Moneyhoops Era Begins?

Huge story out of Houston: The Rockets have named their next general manager, and it's a stats dude.

The "Theo Epstein" is apparently Daryl Morey, who teaches a class at MIT, used to work on Wall Street and works as a stats/operations/information guy for the Celtics front office.

A bright fellow named John Quincy at the APBRmetric board dug up some more on Morey, including this blog post briefly annotating a speech Morey gave at MIT in April 2005. I can't seem to run down a transcript of said presentation, but we'll take the blogger's word that Morey talked about the four factors.

It's also worth noting that a Google cache of Celtics.com's "Inside the Numbers" series of articles on basketball analytics lists Morey and Mike Zarren as authors. (The current incarnation of "Inside the Numbers" lists only Zarren and has only three articles, the most recent one being a solid primer of offensive efficiency. Zarren is listed as Boston's "Basketball Operations Analyst, responsible for assisting team decision-making via quantitative analysis." (Thanks to Google, I've also gathered that Zarren is a 2004 Harvard Law graduate and a former editor-in-chief of the school's Journal of Law and Technology.)

Morey's best article on Celtics.com may be this piece on beating opponents by increasing your number of shot attempts. It's interesting because the pendulum in the statsworld seems to have swung towards efficiency as the biggest pillar, when offensive rebounding and limiting turnovers combined are almost as important as shooting percentage. (I'm way guilty of this, by valuing Kevin Martin true shooting percentage way more than Kenny Thomas's offensive rebounding percentage.)

Morey also has a questionable stats-related article in the cache as well, one that argues that because Al Jefferson got a lot of minutes in his age-20 season, and because most players who got a lot of minutes in their age-20 seasons turned out to be stars or solid starters, Al Jefferson is therefore destined to be a star or solid starter. That argument is pretty faulty for fairly obvious reasons - you can't just take a youngster, give him minutes and watch his blossom. It's at best a baby block in the work towards serious prospect analysis.

Regardless, getting someone who understands the growing statistical revolution budding in basketball into a GM chair is huge. It's really another domino: first, it was Dean Oliver coming into the Seattle Sonics organization. Now, it's Daryl Morey getting the reins (though not until the 2007 offseason). It's getting much better.

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