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Nuggets draft profiles: E. J. Liddell

Continuing our series of articles on 10 NBA draft contenders, we take a look at Ohio State forward E. J. Liddell. Liddell participated in a private practice session with the Denver Nuggets but was not available to the media.

However, Liddell’s skill set makes him an intriguing player.

Liddell played three years for Ohio State and showed exactly the kind of progress one would hope for from a three-year college veteran. With each season, he improved across the board and showed increased performance with a larger role.

He led his team in nearly every statistical category in 2021-22, leading the Bakeevs to the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

It’s unclear exactly where he will land in the 2022 NBA draft, but the Nuggets are 21st overall and the pairing could make sense.

Strengths

In today’s NBA, the ability to switch is a major concern for many teams. This is exactly what Liddell brings to court as he is legally capable of guarding five positions.

He has the speed to reliably protect the guards on the switches, but also has the strength to counter the centers. His shot blocking is unmatched, averaging 2.6 shots per night in his junior season despite being only 6ft 7in.

Part of Liddell’s decision to return to college for his junior year was driven by a desire to improve his shooting. He did just that, hitting 37.4% of his triples in the process. It was the third best performance on his team among players who played at least 15 minutes per game.

Offensively, Liddell also has skill in the post. As a first option at Ohio State, he had the opportunity to showcase these flashy moves at important moments. And in the NBA, he can succeed on a smaller scale.

Upgrade Zones

Due to his role at Ohio State, Liddell didn’t have many opportunities to expand his gameplay. He will need him in his arsenal when he gets to the NBA and he should have plenty of opportunities to do so as an all-round winger and forward.

When Liddell moves to professional basketball, it is unlikely that he will have to be the main initiator. However, a step forward on his pen could help change his game.

There is no doubt that he can excel as a sniper and guard presence, but the additional deficiencies in his skill set will make him a difficult player to defend.

Suitable for nuggets

Nuggets head coach Michael Malone has named defense and versatility as two of his top priorities for next season. By those criteria, Liddell seems like a great candidate.

Liddell is an archetype whose value has skyrocketed in the NBA over the past few years. Switchable wing guards that can reliably fire three people are a must these days.

If Liddell can combine the skills he already has with improved gameplay, it’s unknown what his ceiling could be. In fact, Liddell could fit into all 30 NBA rosters except the Nuggets.

Of course, before June 23, there is still a lot to find out. Liddell is one of several players looking for the Nuggets to take 21st.

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