It looks like Daryl Morey is thinking like Howard Marks. But, he probably always has.
On the Wharton Moneyball podcast, Eric Bradlow talked through why the Houston Rockets might think playing “five guys a large number of minutes that are all six-seven to six-four” to end the season and into the playoffs was a good idea.
At first this seems like a mistake.
Basketball has defined positions. Point guard, shooting guard, small forward, power forward, center. We’ve always done it this way.
That expression is a red flag. Instead we should think from first principles, which is what Bradlow and co-hosts Adi Wyner and Shane Jensen do. If the Rockets play shorter players that don’t fit the traditional mold, what will happen. Bradlow summarized:
“Given they’re shooting threes and the higher variance of the rebounds, a lot more balls hit the floor because it’s not just dropping straight down so you might want faster players who can get to the ball quickly.” (though maybe not)
“And now you’re getting the other team to possible take less threes. That’s a good thing about the Rockets.” (by exploiting size mismatches down low)
“The other thing you might argue is that the other team is going to crash the boards and that might create more fast break opportunities.”Wharton Moneyball podcast 2/12/2020
Small ball strategy might be something smart coaches pursue. Zach Lowe wrote that Toronto’s Nick Nurse will play weird defense, and will sometimes tempt the other team “into inefficient one-on-one battles.”
Two principles Marks hammers again and again is the importance of being right and different and the importance of second level thinking. Though it’s really no surprise that Morey and Marks take different paths to make similar results in unique domains.