The Daryl Morey era with the Houston Rockets began back in 2007 and after 13 seasons it came to an end last month. Morey quickly found as he is the new president of basketball operations for the Philadelphia 76ers. After 13 seasons with the Rockets, the question remains whether Morey’s tenure as their general manager a success or failure.
Before answering that question, you must establish the expectations or standards of the Rockets franchise. In their 53 year history the Rockets have two NBA titles. Although, Houston doesn’t have championship standards, they do have a standard of winning. The Rockets have only missed the playoffs 19 times in their 53 year history.
So based on the standard of the Rockets, Morey’s tenure was very successful. Houston missed the playoffs three times in 13 seasons with Morey as the general manager. Also, the Rockets made the conference finals twice during Morey’s tenure, which was first time since the Hakeem Olajuwon era. Here are some other reasons why Morey’s tenure in Houston was very successful.
Morey’s analytics and acquisition of stars for Rockets
When Morey became the general manager of the Rockets he inherited superstars in Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady. However, after injuries shortened their careers it was on Morey to acquire more star-power for the Rockets.
Morey was able to trade for James Harden who became the franchise player and changed everything for the Rockets. Harden’s impact on the franchise was so profound Morey said “James Harden changed my life” in an full-page advertisement in the Houston Chronicle after stepping down.
During his 13 seasons as Rockets general manager Morey made the most trades in the NBA. After acquiring Harden, Morey made it a point to surround Harden with other star players. Morey acquired stars such as Dwight Howard, Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul to pair with Harden.
In addition, to the players around Harden, Morey’s analytical approach to the game helped elevate Harden. Morey’s analytical approach emphasizes shooting three pointers and attacking the rim. Under Morey’s philosophy Harden led the NBA in three point attempts and free throw attempts the past three seasons.
Also, Morey hired Mike D’Antoni in 2016 who made Harden the team’s primary ball handler, playmaker and scorer. Harden finished top three in MVP voting in all four years under D’Antoni’s system and won MVP in 2018.
Rockets closest team to dethroning Warriors
The biggest knock against Morey is that his analytical approach didn’t lead to a championship. Morey’s unconventional approach may have went too far this past season. As the Rockets traded their center Clint Capela in order to run small ball and had 6’5 P.J. Tucker at center.
Although, Morey’s Rockets were the toughest competition for the Golden State Warriors during their championship run. When the Warriors acquired Kevin Durant everyone thought the Warriors would win the NBA title unchallenged. Yet, it was Morey’s Rockets who had the Warriors down 3-2 in the 2017 western conference finals.
During the 2017 season the Rockets led by Paul and Harden had the best record in the NBA. Much of their success was due to making the most three pointers per game.
Houston eventually loss the 2017 western conference finals in seven games. However, they were without Paul, who got injured at the end of game five and missed the final two games of the series. If Paul had played the remainder of the series, an argument can be made that Houston would’ve advanced to the NBA Finals.
In the Finals they would’ve faced the Cleveland Cavaliers. Cleveland was without Kyrie Irving and the Rockets had beaten them twice in the regular season. An NBA title would’ve changed the narrative surrounding Morey and his analytical approach. Not to mention, Morey might still be the Rockets general manager had they won it all in 2017.
Morey’s time in Houston was successful for a franchise that doesn’t have championship pedigree. The Rockets with Morey as the general manager became a staple in the playoffs and championship contenders. Also, Morey showed that the analytical approach can lead to great success in the NBA. To the point where other franchises have since copied what Morey started.
If its one thing we know Morey will bring to Philadelphia its a win at all cost mentality and Morey will ensure the 76ers have star players on the roster at all times.