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Sunday, September 27, 2020

Why NBA G League matters for Princepal Singh – playing time, scouts, top coach

By signing with the NBA’s Select Team on a professional contract for the G League, Princepal Singh now stands a chance to play with with players who are one rung below the NBA ladder.

Written by Shashank Nair | New Delhi | Updated: July 30, 2020 3:04:17 pm
princepal singh, princepal singh nba, princepal nba, princepal nba g league, princepal singh basketball Princepal Singh debuted for the senior Indian team at the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers earlier this year. (Source: NBA Academies)

The signing of an NBA G League contract for Princepal Singh may not be a first-time development. Rather it is the path that he has taken that may ultimately set him up for a degree of success not encountered by an Indian athlete prior to him, in any iteration of the NBA. This move now sets him on a potential one-year timeline where a marked growth in various facets of his game may enable him to be one of the names called out in the NBA’s 2021 draft.

Why is Princepal Singh’s contract a big deal for Indian basketball?

As the only Indian among 12 elite international prospects on a two-year stint with the NBA Academy in Australia, Princepal Singh had already been earmarked as someone to look out for. But by signing with the NBA’s Select Team on a professional contract for the G League, Princepal now stands a chance to play with a mix of top college prospects along with players who are one rung below the NBA ladder. By being a part of the G League team, Princepal is essentially being groomed to play in the NBA. He has now become the fourth Indian player to sign a contract to play in the USA. For a variety of marketing reasons, this move obviously makes sense for the NBA as well.

Will he play with top players?

One of Singh’s teammates in the Select Team will be Jalen Green, who is across the board, a Top-3 prospect in the NBA 2021 draft. So is another teammate of his, Jonathan Kuminga. Joining them will be Daishen Nix and Isaiah Todd – both of whom are five-star rated prospects as well. This means that some of the NBA’s potential top players in the coming decade are going to be his teammates and if reports are to be believed, this is one of the best teams at this level assembled.

Daily practices and going up against these players will in itself be a boon to an international player who picked up the game as recently as 2014. Basic basketball IQ, toughness, a feel for the game, are some of the aspects of his basketball that have the ability to go upwards when playing alongside a special group of talented players.

What kind of games will he be a part of?

An essential point is that the NBA Select Team may play a set number of games against other G-League teams but these games and their points are not counted in the overall standings. The team is primarily a developmental squad to prepare players for the real deal. The idea is to put young prospects in a controlled adult environment and give them a chance to pick up the game professionally and give them a year’s advantage over college graduates.

READ | Hoop and the hype: Meet the talent knocking on Team India doors

Does this mean he’ll play in the NBA?

The question of whether Singh can play in the NBA through the draft route in 2021 depends upon the progress he makes in the G League. What stands him in good stead is that top scouts will be closely poring over his work, especially considering they would be present for the other prospects in the team as well.

princepal singh, princepal singh nba, princepal nba, princepal nba g league, princepal singh basketball The NBA G League contract is set to take the 6’10” hoopster closer to his dreams. (Source: NBA Academies)

He will be coached by five-time NBA champion Brian Shaw and the emphasis of his time in the G League will be on making him a better player as opposed to moulding his talent into actual results for the team.

As a forward/centre, a lot of his success will depend upon how much ball handling and playmaking skills he is able to work on. With the ever-changing tide of the NBA game, big men are now expected to have the skillsets of a mid-sized point guard and Singh will be evaluated on those grounds as well.

A disadvantage for Singh would be that as much as he would improve with the top prospects in the Select Team roster, chances are that those top prospects get a lot more attention all across the board. There is also the chance that Singh may not be ready for the 2021 draft and decides to abandon that path to stay longer in the G League and develop his game further.

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What kind of financial remuneration is available in the G League?

The contract cap for players in the NBA Select Team is $500,000. According to a report in ESPN, Singh’s teammate Jalen Green has been signed by the NBA for the max possible amount, that is $500,000. Another ESPN report has also stated that another teammate of his, Isaiah Todd has signed a contract around $250,000.

While Singh might not be earning those numbers, by benefiting from the changes in rules brought about by the G League, is eligible for a fair contract — something which was not possible earlier as high school players would go either directly to the NBA, like Kobe Bryant or LeBron James or would be a part of a college team for an year before enlisting for the draft, like Rookie of the Year candidate Ja Morant.

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