The biggest man of the 2014 NBA draft is soon to be the biggest man in Sacramento.
Sim Bhullar, a 7’5″ New Mexico State center who burst onto the scene at this year’s NCAA tournament, wasn’t selected in the draft itself, but the Kings will reportedly sign the big man on Friday.
He was not listed among the top 100 players ranked by ESPN’s Chad Ford (subscription required), while DraftExpress had him 73rd—well out of the 60-player range selected at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.
Lightly regarded coming out of high school, Bhullar initially committed to Xavier before heading to New Mexico State. Playing near-identical roles in each of his two seasons, he led the Aggies to consecutive NCAA tournament berths and became infamous in college basketball circles for his size.
He’s listed at 7’5″ and 360 pounds, which would make him instantly the league’s biggest player and one of the largest in history.
As a sophomore, Bhullar averaged 10.4 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.4 blocks per game. Factoring in his 64.8 field-goal percentage, it was only fair to be curious about a player who made the Julius Randles of the world look like point guards.
Nevertheless, Bhullar’s decision to forgo his final two years of eligibility was met with mild surprise. Imposing in stature, the Aggies big man still has a long way to go in his NBA development. His movements lack a fluidity and self-confidence that NBA teams look for in their big men; he’s the very definition of the word raw.
Even in the second round—where contracts are non-guaranteed and teams are far more willing to take risks—Bhullar seemed like perhaps a step too far. But the towering big man kept faith.
He trained at the Impact Basketball Academy in Las Vegas, shedding excess weight and working on bringing more fluidity to his game. In workouts, teams came away impressed with his positive disposition, and he began to creep slightly into the second-round conversation.
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“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Bhullar told CBC News of the draft process. “Not everybody gets to do it…so it’s an honor and a blessing and I just thank God every day for putting me in this situation.”
Now that he’s defied the odds and been selected, the real work starts.
Bhullar is not guaranteed an NBA job, but this is an encouraging sign nonetheless.
He has a long way to go until he joins the Thomases of the world. The Kings will likely put him on their own conditioning program, and then it’d be a mild surprise if he did not start his career in the NBA D-League.
That said, Bhullar’s has accomplished his goal of being an NBA player. He now has to figure out a way to get on the floor.