The National Basketball Association (NBA) has gained an equity stake in mobile artificial intelligence (AI) developer NEX Team as part of a strategic partnership that will see the league leverage machine learning to search for new basketball talent.
The agreement will give the NBA access to technology created by US-based company, including the use of its mobile app HomeCourt, which uses AI to measure player skills development and will form part of the NBA’s global youth basketball initiatives.
Using real-time analytics, HomeCourt is designed to calculate shot accuracy and other key performance metrics such as speed, vertical jump, release time and ball handling. In the long term, it is also hoped that the technology can help NBA teams identify new talent, with player data and progress reports available via a mobile device.
Amy Brooks, the NBA’s chief innovation officer, said: “NBA teams and players have already found HomeCourt to be an important training platform and we believe this technology is critical to the development of players of all levels.
“HomeCourt is not only an engaging channel for youth basketball players, but will also be a valuable tool for the NBA to identify talent globally.”
Though the NBA’s stake was disclosed, the partnership will see NEX Team’s technology included in joint initiatives with the NBA and its teams during events throughout the NBA season.
HomeCourt will also collaborate on opportunities at marquee league events such as MGM Resorts NBA Summer League and Jr NBA Global Championship, and during elite youth programmes, including the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders (NBA) and NBA Academies.
As part of the deal, a new version of HomeCourt is available on the iOS, and features training tips from former NBA player Steve Nash and Brooklyn Nets shooting guard Joe Harris.
David Lee, NEX Team chief executive, said: “We are incredibly proud to be partnering with the NBA to bring the HomeCourt experience to a global basketball audience.
“Together, we look forward to designing innovative experiences that bring together the digital and physical worlds that will build community and engage basketball players at every level, everywhere.”