76ers: Dissecting Daryl Morey’s recent comments on The Rights to Ricky Sanchez

James Harden, Daryl Morey, 76ers (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
James Harden, Daryl Morey, 76ers (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. /
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(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

The defense

Daryl explained why there has been such a recent surge in scoring this NBA season. He stated that individual player scoring has increased this year because there’s more switching in today’s NBA and as a result, switching leads to more isolations. Isolations usually occur with one of a team’s better players and that player subsequently attacks the basket more often. Daryl then pointed to the Sixers lack of switching on defense. While most teams rely on switching in today’s NBA, the Sixers play more a traditional style defense because of how impactful a rim protector Joel Embiid is.

Despite this, Daryl notes that switching is one of the best ways to slow modern day offenses down. Mike also took out his frustration on Daryl regarding the defense double teaming a driver on defense, which allows an opposing player to get a wide open catch and shoot three. Daryl reiterated that some of these double teams are schematic because the Sixers personnel isn’t the best at keeping opposing players in front of them and also cited that a turnover is the most impactful play in basketball. Daryl continues “if you can get a steal to something open, that’s more impact than an open three because you’re taking their position to zero and you’re getting an efficient play the other way so sometimes it makes sense to gamble for some of these plays.”

By adding personnel such as DeAnthony Melton and Jalen McDaniels, the Sixers clearly are doubling down on this defensive philosophy. Both Melton and McDaniels are players who can use their length and lateral quickness well and play the passing lanes to force turnovers while Joel Embiid is the last line of defense to protect the rim.

The Sixers Title Chances

"“We have the best record in the league since we’ve had James and Joel back this season. We’re top ten in offense and defense. We have an inside presence, we have an outside presence. If we look historically at teams who go on to win the title, we look like those teams.”-Daryl Morey"

Back in 2013, the analytically driven Morey told Zach Lowe that any time you have at least a 5% chance at winning a title, that’s enough to push your chips in and make a run at the championship. Lowe coined this term “the five percent theory.” Daryl spoke about the five percent theory on a February 17, 2022 episode of The Ricky, a week after the NBA trade deadline and the Sixers’ acquisition of James Harden. When Spike and Mike asked Morey the percentage that the Harden trade improved the Sixers title odds, Morey said previously it was three percent but after acquiring Harden, those odds skyrocketed to around 13-14 percent.

To put it in perspective, Daryl also said on that episode that when the Sixers were the No. 1 seed in the East and had to play the Atlanta Hawks in a game 7 on Philadelphia’s home floor, the odds of a Sixers title were around 18 percent. Daryl also revealed to listeners that he peaked at a 50 percent chance at a title when the 2018 Rockets were up three games to two in their series against the Golden State Warriors and Houston was up five with 90 seconds to play in game six. At that point, Chris Paul injured his hamstring, Houston lost the game, Paul would sit out game seven, and Houston would have their infamous 0-27 from 3 shooting game in a game seven loss. Meanwhile, Golden State went on to sweep the Cleveland Cavaliers in the finals.

While Daryl didn’t provide listeners with his percentage of championship odds for this year’s Sixers team, he stated he doesn’t think the Sixers are out of range of Milwaukee and Boston in the East, and then he cited Denver and Phoenix as the contenders he’s most scared of in the West. This is pure conjecture on my part, but I speculate that if the Sixers had a 13-14 percent chance after acquiring Harden at last year’s deadline, I tend to believe the Sixers have better odds this season. Not only is James Harden a better version of himself than last season when he was hampered by a hamstring injury, but Harden and Embiid have developed better continuity with each other and they have learned how to best compliment each other. In addition, between the additions of PJ Tucker, DeAnthony Melton, and Jalen McDaniels, the Sixers have substantially more depth than they did a year ago. Not to mention that the title is wide open, with any of those five teams Daryl mentioned as legitimate threats.

While Daryl’s highest chances at a championship ring were 50 percent, this Sixers team might be his best chance at a championship. The league is wide open in terms of championship contenders and there is no real frontrunner. Daryl had a vision for how to construct this team and has done an excellent job at executing it. When the Golden State Warriors went to the NBA finals five straight years, Daryl was the only executive in the conference to not back down from the challenge. While it would be incredible to witness Joel Embiid and James Harden win their first championship rings this year, it would be just as incredible to see Morey get that gratification as well.

Thank you for reading my debut article for the Sixer Sense! I am excited to be on board!