As the NBA rapidly continues to grow on an international level, more and more parts of the world are being represented in the league with youngsters like Andrew Wiggins and Rudy Gobert leading the way. Given the league’s recent influx of talent born outside of the US, particularly in Canada, Australia, Europe and parts of Asia, it was no surprise to see Team World beat Team USA in the NBA’s most recent rendition of the Rookie-Sophomore game.
Come draft night, Satnam Singh Bhamara had hoped to become the first ever Indian-born player selected by an NBA team. Having never played professionally overseas, in the D-League or on a college team, Singh has spent the previous five years playing for the IMG Academy in Florida. The 19-year old who grew up in the puny farming village known as Ballo Ke with a population of just 800, oozes potential due to his massive -2 and frame. Enough potential to draw the interest of Mark Cuban and the Dallas Mavericks, who used this year’s No. 52 pick to target Singh.
Singh was on the radar of NBA scouts since he was 14-years old as he had already surpassed the mark at the time. While playing for nationally No. 2 ranked IMG Academy in Florida and their postgraduate team this past season, Satnam Singh Bhamara tallied averages of 9.2 points, 8.4 rebounds and 2.2 blocks. However, due to the low level of coverage of the level, he was still considered a mystery to NBA GMs and scouts leading up to the draft.
Graphic via sports
Even though the NBA is trending towards a game that doesn’t value sheer size as highly as previous decades, big men will always be needed. Talented young players with the size of Singh only come around a few times each decade, and as seen last year with the Sacramento Kings taking Canadian-born, -5 Sim Bhullar, these massive frames will at least be given a chance to earn their spot on a roster. The mystery of Singh and his talent was made even cloudier when the few NBA scouts who actually went to see him play reported that he possesses an unusually high level of talent for someone of his stature. After a workout with the Celtics, Singh was rumored to even have a decent three-point shot, and their director of player personnel referred to him at a potential “stretch five-and-a-half.”
Given his intangibles, the intrigue and curiosity surrounding Singh are unsurprising, as his enormous hands purely swallow the ball and his sheer size greatly boosts his potential as a rim protector. Ultimately, he is still very raw and his size-22 basketball shoes will likely see more time playing with the Mavericks’ D-League affiliate than in the NBA, but his drafting and presence in the league are nothing short of groundbreaking to the emerging basketball market in India.
Graphic via sports.ndtv