LAS VEGAS (AP) - After making his professional debut in the NBA Summer League, 19-year-old Satnam Singh stepped into a freight elevator with Mark Cuban.
The boisterous, outspoken owner of the Dallas Mavericks looked at his latest project with a wide smile and laughingly asked one question: “You still growing, man?”
The rest of the passengers staring up at Singh joined in on the laughter.
The soft-spoken, gentle giant, who said he broke down crying last month after hearing his name called in the second round as the NBA’s first Indian-born draft pick, stands 7-foot-2 and weighs close to 300 pounds.
“He’s ginormous,” Cuban said during an interview at halftime of the Mavericks’ 90-86 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday inside UNLV’s Cox Pavilion. “He’s a project, but he has a lot of upside.”
Singh finished with four points and three rebounds in 10 ½ minutes of the Mavericks’ first game of the summer. With plenty of areas to improve, he will join the Texas Legends of the NBA Development League in the fall, where Cuban said he’ll play under the direction of coach Nick Van Exel.
The Mavericks took Singh with the 52nd overall pick, all based off game film they had seen of him playing with IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, and a scouting report from Calvin Natt.
Natt, whose brother, Kenny, is the director of IMG, had done development work with Singh.
“What we got from Calvin, was that with our infrastructure, with our support system, he really might be able to turn into something,” Cuban said. “Do I expect him to be on an NBA roster this year? No. But do I expect him to be a part of the D-League and be a part of where we can take him? Yeah, absolutely.”
Both Cuban and Van Exel said they were pleasantly surprised by Singh’s hustle and work ethic, and certainly see someone who can be a part of the Mavericks’ future several years from now.
“When he walked out there I think people were expecting him to be super slow and not be able to move, but that wasn’t the case,” Cuban said. “He runs a lot better than I ever expected. He can shoot the ball. He’s been playing against high school kids, so he doesn’t have a lot of experience to come into this situation and play against people who are older than him, that have more experience than him. He’s doing very well.”
Van Exel said Singh has good hands but “footwork will probably be a problem.”
“He does wear a size 20 shoe. He’s a big guy, but I think Shaq (O’Neal) was one of the biggest guys who was very nimble,” Van Exel added. “It’ll be a challenge, but if he just learns spacing with his feet, to have balance, don’t let guys easily push you off. He can correct that, it’s just him seeing it and knowing how to do it.”
Van Exel said he hopes to see Singh learn positioning and screening, while adapting to ways in which he should position his body in the paint, where he can dominate for easy buckets.
“If we can get him to just score a little in the post, and be a forceful roller, to where when he rolls he’s drawing guys into the paint with him, maybe we can have shooters outside,” Van Exel said. “Just the little things I would like to definitely work with him.”
Singh said his teammates have been very receptive and helpful since he arrived in Dallas and joined the summer team. With plenty of good coaching and a positive environment, the short experience thus far has made him feel as if he belongs.
“I never played for any college, but I feel really good after one quarter,” Singh said, with a heavy accent in somewhat broken English. “My second quarter, no more nervous and my next game, I feel really a lot better.
“I will get better here in the summer league, I’m sure I will (eventually) play in the NBA. I’m not playing (there) for now, but after one year, after two years … I feel I’ll have a lot of experience in basketball and that will make me better.”
Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC.