NBA Summer League: Pelicans lose rookie E.J. Liddell to torn ACL

New Orleans Pelicans rookie E.J. Liddell looked like he could have been one of the steals of the 2022 NBA draft. Now, he may not suit up at all for his rookie year.

The Pelicans announced Tuesday that Liddell, selected in the second round with the 41st overall pick, tore his right ACL in Monday's NBA Summer League game against the Atlanta Hawks. An MRI confirmed the diagnosis later that night.

The injury occurred as Liddell fought for position on an offensive possession in the third quarter. His knee, which he apparently tweaked in the first quarter as well, clearly buckled as he went down.

Liddell was considered a potential first-round pick after an Ohio State career that saw him earn first-team All-Big Ten honors and scattered All-American nods last season. He averaged 19.4 points, 7.9 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game as a junior while contributing enough on the defensive end to also make the Big Ten's All-Defensive team.

Despite that success, Liddell slid all the way to the Pelicans, likely due to a lack of size as a 6-foot-7 power forward. That positioned him to be a potential steal for a young Pelicans team, but we will now have to wait a while before seeing him in real NBA action.

Jul 11, 2022; Las Vegas, NV, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward E.J. Liddell (32) suffers an apparent injury during an NBA Summer League game against the Atlanta Hawks at Cox Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
NBA Summer League injuries are never not brutal. E.J. Liddell was no exception for the Pelicans. (Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports)