The Tanking Sixers: Innovators?
The Philadelphia 76ers have taken the most extreme strategy ever seen in building a long-term winner. Their record this year is an atrocious 12-45, after an equally horrible 19-63 campaign last season. Yet their intentional short-term tanking is supposed to have a purpose: accumulating draft picks and salary cap space to build a contender down the road. Morey claimed the Sixers "passed" the Rockets in terms of innovation, putting his Rockets at "No. 2." He said Sixers GM Sam Hinkie, who used to work under Morey, is "doing what made the most sense given their starting position. They need to get a league talent and he's executing a great plan to do it." Not everyone feels that way. Some people have called for the NBA to disallow such strategies by changing the draft lottery rules, for example. Los Angeles Lakers co-owner Jeannie Buss referred to their strategy as "unforgivable."
Rockets' Title Hopes
The Rockets have been building for years toward a championship, and this season represents their best shot to get it done, with a 39-18 record in the tough Western Conference. "We are the fourth-best team in the league, but we haven't had Dwight Howard most of the year." Morey suggested that Howard's return will be the key difference in getting them over the hump: "With Dwight back, we are right there with any team in the league."
The Future of Analytics in Sports
After sports such as baseball and basketball led the way in their usage of sports analytics, hockey and football have started to catch up. Morey said soccer is the next big frontier, "the biggest for sure." He points out that "the data is getting better," but the "culture is even worse than baseball when it first started" in regards to how skeptical the soccer establishment is to accept analytics as a tool.