Daryl Morey - Systems Thinking in Sports - [Invest Like the Best, EP.313]
My guest this week is Daryl Morey, who is President of basketball operations for the Philadelphia 76ers. Daryl is a computer science graduate but has become one of the NBA’s most successful General Managers during his time with the Houston Rockets and the 76ers. Together with my friend and past guest of the show, Sam Hinkie, Daryl pioneered the analytics movement in basketball. He’s been so influential his style has its own name, “Moreyball”, a nod to Michael Lewis’s book about baseball, Moneyball. Daryl is also the co-founder of the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, which has become the gold standard forum for leaders in sports analytics. I had a blast talking to him about negotiation tactics, systems thinking, hiring, and a ton more. Please enjoy this great conversation with Daryl Morey.
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For the full show notes, transcript, and links to mentioned content, check out the episode page here.
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Past guests include Tobi Lutke, Kevin Systrom, Mike Krieger, John Collison, Kat Cole, Marc Andreessen, Matthew Ball, Bill Gurley, Anu Hariharan, Ben Thompson, and many more.
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[00:03:15 ] - [First question] - The basic principles of sports and what makes for a great sport
[00:09:54 ] - How resource concentration influences outcomes in various sports
[00:13:13 ] - The degree of certainty in predicting sports outcomes based on existing data
[00:16:32 ] - Using the concept of KPIs to optimize for certain characteristics to win games
[00:18:45 ] - Training teams on specific systems and plays versus leveraging individual talent
[00:21:07 ] - Why superstar athletes are key to success in basketball
[00:24:02 ] - Dealing with constant expected value calculations to appease stakeholders
[00:25:30 ] - Building the organization’s back office to find talented athletes
[00:28:32 ] - How he and other GMs make organization-level decisions
[00:34:12 ] - Why he’s involved with basketball as opposed to other sports
[00:36:17 ] - How he uses his frameworks to figure out systems outside of mainstream sports
[00:37:41 ] - Problems with the rules and economic factors of professional soccer
[00:41:53 ] - Suggestions to mitigate huge point spreads that make viewers disinterested
[00:42:54 ] - Trends he’s observed in the worlds of music, movies, and books
[00:45:33 ] - His perspective on developing one’s own career path
[00:48:22 ] - How challenges in his youth benefited him in the long run
[00:49:28 ] - The person he would call for advice if he was stuck in a foreign prison
[00:51:01 ] - His emphasis on first principles and why he supports free speech
[00:52:31 ] - Takeaways from a Harvard negotiation class he took
[00:57:07 ] - The power of refining the terms and definitions of a deal post-negotiation
[00:58:51 ] - The four people in the world that intrigue him most
[01:01:40 ] - The kindest thing anyone has ever done for him