Bulls fans vote E.J. Liddell as preferred 2022 NBA Draft pick

E.J. Liddell, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images)
E.J. Liddell, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images) /

While the Chicago Bulls may have already traded away their rights to their 2021 (used to select Franz Wagner), 2023, and 2025 first-round draft picks, the team still has a chance to add a dynamic college prospect with the 18th pick in this summer’s class. As the 2022 NBA Draft approaches ever closer, one particular player is drawing the attention of many scouts: Ohio State’s E.J. Liddell.

Coming out of high school, Liddell was rated by RSCI as the 41st best prospect in 2019 ⁠— one spot behind LaMelo Ball and two spots ahead of Illinois’ Kofi Cockburn ⁠— yet he failed to make an immediate impact and did not crack the starting rotation until his sophomore season. As a junior, Liddell showed massive improvements and led Ohio State in points, rebounds, and blocks with averages of 19.4 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 2.6 blocks per game.

He would then propel the Buckeyes to a 20-12 record and a fourth-place finish in the Big Ten during his third and final season at OSU. Liddell was rewarded for his collegiate efforts with two All-Big Ten selections as well as a Big Ten-All Defense Team nomination. While he was forced to carry the load in college, his style of play should effortlessly transition into the NBA in a smaller reserve role.

With the Bulls looking to round out their frontcourt rotation, it makes sense then that they’d have Liddell on their radar. Chicago reportedly brought Liddell in for a private workout, and the athlete even shared an image on his Instagram confirming the visit.

E.J. Liddell has steadily become a fan-favorite mocked choice for the Chicago Bulls with the No. 18 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft.

In a poll of over 700 Chicago Bulls fans on Reddit, Liddell was the overwhelming favorite potential player to take with the 18th pick. He received 37.7% of the fan vote, with rising international prospect Ousmane Dieng coming in second place with 20.6% of all votes. Other potential options that Liddell edged out include G League Ignite star Jaden Hardy, SEC Defensive Player of the Year Walker Kessler, and even Liddell’s own Ohio State teammate Malaki Branham.

Given his history, it’s easy to see why Liddell would already be a fan favorite. He’s a homegrown product from Belleville and a recipient of the Illinois Mr. Basketball award in both 2018 and 2019. He joins former Bulls Derrick Rose (2007) and Jabari Parker (2012, 2013) as well as other notable NBA players Kevin Garnett (1995), Shaun Livingston (2004), and Jalen Brunson (2015) as a winner of the award.

Liddell’s basketball success wouldn’t end in high school, however, as he would go on to compile a prestigious collegiate career and then impress many scouts at the 2022 NBA Combine. Despite his deceivingly stocky frame, Liddell led all players at the combine with a ridiculous 35.5″ standing vertical leap. Even an insane athlete like Zach LaVine only achieved a 33.5″ standing vertical during the 2014 Draft Combine. This bodes well for Liddell’s ability to be a presence on the offensive glass and hopefully generate second-chance points at a high level in the NBA.

Fortunately, Liddell should also be an effective presence away from the glass. He shot 37.4% from deep last season and projects to be, at minimum, an adequate 3-point threat in the NBA. His mid-range game is smooth and consistent free throw shooting seems to indicate his shot will hold up as he progresses through to the NBA. Coupled with his elite defensive skills, Liddell should be able to carve out a role in this league rather easily and enjoy a long NBA career as a productive role player.

In the same vein as current NBA players Paul Millsap, PJ Tucker, and Grant Williams, there’s definitely a spot for E.J. Liddell in this league. But is there a spot for him in Chicago? If the fans have any say in it, the answer seems to be a resounding “yes.”

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