The Sacramento Kings have signed 7’5 center Sim Bhullar, according to his own Twitter account.
— Sim Bhullar (@SimBhullar2) August 14, 2014
Bhullar is what he is at this point: a project equal in size to his behemoth frame. He’s going to turn 22 in December, so I can’t necessarily fault him for leaving New Mexico State two years before he needed to. However, he definitely still needs quite a bit of work, and could have used those two collegiate years to develop.
First and foremost, his conditioning is a disaster. While it made a fair bit of sense for New Mexico State’s coach Marvin Menzies to slow down the game a bit when Bhullar played, their adjusted tempo fell precipitously. According to Ken Pomeroy’s advanced stats page, prior to Bhullar’s arrival the Aggies had only once fallen out of the top 11 percent of NCAA teams in adjusted tempo with Menzies as the coach. The past two seasons, the Aggies’ tempo has been in the 52nd percentile and 61st percentile, respectively. This mostly has to do with the fact that Bhullar is always the last player down the floor, laboring after every defensive possession.
Improving his conditioning will be essential not only for the faster paced NBA in transition, but also for the rest of his skill. With the way he is conditioned right now, NBA players are going to be able to get him into a lot of foul trouble due to his slow feet defensively. Plus, he’s going to be more inclined to tire quickly, which could lead to the frequent cheap fouls that often plagued him in college.
Mentioning that problem isn’t meant to dilute his potential skill, but rather just understate what he has to overcome in order to reach his peak. Of course, at 7’5, he has immense potential as a rim protector. He led the WAC in block percentage and defensive rating last year, shutting down the paint against the lower level of competition. Imagine him as something of a more extreme Roy Hibbert. It’s just as difficult to finish over him in the paint, but it’s much easier to take him out of the game in the pick-and-roll.
Offensively, he’s an excellent offensive rebounder. He also uses his strength well in the post, and moves everyone off of the their spot to establish position. With no one in the WAC to match his size, he finished efficiently to the tune of a 62 true shooting percentage, which goes to show the excellent soft touch he has around the rim. Unfortunately, the fact that your offense will be slowed down precipitously should come into play here when accounting for an NBA team’s potential offensive rating.
As far as making the Kings, he’s not there yet. The team already has five other bigs on guaranteed contracts, plus summer league standout Eric Moreland ahead of him on the depth chart. He’ll go to their D-League affiliate in Reno and work towards playing in a regular season game eventually. There’s potential he’ll reach that goal, but to get there he needs to vastly revolutionize the way he takes care of his body. Because of his conditioning, his weaknesses far outweigh his strengths at the moment.
It’s a nice story, and great that a player of Indian descent has finally signed an NBA contract. But ultimately, it’s on Sim to improve his conditioning enough to where he can actually stick in the league. Hopefully, we don’t have to wait for his equally large brother Tanveer to be draft eligible to see an Indian play in a regular season game.