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The lost nuance of the effort vs scheme debate

As usual, this isn't an issue of one or the other.

Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

There's been a lot of talk over the past several weeks regarding effort and scheme. The central debate is whether we should blame the coaching scheme or player effort for the poor defensive performance of the Sacramento Kings. We've seen an eloquent breakdown of the scheme, and an eloquent breakdown of why a lack of effort is inexcusable. The thing is, both sides of the argument are correct. We can split hairs over which issue is the bigger issue, but it's probably a 60/40 split and I'm fine if you argue either side of it.

The problem with arguing either side is that it misses where this debate came from, and in doing so it misses the real issue. This is only a topic of conversation because George Karl can't stop throwing his team under the bus. Karl spent the majority of the season questioning the team's effort. In fact, he started before the season, during the whole "no player is undertradeable" kerfuffle. In his psuedo-apology on a golf course, Karl said he and DeMarcus Cousins would be fine if Cousins bought in. He laid the foundation for his effort argument before a single game had been played.

Pardon me for the comparison I'm about to make, because it's painful. Michael Malone was beloved by fans and players because he was the first to accept blame when things went poorly, and the first to assign credit when things went poorly. Without going through the full archives of post-game press scrums, I can't recall any of this from Karl this season. He's quick to throw his players under the bus when things go wrong. He gives minimal credit when things go well.

This debate only exists because of Karl. The players need to give full effort, the scheme needs to change, but Karl needs to learn how to support his team in the media.