21 year old basketball player Sim (Simran) Bhullar may not be a household name for most but to a large demographic half-way across the world his impact can create an even larger effect than his immense stature.
Bhullar stands as the tallest prospect in the 2014 NBA draft at 7’5″ and weighed in at 350 pounds. Bhullar is ready to undertake the tall task of becoming the first NBA athlete of Indian descent. Bhullar’s parents are originally from Punjab and religiously are part of the Sikh faith. Bhullar’s brother, Tavneer, also plays for the New Mexico State Aggies and just completed his redshirt freshman year, he stands at 7’3″ and looks like a potential NBA prospect in his own right.
After a successful career at New Mexico State leading them to a berth in the NCAA tournament, the Toronto native declared for the NBA draft. As he went through the draft combine and individual workouts, his draft stock constantly moved up and down turning him into a polarizing prospect. Concerns about his size and athleticism (related to weight and injury risk) ultimately triumphed over the possible payoff and all 60 teams wound up passing on the center.
The day following the draft, it had been announced that Bhullar would be signed to play for the Sacramento Kings summer league roster. The summer league consists of two different tournaments for NBA teams, the Las Vegas league and the Orlando league. This is a chance for rookies, unproven players, and veteran players trying to earn a contract to be on display for all 60 NBA teams. Majority of the rookies play in this league before ever stepping onto an NBA court as a chance to prove their worth and to experience some of the highest competition of basketball around the world before ironing out a contract.
Interestingly enough, the owner of the Kings, Vivek Ranadive, hails from Bombay, India. Ranadive was always passionate about basketball and in 2010 became the first Indian minority owner of any NBA franchise (the Golden State Warriors). After leading them through a large transformation into becoming an annual playoff threat, he saw an opportunity to take majority ownership of the Sacramento Kings. In 2013, Ranadive and his group of investors bought the Kings for an NBA record $534 million.
It will be very interesting to see if Bhullar can adjust to the speed and talent in the NBA over the next few years and work for a season long contract. He hopes to bring the NBA’s influence back to India and through movies like Million Dollar Arm Americans have gotten the opportunity to see that the Indian community can be very receptive toward new opportunities and sports alike. Though the Kings may not have a need in their rotation for the large center, another team inevitably will and if he can prove his dedication over the summer, he could very well turn into a serviceable center one day playing against some of the best competition in the world.
Watch the video below to see some of Bhullar’s highlights.
Written By Rahul Lal