The Magic may have finally found a backup center for Dwight Howard to replace Marcin Gortat in their second round pick. Last year, Orlando went with Glen Davis as its backup center and it took Davis a while to fit into the role. Simply, Daniel Orton was not ready or healthy enough to take on the role. When he finally got his opportunity, he played well but the Magic had to make a financial decision with him and let him become a free agent.
So in will step Kyle O'Quinn of Norfolk State, the double double machine that was an integral part of the 15th seeded Norfolk State upset over Missouri, ruining millions of brackets in the process (was it O'Quinn who said he even ruined his own brackets?).
O'Quinn had 26 points and 14 rebounds in that 86-84 win over Missouri. Let's just forget that he had only four points and three rebounds in only 24 minutes against Patric Young and Florida's big front line.
Nobody is expecting O'Quinn to come in and start so we may see more of the Missouri O'Quinn than the Florida O'Quinn in those limited minutes. But consider that O'Quinn does the things that make you think he can stick and contribute. He is a solid rebounder and defender, and those skills usually translate to the NBA level -- or at least what those skills typically mean.
Let's take a closer look at O'Quinn.
The Good: O'Quinn was a double double machine at Norfolk State, averaging a double double in both his junior and senior season at Norfolk State. He scored 15.9 points per game and grabbed 10.3 rebounds per game last year as the focal point of Norfolk State's offense.
O'Quinn is a scrapper. He is listed at 6-foot-10 and 240 pounds, and he uses every bit of it to get in position for rebounds. Even the ones it seems like he doesn't get, he continues to fight for. That is a good sign because it seems quite certain he is going to work hard and fight to continually improve.
That has to be the other great thing about O'Quinn. He has learned a lot about basketball since he started playing in high school, and he continues to improve. Even there, he has a natural knack for the sport as he showed with the Spartans. The kind of rebounding he had at Norfolk State is something that came natural to him.
And that is the other surprising thing about O'Quinn. His offensive game is very fluid, especially for someone that seems so new to the game. He seems like he will figure out how to score on you and is just a natural at post moves. That is a very good thing. O'Quinn is not quite NBA-ready or polished, but he is very receptive to coaching and does not mind doing the dirty work. Good signs for a second round player.
The Bad: Obviously there is a reason O'Quinn went in the second round. Whether it is questions about his competition or some physical tools he may lack, O'Quinn is not guaranteed to be any answer. He is solid but not spectacular. He should improve some, but not much. O'Quinn is right near his ceiling it appears.
Why is that?
O'Quinn is not overly athletic or overly big. He has size and he knows how to use it, but he is not overwhelmingly big and not overwhelmingly athletic. He is going to have to learn how to position himself in the post and for rebounds to find the same kind of success he did in college. That is not always the easiest thing to do. Some trial and error might be necessary.
He has to put on muscle obviously to play consistently at the next level too. There is no doubt about that. Another normal thing for young players. And there is the ceiling problem. O'Quinn is who he is at this point and you are not going to expect a whole lot of improvement. As he learns basketball, he is going to improve. I am not saying he will not improve. But it does not seem like he will be more than a rebounder and grinder.
There is nothing wrong with that. It just seems like he is destined to be a career backup center and not a starter, except in emergencies.
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Final Word: O'Quinn is being brought in to be the Magic's backup center. He is going to get a chance to do that for the Magic next year if he plays well in Summer League and at training camp. If you manage expectations for him, you will be pleased.
O'Quinn is a guy who is willing to work hard and do a lot of the dirty work. His specialty is going to have to be rebounding and defense. The offense will come for him, but it is not likely to be something he will be depended upon for -- although he seems capable of it.
The key for O'Quinn is going to be building strength and improving his rebounding. If he learns how to really fight for position and grind on the glass, he will be a solid backup player in the NBA. And that is all the Magic expect from him at this point.