Palpreet Singh Brar on Sunday became the second Indian-born basketball player to be picked in an NBA organised draft, joining compatriot Satnam Singh Bhamara in the Development League, the NBA’s official minor league.
The 21-year-old from Punjab was picked by the Long Island Nets in the draft for the D-League, as the minor league is also known, held on Sunday. The Long Island Nets picked Brar as the 14th pick in the fourth round of the draft.
The Long Island Nets are owned by NBA franchise Brooklyn Nets and are based in Long Island, New York. The Long Island Nets will be making their debut as the 12th D-League team fully owned by an NBA franchise. They will be located in Uniondale, New York, and will play their games at Barkleys Centre.
Brar was one of three Indians among the 182 shortlisted for the 2016 D-League draft. Amjyot Singh and Amritpal Singh, the other two Indians, were not picked. Brar was the 80th pick.
A six feet, nine inches, 200-pound power forward Brar has great speed and an ability to shoot from long range, a unique combination as big guys in basketball usually get close to the net to operate. His long-range ability and pace helped Brar stand out among 300-odd Indians who undertook the journey to the NBA D-League this year.
Now that he has been drafted, Brar will be part of the Long Island Nets training squad from which 10 players will be picked for the final squad. If he is selected, Brar will join Bhamara of Texas Legends and Sim Bhullar of Raptors 905 as the third player of Indian origin player to play in D-League. Bhamara is still with the Dallas Mavericks and Texas Legends while Bhullar joined the Tiawanese League since early this year.
Brar’s long journey
In February, Punjab basketballer Palpreet Singh Brar lined up for the NBA India-organised tournament ACG NBA Jump in Noida to select a player who could be groomed to try his luck in the NBA Development League tryouts in New York. It was the first such event in India.
Brar was one among many starry-eyed teenagers who decided to participate in the competition hoping to chart a route to the world’s biggest, most glitzy basketball league. After all, a good performance in the D-League can open the doors to basketball riches.
Brar bested 31 compatriots to win the chance to compete in the D-League tryouts in New York City, impressing many NBA talent scouts along the way, including current Lakers assistant coach Brian Shaw.
“His feel for the game and understanding, I could tell he grasps it. Palpreet Singh, we all thought, was the guy who had the best chance to succeed,” Shaw had said at that time.
After being picked, Brar underwent a 45-day rigorous camp in Kerala to build up his fitness, agility and strength to NBA standards.
The move appeared to have paid off as he went on to impress scouts at the New York City tryouts, and was shortlisted among 80 applicants for draft and finally bagged a D-League contract.
Born in the village of Doda in Punjab’s Sri Muktsar Sahib district, Palpreet was introduced to the game by his father when he was 16. He picked up the game fast and soon made it to Punjab Basketball Association’s academy in Ludhiana. He first came to prominence in the International Basketball Federation’s Asia U-18 competition a few years back when his shooting skills caught the eye of talent scouts.