The 2022 NBA Draft is less than a month away, and while the Philadelphia 76ers currently do not hold a draft pick, the expectation is that come draft night, the 23rd pick will be the Sixers’ to make. Should that be the case, the next question is who the team will draft with said pick. In a series of Draft profiles for prospects who may interest the 76ers, the first player up is Ohio State forward E.J. Liddell.
Who is E.J. Liddell?
E.J. Liddell was born and raised in the state of Illinois. His mother, a former volleyball middle blocker; his father, a former lineman — both at Illinois State. Born into such an athletic family, it was only natural that Liddell would take from both of his parents to improve his game on the court, especially his mother, whom he credits with his love of blocking shots.
From a coachability standpoint, Liddell is a coach’s favorite. He’s a soldier. As Liddell said to former ESPN draft analyst, now assistant general manager of the Portland Trail Blazers, Mike Schmidtz: “I just go out there and do what I’m told.” E.J. is also a known hard worker, constantly working to improve his game, his body, whatever it takes.
Liddell has said that he models his game after Draymond Green, Grant Williams, P.J. Tucker, and PJ Washington, all great players to emulate. A large part of the reason Liddell looks to this list of players is that they all have found play success playing the same position while being similarly undersized:
- Height (with shoes) | 6’7″
- Height (w/o shoes) | 6’5.5″
- Weight | 243lbs
- Wingspan | 6’11.75″
While Liddell lacks ideal size for the power forward position, his length, quickness, and, most important of all, his understanding of the game allow him to thrive on the court.
There are plenty of players who share similarities to Liddell’s game. Shades of PJ Tucker, Eric Paschall, and PJ Washington are seen at times. The young prospect even shares some traits with future Hall of Famer Draymond Green. Both players are cerebral to the extreme and act as an extension of the coach on the hardwood. Both are versatile defensemen who can switch against most matchups and are not only capable but. They’re also both adept passers who can run the offense at times.
A future Hall of Famer is an unfair comparison for any prospect. As is often the case, in every area of similarity, Liddell is projected to come up short. There is, however, another player who also models his game after Draymond that Liddell compares to.
E.J. Liddell Player Comparison | Grant Williams
Former Tennessee Volunteer and current Boston Celtic Grant Williams is another player that E.J. Liddell models his game after, and it’s not difficult to see the similarities. Both are extremely versatile defenders who are capable of switching nearly one through five. Both have a passion for blocking — though Liddell is even more gifted in this area, doing the dirty work, and making hustle plays, much like the godfather of the modern small-ball power forward, Draymond Green.
Offensively, Both Liddell and Williams are more than comfortable stretching the floor or banging in the paint. A solid ability to shoot off the dribble and a capable mid-range game allows for a versatile offensive game. Much like on the defensive end, both Liddell and Williams do whatever they must for the team offensively. Whether it’s setting quality screens, hustling for loose balls, or finding the open man, Liddell looks the part of the ideal role player, just like Grant Williams.
A timeline for Liddell could resemble William’s NBA journey so far. It has taken a few years for Williams’ ability to shine through, but he has firmly established himself as one of the league’s premier young role players, especially during these playoffs.
Fit with the 76ers
Based on the current roster construction of the Philadelphia 76ers, there is already a role for Liddell to play. Many will remember during these past playoffs; the Sixers had few players who could defend, seemingly at all. Whether it be on the perimeter, in the paint, or especially when switching, there was little defense played by those not named Joel Embiid.
With the team seemingly set to move on from Tobias Harris, the future of the Sixers’ power forward position is unclear. Liddell would provide some much-needed depth and stability and could potentially grow into a starting role in a few years.
The Philadelphia 76ers have multiple needs heading into the offseason, but thanks to his versatility, E.J. Liddell would positively impact multiple needs at once. If he is still on the board come the 23rd pick, Daryl Morey and the team would be wise to consider him.