Retooling On The Fly: Daryl Morey’s Draft Night Success Story

Going into this truncated offseason, the Sixers had a few items that needed their immediate attention. With Daryl Morey only taking over as President of Basketball Operations two weeks prior, analysts and Sixers fans alike wondered what he could accomplish in such a short turnaround. Would he be able to work his draft-night trade magic? Could James Harden be on the way to the Sixers without having to give up Ben Simmons in return? Would he be able to dump Al Horford’s contract and add shooters? Morey answered these questions with savvy moves, veteran leadership, and a dash of Process Trusting. While it may still be premature to hand him some customized basketball trophies from Spike’s Trophies, let’s break down some of the moves from NBA Draft night. 

The End of the Horford Era

You could see the logic behind Elton Brand’s move to sign Al Horford to his 4 year, $109 million contract last offseason; weaken the Celtics by taking away their center, pair one of the few players in the NBA who can back down Joel Embiid and make him look like a league-average player, and create a new stalwart defensive identity for the Sixers. It made sense from this point of view. However, the on-court fit between the two big men never quite clicked. Eventually, the Sixers had to eschew their expensive offseason prize to get some semblance of balance on the floor. But with three years still left on his deal, moving Horford was always going to be an uphill battle. Well, for everyone not named Daryl Morey. 

Morey was able to package Horford, the 34th pick in this year’s draft, and a lightly-protected 2025 first round pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Danny Green and Terrance Ferguson. Green’s shooting ability and smart defense makes him a better fit around Embiid and Simmons than Horford, while Ferguson represents an excellent flier on a small forward coming off a down season who has shown flashes of being a quality 3-and-D player. The best part was that Moorey didn’t have to give up this year’s first-round pick and went on to draft Kentucky’s Tyreese Maxey, who was considered a lottery pick at one point. Getting two players back that are theoretically much better fits around your two all-star cornerstones is icing on the draft night cake. But Morey wasn’t done yet.

Get More Shooters, No Matter The Cost

Josh Richardson came over to the Sixers last year during the Jimmy Butler sign-and-trade (that still stings a little bit). While Richardson is a tenacious defender and could theoretically be a prototypical 3-and-D piece to help balance the floor, his shooting regressed last season and didn’t deliver in the ways the Sixers hoped. So, in Morey’s never-ending quest to surround Joel and Ben with shooters, the Sixers’ new head of basketball operations sent Richardson and the 36th pick in the 2020 draft to the Dallas Mavericks for sharpshooter Seth Curry — yes, he’s related to that Curry, and he’s also Doc Rivers’ son-in-law. Seth brings a clean shooting stroke and a 40.6% 3 point percentage that will help space the floor for Ben and Joel more than we saw with last year’s squad. 

With the 2020 NBA draft in the books, Daryl Morey has begun reshaping the Sixers roster into something that better compliments his two stars and puts the team in a better position to succeed. Will they have the firepower to take down the Celtics, Heat, and Bucks at the top of the Eastern Conference and get them to the Finals? Only time will tell on that front, but the Sixers fans have hope again.

The effort that Daryl Morey put into this draft deserves a cast award for his performance, like the ones found at Spike’s Trophies. Browse through our store to find the awards and trophies for all of your needs this holiday season!