The friendly bearded giant made arguably the biggest step of any of the Magic’s young players this season. After struggling to get playing time early in the season, O’Quinn found his way back into the rotation, and in a big way. He continued to work hard and grow his game on both ends, eventually finding his way into the starting lineup by season’s end.
O’Quinn isn’t he biggest threat on the offensive end, but possesses an innate ability in passing the ball, finding cutting teammates with ease. He also showed consistency with his mid-range jumper, and an ability to go and bang down low with anyone. While his true shooting and effective field goal percentages went down, O’Quinn’s PER jumped from 15.8 his rookie season, to 16.5 this year.
The biggest growth for O’Quinn was on the defensive end. According to SynergySports, the Norfolk State grad gave up the fourth fewest points per possession guarding the roll man in pick and rolls, giving up just 0.64 points per possession. Furthermore, O’Quinn finished 82 in the league overall, giving up a mere 0.82 points per possession.
O’Quinn also ranks highly on NBA.com’s SportsVU defensive impact. Of players who finished the season with 70 or more blocks, O’Quinn ranks eighth in opponent field goal percentage at the rim, allowing opponents to shoot just 46.2 percent this season. That ranks him above some of the league’s best defensive big men, including Joakim Noah, Dwight Howard, Anthony Davis and DeAndre Jordan, just to name several.
The former second round pick was asked how much pride he takes in his improvement from year one to year two – “I take a lot in it. I mean, I go in the gym everyday to, you know, get to the highest level of what my position and opportunity may bring, so I would try to take advantage of it, so I’m happy with what I’ve done. But, like coach said, I want more. That comes with continuing to work and as a team just winning games and really really showing what our hard work has done.”
Needless to say, O’Quinn’s jump is a pleasant one for the growing Magic team. He’s still got room to grow and needs to become more cognizant of not committing some silly fouls, but that will come with time. For now, Orlando will enjoy the steal they got and help him to continue to grow into an even better player.