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Does Washington Really Have An Issue With Effort And Hustle?

Nick Laham

A lot of people say that the one thing that you can control is how hard you play. That is true, but not exclusively. Everyone in the NBA plays hard. Without the desire, they would never have gotten where they are. Whether the desire they have shows up on the practice court or under the lights, the effort is there. Yet, why is it that Michael Kidd-Gilschrist is lauded for his exceptional effort on the floor. ESPN has numerous pundits say "He plays so hard."

Playing hard is under your control, but to a point. There can be times of maximum effort, sure. Last night I played pick-up basketball and put in extra effort attacking the basket just because I was playing someone I knew from high school. My effort level was higher than it usually was, whenever I was matched up against him offensively or defensively.

Many have criticized Washington's effort level so far this season, which I don't think is fair. I may be blowing smoke here, but the effort level of the Huskies is just being unfairly criticized, in my opinion.

As a writer, you can disagree with my points, you can counter my arguments, but if you just flat-out say I am a bad writer it will really eat at me. That doesn't just go for me, that goes for writers everywhere. We encourage debate. Controversial topics get us views and hits. Please debate us if you have a different argument. Be prepared with evidence, however.

Jeff Sullivan, a writer I personally look up to, of SBNation's Lookout Landing (if you are a fan of the Mariners and don't visit his site daily, do it now) wrote a post about how he felt that Safeco Field's dimensions helped them in free agency. In a nutshell, he thought that the Mariners would get a discount with left-handed hitters (the rarer type of hitter) because Safeco helps left-handed hitters slightly. He believed the discount with the rarer type of hitter was more beneficial than a discount for the common type of hitter. Dave Cameron of U.S.S. Mariner persuaded him otherwise, and Sullivan admitted that his viewpoint was changed thanks to the counterpoint by Cameron.

Disagree with us? Fine. Tell us we can't write? Look out.

Tell a basketball player he sucks? He will prove you wrong. Gilbert Arenas wears the number zero because he had detractors tell him that he would get that many minutes during his time as an Arizona Wildcat. Tell a basketball player he is lazy, or has no heart? That is a mistake.

Those who say that this team has no heart need to take a closer look at the team.

Take a look at the senior leader for the Washington Huskies: Abdul Gaddy. Gaddy is a pure point guard. That is what he does. He distributes the basketball and looks for shots for others. Yes, he has developed some turnover tendencies, but the reason for that has nothing to do with his effort. In fact, I like his effort this season.

Gaddy's assist numbers are down this season, that is no secret. He is looking to pass less and score more. Never has he been asked to score like he has. He has always had others to take over the scoring load (to a point he does this season too). His first two years he had Isaiah Thomas. Last season he had the duo of Tony Wroten Jr. and Terrence Ross. All three of those had the ability to get the ball into the lane. For a lot of this season, Gaddy has been counted on the get the ball into the paint and score. Andrew Andrews has that ability, but has been hurt.

Gaddy is being forced out of his comfort zone. He is comfortable distributing the basketball. Now he has had to get into the lane, and he has done it well. It takes effort and hard work to be good at something you aren't naturally inclined to. On the basketball court, Gaddy is naturally inclined to be a distributor, not a scorer. That speaks to his leadership, and his heart.

Already I mentioned Andrews, and few have criticized his effort level on the floor. He "shows his determination" by attacking the rim, one way people ignorantly believe displays hustle. Are there times when attempts at getting to the rim show determination? Absolutely, yes. Is it enough of a determinant, however? No. His best offensive skill is one that is used as a rubric for determining whether a player "plays hard" or not.

Let's take a look at C.J. Wilcox and Scott Suggs together, since their skill-sets are very similar. Suggs and Wilcox are shooters first and foremost. It is almost impossible to show effort when you are twenty feet-nine inches away from the basket throwing a ball at the rim.

The team needed someone who could attack the lane more, and Gaddy stepped up. At this point, it wouldn't help the team to limit the shooting of Wilcox or Suggs and ask them to attack the basket more often. If Gaddy hadn't stepped into that role, maybe then there would be a point, but as of now, The little bit that Suggs is doing at getting into the lane is enough for the pair of wings.

Hikeem Stewart plays hard on defense, and is undeveloped offensively. Whether or not he will ever develop offensively is still yet to be determined, but right now he is the team's best on-ball defender (Wilcox is second). That has a lot to do with effort and hustle. Physical tools do play a large role, and he has the talent to be a lockdown defender, which he very well may be as of next season.

Aziz N'Diaye is someone that perplexes me. There are some games where he looks like he has been playing basketball all his life, and others where he looks like he picked up a basketball for the first time last week. Inconsistent play happens with every player, and N'Diaye is definitely no exception to the rule. He does get an unusual amount of offensive rebounds when compared to his defensive rebounds. Offensive rebounding is largely considered a measurement of hustle. Inconsistencies have nothing to do with effort. Sometimes the ball doesn't bounce your way, literally.

He seems to be a fiery personality, and is is obvious that he is an emotional player. Emotional players play hard. It is as simple as that. They care too much to not give 100 percent every second of every play, whether the whistle has finished echoing or not.

Shawn Kemp Jr. is known for being the son of Sonics legend Shawn Kemp, just thought I would let you know, in case you didn't know that already. Kemp Jr. does not have the vertical leaping ability that his father had, but he does play with hustle. is the Huskies' best player at getting and-ones, a rudimentary measure of "hustle." He plays tough physical defense, and attempts to score in the post. He doesn't have a skill that specifically measure out to be a "hustle skill." That doesn't mean he doesn't try, it only means that his talent lies elsewhere.

Jernard Jarreau is someone who I literally have zero gauge on his effort level. I am not even going to try to defend him, even if he potentially has more effort level on the court than this next guy up.

Nobody has ever questioned the effort Desmond Simmons has put out on the floor. But why has no one questioned that? Because that is his skill-set. He is a "glue-guy." He is good at getting 50-50 balls, grabbing offensive rebounds, playing strong defense. Those are things that are often attributed to hustle, and those are his strengths. Of course he is going to be lauded for his strong effort, that is his skill.

Simmons's best skill is his hustle. His determination. That is what he is known for. He is talented at playing hard. It sounds so stupid in my head as I am typing this, but it is true. Playing hard is a skill, and Desmond Simmons has it more than anybody. That isn't to say that any of the other players don't play hard, as I know they do. Simmons is just a notch above the rest, because, again, that is his skill.

So, I think those that have criticized the determination of the Huskies are off-base. Sometimes a player's skills don't mesh with appearing to be a hustle player. In the case of several Dawgs, that is true.