The NBA draft is approaching on June 23 and the Milwaukee Bucks have the No. 24 overall selection. After an earlier than expected exit from the postseason, the Bucks will look to get back to the top of the mountain next year.
Who might they be interested in with the No. 24 pick?
In this edition, we take a look at Ohio State power forward E.J. Liddell.
Liddell was a consensus four-star recruit coming out of Belleville High School-West in Illinois and had plenty of offers to sift through before committing to Ohio State.
While with the Buckeyes, Liddell improved over the course of his three years playing in the Big Ten. In his final year at Ohio State, he averaged 19.4 points per game to go along with a career-high 7.9 rebounds. His percentage from 3-point range rapidly improved from 19 percent his first year with the program to 37 percent this past year.
Liddell’s shooting improvements were a must for a power forward who lacks true explosiveness and is trying to carve out a spot in today’s NBA.
NBA COMBINE RESULTS
Lane agility time: 11.11 seconds
Shuttle run: 3.23 seconds
Three-quarter sprint: 3.26 seconds
Standing vertical: 35.5 inches (best of anyone at the combine)
Max vertical: 38 inches
Weight: 243 pounds
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
“Liddell boasts a muscular 240-pound frame that can handle the rigors of the interior. He played center for most of his sophomore season despite standing at 6-foot-7. He’s an excellent shot blocker, especially in help situations rotating into the paint. In February, he had success defending Illinois star Kofi Cockburn. Defensive versatility. As a junior, Liddell came back a better perimeter defender than ever. Early in the season, he shut down Paolo Banchero all over the court, and then continued to bother players across positions. In a switching defense, he can handle any position. Good spot-up shooter with comfortable mechanics. He has improved every season from behind the arc, so defenders close out hard and he’s able to dribble into pull-ups or get all the way to the basket.” - Kevin O’Connor, The Ringer
“Liddell is coming off an All-Big 10 season where he led Ohio State in scoring with just over 19 points per game and anchored their pretty tough defense … He has always been a sturdy-bodied post player, but his steadily improving skill level has pushed his NBA Draft stock as high as it’s been in his career … He showed the ability to post and score, step out and hit from the perimeter as well as being a facilitating valve for the Buckeyes offense when defenses came to try and collapse on him to get the ball out of his hands…His shot blocking and all around defensive effort also stood out … He isn’t a great athlete and will always be more of an undersized frontcourt player; and he still needs to refine and polish his scoring arsenal at all 3 levels a bit more from a fundamental standpoint, but it’s hard to not like the motor.” - NBAdraft.net
HOW HE FITS
Milwaukee has its big three in Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton locked in for another season meaning cap flexibility isn’t a strength for the franchise. As a result, their No. 24 overall pick could be fighting for some minutes in the rotation given the unknowns with many of the secondary players on the roster. Jevon Carter, Serge Ibaka and Wesley Matthews will hit free agency. Pat Connaughton and Bobby Portis have big decisions to make with player options on their contracts this summer. Now circle back to Liddell. The power forward from Ohio State continues to develop and improve his shooting game and on offense he could flourish as a reserve forward from the start who can hit from the midrange and beyond and also bruise inside for second-chance opportunities amongst the trees in the paint. One player Liddell can try and mold his game after is Portis who also developed a perimeter shot throughout the years and isn’t afraid whatsoever to muck it up on the interior.