In this edition of NBA India All-Access, we would like to welcome Dhruv Barman.
Dhruv is the highest ranked Indian player in the FIBA World Rankings for the 3x3 format of the game. He was a member of the Delhi Hoopers, a team that dominated Season 1 of the 3X3BL - India's first professional 3x3 league. By winning five of the six rounds in Season 1 of the 3BL, and making repeated appearances at multiple World Tour Masters, the Delhi Hoopers even represented the league at the World Tour Finals in Beijing.
As Dhruv prepares for Season 2 of the 3BL, he took some time off from his rigorous offseason workout and training to speak to Yash Matange, on behalf of NBA.com/India.
Yash Matange: Congratulation on being the No. 1 ranked Indian player in the 3x3 format. I'm sure playing for the Delhi Hoopers played a huge role in that, so could you share with us your experience from Season 1 of the league?
Dhruv Barman: Before the season tipped-off, I didn't know what I was getting myself into since I hadn't played the format before. I personally felt the format might not be very different from the 5-on-5 but after the first practice, I learned that this format was very tiring and physically exhausting because it is non-stop.
So, I would say that it took me the first round in Delhi to just get accustomed to the format. However, once the team's chemistry picked up both on and off the court, it definitely helped us perform well. Being really good friends off the court helped us trust each other on the court.
This experience has been the best experience of my entire life. It was amazing.
Matange: You were discussing how you got accustomed to the new format. To our readers, could you share the biggest differences/challenges between the two formats?
Barman: In 5-on-5, you have about 5-6 seconds between possessions to catch your breath. In the 3x3 format, as soon as you score, the other team gets the ball, scores literally in a couple of seconds and the game can change.
In the 3x3 format, everything beyond the normal 3-point line is actually worth 2 points while anything inside the arc is for 1 point. It's very difficult to score 21 single-point baskets as compared to 10 2-pointers. So as soon as we score a basket inside, the opponents could nullify that by quickly passing it out to a shooter and knocking down a long-range shot.
I think the best way to play this format is to take quick shots and tire the other team out. The format is basically a 10-minute sprint with close to no recovery time.
Matange: Given the quick nature of the format, I'm sure it tests one's fitness a lot more than the 5-on-5 format. After season 1, how has your training routine changed during the season, and even now, in the offseason?
Barman: I'm among the smaller guys in the league, so, I always want to make sure I'm stronger than everybody else. I don't want the big guys to have that advantage over me.
I have always had a good cardio routine growing up but this format has made me focus even more on that. If I can run non-stop, my team and I can take advantage when any fatigue sets in for our opponents.
I'm completely focused on high-intensity workouts and every day in the offseason, I'm pushing myself to complete exhaustion.
So, when there are 2 minutes remaining in the game and everybody is catching their breath, I'm just going into another gear. With Season 1 in my bag, I know what it takes to compete against the best players in the league.
Matange: Just like you shared your experience, I'm sure it was a huge learning experience for other first-time Indian players as well. Could you share how important this season was for the format, as a whole, for its growth in the country?
Barman: I think this format will revolutionize the game in this country. Just the fact that we play in malls, has made people who never watched the sport to start watching 3BL.
I have had a lot of people over Instagram reaching out to me being curious about my journey and sending me good wishes.
There are almost 2 billion people in India and not one Indian player is talked about all over the world. We don't lack talent, we just lack exposure.
So, this format of the sport will definitely change everything.
Matange: You have mentioned being excited about representing India in this format at the Tokyo Olympics. I'm sure Amjyot, who has mentioned his willingness to play in the league, would be a huge part of the Indian team that would represent the country in this format. What's your excitement about having him possibly play in Season 2 of the 3BL?
Barman: Even people outside the country know who Amjyot Singh is. He has done great things and he is a huge reason India has been put on the map. What he has done for the country, I don't think anybody can in the near future.
WATCH: Amjyot Singh's first points with the Wisconsin Herd
It's because of him that I and so many other players have the opportunity to showcase the fact that even Indian players can play the sport. I'm very very excited to play against him because I always love a challenge, that's how I have been right from the beginning.
I know a lot of people believe I don't deserve being ranked No. 1 in the country for the format, and that is motivation for me.