Basketball superstar Ben Simmons has made himself available for the Boomers this year, in a massive boost for Australia’s medal chances at the FIBA World Cup.
Two days after the Philadelphia 76ers’ heartbreaking NBA play-off exit, Simmons posted a video on social media for his Australian fans on Wednesday (AEST).
“I’d also like to announce that I am going to be a Boomer for the upcoming events. So stay tuned,” he said.
Simmons’s pledge to the green and gold would strengthen a squad that will also feature Patty Mills, Joe Ingles, Aron Baynes and Matthew Dellavedova as they chase a maiden international medal at the World Cup in China from August 31.
It would also boost the Boomers’ Olympic hopes in Tokyo next year after they were cruelly denied a medal in Brazil.
Before that the Australian squad will gather on home soil for double-headers against both Canada and USA in Perth and Melbourne respectively.
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Previously rated $76 outsiders by some betting agencies, the Boomers shot to $21 to win the World Cup on the back of Simmons’s brief video.
Unlike his Australian NBA colleagues, Simmons had hesitated to commit to the cause during the season, while his future at the 76ers remains clouded.
The 22-year-old NBA All-Star is eligible for a five-year, $A220 million contract extension with the Sixers in July, but there is speculation the team could trade him if they receive the right players in return.
Australia’s former Chicago Bulls champion Luc Longley has remained in contact with the Boomers’ NBA players this season while Simmons’s godfather David Patrick added as an assistant coach for the national team in April.
Simmons’s 76ers were knocked out of the NBA championship race on Monday (AEST) in a thrilling game seven loss to Toronto Raptors, courtesy of Kawhi Leonard’s epic buzzer-beater.
Pelicans win lottery, chance to draft Zion
New Orleans Pelicans have won the NBA draft lottery and the inside running to select Duke freshman forward Zion Williamson with the No.1 pick.
The draw gives the Pelicans – who had only a six per cent chance of winning it – the first selection at the NBA Draft on June 20.
Williamson, the consensus college player of the year as a freshman last season, is the favourite to be picked at No.1.
New Orleans had the top pick in 2012 and they selected Anthony Davis, who in January requested a trade.
The No.2 pick went to the Memphis Grizzlies, followed in order by the New York Knicks, the Los Angeles Lakers, the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Phoenix Suns.
Williamson’s Blue Devils teammate RJ Barrett, Murray State guard Ja Morant, North Carolina point guard Coby White, Virginia forward De’Andre Hunter, Texas Tech guard Jarrett Culver and Vanderbilt point guard Darius Garland are among those projected to be drafted in the lottery.
Results of the revamped lottery were revealed in Chicago on Tuesday, two days before prospects take part in the draft combine on the city’s south side.
Under rewritten lottery rules designed to prevent tanking, the Knicks, Cavaliers and Suns held equal 14 per cent odds to select No.1 by virtue of having the three worst regular-season records.
Chicago Bulls will pick seventh, followed in order by the Atlanta Hawks, the Washington Wizards, Atlanta, the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Charlotte Hornets, the Miami Heat and the Boston Celtics.