If you haven’t heard the news from Adrian Wojnarowski, Ex Houston Rockets GM, Daryl Morey, has just agreed to a 5-year deal with the Philadelphia 76ers, to become the President of Basketball Operations. After attempting to poach Morey from the Houston Rockets two years ago, the team finally got him to Philly.
Who is Daryl Morey?
In 2007, the former consultant and assistant GM, Daryl Morey, was hired to take over for Carroll Dawson as General Manager of the Houston Rockets. Morey is most known for advanced statistical-based analysis, as well as qualitative scouting and basic statistics. In simpler terms, he uses numbers to tell you who are the best players, who to play, when to play them, what lineups work together, etc. Hiring non-basketball minds was almost unheard of in the mid-2000’s but once analytics were brought into professional sports, more and more teams took that route. Surrounding brainiacs with basketball minds became the ultimate recipe for success.
Throughout his 13-year tenure in Houston, Morey managed to make the playoffs TEN times. Houston also has the longest playoff appearance streak in the NBA, at 8 straight.
I know this sounds like any old GM in charge of a good team but there was something special about Morey. He had a vision and many thought he was crazy for it. In 2012, Morey made a trade for reigning Sixth Man of the Year, James Harden. Since then, the Rockets have not missed the playoffs and have made the conference finals twice. In 2016, the Harden-D’antoni era began. The 7-seconds or less Rockets, brought over from the 2000’s era Suns, once again took the league by storm, becoming a top 5 scoring team in 3 out of the 4 seasons.
It is no coincidence that the Rockets led the league in 3 point attempts during those four years. According to analytics, 3 point shooting and layups are the most efficient ways to score, so that was the plan moving forward. 2020 took a huge turn when Morey traded away big man, Clint Capela, in a four-team trade, acquiring forward Robert Covington, and went full small ball with 6’5 PJ Tucker at the full time center position. As the season progressed, the Rockets gave up layup after layup, but shot 3s at an alarming rate.
This style of play worked pretty well during the season and in the bubble, until they met Anthony Davis and the world champion Los Angeles Lakers. After losing in 5, Morey stepped down from his position and just like that, his tenure was done. After initial plans to pursue a non-basketball related career, the Sixers swooped in almost immediately and a deal was made 2 weeks later.
What about the 76ers roster?
After describing how Morey re-shaped the Houston Rockets, you might be wondering how that works for a Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid led Sixers team. To be quite honest, it works very well.
Ben Simmons, despite his lack of shooting, has been at the top of the NBA in terms of open looks generated for his teammates. In an offense centered around shooting, he is the perfect player to have. Joel Embiid, a more than capable shooter, also fits into this system. When engaged, we’ve seen Embiid run the floor, knock down 3s at a respectable rate, and rim protect with the best of them.
I believe Morey stayed away from centers because he’s never had one like Embiid. Mix that in with the pick and roll offense Doc Rivers loves to play and it’s a good combination to go into the 2020-21 season with.
Morey’s, and GM Elton Brand’s, biggest tasks will be surrounding these two young stars with as much shooting as possible. Tobias Harris, despite a down year in terms of raw percentages will be looking to go back to the player he was under HC Doc Rivers in Los Angeles. Josh Richardson, Al Horford, Matisse Thybulle, Furkan Korkmaz, and the rest of the Sixers supporting cast will need to improve their shooting this offseason in order to flawlessly fit into this new system or else they’ll be on the next plane out of Philadelphia International.
While there will be trades and draft picks made between now and December 22nd (potential NBA start date), in terms of front office management, the Sixers are having a great start to their offseason. Let’s hope they can keep this train rolling. #HereTheyCome