June 26, 2015

Satnam Singh Bhamara makes history by becoming 1st Indian drafted into the NBA - picked 52nd by the Dallas Mavericks

I love basketball and I love writing about basketball. In my work, there has usually been two different content paths that I have pursued: Indian Basketball and the NBA. Go down the list of my blog posts or my articles for other publications and you will see news, features, and analysis for these two subject matters, which, despite both being about the same sport, have been mutually exclusive.

From today onwards, that mutual exclusivity is going to change forever.

With the 52nd pick of the 2015 NBA Draft, the Dallas Mavericks selected Satnam Singh on India. And with that one quick swoop, a shake-hand with the NBA's Deputy Commissioner, and a Mavericks hat over his giant head, history was made. Satnam Singh Bhamara, the 19-year-old, 7-foot-2 Indian from Punjab who has been honing his game at the IMG Basketball Academy in Florida for the past five years, became the first Indian citizen to be drafted into the NBA. A dream that started in tiny Punjabi village has ended up on the podium at the Barclay's Center in Brooklyn. Satnam has achieved what no Indian in the country's 70-year basketball history achieved before: make it to the NBA.

Satnam surprised many people by declaring for the NBA Draft after he couldn't secure a college scholarship, but he has backed up his decision with hard work and impressive performances at the pre-draft workouts. The Dallas Mavericks were one of the seven teams to host Satnam and it now seems that he convinced them of his potential enough for them to pick him late in the second round.

Satnam has a long way to go, of course. He is nowhere close to being ready for big-time NBA action, or even be ready to crack the Mavericks' top 15 roster. But being drafted has given him some security for his near future and puts him in a good position in Dallas to improve and become a better player. It is likely that the Mavericks will stash him into the D-League for a year or two and see how he develops. The Mavericks' D-League team is the Texas Legends, whose former assistant coach Scott Flemming was also the coach of India's Senior National Men's team.

This is also not a time for Indian basketball to rest on its laurels. Apart from his pre-teens where he dominated in junior tournaments in India for Punjab, the majority of Satnam's development has come thanks to the coaches at the IMG Academy, where he has been since he was 14-years-old. Satnam returned to India regularly to play in domestic national tournaments as well as represent the national squad in international championships, but these trips were more of a hindrance than a benefit. Sure, Satnam gained some experience playing in his country's colours, but the negative attitudes of many domestic coaches and selectors in India, and a threat of injury, kept him away, and he (rightly) focused his efforts completely into training for the NBA. Satnam has broken a major barrier, but Indian Basketball still has a long way to go.

I have written a lot about Satnam in the past, and over the next few days, weeks, months, and (hopefully) years, I will be writing a lot more about him. But for now, let's celebrate the day that an Indian basketball player got drafted into the NBA, become a worldwide trending topic, broke an international barrier for the NBA, and reawakened fans in India about the game of basketball. Let's celebrate Satnam Singh Bhamara for achieving the near-impossible through his natural gifts, his hard work, his dedication, and the right attitude to become the best that he can possibly be. Let's celebrate the fact that Indian basketball and NBA news will never be the same again.

Let's celebrate King Singh! #KingSingh, y'all.


  1. Will he be playing for India in the upcoming tournaments?
    Asia Championship is coming soon!

    1. Nope. He will be spending his time in the States - most likely at the D-League or training camps. Considering India's broken basketball federation, it is unlikely right now if we'll even be able to send a team to the FIBA ABC!