A damming scouting report card about troubled Australian NBA star Ben Simmons has resurfaced as his attitude problems continue to create headaches for his teammates and coach.
He will miss Philadelphia 76ers’ season opener against New Orleans after he was booted from training and hit with a one-game suspension over reports he refused to take part in a defensive drill earlier this week.
The 25-year-old Melburnian’s attitude problems appear to be getting worse with Simmons racking up AUD$1.87million in fines for his no-show at four preseason games, as well as missing training.
Some of those who have followed Simmons’ career say there were early warning signs when Simmons as a college basketball superstar in New Orleans five years ago.
At the time, ESPN NBA draft analyst Jonathan Givony said Simmons showed a lack of competitiveness which raised questions about his character as a player, despite going on to become the number one pick in the 2016 NBA draft.
Ben Simmons (pictured at training this week) will miss the Philadelphia 76ers’ season opener against New Orleans
‘The question marks around Ben Simmons have always been there for those who have followed him closely,’ Givony tweeted on Wednesday.
He also shared an article he wrote five-and-a-half years ago pointing out all of Simmons’ flaws, claiming his prospects as the number one draft pick were in peril.
‘Simmons has displayed an apathy for defense, contact and delivering winning plays in crucial moments,’ Givony wrote in March 2016.
‘At times, it appears he only passes when guaranteed an assist and chases home-run plays at inopportune times in search of a highlight. Simmons seems to value those things over winning.’
Givony added similar sentiments had been expressed by Simmons’ national teammates at the junior and senior levels.
ESPN NBA draft analyst Jonathan Givony who has followed Simmons’ career say there were early warning signs about him five years ago
‘Australian players and coaches who have been around him don’t speak about him in flattering terms, calling him ‘the Yank’ to highlight how different he is compared with most of the players from that country, and perhaps highlight how much moving to the United States at a young age and immersing himself in the AAU world has shaped him, he added.
‘Those who know him best say he needs things to revolve around him on and off the court and that he’s often been close-minded to coaching or instruction.’
The article ended with Simmons being described as he’s a unique prospect who could emerge as an incredible asset if he’s willing to work on his weaknesses.
The resurfacing of the scouting report sparked Australian basketball legend Chris Anstey to weigh into the debate.
‘I’m top of the list that hopes Ben Simmons turns the corner and succeeds wherever he ends up, but I can’t help but be impressed with this scout from 2016,’ he tweeted Givony’s scouting report.
Question marks around Simmons have been there for those who have followed him closely at the 76s’ team meetings.
Tensions reached boiling point on Tuesday, when coach Doc Rivers repeatedly asked Simmons to join in on a drill – only for the Aussie to refuse.
Rivers then told the point guard to leave the court with Simmons dropping the ball and walking off, The Athletic reported.
He will miss the 76ers’ season opener against New Orleans on Wednesday night due to ‘conduct detrimental to the team’, the team said in a statement.
Former Australian Boomers star Chris Antsey hopes Simmons can turn his attitude around after sharing Jonathan Givony’s analysis of the rising star in 2016
His poor display on court didn’t go unnoticed, with Rivers labelling him a ‘distraction’ and teammate Joel Embiid bluntly admitting he ‘doesn’t care’ for the Aussie.
‘I thought he was a distraction today,’ Rivers said.
‘I didn’t think he wanted to do what everyone else was doing.
‘It was early, it wasn’t a big deal and I just told him he should leave then.’
Centre Embiid wasn’t as subtle and said the team shouldn’t have to ‘babysit’ Simmons.
‘At the end of the day, our job is not to babysit somebody,’ Embiid said.
‘We get paid to produce on the court, go out, play hard, win some games. That’s what we get paid for.
‘At this point, I don’t care about that man, honestly. He does whatever he wants.
‘I’m only focused on trying to make the team better, win some games, play hard every night and try to lead the guys we have here and I’m sure they feel the same way.’
The 25-year-old Melburnian’s attitude problems are appearing to only get worse with Simmons racking up a total of $1.87million in fines for his no-show at four preseason games (pictured is Simmons with rumoured girlfriend Maya Jama)
Simmons’ teammate Joel Embiid said the team shouldn’t have to ‘babysit’ the Aussie star
Simmons’ lackluster performance is just the latest in a saga following his request to be traded from the Sixers following the franchise’s elimination from the playoffs last season – where the Aussie copped the brunt of the blame.
Simmons made a surprise appearance at training on Monday, and was seen walking around expressionless with his phone in his pocket.
One video emerged of him refusing to engage in the team’s post-training huddle and instead loitering in the background.
The 25-year-old’s phone can clearly be seen sticking out of his pocket while he puts in an uninterested performance during his return to practice on Monday
Simmons, who is on a $200M contract, infuriated Aussies by ditching the Olympic squad to ‘focus on skill development’. He was spotted at Wimbledon with his rumoured girlfriend Maya Jama days later
The former No.1 overall pick has been a divisive figure during his time in the NBA with his unique athletic gifts heavily contrasted by his poor shooting.
His work ethic has been questioned on several occasions, with scouts saying he prefers to spend his offseason on boats with models rather than working on his game.
Simmons requested a trade in the wake of Philadelphia’s playoff elimination to underdogs the Atlanta Hawks last season that was compounded by a particularly poor showing from the Australian.
He told the 76ers he would not play for the club again, despite coach Rivers and co-star Embiid saying they wanted him to return to the franchise.
No trade was found given the high demands of Philadelphia, and with Simmons starting to rack up lofty fines exceeding US$1million, he returned to training Monday.
Simmons stands back and watches on as his teammates train while not even taking his phone out of his pocket
Simmons seemed uninterested and unengaged during his return to the 76ers on Monday, walking around the court and training with his phone in his pocket
An expressionless Simmons puts in a half-hearted performance at 76ers practice on Monday
Despite his presence, the point guard seemed uninterested, ghosting around the practice court with a blank expression on his face.
Eagle-eyed viewers noticed Simmons hadn’t even taken his phone out of his pocket, with the device bulging through his pants.
The 25-year-old didn’t appear to talk to any of his teammates, offer any words of encouragement and ended the session by avoiding the post-training huddle, before shuffling off before anyone else could leave the gym.
‘He could at least pretend like he gives a sh*t. Or you know. Try to improve his shooting,’ a 76ers fan replied to the video.
‘Going to practice with a cellphone in your pocket doesn’t look good.’
‘Seems pretty clear he’s not intending to be a part of this team,’ a man tweeted.
Another fan offered a different view, pointing to another of the 76ers’ recent first round picks and instead blaming the city’s infamous sporting culture.
‘I think there is a reason why Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz both caught the yips. Philly’s fans and media are pretty crappy,’ the supporter said.
Simmons’ team, the LeBron James-backed Klutch Sports, will continue to push the 76ers towards a move but they will have to lower their expectations for a trade package if it is to happen before the beginning of the season.
Blank-faced and uninterested: Simmons’ return to Philadelphia’s training facility on Monday raised further eyebrows
Simmons’ reputation took a massive hit after the 25-year-old told Australia he would not be representing them at the Olympic Games in Tokyo earlier this year, instead using the summer to ‘to focus on individual skill development’.
But just days later he was seen at the tennis grand slam in London with Maya Jama, drawing heavy criticism from outraged fans.
‘As an Aussie I think Ben Simmons electing NOT to play for our national team under the guise of ‘offseason improvement’ and then being seen smooching at Wimbledon is a kick in the guts for us over here,’ one person tweeted.
The 26-year-old presenter was first rumoured to be linked to Simmons when she was seen on a night out on June 26 at restaurant Sexy Fish in London.
She was the first to leave the venue, closely followed by the NBA star a few moments later.
Simmons told Basketball Australia he would not be participating in the Olympics in the lead-up to the competition.
The decision was met with widespread disappointment from Australians, who were further angered by seeing him at the tennis competition with his girlfriend, who has amassed more than 2.2 million Instagram followers.
‘Ben Simmons couldn’t turn up for Australia in the Olympics but rocks up to Wimbledon… what a drag,’ one posted to social media.
‘Ben Simmons skipped the Olympics to ‘work on his shot’ but ended up watching tennis at Wimbledon,’ another tweeted.
A third fan asked ‘I wonder what his Boomers ‘teammates’ think of this’ after San Antonio Spurs guard Patty Mills expressed his disappointment at the decision.
Simmons still has four years left on his contract with the 76ers