The Washington Wizards won’t have a first round pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, but they will have a chance to select a player with the 46th overall pick. Although second round selections don’t usually pan out, “draft steals” tend to happen every year. Teams have scouted players throughout their entire college careers, but there always seems to be a few that slip through the cracks.
The NBA Draft is just a few weeks away and is considered to be one of the deepest drafts in quite some time, and though the Wizards don’t necessarily have a great track record at obtaining “draft steals”, there will be some talent available when it’s their time to pick. One of the more unknown prospects in this year’s draft–New Mexico State’s Sim Bhullar–will probably be on the board at no. 46 and Washington will bring him in for a pre-draft workout soon.
At 7’5″, Sim Bhullar has the potential to become a “draft steal”, but like most NBA fans, I haven’t seen enough of him to really understand what kind of player he could become. I reached out to Harout “Root” Aghkekian, an avid Washington Wizards fan who’s been following Bhullar’s road to the NBA since his high school days, for more insight. Root was kind enough to provide some analysis on Bhullar and how well he’d fit with the Wizards.
During his freshman year I noticed he would get gassed out after only a few possessions, he would look lost at times as well. He was clearly not in shape for most of this freshman season. To his credit half the time the lack of experience at the point guard position hurt the Aggies as well, as they were slow to get into sets, if at all. They didn’t have a true point guard in either of the two years Sim Bhullar played there. Daniel Mullings was their primary ball handler and he was the Aggies #1 scoring option on offense, he would regularly call his own number in which most of the time he would go one on one with multiple defenders on his hip. Sim Bhullar’s freshman season at NMSU the leading assist man (Mullings) only averaged 2.6 apg respectively, the team in total 11 per game.
His sophomore season was not much better again as Mullings led the team in assists at 3.5 per and as a unit NMSU dropped an average of only 13 dimes per game respectively. These numbers support the lack of ball movement the Aggies displayed over the last two seasons, in result of this touches were very limited especially in the low post, often I would notice Sim Bhullar with excellent post positioning with his defender completely sealed off, but the ball either never arrived or came in very late which would give the defense time to read the mismatch and collapse the entry pass to overwhelm the post player forcing either a forced shot attempt or a pass back out to the wings. With that being said Sim Bhullar is an above average passer from the post, and was 4th best on the Aggies this past season ( get into his pros & cons below ). Sim averaged only a little over 6 shots per game in his 2 seasons in college. Last year 13-14 season Sim Bhullar was only 7th on the team in shot attempts (least of all starters), this further supporting the fact that he did not see the ball much. He only took 10 or more shots 9 times in his college career and the Aggies won 7 of those games. When Sim Bhullar was a primary target on offense, good things tended to happen.
- Massive physical size at 7’5 360 lbs make him a huge target in the post
- Very soft hands, catches most passes thrown his way
- Excellent touch inside of 8 feet of basket
- Gets to the stripe often
- Off the ball sets solid picks
- Establishes good position most times in low post
- Above average passer, finds wing players and cutters at a good rate
- Good vision see the court well and anticipates double teams
- Consistent offensive rebounder, consistently cleans up around hoop
- Often he gets frustrated when he doesn’t receive the entry pass in the block, then forces shots with many defenders around him
- Very limited face up game, does not display ability to make jumpers from high post
- Very low scoring range, don’t expect anything outside of 8 feet
- Needs to work with big man coach to develop moves in the post, showed improvements from year 1 to 2, however still very shallow arsenal of moves.
- Below average Free Throw shooter only shot 50%
- Does not finish strong with his left
- His size clogs up the paint, making it hard for offenses to penetrate to rim
- Alters shots
- Excellent shot blocker 3.4 bpg as a sophomore
- Surprisingly good on feet, has good side to side mobility
- Good ability to read the offense and direct his teammates on switches on defense
- Firm in not giving up position in the post
- Gets beat by quicker bigs off the face up dribble
- Gives up open mid-range jumpers to “stretch 5s”
- Needs to work on his closing speed to prevent quicker more agile bigs from getting open looks from elbows
- Often relies too heavily on his size while playing defense in the post, as opposed to sliding his feet
- Slow in transition defense, especially when tired
- Long rebound tracking must improve
- Slow on 2nd jump
Questions to NBA success
- Will he improve his overall conditioning? (editors note: Bhullar lost 15 pounds since the NCAA season ended)
- How much will his size be an advantage over other NBA 7 footers?
- Will he be able to play man defense without giving up open shots to stretch bigs?
- Can he keep faster more elusive opponents in front of him on defense?
- How successful will he become in today’s pick and roll offense?
- Can he stay healthy throughout the duration of an NBA season?
- Can his NBA team depend on Bhullar to be a dependable rotation player?
Fit with the Wizards
The Wizards have an obvious need at the center position, as Marcin Gortats’ future in DC remains unknown, as he can decide to leave and sign elsewhere leaving the Wizards in a very fragile state for that position. Nene although has proven to be a key contributor and huge asset to the Wizards success has his own obstacles, and though his health has been an ongoing issue over the last two seasons, he is also due $13 million this coming year and will be hard to trade away at this point. Drew Gooden was a surprisingly good addition late last season and was a big part of the Wizards success down the stretch, but he is also a free agent however and likely will be back. Trevor Booker, Kevin Seraphin and an aging Al Harrington are all free agents as well.
On the court the Wizards are running lots of pick and rolls. John Wall uses his instincts to create for everyone on the team, so Gortat and Wall instantly meshed well in this aspect, and when defenses collapsed on the roll Wall found open snipers Bradley Beal, Trevor Ariza and Martell Webster all season long. The Wizards are a fast paced team and score in bunches in the transition game which is clearly not one of Sim Bhullar’s strengths, although he moves fairly well for a man his size he will struggle keeping up with the Wizards up and down pace. Currently all of the Wizards bigs have the ability to hit the open 15 footer at the top off pick and pop–Sim Bhullar again would not fit that role either.
Size is Bhullar’s biggest asset and his ability setting bone crushing picks would benefit a point guard such as John Wall who loves using his big man to create space for himself. Wall has developed a mid-range jumper, and with Sim Bhullar setting the screens, he’d have an opportunity to create for himself the the shooters.
Sim Bhullar would be a huge bargain at pick 46 for this team, but he would obviously need good coaching to reach his full potential, and though he may never be more than a spark off the bench in the NBA, he can bring value in spurts to the Wizards 2nd unit and provide stability to a position that is currently thin. Similar to Gheorghe Muresan, Sim Bhullar’s gentle giant stature would instantly make him a fan favorite in the nation’s capital.
Thanks to Root for taking the time to provide some insight on Sim Bhullar and his future in the NBA. It’s very obvious the Bhullar has the potential to become a serviceable NBA player, and now that the Wizards will take a look at him in a pre-draft workout, he might be on their radar.