The Mississauga Raptors 905 7’5 Canadian center Sim Bhullar has only played in five of his team’s 12 games this season, but that doesn’t mean the local giant is being slighted by head coach Jesse Mermuys or the organization. The Raptors have taken on a monster commitment with the support of Bhullar’s agent, Team Canada and the cooperation of Bhullar himself to significantly improve the biggest player Canada has.
Part of the deal early on was Bhullar wouldn’t travel with the 905 so he could focus on his conditioning. The big man really didn’t take getting in shape all that seriously during college and although he lost some weight during the 905 training camp, it became obvious during the season that he still had a long ways to go.
Then, somewhat unexpectedly, Mermuys dropped him from the active list during the recent homestand for several games. Mermuys demanded Bhullar recommit to the process and the big man complied.
“It was a good wake-up call for Sim to understand that we mean – this organization means – business,” Mermuys said. “We brought him here and we had conditions in place with his agent, with Canada Basketball and we are not going to be lax on that. We are committed to the process and I’m sure it was tough, but we are not really going to let up until he gets to where he needs to be.”
Bhullar got back into the line-up at home against the Grand Rapids Drive as a result of hard work and played some of the best basketball of his brief career with the 905. Mermuys using a “hockey” approach of short three minute shifts to get the most out of his big center.
“The time I took off I kind of took a step back from basketball and I focused on the things I really needed to do and I worked hard everyday and first guy in the gym and last guy to leave,” Bhullar told Pro Bball Report. “I guess that really helped me get a better feel on the court and I am going to keep continuing to do that and try to be like a leader for these guys.”
Bhullar has embraced the shorter shift approach that Mermuys has adopted and was so effective against the Drive. At this point, any concerns about Bhullar not being happy with his decision to come home to play seem completely unfounded.
“It gives me time to refresh myself and I know Coach is going to put me right back into the game,” Bhullar said. “So, it’s just go in there and work your hardest and get on the bench and get some water and get some rest and get right ready to go right back in there.
“I am enjoying it. I mean it’s good to be home and something I didn’t have last year was the development part of the game and the way the coaches help each player out and like I said, just being here two hours before practice and an hour after everybody leaves is big for me and I think I really need that and I didn’t have that last year.
“I am enjoying my time here. It’s a year for me to develop and if I can do it here then I can definitely do it anywhere.”
Bhullar is one of the most intriguing Canadian prospects to ever come along. The big man dwarfs any center he goes up against and his smooth jump shot, soft hands and finishing ability around the rim demand a double-team virtually every trip down the court. He’s even a decent defender until he runs out of gas.
The Raptors 905 approach might look harsh as Bhullar gets left off the active roster to work on his conditioning at the discretion of Coach Mermuys, but it’s exactly what he needs and wants.