Ever since coming to the NBA, Sixers All-Star Ben Simmons has been compared to NBA veteran point guard Rajon Rondo. Coming out of LSU projected as the top pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, Simmons was known for his playmaking abilities. However, he was also heavily criticized for his lack of shooting.
Rondo was in a similar position throughout his time in the NBA. Despite being less hesitant to shoot three-pointers than Simmons is, Rondo's just a 32-percent shooter from beyond the arc in his career.
When Doc Rivers signed on to become the Sixers' head coach last season, he was excited to coach somebody who shared comparisons with Rondo, a former player of Rivers' when he coached the Boston Celtics and won a championship.
Many expected Rivers to come to Philly and push Simmons to step out of his comfort zone by holding the star guard accountable for being hesitant to expand his game. Unfortunately, everybody who expected that was disappointed to find out that Rivers was taking an opposite approach.
According to ESPN's Tim Bontemps and Bobby Marks, Rivers utilized the same strategy he used when coaching Rondo and former Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan while coaching Simmons.
"Part of the reason Rivers defended Simmons all season was that it was his latest attempt to use his news conferences to boost the confidence of one of his key players -- something he'd had success doing with players like Rajon Rondo with the Boston Celtics and DeAndre Jordan with the LA Clippers.
"Not only was Philadelphia still hoping Simmons would become more willing to shoot, but there also was the fact that Simmons' name had been bandied about in James Harden trade talks at the start of the season."
Throughout the 2020-2021 season, Rivers publicly made it clear that Simmons didn't need to change his game by adding a three-point shot to his arsenal and expanding his jump shot range.
He even went the extra mile and labeled Simmons as a "treasure" to the Sixers and pushed back on any form of criticism aimed at the veteran. In the end, Rivers' strategy fell flat on its face.
Not only did Simmons keep his game the same, which affected the Sixers a ton in the second round of the 2021 playoff run, but the one time Rivers publicly questioned Simmons' ability to be a championship-winning point guard, the former first pick turned his back on his second NBA head coach.
Now, Simmons wants a change of scenery. And although the Sixers would've welcomed the three-time All-Star back to start the 2021-2022 season with him on the team, there have been numerous reports indicating that Simmons is no longer willing to work with Rivers.
The future Hall of Fame head coach might've gotten the best out of guys like Rondo and Jordan with his strategy, but it backfired when it came to Ben Simmons.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.