The Sixers will select 23rd overall in the 2022 NBA Draft. A lot of projections have the Sixers targeting the power forward position, with size and physicality being an absolute priority for Philadelphia this offseason. After Georges Niang flamed out in the playoffs, there’s room for a big, athletic player to get some run with Doc Rivers’ reserves.
Luckily for Daryl Morey, there are some intriguing forward prospects who fit the bill. The Sixers should focus on players who can fit around Joel Embiid and James Harden (duh), but after spending last summer exclusively targeting shooters (and a backup center), it’s time for the Sixers to add someone who can impact both sides of the ball while also coexisting with the stars.
Morey has overseen two drafts in Philadelphia. The first time, he selected Tyrese Maxey at 21. The second time, it was Jaden Springer at 28. While it’s fair to question when (or if) Springer will be ready to contribute, the Sixers have more than enough ammunition at the guard spots. Again, size and physicality. That’s the mandate here, unless there’s a guard prospect who’s too good to pass up.
Sixers Draft: 3 power forward prospects to consider with 23rd pick
E.J. Liddell, Ohio State
Listed at 6-foot-7, 240 pounds, E.J. Liddell certainly fulfills the size and physicality mandate. He’s built very similarly to Paul Millsap — broad shoulders and a muscular frame, but light enough on his feet to guard the perimeter. He can work out of the post offensively in the non-Embiid minutes, or spot-up behind the arc.
Liddell’s defense would be the main selling point for Philadelphia. He’s an excellent post defender and shot blocker. He can also defend in space, with enough lateral quickness to combat the NBA’s more physically gifted wings. The Sixers’ bench sorely lacked any sort of versatility or physicality on the defensive end last season, and Liddell would provide an immediate solution.
On the offensive end, there’s a lot to like as well. He won’t get the kind of post and elbow touches he’s used to playing with Embiid, but Liddell is a skilled face-up scorer who can beat closeouts on the perimeter. He hit a healthy dose of 3s last season, and he could provide an interesting dynamic in pick-and-rolls or DHOs with James Harden.
The Sixers don’t really need a small-ball five (Paul Reed is useful in most matchups), but Liddell has the strength to play center. He spent a good amount of time there for Ohio State, and if the Sixers wanted to truly go small in the non-Embiid minutes, Liddell could provide that option.