Mark Daigneault remembers being struck by Amjyot Singh Gill’s shooting skills, the first time the Oklahoma City Blue coach met the cager.
Amjyot had travelled to Dallas on the occasion, and was later invited to a workout with the Blue. A year on, the coach wanted another close look at the 25-year-old and decided to pick him in the G-League NBA draft.
But to complete the move, Amjyot had to undergo a 10-day trial with NBA franchise Oklahoma City Thunder’s affiliate franchise.
And on Friday, he became only the second Indian to be named on a G-League roster after Satnam Singh Bhamara. “In the camp, he exhibited the ability to understand what we were doing on both ends of the floor,” Daigneault says.
“He’s a very functional and intelligent player, obviously skilled for his size. But importantly he exhibited the ability to improve and that was one of the main things that had us keep him on the roster.”
The Chandigarh-lad had entered the draft last year as well but went unpicked. This time round, they chose him as their 103rd pick, making him the second Indian after Palpreet Singh Brar to be drafted by a G-League outfit.
Still, Palpreet, who had been drafted by the Long Island Nets last year, failed to make the cut after the 10-day trials. Amjyot though, has left a deep impression on his new coach. “What stood out was his understanding of offence,” he says.
“He understands how to space the floor, the timing, and he transfers the ball – he can catch the ball and gets it to the next part of play. So he connects your offence.”
Tried and tested
Then there is his experience of leading the Indian team at the recent Asia Cup, and also his stint in Japan, where he led Tokyo Excellence to a third consecutive National Basketball Development League (NBDL) title. “He’s one of the more experienced guys in the team, since most of our players are just out of college,” Daigneault adds.
The only aspect the coach is concerned is the physical nature of the G-League. Daigneault rates the development division ‘quicker than the NBA,’ and has put Amjyot on a strict weight program.
“That includes everything to do with performance, including strength, speed, agility and balance,” says the coach, who is now in his fourth season in charge of the Blue. “But we’re treating him like every other player. He made to our team like every other player, on his own two feet.”