomers would have put Simmons up to the test and would have given him a stage to prove anyone who doubted him wrong.

Look, we don’t know what’s going on behind closed doors. There might be more to the story than Simmons taking time to focus on his individual skills and development. Whatever the case may be, if Simmons comes back to the Sixers in October and puts his money where his mouth is and prove his potential, there can be no complaints.

This article first appeared on Philly Sports Network and was syndicated with permission.

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