In late February, the NBA sponsored a four-day tryout that allowed 32 promising young players to compete for an opportunity to participate in August’s National NBA D-League Tryout. This tryout stood as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity could move a lucky Indian baller one step closer to an unthinkable opportunity: to become the first Indian-born player in NBA history.
This talent search in Greater Noida, India was the latest step into the NBA’s full-court press into the world’s second most populous nation. Since the start of the 21st century, as the NBA has continued to make small baby steps towards trying to tap into the gigantic Indian market. Those initial forays dealt with the league sending some of their biggest stars to the country. Some examples of that include: Kevin Garnett in 2006, Dikembe Mutombo and Dominique Wilkins in 2009 and Pau Gasol in 2010.
Those efforts continued to escalate as the 2010’s began. The first example of that was the NBA signing an exclusive deal with India’s Sony Six sports channel. That deal helped bring up to 72 NBA regular season games, 18 NBA Playoff games, the Eastern and Western Conference Finals, NBA Finals and NBA All-Star Game to Indian fans. The channel presented both live and recorded editions of the game, as most NBA games are played during the wee hours of the morning in India.
Alongside the airing of games, the NBA also presented “customized programs” that included a weekly NBA lifestyle program, and a series of instructional videos meant to educate Indians on the rules of the game and different basketball terminology. While that may sound useless to anybody that reads RidiculousUpside, it’s a necessary tool to help teach millions of Indian residents about a sport that may be considered niche.
That “niche” label may not be relevant for long, as Indian players have slowly started to make their way to the United States. Over the last two years, both Sim Bhullar and Satnam Singh have made their way to the NBA D-League, with Bhullar even spending some time with the Sacramento Kings. While Bhullar was born and raised in Canada, Singh was the first Indian-born player drafted by an NBA team, as he was picked by the Mavericks in the 2015 NBA Draft.
That continued push for more Indian players in American hoops could possibly continue with 6’9 Punjabi forward Palpreet Singh Brar. Back in February, Brar bested 31 other Indian ballers to get a chance to compete in August’s National D-League Tryout in New York City. At that competition in India, Brar impressed many NBA talent scouts including current Lakers assistant coach Brian Shaw who said the following:
Despite winning that tryout in India, Brar still needed to make significant strides if he wanted to guarantee a spot in the NBA D-League. The biggest area of improvement that Singh Brar needed to make dealt with his conditioning. Back in February, NBA India senior director Carlos Barroca classified Brar as “having the potential, but just not being in good shape”. To rectify that issue, Barroca sent Brar to Kerala, India for a stern 45-day workout plan.
Over the course of that 45-day stint in Kerala, Brar’s general fitness level (agility, flexibility and speed) were tested. That time in Kerala was well spent, as Brar’s overall conditioning made huge strides as he scored an impressive 8.6 out of 10 in the physical conditioning readings. In comparison, Brar scored 5.5 at the start of his time in Kerala.
That improved conditioning should help boost Brar’s stock in this month’s NBA D-League Draft. Coinciding with that solid conditioning, Brar seems to have a pretty diverse game for a raw 6’9 forward. Brar’s game is based around his knack as a shooter, with range that might even spread out to behind the three-point line. His solid shooting stroke in addition to low-post footwork is see in the clip below:
Unlike what we’ve previously seen with Satnam Singh or Sim Bhullar, Palpreet Singh Brar could realistically stand as a player that could possibly play 20-25 minutes per game without becoming a burden due to his lack of conditioning. When you add in a potentially solid shooting stroke, Brar could stand as a prospect that an organization could realistically mold into a player that could eventually help an NBA team.
If Brar can develop into becoming an NBA player, that could be a massive step towards the NBA finally tapping into the giant Indian market.