After joining the Reno Bighorns last season, Sim Bhullar quickly became one of the more intriguing prospects in the entire NBA D-League. Not only was he the first player of Indian descent to sign with an NBA team after his Summer League stint with the Sacramento Kings, but he was also the largest player in basketball at 7'5, 360 pounds.
While a player of that size could undoubtedly be a game changer just due to sheer size, there were serious improvements that he had to make to be able to be considered an actual threat at the NBA level. He showed glimpses of his upside throughout the season and even earned a call-up to the NBA for his efforts.
Even with the progress that he had made last year, however, he still had a long way to go and as this year rolled around he found himself right back in the D-League. Now with Raptors 905, Bhullar has begun to show more signs that he may be able to harness some of the ability that he has.
Since the start of February, Bhullar has racked up eight double-doubles in just eleven games and had a streak of seven in a row that spanned from mid-February to early-March. Not only is this impressive from a pure statistical standpoint, but it's also a sign that his once-questionable conditioning is also improving.
With that portion of his game on the rise, it has allowed him to showcase some of the other strong qualities that he has been building over the course of the last couple of years. With his size, he's nearly impossible to stop on the offensive boards if he's in the right position.
When he gets the ball in the post, it would be nearly impossible for one man to contain him. This will often force the defense to bring another defender (and sometimes two) over to help, which will naturally leave a teammate or two open somewhere on the court.
This is an advantage that can continually be exploited offensively, but coming into this year Bhullar had the reputation of being an unreliable passer. He has become a bit more willing to give up the ball when teams collapse on him and he's actually showed some decent skill when passing out of the post.
While his size certainly aids him offensively, theoretically it should be an even bigger factor defensively. When he's locked in and engaged on that end, he can definitely make an impact both by swatting away shots, shutting down the lane for players that are driving in and not allowing post players to back him down.
He does display some positive qualities, but it's not all great on that end and there are some obvious improvements he needs to make to be able to take his game to the next level. When watching Bhullar defensively, you'll quickly be able to notice how many times that he loses his man or finds himself in the wrong place.
Along with that downside on the defensive end, he's also a somewhat inconsistent defensive rebounder. Improving his positioning would certainly help that to an extent, but he also needs to take strides in consistently boxing out, a task which should be easy for a player of his size.
His size can certainly be helpful to the team, but it also has its drawbacks, especially when he's forced to switch onto a guard. No matter how talented he may be, quick perimeter players will typically have no problem blowing past him if he has to go outside of the paint for any length of time.
All in all though, Bhullar has managed to take a step forward this season, especially over the course of the last month or so. He's playing more minutes lately which is a positive sign for his level of conditioning and the team's pace hasn't suffered because of it.
He's taken a bit more active of a role in the offense this year with Raptors 905 as opposed to his year with Reno and by all accounts he's handling the added workload well. If he can continue to work on his passing out of the post he would become even more dangerous when the ball is in his hands.
Defensively is where he needs the most work. When he's dialed in, he's a solid player, but he needs that level of focus and effort at all times. If he can show that he knows where to be consistently and shows that he's able to box players out on a regular basis, it would go a long way in proving that he's ready for the jump to the NBA.
He still has a ways to go before an NBA team comes calling again, but Bhullar should able to make his way back if he's able to polish some of the rough parts of his game.