Speculation on Daryl Morey as 76ers Head of Basketball Operations
Excitement abounds through the Philadelphia 76ers organization as they not only have a fresh head coach, but have also acquired Daryl Morey as their president of basketball organizations. Though it feels like last season just ended, a restart could be happening sooner than anyone imagined. Below are some initial thoughts for the Sixers newest hire.
The Two Star Formula
The pressing question for Sixers’ fans after the Morey signing is what his plans are with generational talents Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. The trade rumor mill was working nonstop as pundits bounced around enticing trades that involved the above superstars. However, in Morey’s first press conference he expressed enthusiasm about assembling a championship level roster around Embiid and Simmons. Granted, Morey is not one to tip his hand, so that’s no guarantee both remain in Philadelphia, but I think it’s a good bet that they do.
When it comes to competing for NBA titles, Daryl Morey has always subscribed to a two star formula. You need not one, but two elite talents surrounded by complimentary pieces taking high value shots to win games. Critics ripped Morey in Houston when he dealt Kyle Lowry to Toronto for pieces and draft capital, but Morey made the trade because he didn’t see a path to Lowry achieving the level of super-stardom he desired. Morey worked tirelessly to acquire a second star next to James Harden. He got that in Chris Paul, and though this duo never won a championship they came an injury to CP3 away from doing so in 2018. Yes, Morey later traded away Paul, but only as he received another superstar, Russell Westbrook.
Daryl Morey already has his two stars in Philadelphia, he just needs to surround them with the proper remaining pieces. Speaking of…
Other pieces of the jigsaw puzzle
A strength of Daryl Morey has always been roster assembly. There’s a good reason he is understood to be the Billy Beane of basketball and was way ahead of the NBA’s curve for nearly all of his tenure in Houston.
While the spotlight was understandably on Embiid and Simmons during the Sixers disappointing 2019-2020 season, it should be noted that their role players woefully underperformed as well. Al Horford was totally out of place as he assumed a new role in Philadelphia and physically looked as if he lost a step. Josh Richardson was in a shooting slump all year. The contract given to Tobias Harris looks worse every minute and might be the worst in the entire league next John Wall’s in Washington.
Even so, there is hopeful light at the end of the tunnel now that Morey has arrived. He continually ensured his Houston rosters were chock full of useful role players that specialized at defense and shooting, something every playoff team needs. My money is that should there be roster changes, the role players will be shuffled around before any thoughts of moving superstars.
Will Doc Rivers come around to advanced analytics?
Many speculated that the Los Angeles Clippers postseason collapse in the Orlando bubble wasn’t the only reason that Doc Rivers was relieved of his head coaching position. For years there was an apparent disconnect between the way Rivers coached his team and what the advanced analytics suggested were optimal lineups versus certain opponents. A telling example came during the Clippers final series as Doc insisted on playing forward Montrez Harrell huge minutes despite obvious diminishing returns in production.
That brings us to the new marriage in the Sixers organization between president of basketball operations Daryl Morey and head coach Doc Rivers. If the former is known for one thing, its advanced analytics. The impending season, which could arrive sooner rather than later, will give us a glimpse as to whether Rivers alters his coaching style at the urging of higher ups in the 76ers organization.