Morey-Ball: The Story of the 2014-15 Houston Rockets

Nov 1, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Fans arrive at Toyota Center before a game between the Houston Rockets and the Boston Celtics. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 1, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Fans arrive at Toyota Center before a game between the Houston Rockets and the Boston Celtics. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports /

In all of sports, fans tend to think about team management in general as the bad-guy who’s just benefiting from the team’s players only looking to make an impact from a corporation standpoint instead of an entertaining/dream-achieving/passion-driven machine that ends up creating cults and a certain kind of obsession towards it.

In other words, as a character with a series of uncanny similarities to the aliens’ boss in Space Jam.

However, people who think management’s impact can only be reflected on the business side of a team — cap-space and contractual savvy, or total lack thereof (i.e., the Brooklyn Nets) — couldn’t be more wrong. In today’s stat-driven NBA management has a huge impact over the team’s chemistry and overall season achievement.

In the Houston Rockets‘ case, the previous couldn’t be more true.

Daryl Morey, who used to be a statistical consultant for STATS, Inc., was named the Rockets’ general manager in May 2007, thus becoming the first general manager in the NBA with a statistical “Moneyball”like approach to the game.

Under Morey, the Rockets’ seasons have gone as follows:

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  • 2007-08: Lost in the Western Conference First Round.
  • 2008-09: Lost in Western Conference Semifinals.
  • 2009-10: Missed Playoffs.
  • 2010-11: Missed Playoffs.
  • 2011-12: Missed Playoffs.
  • 2012-13: Lost in the Western Conference First Round.
  • 2013-14: Lost in the Western Conference First Round.

A rather unsuccessful tenure for Morey.

However, it is impossible and pointless to try and put the Rockets’ lack of success on Morey’s management since it could have easily been the roster’s fault.

Also, on a team which (with the exception of Yao Ming) had not even one star or leader that could step up and eventually turn the game on their favor, the Rockets’ expectation season after season were not that high anyways.

Until now.

Even if the Rockets have been focusing on the things that matter since Morey’s arrival, it is only this season that they enjoy having the weapons needed to fulfil Daryl Morey’s statistical fantasy.

For the 2014-15 season, the team has zeroed in on attempting the highest percentage shots an NBA court has to offer — whether short-range two-point attempts, drives to the basket and highly effective three-point locations are currently what’s driving the Rockets’ third-in-the-league 19-5 record.

For example, the Rockets are attempting the highest number of three-point shots per game in the NBA, 34.4*. If the current pace continues, the Rockets would break the 2012-13 New York Knicks’ NBA record of three-point shot attempts in a season by almost 450 attempts. With a .346 shooting percentage from beyond the arc, three-point shots make up for 35 percentof the Rockets average points per game.

Also, 45.6 percent of the Rockets field goals come from less than 10 feet from the basket. offense is attempting the fewest mid-range field goals per game, 8.9, and is on pace to break under the 750 attempts barrier which is, to say the least, low.

Shotchart_1418885198665 /

Of course, the Rockets’ recent string of success is also a direct result of building a team around arguably the league’s best shooting guard in James Harden and one of the most dominant physical forces in the NBA in Dwight Howard, however, it is also Trevor Ariza‘s amazing near-career year and Donatas Motiejunas‘ sudden rise which give the Rockets that extra 1 percent needed to endure the tolling 82-game season and eventually/hopefully contend for a title.

As a third fiddle in the wide-open NBA title race, the Houston Rockets should be considered — along with the Golden State Warriors and the Memphis Grizzlies — a threat to wreak havoc in the Western Conference once the playoffs come along.

* A 29.4 percent increase from the 2013-14 season in which they attempted only 26.6 three-point shots per-game.

Next: The Rockets And The Race Atop The West