I have been fortunate enough to steward the Houston Rockets NBA basketball team the past few years. In the early days of sports analytics I worked with Bill James at STATS, Inc. I get to continue my general love of sports and analysis at the annual MIT Sloan Sports Analytics conference (http://mitssac.com/) that I co-chair.

I have a new reddit login but have been a lurker for many years.

In my spare time I enjoy table tennis, musical theater, and eSports.

More info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daryl_Morey

Verification: https://twitter.com/dmorey/status/251381109462540288

Comments: 2262 • Responses: 40  • Date: 

Cecil_Hardboner787 karma

So, what WAS your offer for Dwight Howard?

And how pissed were you with David Stern blocking the original Chris Paul trade that would have landed Pau Gasol in Houston?

Of those two moves, which trade would you rather have had go through?

dmorey880 karma

We would have been thrilled for either of these moves to go through which should hopefully make sense in the context of my other answers that we want to obtain a top player. I guess this will have to be AMAA as I hope you can understand I would never reveal the private trade conversations we have had with other teams. We thought we made a very good offer in both circumstances and in both circumstances the team decided to do something else.

thejosh9432 karma

When Dikembe Mutumbo would speak to you, would you sometimes just nod and say yes?

dmorey840 karma

Yes. And then I would ask him to follow up with a txt of what he wants on one of the 4 cell phones he always carried.

kaliforniamike413 karma

i am 6ft 10 and only slightly uncoordinated with low mileage on my knees. what is your best offer?

dmorey1540 karma

Can I just buy your knees?

urfaselol380 karma

How frequent of a visitor are you of /r/nba?

dmorey1234 karma


Cecil_Hardboner331 karma

Would Bill Simmons actually make a good NBA GM?

dmorey383 karma

I think he would make a good GM. He really knows the game. He obviously is a friend so take my opinion for what you will but I have found his knowledge of the game to be very high over the many years we have known each other. The only time I think he would struggle is handling owner input as he is very independent minded (which has made him successful in everything he has done).

Munger88288 karma

  1. Which team do you view as the most intimidating? Heat, Thunder, or the new powerhouse Lakers?

  2. What is your view on the idea that teams need to build rosters with 2+ superstars to succeed? Do you honestly think you can compete for a championship with a roster similar to what you have in place now?

  3. I've heard Royce White, a current player of yours, has a major fear of flying. How have you handled this situation, and what will you do in the future when traveling far for away games?

I'm not a Rockets fan (Hawks fan here), but I'd like to say you've compiled one of the more likable teams in the league. Guys like Jeremy Lin, Chandler Parsons and Kevin Martin are not only fun to watch but great people too and I wish you the best of success in this upcoming season.

dmorey485 karma

  1. Miami. I have consistently said this since the team was assembled.
  2. You definitely need at least 1 elite player in the top 10-20 of all NBA players (all-star level) to win the championship. There are no counter examples of this. We are not championship contenders right now. All our moves since Yao Ming went down have had the specific goal of acquiring a top level player since that moment. Each change on our team has been designed to acquire players who either have a chance to be an all-star or give us the cap room or trade flexibility to acquire an all-star.
  3. Royce White has an issue with anxiety that is more common than people talk about and he has done a good job to bring awareness. It did not affect his ability to fly for games last year and we don't expect it to this year. It certainly did not affect him last year where he was unquestionably one of the top players in the country and the best player on the floor in the Kentucky-Iowa State NCAA tournament game.

Supernuke155 karma

What about the '04 Pistons as a counter example? You could argue Billups and Hamilton, but they would be on the very low end of top 10-20 players. Or Rasheed? Maybe, but that is an example that stands out clearly for me.

dmorey364 karma

Billups and Ben Wallace clearly were playing at an all-star level in my opinion at that time. Also, 4(!) of them made the all-star team either that year or the next. For those wondering on Ben Wallace, they had the #1 defense in the league and Ben Wallace was for sure the primary reason for it. Omer Asik has the potential to play at an all-star level on defense. We will see if he does.

munchyz118 karma

are Asik and Lin all-star superstars? or even trade-able assets to acquire one?

dmorey731 karma

Lin played at an all-star level last year. Even if he does not maintain that level (likely), both he and Asik increase our flexibility and get us closer to our goals. I also like that Lin has already played for a small yet not insignificant stretch at an all-star level. This increases his odds -- up and down the roster that is the primary thing we are trying to do -- increase our odds of developing or acquiring an all-star level player.

spitfire9107254 karma

hows yao ming in person

dmorey889 karma

A great person which people always say but actually true in this case. I think the quality he has as a person that many don't know about is that he is extremely funny. He was by far the funniest person in the locker room. Most jokes I cannot print there is one time I remember I can talk about. During the pre-season required drug testing, all the players were lined up to pee in a cup and Yao Ming looking to all of them and said, "why am I the only one not nervous"?

threeseashells206 karma

SEA/OKC was dreadful for three years which allowed them to acquire Durant, Westbrook, and Harden in the Lottery.

Every other contender is in a major-market destination city where high-profile FAs flock to.

How will Houston compete with this by consistently being just ...OK

Signed, Fan Since '92

dmorey361 karma

Being an extremely crappy team is definitely a well worn path to success in the NBA. Each year, the NBA hands the most valuable asset in the game (a scale wage top 5 pick) and hands it to the most mismanaged teams.

We could go with this approach (in fact the Rockets invented it long ago) but we think our approach can succeed as well and can succeed faster even though it is more difficult.

Delplato190 karma

Disregarding stats and from a purely aesthetic point of view, which player plays the game with the most heart and "beauty"? Who's the most fun to watch?

dmorey442 karma


grungust154 karma

(this might be too personal, if so, sorry) It has been reported you have donated quite a bit of money to Mitt Romneys campaign. What are the a few of the reasons you support him over Obama or other candidates?

dmorey520 karma

I was asked about this recently

Sorry reddit, I know my opinion on this will not be popular! Hopefully you can check out the article (it is short) if you care about politics vs reflexively being negative.

One thing left out of the article I told them is that many of Mitt Romney's partners are good friends and owners of the Boston Celtics (where I worked for 4 years) so I do have near first hand knowledge of my opinions in that article and my belief that Mitt would make a great leader for the country.

aggij154 karma

Thanks for doing to AMA. I have many questions, so feel free to skip any question that you are unable to discuss here, but please try to answer any that you can.

  1. Can you tell us anything about psychological characteristics that you use to evaluate players?

  2. Why didn't T-Will pan out the way we all had hoped?

  3. Do you agree with Mark Cuban that players should play at least three years in college, D-league, or Europe before getting drafted?

  4. Can you give us some insight as to how you choose Kevin McHale as head coach (e.g., any analytics that you can discuss)? This article gives some hint about your desire to select a good "leader", but what about factors such as which lineups to run?

  5. Moreover, the article above discusses your support for the Romney campaign despite "disagree[ing] strongly with" many of his positions. Can you discuss a bit further why you made the donation?

  6. How much influence do you have on playing time and lineup decisions? Coach McHale sometimes puts out interesting lineups. (e.g., K-mart at the 4, or Camby and Dalembert playing 4 and 5 together). Who comes up with these unique substitution patterns?

  7. Do you ever play NBA 2k? If you've ever played association mode, what are your thoughts on it?

dmorey245 karma

  1. we use it but I cannot really talk about it for competitive reasons
  2. He is very talented. I think he may still have a productive career. Many factors for it not working but Chandler Parsons emerging was a big one.
  3. Mark Cuban gets the luxury of answering that but the rules I am under from the NBA prohibit me from commenting. AMAA I guess.
  4. there are some analytics you can use to analyze coaching but you primarily want a leader who can help you win games and is aligned with the organization. It is early in Kevin's coaching career but over time I believe people will see how good he is.
  5. to help him get elected and it is what friends do
  6. coach McHale is in charge of playing time. If he asks for ideas/input then we give suggestions.
  7. have not played. if my son picks it up I may try it.

oOoleveloOo151 karma

If Jeremy Lin asked to sleep on your couch, would you let him?

dmorey307 karma

yes. Unfortunately I have to run, thank you for all the questions! I will check in and try to answer a few more when I have time. Best, Daryl

yuv9136 karma

First off, thanks for taking the time to do this (and on my birthday too!), I am a huge fan of you and the Rockets. My question is about the rise of analytics in the league. More and more teams are incorporating analytics into their front office, and as one of the pioneers of this in the NBA how do you feel about losing this 'advantage' and what kinds of things do you do to keep analytics moving forward while still holding a edge on the competition? Clearly events like the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference fosters sharing of information, but the nature of sports is to hold on to any advantage you can for as long as possible. How do you reconcile these two aspects of your position?

AnUnmetPlayer126 karma

When Lowry was traded away and Dragic signed with the Suns you guys went from two starting quality point guards to none. From an outside perspective it looked like fairly inept managing, what was going on internally during this time. Were you confident you could get Jeremy Lin? Were you rolling the dice?

dmorey270 karma

First, I would refer to my #2 answer here. Each move makes sense under this lens. The guaranteed lottery pick we received from Toronto for Lowry is more valuable in acquiring an all-star level player. Dragic wanted a player option (that Phoenix gave him) which greatly harms a players value and will almost always lead us away from #2. A player option essentially guarantees that a team ends up with either a free agent (not valuable) or a player who the league thinks is not valuable and blocks your salary cap flexibility.

We were rolling the dice on getting Jeremy Lin but taking smart risks is what we have to do up and down the roster on every move. As only 1 team out of 30 gets to win, you cannot play it safe. A fund manager who beats more than half his peers and beats the S+P 500 is considered pretty good. We have won more games than we lost the past few years (beaten our peers) despite losing our franchise player Yao Ming and it has been appropriately considered disappointing despite the fact that most teams win around one-third of their games after losing their franchise player. We need to keep taking on more smart risk.

chilltown1491105 karma


I was wondering what your view is on the actual returns to analytics in the NBA. It seems to me that because of the way player movement is regulated and because the league is so superstar driven, analytics can be rendered fairly useless if the only goal of the organization is to win a championship. You can collect an amazing group of undervalued players, but unless you have lucked into a superstar or two, your ceiling is likely a Conference Finals appearance.

Is analytics something that really only becomes valuable once you have found a franchise player (i.e. surrounding him with the right talent to win)?

dmorey235 karma

I think analytics can help improve the quality of nearly all decisions to some extent but as you mention the potential efficacy will vary. The utility of analytics on a decision will also vary but I will just discuss efficacy since you brought it up.

Yes, I agree, what I am stating about acquiring an all-star level player every NBA GM in 1965 could have also stated with confidence. It is just a fact that the structure of our sport requires this. No other major professional team sport comes remotely close to having a player like Lebron James who can single handedly shift a team from winning 3 out of 4 games (09-10 Cavs) to 1 out of 4 games (10-11 Cavs).

The reason for this is numerous with two off the top of my head being fewer players on the court and a near asymptotic distribution function of high end talent. One way I describe it is imagine in baseball when Barry Bonds was at the height of his powers he could have kept calling himself to the plate over and over, ignoring the lineup card. This is essentially what the top players in basketball can do each time down the floor -- they can "call their own number" and make sure the team gets a great possession each time.

I do think analytics can improve the process to getting a top player but as you state, it has not created a new path to winning like has opened up in baseball with analytics where numerous small smart decisions and great roster management on player 2-25 can lead to a championship. No amount of work and good decisions on our players 2-15 could overcome not having an all-star level player.

twiszz95 karma

Hi Daryl! I'm a big fan of yours and the Rockets. I have a few questions:

  1. Do you believe that our current roster has playoff potential? Are there any meaningful moves to be made before the start of the season?

  2. How angry does it make you when big market teams (like the Lakers) constantly have A+ talent falling into their laps with seemingly little effort on their part? What needs to happen for Houston to become a desirable destination for big names?

  3. Can you dunk?

  4. When can we expect Moneyball 2: Moreyball?

  5. I had no idea you were into eSports! What do you currently follow?

Thanks, and go Rockets!

dmorey384 karma

  1. we definitely have a chance at the playoffs. It is a stretch goal but it is a realistic goal and would be great for the franchise as it would likely mean that 1+ of our players have developed into all-star level players.
  2. does not make me angry. just part of the landscape of competition.
  3. this is embarrassing to admit but I am 6'4" and unlike reddit fave Woody Harrelson, I cannot dunk. In my youth I could get a tennis ball through.
  4. this would be a terrible movie. that said, we did have a 22 game winning streak and apparently a long winning streak is all you need for a movie.
  5. I am a big fan of MLG and SC2. I like to think I can macro with the best of 'em. Micro skills not as good. I got into it because of my 10-year-old son and I was heavily into gaming when I was younger.

YourekillinmeSmalls90 karma

Did Jeremy Lin's international presence affect you efforts to pursue him as a player? He is obviously a giant money-maker and cultural icon, as well as a contributor on the court. While Kyle Lowry may be a better point guard, Lin is much more marketable. Were you thinking that way when you acquired him, or was it strictly a basketball move?

Thanks for doing this, take care of Asik! Big bulls fan here, hard to see him go.

dmorey137 karma

He is definitely has a large off the court footprint but it did not factor into the investment I recommended to the owner we make on him.

n0f4c373 karma

What do you think of the trend of "small ball"? There's a handful of teams that have moved their 3's down to the 4 (Durant, Carmelo, LeBron), and speed and athleticism seem to be favored more so than a big man that can slow the game down and beat a team with his size. Do you think this trend will continue, and is there still a place in the league for the traditional dominant big man?

dmorey145 karma

For sure in the regular season, the general rule of thumb to help you win is put your 5 best players on the floor as much as possible. Because of scarcity, the smalls are generally better than the bigs and also more numerous. This is why "small ball" works.

acshen64 karma

What's your favorite eSports to watch? If it's Starcraft, who are your favorite personalities? What do you think of the KESPA players (Flash Jaedong Rain)?

I'm a huge Rockets fan as well. I watch almost all of our games on League Pass Broadband. Really excited about this year's team despite having been really confident about getting Dwight.

I'd also like to pursue a position in an NBA front office one day. I am well educated and hope to enter a top business school program in the next 2 years. Do you believe an MBA program like Sloan would give me a leg up on this? They always say making your passions your job can be a blessing or a curse.

Thanks for your thoughts, and keep up the good work.

dmorey93 karma

SC2 -- I like IdrA and got a chance to meet him recently. I think an MBA from a top school cannot hurt but the odds are long no matter what. I struggle with these questions as my path was so unconventional.

giordun55 karma

This is awesome that you're here. In my opinion you are one of the greatest modern basketball minds and the Rockets have always overachieved given their roster/limitations/injuries.

Lot of questions I'd like to ask, but here's one that I thought of on the way to class.

Of all the trades, signings, draft picks, which one has been your favorite?

dmorey288 karma

[private message] your money is in account CYMN271828182846

dmorey225 karma

shoot, how do you do a pm in Markdown?

Aykis1650 karma

Please settle a Twitter argument. Better nickname for Donatas Motiejunas, "Donuts" or "The Don"?

dmorey99 karma

We have settled on DMo just for simplicity

gwatson8646 karma

What do you feel has been the biggest hindrance to signing a star to Houston?

dmorey140 karma

Nothing. Houston is a huge asset in helping us in free agency (weather, income tax, large city, etc...). We are not the top destination city in the NBA but we are near the top. The reality is only a extremely small number of the top 10-20 players change each off-season (sometimes zero) and they also rarely change via free agency (vs trade) so the number of chances is extremely small and when those chances come up the number of potential destinations is very numerous. Long way of saying that the odds are stacked against every team and we just have not overcome those long odds. Has nothing to do with Houston.

htown_hero45 karma

what is your clutchfans user name?

dmorey76 karma

I don't have one but I do read the site

mdz143 karma

Hi Mr. Morey, as a huge NBA fan and stat-head I'm absolutely thrilled that you are doing this AMA, and as a Bull's fan I'm absolutely furious that you took Asik from us!

  1. By now Baseball seems to have fully embraced the sports statistical revolution. In the NBA though, it seems like people like you and Cuban are in the minority. Would you say this is true, and if so why do you think so many teams are taking so long to turn to statistical evaluation?

  2. Do you believe that every NBA player has a fundemental value (as in Baseball, and as many metrics like Win Shares and Wins Produced will lead you to believe) or do you think there is so much teamwork in Basketball that a player's value is highly dependent on his teammates' skill sets? If the latter, how do you predict how certain players value will change when coming to your team?

  3. How close were you guys to landing to Dwight Howard? And how frustrating was it to see the Magic agree to a deal that was hilariously worse than the ones that you guys were rumored to be offering?

Thanks for doing the AMA and best of luck this year!

dmorey50 karma

1) there is a reasonable amount of investment and use in the NBA. We are just more known. 2) no. players have different values in different style of play and teammate contexts. this is why basketball analysis is more fun/interesting than baseball I think. Barry Bonds adds 10 wins over replacement to every MLB team. 3) refer to here

giordun31 karma

Also, as a basketball stat junkie, I would love to go to the MIT Sloan conference. Is the conference open to the public?

dmorey39 karma

yes. jump on the mailing list on the home page

AnUnmetPlayer29 karma

What position do you see Terrence Jones and Royce White playing? Both the 3 and the 4?

dmorey60 karma

Terrence can play 3-5. Royce 4-5 although he is like a PG offensively. He is hard to pigeon hole.

ricecakey1526 karma

Mr. Morey.

1) Do you give any input to the coaches on minute allocation based on the analyis you do? (ala billy beane) Do you have any thoughts regarding the folks at The Wages of Wins?

Link: http://wagesofwins.com/2012/09/26/evaluating-the-coaching-the-coach-is-wrong-redux/#more-12005

2) I own 3 of your players in a dynasty fantasy basketball league. Can you PLEASE play Asik, Motie, and Chandler more? Thanks

3) I've worked in finance my entire career. Is there a transitional role for me into the front office?

dmorey38 karma

  1. The Wages of Wins folks have contributed important new ideas to NBA analysis. I expect they will do more in the future. 2) that is up to coach McHale 3) there is but it is very tough to obtain

implosionsinapie26 karma

How much will you utilize omer asik in the upcoming season? How do you think he will benefit your team? I love him as a player, i hope he starts every game.

dmorey69 karma

We don't spend $8 million per year on someone we don't plan to help us! He will anchor our defense and we think his offense will improve through his hard work with Kevin McHale and Carroll Dawson.

klassik89125 karma

What kind of role do you see Chandler Parsons playing this year?

dmorey54 karma

likely starter and if he improves on his rookie year then he has as real chance to surprise the league. He has the mind and physical tools to be very good.

bballer225 karma

congrats on james harden. i agree he should be a legitimate star. however, how do you NOT feel you gave up too much?

dmorey97 karma

We gave up a lot but I think it was a fair trade for both.

georgestephanopoulos24 karma

Hey Mr. Morey, thanks for the AMA! Actually a rivalrous Spurs fan here, but I've got some questions for you...

  • I know this one will be difficult to answer, but here it goes. You've stock-piled a lot of awesome, young talent the past few years, but were you disappointed to not get Pau or Dwight this summer?

  • Are there any other GMs/Owners you look up to, look to for advice, or just admire in the league?

  • And finally, what do you feel has been your best decision as Rockets GM?

Thanks again for the AMA and your time!!

dmorey58 karma

No shock but I think RC Buford might be the best in the business. Pat Riley has done an amazing job and only league jealousy prevented him from winning GM of the year recently in my opinion (I obviously voted for him).

Best decision as GM was likely Rafer Alston for Kyle Lowry as it was a hard one to pull off -- we traded our starter in the middle of a playoff race for a Kyle who was barely playing. I think Kyle will do amazing in Toronto.

nouseforasn22 karma

What do you think is the best publicly available defensive metric?

dmorey57 karma

none really

nouseforasn18 karma

Were you the team to hire Haralabos as a consultant?

dmorey24 karma

No, but he has an incredibly good basketball mind

jay-hova11 karma

Where do you rank Hakeem Olajuwon in the greatest centers of all-time conversation? Why do you rank him in the said position?

dmorey32 karma

Best center

uk2knerf11 karma

If you had to pick a starting five of all retired players in their prime, who would you pick?

dmorey30 karma

I am going to include current players. My five would be CP3, Jordan, Lebron, Duncan, and Olajuwon.

goo3219 karma

how good is your basketball game? Could I take you?

dmorey29 karma

I am pretty decent. I would win but it might be just because I would insist on having control of the venue and rules so it is to my advantage.

dood238 karma

Do you have a favorite memory in your time with the Rockets?

dmorey40 karma

22 game winning streak. Tougher to do than win the title. That is what I tell myself when I get depressed at all the work we still have to do to get back to being championship contenders.