"James Harden changed my life," Daryl Morey wrote in a thank you letter after leaving Houston. "An entire page could be dedicated to James. He not only transformed my life but he also revolutionized the game of basketball—and continues to do so—like almost no one has before."
A couple of weeks later, Morey signed a five-year deal with the Sixers, despite announcing 'a break from basketball' after he had stepped down as Houston GM. The move might've been the biggest blow to the Rockets fandom -- but passing up Philadelphia wasn't an option for Morey. Thirty-six games into the season, it's clear why.
The Sixers (24-12) have the best record in the East, and after a disappointing first-round exit in the Bubble last summer, they finally look like a real contender. A lot of the credit for it has to be given to Morey, whose roster tweaks have worked out brilliantly, allowing stars to all have breakout seasons in a Sixers uniform -- especially Joel Embiid.
The 26-year-old superstar is currently a leading MVP candidate, averaging a career-best 30.2 points, along with 11.6 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 1.4 blocks, while shooting career-highs from the field (52.1%) and the three-point line (41.6%). Morey mostly credits Doc Rivers for Embiid's improvement, praising the Sixers big guy at the expense of the guy who 'changed his life.'
I get in trouble when I say stuff like this, but he’s the most unstoppable thing I’ve ever seen. And I've seen a lot -- you know who I’ve seen. But I’ve never seen anything like it.
Daryl Morey, Sports Illustrated
Just a reminder -- Morey once said, 'it's factual that James Harden is a better scorer than Michael Jordan.' He also described him as 'one of the best offensive players of all time.' It took Daryl just a quarter of the season to backtrack on his praise for the former Rockets superstar. And the best part is, for the first time ever, he didn't base his case on analytics.
When he said Harden was a better scorer than Jordan, Morey presented some numbers to back it up. When he called him one of the best offensive players ever, Morey described the measurements he used that got him to that conclusion. But when he called Embiid the most unstoppable thing he's ever seen, Morey stopped it at that.
Mr. Analytics presented an argument based on the eye test. To me, at least, that only means one thing -- the Embiid praise is just a front for a shot at Harden.