Ben Simmons' NBA career is at a crossroads going into the Philadelphia 76ers' playoffs series-deciding clash with the Altanta Hawks.
The 24-year-old Australian is a three-time All Star, one of the league's great defenders, a creative passer and a dynamic force close to the basket.
But 76ers coach Doc Rivers has been forced to bench his guard at crucial stages in the playoffs because he doesn't shoot 3-pointers (5-for-34 career) and he has been a liability at the foul line, making him a target to be hacked to stymie his team's offence.
Heading into Game 7 at home against the Hawks on Sunday (Monday AEST), Simmons has made a lamentable 24 of 71 free-throw attempts during this post-season.
He took only six shots and scored just six points in Game 6 as the 76ers prevailed 104-99 in Atlanta to keep their season alive and has averaged just over 10 points a game in the series.
Simmons described his free-throw issues as "definitely mental" earlier in the series.
Now there is speculation it could be the 2016 No.1 draft pick's last game for the 76ers if they lose and so fail to make the Eastern Conference finals as he could be traded.
That's a disturbing turnaround for a player who, along with superstar centre Joel Embiid, has been a cornerstone of the club's eight-year "trust the process" rebuild designed to create a championship force.
The 76ers are trying to make the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since 2001.
They were in a similar situation two years and lost Game 7 to the Toronto Raptors in the eastern conference semi-finals when Kawhi Leonard sank a winning buzzer-beater.
Yet the 76ers will be hesitant to rely on their home-court advantage this time around, having recently given up a 26-point lead to surrender Game 5 to the Hawks at home.
The Hawks have playoffs history of their own to overcome. They are 0-9 in Game 7 matches on the road in franchise history.
You have to look at that, the fact we have won there twice in this series," Hawks coach Nate McMillan said. "I think we feel we play with confidence on the road."
Australian Associated Press