Sixers-Jazz Preview: Appreciating Effort

Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Yes, this team might have negative talent. But it doesn't lack for effort.

EDIT: WIGGINS WIGGINS WIGGINS WIGGINS

ok continue

Let's drop the discussion on the morals of tanking for now. It's been argued to death this week, and it's going to be brought up every time a discussion about the Sixers comes up with your family, friends, classmates, and coworkers over the next month.

The irony of the Sixers being so bad as to be relevant because of it is not lost on me. Regardless, the roster is basically set for the rest of the season, and they certainly want to get at least a win or two before the year ends.

Tonight makes for one of the better chances at victory, as the Utah Jazz come to town. The Jazz, after appearing to be a competitive team down the stretch, have fallen apart over the last 5 games, losing by 20 or more to the Cavs, Knicks, and even the Bucks*. The team played in New York last night, meaning they have a road SEGABABA, while the Sixers have had since Tuesday to practice, prepare, and actually get to know each other.

*btb, Utah, btb

While untalented, the Sixers were also cobbled together with glue sticks and duct tape throughout this season. More than half of the team started the preseason either out of the league or on another team's roster, and two of the players here from the start have not played in a regulation game this season. Three rotation players joined the Sixers since the trade deadline. Nine players have a year or less of NBA experience.

Despite this, though, and despite having their asses kicked every night, they still come out to play hard. There's something to be said about pride, and dignity, even if they are largely forgotten when you lose by double digits. But the effort happens - the players may not know the schemes, or each other, but mostly everyone tries hard.

Except for you, Arnett Moultrie. You're just the worst.

That type of effort is commendable and hard to summon when most nights prove that your team doesn't stand a chance. When building the team, the coaches and front office prioritized acquiring high-effort players, part of the reason a "culture of losing" or whatever description you want to give should not develop with this roster. Moultrie got bumped from the rotation when he proved he wouldn't give full effort. Playing hard equates to playing time, and possibly a long-term future in the NBA, for the majority of the roster.

I watched the Bucks-Pelicans game on Friday night, because I went out to dinner early, and went home with virtually nothing else to do. My life is amazing. Anyway, the game dragged on, especially late in the first half, as two disinterested teams decided who wanted to lose less. It was a boring game, not particularly well-played, and it resulted in a Pellies win.

The "highlight" came when O.J. Mayo unleashed a fist at Greg Stiemsma, who basically just set a hard screen. That bush-league move maybe should have been expected from a guy who signed with Milwaukee for three years just before quitting on the team entirely.

To me, the NBA should be more embarrassed when veterans make millions of dollars go through the motions for an entire season than when young players like those employed by the Sixers play hard, if erratic and untalented and borderline unwatchable, basketball. And I would much rather watch the Sixers than the Bucks. Because even when they only have a puncher's chance at winning, they at least get ready to fight, whereas those veteran, trying-to-win Bucks just throw sucker punches.

The game tonight starts a little after 7:30. If you have to stay in, or if like me you have a flight tomorrow, or if you're just really dedicated, tune in. You might not see much of a game, but the players will try to earn their keep.

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