Part of the reason that the Toronto Raptors have been so excellent at developing talent in the NBA draft is Masai Ujiri’s dogmatic commitment to finding players who fit his system. This has led to an abundance of switchable forwards populating the Toronto roster over the last few years.
While some might consider the addition of yet another big with that physical makeup as overkill, the impending free agencies of Chris Boucher and Thad Young could create a hole on this roster that needs to be filled. A player like Ohio State’s EJ Liddell could be what Toronto needs.
Liddell was the Buckeyes’ best player last year despite the presence of potential lottery pick Malaki Branham on the roster. Liddell was a force in the restricted area with the picture-perfect jump shot mechanics needed to become a quality shooter at the professional level.
The Raptors have already met with Liddell as a sign of their interest in him. Liddell was one of the most productive players in the conference last season, and Ujiri should take note of his dominance when trying to identify the perfect draft target at No. 33 overall.
EJ Liddell would be a perfect pick for the Toronto Raptors.
Liddell averaged 19.4 points and 7.9 rebounds per game on 49/37/76 shooting percentages. With tree trunk legs and various post moves that bedeviled Big Ten defenders, Liddell was a solid finisher in college. Even with those traits in his pocket, Liddell’s best offensive trait is his ability to catch and shoot.
Liddell is a legitimate marksman that should help the Raptors fix their general lack of shooting from 3-point range. On defense, Liddell has had experience against bigger wings and both big man spots. That versatility, despite his 6-7, 240-pound frame, could make him a very unique defensive chess piece.
Liddell was never the most fleet of foot athlete in the world, and his issues in this area could start to inhibit his success at the professional level. While a solid shooter, Liddell might become too reliant on shooting in the league to evolve into a threat as a post scorer. That could put a cap on his offensive potential.
Ujiri has never met a power forward with a 3-point shot he didn’t like, and Liddell could be the next one that comes into Toronto and gradually develops into a star player. Liddell might require a trade-up in the order, but he is worth that investment considering his gaudy college numbers.