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Kyle O’Quinn finds his role

Kim Klement/USA TODAY
Kim Klement/USA TODAY

It has been quite a month for Kyle O'Quinn.

Ever since the Magic bought out Glen Davis on Feb. 20, O'Quinn is averaging about 19.0 minutes per game and producing 8.4 points and 7.0 rebounds per game. O'Quinn's impact has gone beyond the numbers. He is the oil that squeaks the wheels for the second unit in very many ways.

The ascendance for O'Quinn has been quite amazing. He took to basketball late and went to little-known Norfolk State, where he helped the Spartans upset the second-seeded Tigers in the NCAA Tournament. The Magic drafted him in the second round and nobody quite knew what to expect.

What the Magic have gotten is a player who brings a ton of energy and, surprisingly, basketball smarts. He works well out of the high post and is a skilled passer, gaining increasing chemistry with the young players like Tobias Harris and Maurice Harkless. 

That has helped O'Quinn cement a deeper spot in the rotation with this Magic team and, perhaps, answer some long-term questions about his place on the team. O'Quinn is slowly having his role defined more and more for him. He is finding a place in the NBA.

"I put in the same work any other pro would put in I guess," O'Quinn said. "I put in a little extra sometimes to get myself over. It's all coming together because I'm learning while I'm doing it. It's not like I'm doing it just for people to see or people to notice. I'm doing it so I can get better. I feel like I do deserve it. So, I'll continue to do what I'm doing."

O'Quinn has done a lot of learning when it comes to the NBA game. It is not easy to go from tiny Norfolk State to the NBA and have things click into place this quickly.

Jacque Vaughn has a lot of trust in O'Quinn. That has become evident as he told Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel earlier this week:

His ability to pass the basketball is pretty unique, especially with a guy that started the game late. We've now made him our inbounder at the end of games a lot of times just because of his ability. . . . The basketball feels comfortable in his hands. As he continues to play more, he'll continue to get more comfortable, and hopefully we'll see a lot more from him.

O'Quinn said it means a lot to be given that role of inbounding the ball late in games. It says a lot about his passing ability and how quickly he has risen the ranks.

On a per 36 minute basis, O'Quinn is averaging 13.8 points and 13.1 rebounds on 51.4 percent shooting in the last 10 games. He has posted an offensive rating of 103.5 with him on the floor the last 10 games. O'Quinn is a net positive. He is carving more of a niche with this team and O'Quinn is not the kind to let those opportunities slip away.

He has had to scratch and claw his way into the NBA. Nothing has been given for O'Quinn. It has all been earned.

And O'Quinn will probably have to earn it all over again when the season starts next year — he can hit restricted free agency this summer. That is the nature of the NBA.

For now, O'Quinn's spot with the Magic is firmly entrenched and he is contributing in a very positive manner.

Philip Rossman-Reich

About Philip Rossman-Reich

Philip Rossman-Reich is the managing editor for Crossover Chronicles and Orlando Magic Daily. You can follow him on twitter @OMagicDaily

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