The Pelicans may have gotten the steal of the NBA Draft, again

E.J. Liddell #32 of the Ohio State Buckeyes (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
E.J. Liddell #32 of the Ohio State Buckeyes (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /

It is arguable that the New Orleans Pelicans had the best NBA Draft of any team in the NBA last season when they were able to get three impact players outside of the lottery.

Herbert Jones went on to make the All-Rookie team and narrowly missed making All-Defense as well. Jose Alvarado emerged as a fearsome on-the-ball defender, just ask Chris Paul, who Alvarado hounded in the playoffs. Trey Murphy III came on later in the season but he too played crucial minutes down the stretch and hit some huge shots.

The Pelicans have been great at finding gems later in the draft (or in the case of Alvarado, outside of it altogether) and may have done it again in the 2022 NBA Draft, grabbing E.J. Liddell with the 41st pick.

This is a guy who was projected to go much higher and wasn’t a player the Pelicans thought they’d have a chance to get, so they were happy when he fell into their laps. Many think he has the chance to be the steal of the 2022 NBA Draft:

If you aren’t familiar with the forward out of Ohio State, here is what he will bring to the New Orleans Pelicans.

New Orleans Pelicans draft: E.J. Liddell’s strengths and weaknesses

Like Herb Jones, Liddell will enter the NBA as an upperclassman. He played three seasons at Ohio State and is 21-years-old, so he should be a little more NBA-ready than some of the projects in the second round.

He put up huge numbers in his junior season, scoring over 19 points per game, while adding 7.9 rebounds, 2.5 assists and a whopping 2.6 blocks per game, which is outstanding for a forward.

Liddell is 6-foot-7, 243 pounds with a 6-foot-11 wingspan and knows how to use it, as he can bang in the post, disrupt passing lanes and is a proficient shot blocker from the weak side. He has some bounce for a guy his size and can cover several spots defensively because of his strength and long arms.

He has upside as a stretch-four, as he shot 38 percent from 3-point range last season and may be asked to do more of it at the NBA level. He has strong intangibles, with a great work ethic, so he should fit right in with the culture the New Orleans Pelicans are trying to build.

There are questions about his overall athleticism, and whether he’ll be able to score down low as he did in college, but he can alleviate those by shooting more from the outside and focusing on making his impact on the defensive end.

The New Orleans Pelicans just keep adding talent to a roster that is shaping up to be a contender and may have found another impact player in the second round.

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