The Sacramento Kings haven't been so good at the old NBA Draft.
DeMarcus Cousins aside, their last seven years of lottery draft picks look like this:
- Ben McLemore
- Thomas Robinson
- Tyreke Evans
- Jason Thompson
- Spencer Hawes
None of these players have been pure busts, but considering the positions they were picked, and the other players selected around them, it's been a big part of why the Kings have amassed a 182 and 376 mark over that time period, equating to a beautiful win percentage of .326.
So this year the Kings are trying something different, General Manager Pete D'Alessandro has taken to crowdsourcing his lottery pick.
Well, not quite.
But the Sacramento Kings are indeed inviting fans to submit their case for who the team should select in the upcoming draft, using whatever homemade analytics, video breakdowns and cartoon drawings you've got.
Grantland's Kirk Goldsberry did a nice piece on the "Kings' Gambit" already so I won't trudge through all the details again. But it's a very interesting concept and I have to agree with him that it's certainly worth a shot. At worst it ends up being a nice PR/fan involvement piece and at best, well, you grab Damian Lillard next time instead of Thomas Robinson.
From a Raptors' fan's perspective, I particularly enjoyed this idea, especially because some of the team's past draft blunders could CERTAINLY have been avoided via crowdsourcing could they not? I mean, I'm pretty sure this was the way most conversations went regarding the 2004 NBA draft, in Raptors' fans' living rooms across Canada:
"Ok so we needed a point guard but Ben Gordon, Shaun Livingston and Devin Harris all just went in a row."
"Two picks before the Raps are up, let's hope Deng keeps dropping."
"Childress to the Hawks, yes!"
"Damn, there goes Deng to the Bulls."
"Oh well, guess it's Andre Iguodala then, not the end of the world."
And the "Hoffa" era began in Toronto.
I don't think there was a Raptors' fan on the planet that approved of this pick, let alone saw it coming.
And crowdsourcing likely would have netted the Raptors Danny Granger over either Charlie Villanueva or Joey Graham, and who knows about the Andrea Bargnani draft. That one was a random offering and while many fans would have made their argument for LaMarcus Aldridge, just as many, would have argued for Tyrus Thomas or Adam Morrison. (I was riding that Thomas bandwagon for all it was worth after he took apart Duke single-handily in that spring's NCAA Tourney.
Furthermore, crowdsourcing would have made Brandon Knight the Raptors' likely pick over Jonas Valanciunas (ugh), and maybe even Austin Rivers over Terrence Ross.
It's not exactly a solution to draft-day gaffes, but as Goldsberry points out, this crowd-sourcing play is an opportunity to mine a vast resource of untapped NBA Superfans, and their analytical potential. While many GM's are likely scoffing at the Kings' decision here, it's hard to be that critical of the move when every year, the bulk of lottery teams make bad decisions regarding their selections. The current draft evaluation process done by most teams obviously isn't working, otherwise an upcoming contender like Memphis doesn't draft Hasheem Thabeet second overall, nor does a "trying to rebuild" Washington Wizards club follow their no-brainer John Wall selection with Kevin Seraphin, Jan Vesely and Chris Singleton.
So why not try something a little different?
I'd love to see the Toronto Raptors do something similar and who knows, maybe down the road we see many teams move to a model like this, not only to tap into fan knowledge and outside-the-box evaluation concepts, but also in terms of connecting with fans. Such a move does a great job of encouraging fan involvement in one of the more passionate NBA topics, the NBA draft process.
Again, at worst the exercise solely becomes something of the latter variety and none of the fan suggestions are worthy of inclusion in final draft day decisions.
But at best, the team doesn't select an unathletic centre with short arms and a shark tattoo.