As the NBA unleashes the Sweet 16 round of the playoffs, it has dropped a non-fungible token (NFT) collection of player cards that will adapt to the results of the games as they are played.
The National Basketball Association brought NFTs to wide public attention with its Top Shots line of NFTs in late 2020. Now, it’s experimenting with dynamic NFTs that change based on players’ performance.
While it’s not the first time the tech has been used, the NBA’s high profile — and the degree to which the dynamic NFTs can change — points to a lot of potential uses for the cryptocurrency tokens that have been underutilized as they break into the mainstream simply as a medium to distribute media like art, music and videos.
On April 20, it dropped a series of 18,000 NFTs from its new NBAxNFT project, which it described last week as “showcasing all things intersecting basketball and web3, including NFTs, gaming, and the metaverse.”
The NFT collection, known as The Association, is fairly limited — at least given the NBA’s audience and the 16 million-plus sales and resales Top Shots has scored. The league has minted 75 NFTs of each of the 240 players on the 16 teams in the NBA Finals at this point.
Changes are Coming
The tokens are connected to an NBA oracle, a trusted source of information — the league itself, in this case — that pushes data to a variety of cryptocurrency topics, especially in the decentralized finance (DeFi) arena. Oracles can provide anything from crypto prices on a specific exchange to weather reports for a specific farm in rural Africa.
For The Association collection, the oracle, from leading provider Chainlink Oracle, “allows each player’s NFT appearance to change in an automated manner based upon the pre-set achievements that are written into the … smart contract” on the NFT.
The NFT, which include things like backgrounds, player accessories and emojis designed by various artists, change based on what a player accomplishes.
“The more that a player accomplishes during the 2022 NBA Playoffs, the more visual changes their NFT will receive,” the league said.
The accomplishments come in 14 categories, including “Splash” for four or more three-pointers, “Not in my house” for two or more blocks, and “Highlight Reel” for the top highlight in each series. There’s even one linked to fantasy game points.
The Association NFTs were sold blind, with the player they represent set to be revealed this Friday (April 22) — something the league hopes will encourage trading and selling, both among fans and NFT collectors looking for a profit.
When it comes to NFT avatars and collectables, rarity is prized, and that includes changes to existing NFTs. Top-selling avatar collection Bored Ape Yacht Club has a Mutant Ape offshoot for random (and freakish) mutations if the owner so chooses.
While the NBA’s latest NFT line applies the changes in groups of 75, it would be just as possible to make separate changes to each one. For example, a fantasy football team’s NFTs could unlock special dynamic changes based on its particular mix of players.
The potential uses in gambling — and not just sports betting — are huge as well, particularly regarding combining oracle-controlled data and user activities — for example, changing depending on a team’s margin of victory.
Another potential use is in massively multiplayer online (MMO) games like Fortnite, where players’ achievements could unlock traits that make their avatars harder and harder to replicate.
Additionally, the amount of time players will put into getting their in-game avatars desirable “skins” is staggering. That is, after all, why so many fashion brands are diving into metaverse NFTs so eagerly.
Imagine a coat that can change or be accessorized, unlocking rewards for participating in marketing events or making purchases — or even based on the weather that an oracle says is what the real-life player is experiencing.
The same thing could be used just as easily in a consumer loyalty or rewards program, offering highly personalized mobile experiences and giving members new opportunities to customize or randomize the rewards they earn.