Satnam’s Summer

Satnam’s Summer Local Heroes

For his third year in the Summer League, Indian NBA draftee Satnam Singh played a small role in a successful run for Dallas.

A “We Want Singh” chant broke out among fans in the fourth quarter of the 2017 NBA Summer League Quarter-Finals in Las Vegas between the Dallas Mavericks and the Boston Celtics. The Mavericks were well on their way to another big win, and the crowd was soon indulged: Satnam Singh entered the game, and in limited time, scored a basket to more cheers. And even in his small role, the big guy continued his difficult grind towards his hoop dreams.

Two years ago, Satnam became the face of Indian basketball when the Mavericks picked him 52nd in the 2015 Draft, making him the first (and only) Indian citizen to ever be drafted into the NBA. But the journey that launch skyward has brought his size-22 feet decidedly back down to Earth. Since being drafted, Satnam has only played a minor role in the Mavericks’ G-League affiliate squad Texas Legends while improving on the sidelines and waiting for his opportunity for bigger things.

WATCH: Satnam Singh’s smooth layup

This summer, Satnam was included in the Mavericks’ Summer League roster for the third-consecutive season, and he ended up playing a small role in a highly-successful run for the squad. The Mavericks played in Summer League tournaments in Orlando and Las Vegas, winning the championship in Orlando with a perfect 5-0 record, and reaching the semi-final in Vegas 5-0, too, before they were finally defeated by eventual champions, the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Mavericks will be happy with the effort put out by their youth brigade in both tournaments, especially the explosive potential shown by First Round pick Dennis Smith Jr., and strong performances by Yogi Ferrell, Brandon Ashley, and the crowd favourite Chinese star Ding Yanyuhang.

Photo by Fernando Medina/Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

Satnam played briefly in the crucial championship game against the Pistons in Orlando and continued to make the most of his time in front of encouraging fans in Vegas. Overall, he only played around five minutes per game in both cities, ending up with a total six points in six appearances. But for the first time, he got to play in a team that celebrated a championship, and another that looked as good as any of the competitive sides this summer.

Satnam has yet to make his big breakthrough into the NBA, but after more than two years in the grind, he sounds more at peace with himself while he continues to fight for his chance. In an interview with ESPN earlier this week, he said, “I was stressing my mind Always thinking, ‘I need time. I need time.’ Whereas now, nothing is happening. If I waste my time like that, I get too much pressure on my mind. I lost everything.”

WATCH: Satnam Singh’s 2 points vs the Celtics

Now, he turns his focus back home: for the first time since 2013, Satnam will attempt a return to the Indian national team as the squad head for the summer’s big event, the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup, in Lebanon next month. With valuable experiences at the G-League and Summer League, Satnam should be able to add new size and dimension to India’s international aspirations and give home fans another hero to cheer for.

The long-term future is still uncertain for the ‘One in a Billion’ man. Still only 21, Satnam has many more years of basketball ahead of him if he can stay healthy and continue to improve his game. From farming in a small village in Punjab to hearing his name chanted at the NBA Summer League, Satnam has already come a long way. With basketball opportunities awaiting all over the world, he could yet have much further to go.

You can follow the writer KARAN MADHOK on Twitter @Hoopistani.

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