The Washington Wizards have the 10th overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. Here is the latest in our series on draft prospects who could fall around where the Wizards will select...
2022 NBA Draft Wizards Prospect Profile: EJ Liddell
Team: Ohio State
2021/22 stats: 32 G, 19.4 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 2.5 apg, 0.6 spg, 2.6 bpg, 49.0 FG% (6.3/12.9), 37.4 3PT% (1.4/3.8), 76.5 FT% (5.3/6.9)
Player comparison: Paul Millsap
Projections: NBC Sports Washington 25th, Sports Illustrated 19th, Ringer 17th, Athletic 32nd, ESPN 24th, NBADraft.net 31st, Bleacher Report 25th
5 things to know:
- Liddell was one of the first Bradley Beal Elite alumni to play for a major college program when he went to Ohio State in 2019. Bradley Beal Elite is an AAU program based in St. Louis, MO established by the Wizards' star himself. With Liddell on the brink of making it to the NBA, there's a chance he could wind up playing with Beal if the Wizards decide to use a draft pick on him.
- Liddell is a tweener, but in a good way. His natural position is probably power forward, but his ability to play either the small forward or center spots (or both) will ultimately determine his upside in the NBA. He's an undersized big but has the strength, frame and instincts to compete down low in the post and as a rim protector on the weak side. Liddell also showed improved perimeter defense during his junior season, and if he can keep ball handlers in front at the next level, he could be a special defensive player.
- In terms of scoring, Liddell presents a few challenges for opposing defenses. He's a tough, physical interior scorer with a high motor. He uses his strength to carve out position inside and has a nice little floater/jump-hook he likes to use when he can get in the middle of the lane. Liddell has a nice shooting stroke as well, converting 37% of his threes as a junior as well as a 76.5% clip from the free-throw line. His mechanics are clean and judging by the numbers they're consistent. He should be able to contribute as a pick-and-pop big early in his career.
- He doesn't have the size profile of an elite shot-blocker, but Liddell is a menace around the rim. Great instincts on when to jump as well as having the frame to absorb contact while staying vertical allows Liddell to be a disruptive rim protector. Having a switchy defender who can protect the paint from the weakside like Liddell can is an incredible asset.
- Liddell's playmaking pedigree isn't quite there yet. He's a solid playmaker who's probably at his best in that regard when he's in transition, but he'll have to improve his handle and make sure to deliver passes on time rather than get stuck trying to create his own shot toward the rim.
Fit with Wizards:
Beal may have great things to say about Liddell solely off his career with Bradley Beal Elite, but right now it's hard to see Liddell's path to minutes based on how the Wizards' roster is constructed. They have a crowded frontcourt consisting of Daniel Gafford, Kristaps Porzingis, Rui Hachimura and Kyle Kuzma. Liddell could theoretically back up all of those players, but they're usually at most only two spots on the floor for bigs at a time.
Furthermore, Liddell's stock at the moment appears to be more toward the back-end of the first round and early second round rather than the lottery. With the Wizards picking 10th, it'd be surprising to see them use that selection on a 21-year-old who projects as a quality role player in the league.
Still, Liddell could be a worthy target if the Wizards end up trading back in the first round. If that kind of trade involves a few of the aforementioned front-court players going elsewhere, there'd obviously be more minutes for Liddell early in his career. For now, however, the Wizards might be better off figuring out how to get more out of the young players they already have at those positions.
2022 NBA Draft profiles:
Dyson Daniels, G-League Ignite