The Sacramento Kings have launched what is believed to be the NBA's first crowdsourcing program to help make a draft pick.
The Kings will seek analysis on players from the public and eventually select two people to be in their draft room on June 26. Essentially, the team is looking for amateurs to offer analytical advice for free, and in return they will be granted access.
General manager Pete D'Alessandro announced the program, what the team calls Draft 3.0, as part of a Reddit Ask Me Anything chat Friday. The team has launched a website where would-be analysts will be asked to rank draft prospects as well as offer their methodologies. Contestants can use information from publicly available statistical databases to create their systems.
"This may not get us all the answers, but it may help us think of the right questions to ask," D'Alessandro told ESPN.com. "We're still going to be using traditional draft methods, traditional scouting and our own analytics. We're looking to combine all the creative things as we look for a way to bring the answer in."
There is no promise of a long-term job with the Kings to the winner or winners of the program; rather, it is clearly an effort by team owner Vivek Ranadive and D'Alessandro to find potentially unknown or untapped talent in the increasingly competitive field of basketball analytics.
D'Alessandro and his staff will select an advisory council from the submissions and will consult with it during the draft process. Ultimately two analysts will be chosen to assist the Kings in making their pick. Sacramento has the seventh-best odds of winning the May 20 draft lottery.
A growing number of teams have employed analytics experts in recent years to develop their own formulas and methods for evaluating and ranking players. A number of these analysts introduced their work on various blogs and websites before teams hired them away. One of the more well-known examples is Roland Beech, the Dallas Mavericks' director of analytics, whom owner Mark Cuban hired in 2009 after reading his research on his website, 82games.com.
The new strategy follows the path Ranadive has been taking with the franchise since purchasing it last year. He calls his plan "NBA 3.0," and it's aimed at expanding the way fans interact with teams, primarily through the use of social media.
"I don't know where this will go, but it's a first step in the way we want to go as an organization," D'Alessandro said. "It's also a way to give back. If I saw this on the Internet 10 years ago, I would've been all over it. I also know that people really do think the game who are not in the game. There are people with so much knowledge out there."