Ben Simmons likely won’t be wearing his native Australia’s colors in this summer’s FIBA World Cup in China.
The 76ers point guard is “doubtful” to participate in the international tournament, choosing instead to focus on his offseason training, according to an ESPN report.
Simmons, 22, was named an All-Star last season, when he averaged 16.9 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 7.7 assists per game, but he has yet to show a willingness to shoot from the perimeter. Almost 90 percent of his attempts last season came from inside 10 feet.
He also has struggled from the free throw line, shooting just 60 percent last season on 428 attempts. He took six three-pointers last season but has yet to make one in his career, with most of the attempts being heaves at the end of a quarter or to avoid a shot-clock violation.
Sixers forward Tobias Harris and Simmons recently worked out together in Los Angeles. At a news conference Friday, Harris mentioned that Simmons knocked down two consecutive three-pointers while the two were playing one-on-one.
“He has made big improvements in his game,” Harris said. "His jump shot is really good, he has confidence to shoot it, and I just kept telling him there in his workouts to have the confidence to shoot it and don’t get discouraged if you miss. This is where you build that type of confidence. It was a good sight to see.”
The FIBA World Cup will start Aug. 31 and run through September.
With the Sixers expecting to make a deep playoff run, it’s possible Simmons is trying to save his legs.