Summer is a time to tackle those big projects that have been bugging you all winter, and Sim Bhullar may be the biggest project of them all. The freshly signed Sacramento Kings center stands 7-foot-5, which would add "tallest active NBA player" to a résumé that now reads "the league's first player of Indian descent" ... if he makes the roster.
It makes sense the Kings would be NBA pioneers in this regard, since Indian businessman Vivek Ranadivé purchased the team last year. Sacramento's press release announcing Bhullar's signing specifically cited the organization's interests in marketing to India, including 20 televised games there last season, sponsorship deals, a Hindi website and a tour by the team's dancers through Mumbai.
"I've long believed that India is the next great frontier for the NBA, and adding a talented player like Sim only underscores the exponential growth basketball has experienced in that nation," Ranadivé said in the press release. "While Sim is the first player of Indian descent to sign with an NBA franchise, he represents one of many that will emerge from that region as the game continues to garner more attention and generate ever-increasing passion among a new generation of Indian fans."
Yet even Bhullar's own sister seems to recognize her brother is a longshot to make the Kings roster this season, telling the Las Cruces Sun-News, "It's a big achievement and we are all proud of Sim but there is still a lot of work that needs to be done and we are excited for what the future holds."
More likely, he'll end up on the Reno Bighorns, Sacramento's D-League affiliate, but that's not to say Bhullar doesn't have NBA potential. The Canadian-born behemoth played a season at West Virginia's Huntington Prep the year before Andrew Wiggins arrived. In two seasons at New Mexico State, he averaged 10.2 points (60.7 True Shooting percentage), 7.2 boards and 2.9 blocks in 25.3 minutes, twice earning Western Athletic Conference Tournament MVP honors and leading the Aggies to consecutive NCAA tournament appearances.
Most questions surrounding the 360-pound Bhullar concern conditioning, but he showed an ability to bang the offensive boards, block a bunch of shots and finish at the rim, albeit in a conference that featured opponents eight inches shorter than him. This, from DraftExpress, is the scouting report:
Bhullar's height advantage makes him an intriguing prospect and a project a team might want to invest in during the second round, but his weaknesses are very glaring and could prevent him from becoming a NBA contributor until he figures out a way to address them. Teams will be able to exploit his weaknesses on defense by making him move outside the paint, and he does not have a polished post game to allow him to provide enough value on the offensive end to counter that. His height, length, hands and shot-blocking instincts will always be a valuable commodity, but he may need some time learning the pro game in Europe or in the D-League before he can provide value to a NBA team.
At the age of 21, Bhullar opted to forgo his final two years of eligibility, but found himself undrafted during this past June's NBA draft. He earned an invite to the Las Vegas Summer League, but totaled just two points and two rebounds in 10 minutes over four games for the Kings. That didn't stop them from signing him to what is presumed to be a non-guaranteed rookie minimum deal worth $507,366.
While the Kings have several unclaimed roster spots, Sim would require an epic training camp for a shot. He remains a project, but a future Kings frontcourt of Bhullar and Boogie would be pretty awesome.