The NBA is the second-most popular major league in the US, just behind the NFL. Internationally, the basketball league has also enjoyed huge success—not only in terms of game viewership and fandom, but in terms of sales as well. It turns out, those jerseys and superstar names like Jordon and Bryant translate well abroad.
As of 2018, the NBA had grossed $8.76 billion, with the New York Knicks as the highest-grossing team with a total of $472 million. Even looking at peripheral financial statistics, the numbers are mind-boggling. For instance, the average NBA team payroll sits at up to $130 million, with single players like LeBron James having earned close to that figure with $92 million paid out over his career.
There should be no surprise that NBA franchises are willing to pour small fortunes into grooming and maintaining an all-star team. Across all major leagues in the US, technology is being adapted to serve athletes, from wearable technology to real-time-video-indexing statistical engines.
In particular, SyncThink offers objective eye-tracking mechanics in order to evaluate performance and assess the readiness of players. The NBA’s Washington Wizards are the most recent team to partner with SyncThink, attempting to hedge their team’s NBA betting odds with technology, though they’re following in the tracks of teams like the Atlanta Hawks and Golden State Warriors. And rightfully so, given the Golden State Warriors’ 2017 and 2018 record-breaking championship-winning seasons.
Founded in 2008 during the tech boom in the Bay Area, SyncThink is a neuro-technological company that focuses on eye-tracking metrics and devices. Their product consists of a small device that is worn around the eyes to create a virtual reality environment. Washington Wizards can expect to track a floating light ball within the VR headset for around 60 seconds, meanwhile performance and medical staff will record and analyze data from this VR session.
Sound simple? By having a player track the light, the SyncThink device is able to produce a chart that summarizes the user’s ability to respond and track the light in terms of decimals of milliseconds. This data indicates whether or not the player in question has a satisfactory synchronization between the eyes and the brain.
This hard data is meant to answer whether or not a player will have a high standard of visual tracking ability, which translates to separating good basketball players from great ones. Additionally, the SyncThink device is able to further breakdown the data collected to help optimize a player’s performance.
In addressing a player’s brain performance, NBA training staff are able to gauge the success of the exercises they create and team practices. They’re also able to see the effects of common issues like fatigue and travel weariness. By using SyncThink, the Washington Wizards can optimize sleeping and travel schedules, which helps decrease the risk of injuries while promoting a stronger performance. They’re also able to better assess potential recruits.
SportVU is another major technology used widely by the NBA, though it isn’t performance-enhancing. This product isn’t worn on the body or used to gauge a player’s reflexes. Instead, the NBA partnered with the company STATS LLC to create a remote statistical machine.
SportVU is able to create live sports stats by tracking a game’s play and tallying what normally takes sports analysts double or triple the time to do. Not only does SportVU allow the NBA to track stats live, which affects things like sports betting and helps track records, it also analyzes stats like shooting percentages, or even how a player’s shooting percentage is affected by each defender from the opposing team.
There are also other wearable technologies, now proliferated by numerous companies and spread throughout the NBA. Much like SyncThink, wearable heart-rate monitors and eye-tracking devices that can be worn during play are utilized by the NBA and other major league sports to determine a player’s health and potential.
In coming seasons, new recruits will likely undergo training camps, with medical experts standing by to analyze the data accrued from wearable devices to determine whether or not the player has star potential. Meanwhile, existing star players utilize this technology to try to identify and isolate top performance conditions and prevent injury.