Much has been made of the level of talent in this year's potential Boomers squad for the coming Rio campaign. Ben Simmons --LSU freshman, potential top NBA lottery pick all rolled in one lithe, talented package-- has been touted as one of the potential players to represent Australian basketball on the stage of international basketball.
Ask Andrew Bogut however, and it sounds like Ben Simmons might not be in the green and gold this year.
Bogut was recently featured on an episode of The Bill Simmons Podcast. The affable Simmons formed a fascinating tandem with the outspoken Golden State big man, weaving a tapestry of various topics from Bogut's NBA career, to the rise of Golden State's championship roster, the popularity of Stephen Curry and more.
Towards the end of the episode (47 minute mark), Bill Simmons discussed the upcoming Olympics with Andrew Bogut (transcript). After confirming his own availability for the tourney, but laughed when the writer suggested that Simmons might be skipping Rio because he was left off the roster previously, and offered quiet assent.
"Look, Benny's got a very busy offseason with the draft coming up," Bogut commented. "I know he's still a little burned by not making the 2014 team."
The banter continued, and Bogut elaborated on his perception of Simmons' situation, especially with the pressure of the NBA draft looming, and an unspoken need to stay healthy.
There were no hard feelings, obviously. "We wish Benny the best," Bogut confirmed. "We know if he has an opportunity to play in the future, we're hoping that he'll play."
Would the Simmons absence be a surprise?
This little insight from Bogut certainly was not unexpected. Jayme had previously constructed an argument for the pros and cons of Rio for Ben Simmons, humourously titled, "To Rio or not to Rio?"
There's no question Simmons can and likely will make an impact on the squad's level of success, but it's not a decision made lightly.
The Exum effect
In addition to the reasons discussed in Jayme's piece, we have to consider recency bias. Dante Exum's injury from last year's Boomers campaign caused him to undergo surgery and sit an entire season out for the Utah Jazz. Would Simmons' prospective NBA team be able to take this in stride?
In an earlier interview conducted by Damian, Boomers head coach Andrej Lemanis had discussed the possibility of Simmons' participation, and also nodded assent to the likelihood of Simmons' new team having sway in the matter.
“With Ben and his family, I will sit down with them and assess the situation. If there are any obstacles, we will try and work out what we can potentially do to overcome them. However all that aside, we will have to wait until after the NBA draft, as his new team will likely have a say in the final decision.”
The end of the Lemanis-Boomers era?
Fox Sports columnist Olgun Uluc also agreed on the matter of Simmons' possible non-participation, and also the end of Lemanis' tenure as Boomers head coach.
The matter is yet to be set in stone. During the podcast, Bogut --likely with the Australian basketball Twitterverse in tow-- promised to besiege Simmons on Twitter, and convince him to get on board.
Imagine this however: the next time Ben Simmons puts a Boomers jersey on, he might very well find himself spearheading a fresh new era of the Boomers, under a new head coach.
Andrew Bogut interview with Bill Simmons