There are many issues with the 2015-16 Denver Nuggets, but the latest is effort. And if effort is an issue, then head coach Michael Malone needs to send his players a message.

After the teams sixth straight loss last Sunday to the Portland Trailbalzers, Malone said “We had no energy, no effort, very flat. As a coach, I can’t coach effort; that’s one thing I can’t do. We didn’t defend; we’re just a bad team right now.”

Not hard to see that he was frustrated. As I mentioned above, the loss Sunday was the team’s sixth straight loss and the tenth loss in the last eleven games.

Remember when the Nuggets were just a couple of spots out of the eight seed and the future looked sort of bright?

Here we are, two weeks later, and there are questions about Malone and his ability to reach this team.

As he stated after the Portland game, he cannot coach effort. He acknowledged that his team is just not that good. Now, he has a couple of options as to how he can handle the team not giving any effort.

His first choice, and the choice I would prefer to see, is to send a message by taking away minutes. It’s highly unlikely that Malone would call a player out by name, but whomever he was referring, to should be benched immediately.

George Karl once told me, “Players care about three things: Playing time, pay and days off.”

So take some playing time away, and force the team realize that playing hard night in and night out is not an option. In fact, it is required to be a part of a professional sports league. If he takes away minutes from those he thinks are not giving all they could, it will trickle down to the rest of the team.

This teams core is too young to be tainted by a couple of bad apples. I’m not calling anyone on the team out in particular; I believe the team finally got rid of the bad apple by trading Ty Lawson. If Malone can’t get the team to play his style of basketball now, when the young guys reach their potential, he will have no control of how they play.

That is, if he would still be around.

The problem with benching the guys who refuse to play hard on both ends of the floor is that it’ll hurt the team offensively. I know fans love Will Barton, and he’s a great story for the way he has bounced back, but his play on defense makes Kenneth Faried look good. With Faried being an all-energy player, it’s hard to call him out for effort, but when he’s on the floor, it can hurt the team more than it helps.

The second thing he can do will not work, and I know this for a fact. I know, actually, because Brian Shaw tried it, and it did not work. Shaw tried to show Josh Kroenke and Tim Connelly that it was not him; he tried to show the suits that the problem was the team.

We all know how that ended.

This team is too young, and Malone is t0o good of a coach to lose the core to a couple of bad apples. Nuggets fans should know, and I try to remind you guys as much as possible, that this is a rebuild and it will take some time.

If effort continues to be a problem, I hope Malone hands the reigns over to the future. The future is Emmanuel Maudiay, Gary Harris, Nikola Jokic, Joffrey Lauvergne and Jusuf Nurkic. That’s a raw and undeveloped lineup that will not win a lot of games, but to be fair, they’re not winning many games now, either.