Daryl Morey holds an MBA from MIT and a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Northwestern University. Still, even he couldn’t have calculated that in 2007, at the age of 34, he would be named general manager of the Houston Rockets, a year after joining the franchise.
Morey said Rockets owner Leslie Alexander “gave me a shot and I’ve been trying not to screw it up. I got here and I just tried to fit in.”
Morey has done far more than fit in. He has distinguished himself in the industry for applying statistical analysis in creating the Rockets’ roster. It’s an inexact science, but one Morey sees as a way to more accurately determine a player’s value.
“It’s very difficult to do in basketball, but one of the pieces of the puzzle is applying data to decisions,” Morey said. “It can definitely help you from fooling yourself. Often, it’s the owner’s whim or the loudest voice in the room that prevails over a decision. But analytics helps reduce the risk.”
Morey wanted to work for a professional sports franchise when he graduated from Northwestern, but he took an indirect path to the NBA. After working for Stats, Morey left the company to attend MIT.
“I had worked like hell to get a job in sports but no one would return my call so I thought it was pointless,” Morey said.
After earning his MBA, Morey was working as a consultant for the Parthenon Group when Wyc Grousbeck retained the company to evaluate his purchase of the Boston Celtics. Morey impressed the Celtics’ new owner and was hired to work for the franchise in 2003. The Rockets came calling in 2006.
“I was looking for someone who could help us effectively manage the risks associated with talent acquisition, while also building a model for long-term success,” Alexander said. “Daryl has already established himself as an innovator in the field of talent evaluation and player acquisition.”