Why college football programs should be studying the Sacramento Kings right now
Published: Tuesday, 24 June 2014 16:35
by Zach Barnett
The Sacramento Kings need help. A lot of help. After finishing 28-54, third to last in the NBA's rough-and-tumble Western Conference, Sacramento garnered the eighth picking in the league's upcoming draft. They're the Sacramento Kings.
Last month, general manager Pete D'Alessandro announced his franchise would crowd-source analytics consulting on what to do with pick No. 8. There's a massive community of NBA nerds that devour statistics like the Cookie Monster with a fresh batch of Chips Ahoy, and the Kings wanted to solicit their well-researched but experience-lacking advice.
Sacramento received thousands of applications, and ultimately settled on nine guns for hire. As you'll see in the documentary below, their amateur analytics experts ranged from 20-year-old college students to 48-year-old data analysts (most fell closer to the former, though). Each brought an interesting perspective, one that the Kings may not have otherwise considered.
At the time of the shooting, Sacramento was debating whether or not to keep the pick and build around their new player, or trade it in an attempt to win now. General managers' careers are made and broken by decisions like this one. Is it risky to give input to a set of such unproven eyes? Possibly. D'Alessandro doesn't see it that way because, in his words, everyone in the NBA already crowd-sources their decision, just in a much less direct way.
"We've gotten all these websites where they're getting all this information," D'Alessandro said. "Are we as a league drafting better? Are there less mistakes? Because we're subconsciously crowd-sourcing through these websites. We're all reading them. It's been happening for years. But we're doing it consciously here because we feel like there's a way we can have an advantage. Whether it works or not, we'll find out, but we're going to try."
In my opinion, it would be worthwhile for college football programs to adopt this idea in some shape or form. If you're, say, Tulsa, why not put up the bat signal for some analytics help? You wouldn't want amateurs giving advice on something so specific as to whether or not to offer a certain player, but why not let some bright and fresh (and, most of all, cheap) minds run a data analysis in hopes of finding an undervalued recruiting market, or examine the efficiency of play calls in certain down and distance situations? Projects like those fall under the all-encompassing umbrellas of GA's, QC's and interns, yes, but every college football staff in America has some extra work they'd like done if only they had the manpower to do it.
It's too early to tell if the Kings ultimately followed the advice of their analysts-for-hire with the draft still 48 hours away. But it will be interesting to find out.
Update from Scott:
I read this article after Zach posted it and have watched the video as well. I'm an analytics guy, formerly served as vice president of planning & analysis of a Fortune 500 company, and I have to say that while I'm very interested in this kind of analysis and thinking, my initial take upon seeing this was, "Man, if an NFL GM relied this much on 8 guys he'd never met until a few weeks ago in the days and weeks leading up to the draft, he'd be roasted. What would that say about his confidence in his own personnel department? This seems like a very interesting way to bring in some outside knowledge and get to know them...and possibly even find one or two to hire; but to be spending this much time with all 8 guys in the days leading up to the draft sure does seem questionable to me. I understand that in the NBA they are drafting only a player or two; but given how significant that number is to the overall roster number in the NBA, I still see this as a huge risk, one I really don't think I understand.