A two-time All-Big 10 honoree and an All-Big 10 Defensive team member, EJ Liddell had a decorated three seasons at Ohio State. As a junior, EJ Liddell averaged 19.4 PPG, 8 RPG, 2.5 APG, 0.6 SPG, 2.6 BPG, and 2.4 TOPG on shooting splits of 49/37/77. Below is his full scouting report:
Name: EJ Liddell
Wingspan/ standing reach: 7’0/8’7 ½
Hand size: 9 ¼
Pre-Draft team: Ohio State
Tools: Playmaking, post offense, shot blocking
- Can shoot from mid range and 3 comfortably
- High jump shot release
- Good shot block timing
- Good finisher at the rim
- Great rebounder
- Sees the floor well; puts good zip on his passes
- Composed against double teams
- Plus frame with NBA ready body
- Should be able to play some small ball 4 or 5 because of help-side defense + length
- Jump shot needs to be smoothed out with guide hand
- Needs to reduce turnovers
- Struggles to guard quick slashers; can get stuck in quicksand at times
- Plays with his back to the basket far too often
- Makes far too many jump passes out of the post
- Doesn’t blow by defenders or separate on drives
EJ Liddell is a unique prospect due to his role at Ohio State that may or may not translate well.
Offensively, Liddell was featured as a star player for the Buckeyes, running plays through the mid-post almost exclusively. Liddell will need to adapt to a more off-ball role offensively, since no NBA offense gives the keys to a role player to run the offense from the mid range/free throw line area. Liddell’s shooting numbers will have to translate for him to stick in the NBA, which is a questionable trait for him: he has a high release that is hard to block with good percentages, but his shot can be a bit slow/hesitant, and his overall form needs tweaking.
Liddell also struggles to score off the dribble from 3, being overly reliant on stepback jumpers and pump fakes, and not having a quick enough gather into the shot to shoot over defenders. These are two red flag spots for Liddell as a shooter, being an inconsistent spot-up shooter, and worrisome shooter off the dribble against tight defenses, that could make him a liability.
Defensively, Liddell leaves a lot to be desired on the perimeter defending guards and slashers. He may be a liability on switches due to lack of mobility in open space against faster players. However, if he can be hidden in that regard to stay away from defending high pick & rolls and isolations from the perimeter, Liddell could hold his own. He is a good shot-blocker with outstanding timing, and he could play small-ball center to be a help-side defender and overall shot impactor near the rim.
Liddell has good vision and sees the floor well, but needs to improve his passing fundamentals. He relies too much on jump passes, even on simple bullet passes in close range. This takes away from his vision, making defenses more easily able to intercept his passes, which negates his overall passing ability. Having this taken away, combined with his shooting not translating, would make him entirely unplayable on offense.
Overall, there are lots of risk factors in EJ Liddell. While he has great stats, both simple and advanced, there are traits to his positive skills that may be alarming for NBA teams that could write him out of the league quickly. If he overcomes any two weaknesses of perimeter defense, jump shooting, and playmaking fundamentals, he can stick in the NBA as a back-end rotation player.
Similar to: Taureen Prince, Grant Williams with less perimeter defense
Projected draft range: 25-45
Expected role: Small ball 5
Unplayable if: Lack of speed on both ends limits his versatility, and his post-oriented play style doesn’t translate to an NBA role. Additionally, if his shooting doesn’t translate, he is unplayable.
Exceeds expectations if: Jump shooting translates at a high level, and being a small ball 5 can be a sufficient role that hides his perimeter deficiencies.