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Blood Test for a Better Ball Game

The Dallas Mavericks has turned to a bioanalytic startup firm to keep tabs on its basketball players' health, according to the New York Times.

The firm, Ireland-based Orreco, assesses nearly 50 biomarkers alongside other metrics of performance like sleep, game time, and air travel, and uses machine learning to predict whether a player might be at risk for fatigue and injury. It then offers personalized diets and athletic workloads based on its assessment.

The Mavericks, the Times says, have embraced this bioanalytic approach. "All the things NBA teams talk about — players' minutes, their load, their tracking data, their camera data — all of that is external data used to try to predict what's going on internally," Casey Smith, the head of Dallas's athletic training staff, tells the Times. "What we're doing is trying to get a little bit of a look at what's actually going on internally."

Some caution that this approach isn't yet ready for widespread implementation. Both Anthony Romeo, the chief of orthopedics at the Rothman Institute, and Robert Dimeff, a team physician for the NHL's Dallas Stars, tell the Times they find what Orreco is doing interesting, but that they view it as still in the research stage.