Since taking over the Sacramento Kings a year ago, majority owner Vivek Ranadivé has boasted about his “NBA 3.0” vision for the organization. Part of that will come to the fruition with the team’s next arena. Ranadivé has promised a fan experience unlike any other in sports, with inventive uses of technology (Ranadivé made his fortune in Silicon Valley, after all) tying it all together.
The arena is still years away from opening, but NBA 3.0’s fan experience may arrive as early as June 26 of this year.
In a post on the /r/NBA subreddit of Reddit.com, Kings GM Pete D’Alessandro announced the “Draft 3.0 Challenge” in which fans will be given the opportunity to directly give Sacramento’s front office their detailed opinions on the prospects in June’s NBA Draft. Contestants have until May 19 to submit their entry.
In the style of a Reddit Ask Me Anything post, D’Alessandro fielded questions from users about the draft with a focus on the scouting and prospect evaluation process, and even posed questions of his own. D’Alessandro said the contest was part of his pitch to Ranadivé and company during his job interview last year.
He’s looking to crowdsource information on the draft and its prospects to help form an opinion on players, in hopes of finding inventive analytical approaches to evaluating and projecting players that enter the draft. One particular area of interest D’Alessandro repeatedly harped on in the discussion was the evaluation of international prospects and how to compare them with college players.
It’s an interesting and fresh idea from the Kings front office, but it’s difficult to say what impact the contest will have, or what its true goal is.
Over the last fifteen years, the line between outsiders and insiders has blurred with sabremetric analytics captivating front offices and the public alike. While it’s unlikely the Kings will cull a revolutionary mind from the challenge, it’s not inconceivable someone could get a foot in the door.
But with the Draft 3.0 Challenge, the Sacramento front office isn’t expecting to have its mind blown so much as opening the door for an additional perspective that it may not have had previously. D’Alessandro told ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, “This may not get us all the answers, but it may help us think of the right questions to ask.”
I don’t expect the Kings’ draft to be altered much, if at all, by the challenge, but that likely isn’t the point of the endeavor. For years, this franchise has stood still and watched as the rest of the NBA utilized technology and statistical analytics to pass it by and leave it in the dust.
The fact that the Kings are even putting on such a contest shows a commitment from management to think of new ideas and put them to the test. Ranadivé, D’Alessandro and company are dragging Sacramento from the Stone Age to the cutting edge.
While it may prove fruitless as far as analytical discovery is concerned, as its name suggests, the Draft 3.0 Challenge is very much a part of Ranadivé’s vision for the future of the organization, if only just a peek.