For most teams, preparing for the NBA Draft is a long, drawn-out process that takes place over the entire college basketball season and builds to a crescendo in late June. It is a marathon that includes to trips small town America and plenty of visits overseas.
But that is not what the journey has been like for the Sacramento Kings. A sprint doesn’t even capture the frantic pace in which the Kings have assembled a staff and made a top seven selection this year.
Two weeks ago, new owner Vivek Ranadivé hadn’t even chosen a general manager. Now, he has a staff that is coming off a draft night coup with their eyes shifting toward the NBA’s free agency period that starts on Monday.
Ranadivé has handed the keys to the kingdom to former Denver Nuggets and Golden State Warriors executive Pete D’Alessandro. Known as a next generation NBA stat man and salary cap guru, D’Alessandro is the antithesis of Geoff Petrie in both approach and personality. But that doesn’t mean that the Kings new front man doesn’t appreciate a good old fashion “see-feel guy”.
In today’s NBA world, you need a team of executives working on every angle of the sport and that is what D’Alessandro is building with the hire of long-time basketball man Mike Bratz, who was brought in a week ago today.
“To me, it’s like a free agency signing of a player,” D’Alessandro said of his new assistant general manager earlier this week. “He’s that good. He’s that good.”
Bratz is following his new boss over from the Nuggets, who have completely revamped their front office. He is a former Kings player, coach and scout, coming back for another run in Sacramento.
“He was a joy to work with in Denver,” Bratz said. “We worked really well together and we did have success there. We’ll try to duplicate that and more here.”
More than that, Bratz represents the yin to D’Alessandro’s yang. He is an old school talent evaluator that looks past advanced statistics in his assessment of players.
It’s not that Bratz doesn’t use analytics in his search for the right fit, but that is more D’Alessandro’s specialty. And it’s not like D’Alessandro doesn’t have an eye for scouting talent. These two represent a marriage that is desperately needed in today’s NBA world.
“Pete’s a basketball guy,” Bratz said. “He’s really smart too, but he knows the game. He’s been around the game for a long time. He’s been with a couple of organizations that have had success. He knows players.”
D’Alessandro isn’t just looking for specialists for his front office staff. He is looking to emulate the group he was part of in Denver that was talented and balanced.
“I need my guys who are strictly basketball working guys, I need them to understand the business as well,” D’Alessandro said. “So the salary books are in everyone’s hands, the statistics are in everyone’s hands because we’re working as a group and I genuinely feel that way. It’s a collaborative effort.”
“When you start with our staff, it sends a message to our players of how we’re doing things,” D’Alessandro said. “Of how we expect things and I think that translates to success on the floor as well.”
Abdur-Rahim caught the eye of D’Alessandro while the two were in the field scouting. A tireless worker, Abdur-Rahim had impressed his new boss so much, that if D’Alessandro had taken over the Nuggets, he wanted the former Cal star on his staff in Denver.
Like Abdur-Rahim, McCloud has quietly built a reputation as a worker with an eye for talent. D’Alessandro heaped praise on the former 3-point specialist, calling him a “blend guy” for his ability to see how specific players fit together.
“Whenever I spoke to George, it wasn’t – ‘hey, I really like that player’,” D’Alessandro said. “It was, ‘you know, I like that player, but not on this team, I like that player on this team, for this reason.’”
With so little time to spare, it is surprising that D’Alessandro has quickly put together the staff that he has in place. And with free agency starting on July 1, it doesn’t get any easier from here.
More hires are certain to come. But for now, D’Alessandro seems comfortable moving forward with Bratz, Abdur-Rahim and McCloud as his inner circle. With major roster decisions on the horizon, this group better get ready to spend a lot of time together over the next couple of weeks.