Daryl Morey Rumors
At the time, Harden was the Thunder’s sixth man, an understudy to Durant and Westbrook. Talented, yes. But no one foresaw a future MVP candidate. If they had, the bidding would have been much more intense—and the price much steeper than the package of role players and draft picks the Rockets surrendered. “People always ask, ‘You traded for him; did you know he was this good?'” Morey says. “I’m like, ‘F–k no!’ I mean, we thought he was extremely good and better than other teams probably did.” But not top-five good or, say, top-three, which Morey would make the case for today. “Everyone thought that he was on the coattails of Kevin and Russ,” Morey says.
LeBron James is the greatest player of his generation. Curry is the game’s greatest shooter. Russell Westbrook is a terror and Kevin Durant an athletic marvel. But Harden, with his abacus-rattling array of deep swishes and point-blank buckets, might just be the scruffy face of the Analytics Era, the star who most embodies the advanced-stats ethos. “I would say it transcends that,” Morey tells B/R. “That’s making it too small. I think he’s maybe the greatest off-the-dribble driver of all time, in terms of his ability to create offense at a high-efficiency rate for his team.”
Kyle Wiltjer: Can definitely get used to this weather. – Daryl Morey: remember this when you are a free agent someday… – Kyle Wiltjer: No wonder you were able to get everyone. Quite the change from the NW weather ❄️
He can afford to be magnanimous. Both on the micro and macro level, Morey is winning. The Rockets are the league’s best turnaround story this season. And from 30,000 feet, Morey’s ideas have won. The NBA plays his way now, the way the analytics community has argued is the best, most efficient way to play, with 3-pointers coming from every spot on the floor, the game now five-out, none-in, other than the occasional roll to the basket by a new-age center like Houston’s Clint Capela.
“It’s fun,” Harden says. “As you can see, the Warriors play like that now, and the last few years. It’s fun. It’s exciting. The crowd’s into it. You’re knocking threes; you’re getting layups. We have the right personnel, we have the right guys for it. It fits what we’re doing.”
“They get on me quite a bit, like, ‘what are you doing, Ryan?’ Most of the time it’s ‘why did you take that shot?’ On this team it’s, ‘why didn’t you take that shot? Or ‘why did you pass that up?’ They want us to be aggressive. In this system, an open shot, an open three, especially, is the best shot for this group. If you pass up a wide open three, if you move it to the next shot, it might not be as high percentage a shot or it might be more contested. So that’s kind of the system. And we have so many shooters, so many guys who can take advantage of that.”
Morey continues to insist that it was as much Alexander’s ideas as his own. “From the moment I interviewed here, to the people that were here before, like Dennis Lindsey (now the Jazz GM), and Rudy (Tomjanovich), they’ll tell you this is how he always felt like basketball should be played,” Morey said. “Obviously, I agreed with him, and we’ve been working towards that.” It’s not hard to find the genesis of Alexander’s philosophy. His Rockets won back to back titles in the Grab-and-Clutch era of the NBA in 1994 and ’95, leading league in 3-point attempts both seasons.