The Chicago Bulls have a busy offseason ahead of them. Not only do they need to worry about Zach LaVine potentially leaving in free agency, but they also have to find ways to improve the roster. This means attacking free agency, scouring the trade market, and drafting well.
After falling in the standings throughout the second half of the season, Chicago will be picking 18th in the 2022 NBA Draft. There should be some quality players ready at that spot, and according to a recent NBA mock draft, they could have the chance to select an NBA-ready contributor.
Bleacher Report’s latest mock draft, compiled by Jonathan Wasserman, has the Bulls selecting Ohio State forward EJ Liddell with the 18th-overall pick. Liddell, who grew up in Belleville, Illinois, would get the chance to play for his home state.
In his final year of college, Liddell averaged 19.4 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 2.5 assists on 54.0% shooting from the field and 37.4% shooting from distance. He is currently ranked 20th on ESPN’s best available big board.
Rob Shaefer of NBC Sports Chicago recently revealed that Liddell models his game after three different NBA players.
Who Liddell Models His Game After
According to Shaefer, Liddell tries to learn from guys like PJ Tucker, Paul Millsap, Grant Williams, and Draymond Green. At the NBA Draft Combine, Liddell said his main focus has been moving laterally and shooting corner threes.
“I’ve been working on lots and lots of lateral movement, lots of jumping and just being able to shoot corner 3s,” said Liddell. “I haven’t ever really been in the corner my whole life, because I’ve been involved in different plays and whatnot.”
While Millsap never stuck with the Brooklyn Nets, Tucker, Williams, and Green were crucial pieces on playoff teams. In fact, the pair met each other in the Eastern Conference Finals when Tucker’s Miami Heat took on Williams’ Boston Celtics. Now, Williams will take on Green and the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals.
There are a ton of benefits to having that type of player on the roster, and the Bulls could use someone like that.
Liddell’s Potential Fit in Chicago
Patrick Williams missed the majority of last season, but with him returning, he will likely take over as the starting power forward next year. This means Liddell could slot in as a backup, taking on a similar role to the one Williams plays in Boston.
According to Schaefer, “Liddell’s NBA livelihood” hinges on his ability to thrive as a “two-way role player.” That being said, he also noted that Liddell has been focusing on exactly that.
“In addition to shooting at a career-high clip and swatting 2.6 shots per game as a junior, Liddell also displayed the ability to guard the perimeter well, a tantalizing trait for modern-day big men. He firmly believes his motor will allow him to toggle between the power forward and center spots, and his passing ability will add to his offensive upside,” Schaefer wrote.
With how poorly Chicago’s defense fared last season, and with their lack of three-point volume, Liddell could be the perfect player to come off their bench.