The NBA has always used the D-League as a proving ground for various rules and ideas. In fact, the NBADL has stated "it serves as a research and development lab for the NBA, testing rules, equipment and technological advancements." Key examples that come to mind include experimentation with goaltending, timeouts and challenges. Up until now, most of the innovation has been purely basketball related.
The Sioux Falls Skyforce debuted VERT, a new wearable athletic technology, against the Grand Rapids Drive on Friday night. VERT is a non-invasive inertial measurement unit worn on a player's body. The device can report numerous athletic measurements including accumulated G-force, jump height, jump count.
Headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, VERT has partnered with the Miami Heat to bring their technology to NBA practices, but the measurement devices are not permitted in NBA games. Sioux Falls, the Heat's D-League affiliate, is the first basketball team to use the wearable tech in games.
"We are thrilled to have the Miami Heat and its development league, Skyforce, as our first NBA teams using our VERT Team Sports System," said Martin Matak, founder and president of VERT. "Our commitment to providing accurate and real-time measurements will create a safer environment for athletes. The use of our technology is helping coaches with the ability to modify drills during practice for recovery and injury prevention."
The introduction of new wearable tech such as VERT likely ushers in a new generation of D-League experimentation. Increased tracking and data opportunities in basketball could bring scouting and player analysis to the next level. Whether VERT will be able to provide that remains to be seen, but the Miami Heat seem sold. "VERT is cutting-edge," said Andy Elisburg, Senior Vice-President, Basketball Operations/General Manager for the Miami Heat, "it is ‘next-generation technology', today."