T-Wolves take Towns as In­dia-born Sat­nam Singh Bhamara makes history

The China Post - - SPORTS -

Teen big man Karl-An­thony Towns was cho­sen by the Min­nesota Tim­ber­wolves with the first pick in Thurs­day’s NBA Draft, while Sat­nam Singh Bhamara made history as the first In­di­a­born se­lec­tion.

Towns av­er­aged 10.3 points, 6.7 re­bounds and 2.3 blocked shots a game last sea­son for a Univer­sity of Ken­tucky squad that went un­beaten un­til los­ing to Wis­con­sin in the na­tional col­lege tour­na­ment semi­fi­nals.

“This is what you live for,” Towns said. “I’m go­ing to go in right away and be as ver­sa­tile as I can be. I’m com­ing with a win­ning at­ti­tude. I’m not com­ing to look for in­di­vid­ual suc­cess. I’m com­ing to look for team suc­cess.”

The Tim­ber­wolves, who won last month’s NBA Draft Lottery to claim the top over­all pick, have not reached the play­offs since 2004.

Bhamara, a 19-year-old cen­ter from a small Punjab vil­lage, went 52nd over­all to the Dal­las Mav­er­icks, the same NBA club that in 2001 made Wang Zhizhi the first Chi­nese player in an NBA game.

Bhamara, a 2.18-me­ter big man, be­came the first player in a decade taken af­ter not play­ing for a U.S. col­lege or over­seas pro team, in­stead play­ing for the IMG Academy squad.

In­dia’s Big NBA Hope

Likely bound for a de­vel­op­men­tal team to hone his skills, he fol­lows in the foot­steps of Cana­di­an­born Sim Bhullar, who be­came the NBA’s first player of In­dian de­scent af­ter play­ing for the Sacra­mento Kings last April.

Bhamara could open the door to the NBA into cricket-lov­ing In­dia much the way Yao Ming did for the league in China.

“I think I can open the door for ev­ery­one to come here and play so it’s good for In­dia and all the play­ers, it is good for me and my coun­try,” Bhamara told the Washington Post af­ter a work­out with the Washington Wizards ear­lier this year.

The Los An­ge­les Lak­ers landed Ohio State guard D’An­gelo Rus­sell with the sec­ond pick while cen­ter Jahlil Okafor was taken third by the Philadelphia 76ers.

“It’s a sur­real mo­ment,” Rus­sell said.

Lat­vian power for­ward Kristaps Porzingis, who played for Sevilla last sea­son, was se­lected fourth over­all by the New York Knicks, whose host-city fans booed loudly when the choice was an­nounced af­ter al­ready en­dur­ing a 17-65 sea­son.

Porzingis be­came only the sec­ond player from his home­land to be taken in the draft and could be­come only the third Lat­vian to play in the NBA.

“It was my dream to play for the Knicks,” he said. “Hope­fully I can be part of some­thing spe­cial. These peo­ple don’t know me, might think I’m soft, Euro­pean, a bust. I’m dif­fer­ent. It’s my pas­sion that sets me apart.”

Since Yao was taken first over­all by Hous­ton in 2002, there have been 19 in­ter­na­tional play­ers taken with lottery-de­cided picks and none have be­come all-stars.

Or­lando se­lected fifth and the Magic took Croa­t­ian swing­man Mario He­zonja, who played last sea­son at Barcelona, mak­ing him the high­est-ever pick from his home­land.

Another Ken­tucky big man, cen­ter Wil­lie Cauley-Stein, was taken sixth by Sacra­mento. He was among a record 13 U.S. col­lege

fresh­men taken in the first round.

Mu­diay Lands in Den­ver

Em­manuel Mu­diay, a point guard from the Demo­cratic Re­pub­lic of the Congo, who played for China’s Guang­dong South­ern Tigers last year, went sev­enth to the Den­ver Nuggets.

Mu­diay, who came to the United States in 2001 at age five, av­er­aged 18.0 points, 6.3 re­bounds, 5.0 as­sists and 1.6 steals for the Tigers last sea­son.

“I’m just go­ing to be my­self, show what I’m about, my com­pet­i­tive spirit,” Mu­diay said.

The only other in­ter­na­tional player taken in the first round was Ser­bian Nikola Mi­luti­nov, a cen­ter for Par­ti­zan Bel­grade se­lected 26th over­all by San An­to­nio.

Min­nesota opened the sec­ond round by pick­ing Macedonian for­ward Cedi Os­man, who played in Tur­key last sea­son, while Philadelphia se­lected Span­ish big man Guillermo Her­nan­gomez, who played for Sevilla, four picks later at 35th.

Ar­gentina for­ward Juan Vaulet was taken 39th over­all by Char­lotte while Lithua­nian cen­ter Ar­turas Gu­daitis was taken 47th over­all by Philadelphia.

Shoot­ing guard Mar­cus Eriks­son was taken 50th over­all by At­lanta while Span­ish for­ward Daniel Diaz was cho­sen four picks later by the Utah Jazz.

Haitian-born cen­ter Cady Lalanne, who grew up in Or­lando, was taken 55th by San An­to­nio while Ser­bian guard Nikola Radice­vic went 57th to Den­ver.

Greek 20- year- old for­ward Dim­itrios Agra­va­nis of Olympiakos went to At­lanta with the 59th pick while Philadelphia se­lected Ser­bian for­ward Luka Mitro­vic with the 60th and fi­nal se­lec­tion.

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