Daryl Morey has been vindicated as a result of a very successful Houston Rockets team, making him deserving of the NBA Executive of the Year award.
Executive of the Year is one of the trickier awards to understand in the NBA.
How do you truly award who is the best basketball executive of the year? Do you reward an executive who took a mediocre team to contender status? Do you reward an executive that made a great team even better? There is truly no right answer to that question.
The other aspect about the award that is unique is that executives implement long-term plans when building their teams, making it tricky to hand out an award every season.
It would be better (and more reasonable) to hand out this award once every two to three seasons, which would make it easier to truly evaluate the plans that the executives have laid out for their team.
But, the award is given out annually, meaning that there will be an executive that receives the hardware this season, so why not make a case for the general manager of the Houston Rockets, Daryl Morey.
There are plenty of executives worthy of the award, from Bob Myers (he signed Kevin freaking Durant) to David Griffin (has built a great roster around LeBron James).
However, Daryl Morey is most deserving for the award, after the Rockets have vindicated him and his offseason decisions by vastly surpassing preseason expectations.
Let’s take a step back and review the key 2016 off-season additions for the Houston Rockets:
- Hired Mike D’Antoni as head coach
- Signed Ryan Anderson (four years, $80 million)
- Signed Eric Gordon (four years, $53 million)
- Signed Nene (one year, $2.9 million)
- Extended James Harden (four years, $119 million)
Initial feedback on most of those moves were not pretty to say the least. I dare you to find a reputable source that gave the Anderson and Gordon signings a grade above C+.
And while the Nene signing and Harden extension were praised for the most part, the appointment of D’Antoni as head coach dragged the offseason moves down in the eyes of most analysts.
Therefore, it’s not surprising that most off-season predictions (including Vegas over/under) hovered around 41-43 wins for the Rockets this season.
Well, well, well how things have changed. The Rockets currently sit at 53-25 and are on pace for 55 wins.
D’Antoni’s system has unlocked James Harden as a point god and a MVP front-runner, the role players are producing as expected, and the team is a serious contender in the bloodbath that is the Western Conference.
The Rockets, long known for their love of three-pointers, have set the record for most threes made in a season, mainly due to the brilliance that is Harden’s passing and the knockdown capabilities of new teammates in Anderson and Gordon.
Anderson is hitting 39.8 percent of his three-point attempts, while Gordon is hitting 37.8 percent of his attempts. In fact, Gordon is the leading candidate for Sixth Man of the Year and also won the Three Point Contest at All-Star weekend, further boosting his resurgence.
Meanwhile, Nene looks revitalized playing as a physical big man off the bench, as he owns an 18.7 PER, 1.1 defensive box plus-minus, and offensive rating of 118.
Nene has been exactly what the Rockets have needed off the bench, a big man to play rotational defense and a good partner for James Harden in the pick-and-roll. It also doesn’t hurt that he can take opponents souls on a regular basis:
Put all of those ingredients together and you get the recipe of a very successful (and surprising) season for the Houston Rockets, all orchestrated by Daryl Morey.
Morey had a vision for the Rockets and went out and made it a reality by hiring D’Antoni and signing Anderson, Gordon and Nene. He ensured that Harden would stay in town for an extra season and has provided him the tools to have an MVP season.
Even though the majority of analysts (and even fans) criticized Morey’s offseason plan, the 2016-17 Houston Rockets have vindicated Morey, making him deserving for the Executive of the Year award for the 2016-17 NBA season.
All statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference