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E.J. Liddell drafted by the New Orleans Pelicans with the 41st pick in the 2022 NBA Draft

The Pelicans are getting a steal in E.J. in the second round.

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch Barbara J. Perenic/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

With the 41st pick, the New Orleans Pelicans select E.J. Liddell, junior forward from The ™ Ohio State University, in the 2022 NBA Draft. With his and Malaki Branham’s selections, this is also the first draft since 2007 where multiple Buckeyes were selected.

E.J. Liddell could have stayed in the NBA Draft last summer, following a season where he earned All-Big Ten Honors and helped lead Ohio State to a 2-seed in the NCAA Tournament. He averaged over 16 points per game as a sophomore, and was one of the most dominant players in the conference.

But he returned for one more season, and increased his draft stock from completely off draft boards last season to a potential first-round pick this year. While not many people expected him to slide to the second round, he’ll have a chance to crack the rotation in New Orleans.

Liddell improved his scoring to nearly 20 points per game. He led the Big Ten in blocked shots and shot nearly 40% from three-point land after rarely attempting threes just two years prior. He lost weight, improved his perimeter defense, and showed that he can do a number of things on the court beyond what people may attribute to the traditional big man. Because of all of those things, he’s an NBA draftee.

The now-former Ohio State star was top-20 in the country in blocked shots last season, but aside from that, does not have any “A” skills that he’ll carry to the NBA. But he’s a “B” at worst when it comes to pretty much every other skill you can think of.

He’s a three-level scorer, with his improved three-point shot being one of the big reasons he was drafted as high as he was. He can guard the low post and block shots — clearly — but is also mobile enough to guard on the perimeter if need be. Despite standing nearly 6-foot-8 and weighing 245 pounds, he averaged 2.5 assists per game last season.

While Liddell may never blossom into an NBA All-Star (but don’t count him out), he’s been viewed as a very safe, well-rounded pick who will especially help teams on the defensive end with his hustle and shot blocking. More likely than not, Liddell will have to prove himself in the NBA Summer League and then NBA G-League before he gets a chance to contribute with the big club.

Congratulations to E.J. on being drafted to the Pelicans! We can’t wait to see you become successful at the next level!