During the NBA D-League's All Star Game - the 'D' stands for 'Development' - there used to be an event showcased as the 'Dream Factory', which includes a series of basketball skills competitions. 'Dream Factory' is a catchy, positive name for the event, but it also represents the larger aspirations of the D-League: it serves as an important rung in the ladder for basketball players to realise their higher goals, the NBA, the ultimate dream.
And for the next few hours, over a course of six rounds, a total of 22 teams drafted the rights to many more players.
But this year's D-League draft was extra special, because first for the first time, it had Indian representation. Three international Indian talents, all bigs in their early 20s from Punjab - Amjyot Singh, Amritpal Singh, and Palpreet Singh - had signed eligibility contracts for the draft. By the end of the night, Palpreet Singh, the youngest of the trio with the most exposure to D-League squads over recent months, was the only one drafted.
Palpreet Singh Brar, a 6-foot-9 power forward born in a village in south western Punjab, was picked 11th in the sixth round of the NBA D-League draft (80th overall) by the Long Island Nets, an affiliate of the NBA's Brooklyn Nets. Palpreet thus became the first Indian to ever be drafted into the NBA D-League. The selection paid off six months of concentrated efforts by NBA India and Palpreet to get in shape for the draft, succeed in the D-League open tryouts, and work with teams in individual workouts. Now that he has been drafted, Palpreet will be part of the Long Island Nets training squad from which 10 players will be picked for the final squad.
"I am happy with the efforts I have put in and I will continue to work hard with Long Island Nets as this is just the beginning," Palpreet said, quoted earlier today by the Indian Express.
Born in the village of Doda in Sri Muktsar Sahib district, Palpreet was introduced to the game by his father when he was 16. His raw talent and potential carried him over to Ludhiana, the city, which has become Punjab and India’s model basketball nursery, where he was briefly roommates with Satnam. Palpreet’s big international breakthrough came with India’s junior squad at the 2012 FIBA U18 Asia Championship in Mongolia. Over the next three years, he played for India’s senior team and secured a backup spot behind our current superstar Punjabi frontcourt of Amjyot Singh and Amrit Pal Singh. He was part of the Indian squad that defeated China at the 2014 FIBA Asia Cup.
Palpreet comes from a humble, farming background. His father, Phirjinder Singh Brar, shared his joy with The Tribune earlier. "I got a phone call around 2 am on Monday that Palpreet was picked by the Long Islands Net in the NBA D-League. This is the best Diwali gift to us and a proud moment for the family of farmers." He is currently posted as a travelling ticket examiner (TTE) with the Railways in Ludhiana.
The Long Island Nets acquired the draft rights of five players, including Palpreet, on Sunday.
Still, it's not all gloom and doom for the duo. Amjyot and Amritpal will surely have gained a lot from this exposure at the D-League draft as now, at least, their names are being mentioned as potential free agents. For now, they will be hoping to work out with some teams and possibly earn free agent contracts. For the future, they can take heed from Palpreet's success and realize that a few months of concentrated hard work could prepare them for the D-League stage, too.
Meanwhile, Palpreet will hope to fight for his place at the Nets' training camp and hopefully gain a roster spot before the new D-League season begins. If he makes it, he will join Satnam Singh as the second Indian in the league. We are hoping that both of them can continue to impress so that, soon, the 'Dream Factory' turns their NBA fantasies into a reality!