Daryl Morey is here to save the Sixers.
When it was announced that longtime executive Daryl Morey would be stepping down from his role with the Houston Rockets, people around the NBA were quick to pinpoint Philadelphia as a possible landing spot. The Sixers owned a front office who had become notorious for making really bad decisions as of late, and Morey is one of the most well-respected minds in all of basketball.
It seemed unlikely, given owner Josh Harris’ unwillingness to make big-time power play moves in the past (not re-signing Jimmy Butler for example). Nevertheless, Harris put his money where his mouth was, and made the one move that can actually save the Sixers franchise.
If you’re not familiar with Morey, he’s been one of the most successful NBA executives over the last decade-plus. His Houston Rockets ranked second in the league in total wins over the last 13 years, they’ve never had a losing record, they’ve made the playoffs nine times, and they’ve made the Western Conference Finals on two separate occasions.
Morey also won the NBA’s Executive of the Year Award in 2018 due to his team’s vast success that season.
If you’ve seen the movie “Moneyball” (following Billy Beane’s Oakland Athletics of the early 2000s), Morey is essentially the NBA-version of that story. He’s relied heavily on the use of analytics over the last decade or so, really helping to modernize them into today’s game. Not every team in the league has managed to follow his brilliance (Sixers for example), but Morey and the Rockets continuously got it right over the last 13 years.
Whether you were a fan of how James Harden and the Rockets won games over the last couple of seasons or not, the simple truth is that they did win a lot of games. Outside of a LeBron James led Cavs team, Morey’s analytic-savvy Rockets team came the closest to knocking off a historically good Golden State Warriors squad.
His team took the Warriors all the way to seven games in 2018, and only lost because the team experienced a historically bad cold stretch from behind the arc. If Harden simply doesn’t choke, Morey is likely sitting at home with a Finals trophy right now.
Morey enters a Philadelphia squad that already has two superstars on their roster in Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, and simply needs to add key role players here or there. Daryl Morey has mastered this act in past seasons, “playing the margins” exceptionally well. Random guys like PJ Tucker, Danuel House, and Austin Rivers have all played big roles on playoff-caliber teams in recent years, and that’s the type of production that the Sixers need to find from bench-caliber players over the next couple of seasons.
Daryl Morey, signed to a five-year contract, is here to finish what his basketball protege Sam Hinkie started all those years ago. The Sixers were always designed to be a well-oiled machine, built around star players and advanced analytics. The team has steered away from that thought process the last couple of seasons due to poor ownership decisions and a bad front office. But now, with Morey fully in charge, the team should finally be able to complete their “process”, and hopefully secure the franchise a championship for the first time in over 20 years.