History is made!
Looks like India has started to make an impact on the NBA. Vivek Ranadivé and his group bought the Sacramento Kings before the 2013/14 season. Sim Bhullar became the first player of Indian descent to play in the NBA when he signed a 10 day NBA contract with the Kings on 2nd April 2015.
However, in April of 2015, young Satnam Singh Bhamara declared his candidacy for the 2015 NBA Draft, after he failed to get scholarships to enter the NCAA. It was also the first time in 10 years that a player has declared himself for the draft, having played in College or in the NBA D-League or played professionally abroad.
The 2015 Draft saw him being drafted by the Dallas Mavericks with their number 52 pick during the 2nd Round. He is the first Indian to be drafted in the NBA. The 7’2, 290lb teen plays as a center. Born in a village of 800, Ballo Ke in Punjab, Singh moved to USA in 2010, as part of a scholarship program tie up between IMG Academy, Florida and Reliance.
Crossing the 7’ mark by age of 14? It was fairly obvious he would try his luck at Basketball. In the 2014/15 season he averaged around 9.2 points, 8.4 rebounds and 2.2 blocks in under 20 minutes a game, as the team finished with a 29-3 record. He is now the 8th player from IMG to turn to a professional career in Basketball.
He was emotional when announced as the 52nd pick by the Dallas Mavericks and hugged his cousins as he walked up to stage, after embracing his 2 cousins.
“It was awesome. He just made history, made us all proud, He put his country on the map, opened the doorways to all the kids in India that want to play basketball.” Said his cousin Sunny.
Satnam Singh has said he was exposed to the sport 10 years ago and has modeled his style of play after Shaq, Dwight Howard and Yao Ming (who incidentally was the first Chinese player to be drafted into the NBA).
He now has a whole summer of learning ahead to get used to the squad and training regime, as warned by Bhullar, that he needs to train very hard. It’s now to be seen if he can provide depth in the Center position, as he will be playing behind Tyson Chandler. If he can rack in some good minutes and performances in their regular season, he might even be selected to play for the Mavs in the playoffs (if they should qualify). It’s however a long and tricky road ahead for them in the Western Conference
This could be the first milestone in a growing, international NBA and Singh has now opened the door for India into the NBA.