After a recent loss to the Hawks:
“Maybe some guys are starting to just kind of mail it in. I’m not sure. But I’m not going to stand for that. I’ll just find a group of guys that will compete and play hard and play the right way, and play them 48 minutes if I have to. Some of our guys did play with energy and effort tonight. Not enough.”
“To me, when we play the right way, I think that we’re really good. I do. I love watching our team play when we play the right way. When we don’t share and we’re not aggressive and things like that, we can get average, and talent doesn’t prevail with us. That’s why I think it’s so important, the habits of energy and things like that.”
“I don’t like losing, man. I play this game to win. I never in my life played to lose. I don’t know what that feels like. I don’t play like that. I play to win. I felt like that the locker room here was kind of sulking right when I got here. It was sad to be in a professional locker room like that. I didn’t like it. I just wanted to come in each and every day and put my work in and hopefully make guys feed off my energy and take it from there.”
The Sixers keep track of effort plays. Nerlens Noel was asked about it:
Jared Zwerling: In recent years, Brett Brown has developed an effort chart to “gameify,” as he calls it, different intangibles like hustle plays. How has the effort chart evolved?
They’ve definitely even upped it a little more. I think it does help you to keep track on how much energy you have every game. It’s really based on energy and effort, how much you’re playing with, all the little things that you’re doing—contesting shots, running back on defense, first three steps [which refer to the ones you take after the opposing team secures the rebound and players need to get their momentum in the other direction; the steps are the most important because the goal is for the five defensive players to be ahead of the ball]. It’s all the little things that are going to help you win a game if you do them consistently and with discipline.
“My main focus in these playoffs is keying in on defense. I’ve got to stop Joe (Johnson). I can’t let him get going. The rest will take care of itself.”
“My whole motto, my whole mindset throughout my life is someone can have it worse than you.”
From Lionel Hollins:
“He was an energy guy, flying all over the court. But he was young and immature. A lot of guys come into the league with a higher opinion of themselves and expecting a bigger role. It takes time.”
From teammate Kyle Korver:
“There are a few guys in the NBA where you’re like, `Man, that guy’s got so much in the tank. If he could just be untapped’. He’s always been a guy who just wants to go out there and hoop, ball, play hard, get offensive rebounds, a one-man, full-court press. That’s been his mantra his whole life. But he came here and learned fundamentals, too.”
After a 25-point loss to the Golden State Warriors:
“We have to have consistent effort, consistent energy. We have to be able to go out tomorrow and start, hopefully, a slew of games where we can be consistent. It’s our effort, our consistency we have to work on. We go from having a great effort to a medium effort. We go from a great concentration to poor concentration. We have to shore that up. I always felt as a player it was your job to bring your effort. It doesn’t mean the ball is going to go in. It doesn’t mean the pass is going to be perfect, doesn’t mean every defensive assignment is going to go your way. Everything we do there seems to be a definite link between things going well offensively and our effort being higher or things not going well for us offensively and our effort not being good. You can’t be so fragile that your effort depends on if the ball goes in or not.”
“I’ve never seen low-energy players be competitive. So, if you have low-energy guys who consistently start out lethargic, you’ve got the wrong guys. You have to have energy and urgency and aggressiveness. That has to be part of your DNA. No coach is going to change that.
“The idea that this guy’s a great motivator and that guy, there are no such things as great motivators. You can’t motivate the unmotivated. You can help in certain situations with a guy’s habits. You can help with his routine. But if you have to be the one who consistently has to prod a guy to play with energy and assertiveness and aggressiveness and passion, you’ve got the wrong guys and you’ve got to move on.”
“It’s one thing if you’re a young team and you’re just not there yet with your reaction time or you don’t have your schemes down. But the first part of it is, you’ve got to have the commitment of the best players that, yes, it’s important to us because we care deeply about winning. If you have that, eventually they’ll get it. The players know it’s important to win. Now, the question is, is winning important to them?”
“Some guys can do it once every five games, some guys twice, some three times, the rare can do it four times, and the ultra-elite do it on a nightly basis. It’s what separates players.”
“You have to have the talent and skill, but mental makeup is so critical into how much you can improve. Are you tough-minded? Are you physically durable? Does the game mean something to you? … Until you know those things about a player, it’s really difficult to know how much he’s going to improve.”