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Daryl Morey joins SportsCenter to talk James Harden’s future, load management, analytics

The Sixers’ President of Basketball Operations discussed a variety of topics on the ESPN show Friday night.

Philadelphia 76ers Introduce James Harden

Philadelphia 76ers’ President of Basketball Operations Daryl Morey joined Kevin Negandhi on ESPN’s SportsCenter on Friday evening to talk about the team’s aspirations for a championship, the future of James Harden, analytics and more.

Here is what Morey discussed in the appearance:

James Harden’s future with the Sixers:

“I know [Harden] is just focused on this season and not the offseason. I know he’s focused on winning the championship. He’s gonna be wherever he feels like he has the best chance. Obviously his pairing with [Joel] Embiid is very, very good and we feel like it’s a great pairing for the long term.”

The toughness of the Sixers’ remaining schedule:

“Well, obviously it’s an intimidating schedule but by far the hardest actually when you take a step and look at it. We’re excited for it because obviously the championship is our goal and we feel like this will be the right test. We won’t be able to fool ourselves. If we’re not doing well against this set of opponents, then we know we need to keep working and we’re gonna keep working until we get to the playoffs.”

On the Sixers’ second-round exits:

“Our focus is on winning the title, we’re not really worried about which round we’ve gotten to. I’m pretty confident that if we had made the Conference Finals and not the Finals then everyone would just say ‘oh, they haven’t made the Finals,’ so we got our work cut out for us but we’re focused on one thing.”

What data should matter in, especially in MVP discussions:

“Look, MVP is obviously Most Valuable Player, you can define that different ways, but for sure defense has to be a big component. I think when you look at the impact that Joel [Embiid] makes both on offense and defense, it adds up to him being MVP. But in terms of what helps you win in the playoffs, it’s your ability to impact both ends at a very high level.”

Separating “good” and “bad” data in analytics:

“The nice thing about basketball is it’s a good combination of art and science. No one’s really gonna solve it, it’s too difficult. I think knowing which things actually drive winning, which things drive winning in the playoffs, which players make the biggest difference... that’s sort of the secret sauce. I’m pretty happy because I think a lot of teams are gonna use data poorly as much as they used to not use data at all.”

Load management being utilized throughout the league, players sitting:

“I can tell you that, for sure, it is something that I would say is probably a little bit overrated. The science behind it is very limited. We play a wider rotation through the regular season because we want to minimize injury and we want guys to get more opportunities. We often will sit guys on back-to-backs and things like that because I think its the prudent thing, but it terms of like a guy playing exactly 37 minutes versus 33 minutes, we don’t sweat that that much.”

Superteams in the NBA:

“To win in this league, you need multiple very, very elite players. The history of the league is pretty much unequivocal on that except for maybe one or two teams in the entire history of the NBA. So, even if you have multiple teams with multiple superstars, a few of them aren’t going to win, but that doesn’t mean it was the wrong strategy to bring them together.”

The Sixers are back on the court Saturday night at 8:30 PM ET when they host the Boston Celtics in a battle of some of the best in the Eastern Conference.

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