Now that the season is over, it is time to review the last five months. This is our yearly look back at what went right and what went wrong during the 2013-14 season.
When the Magic drafted Kyle O’Quinn in the second round of the 2012 Draft, the fan base might have said: “Who?”
Sure, some may have remembered the energetic power forward helped lead Norfolk State to an upset over second-seeded Missouri in the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament before falling to Florida (he did not play well in that game). He made a name for himself among Magic fans with his never-back-down attitude that had him going toe-to-toe with heralded rookie Andre Drummond.
O’Quinn though always seemed on shaky ground. As shaky as any second round player. He had to earn his minutes and his spot on the roster every day in practice. That endeared him to Magic fans almost immediately. It also probably helped him gain the favor of his coaches. Or maybe his play just did that.
Rob Hennigan added to his growing lore as a scout and talent evaluator with the way O’Quinn emerged as the season went on.
O’Quinn’s raw numbers are relatively tame — 6.2 points per game, 5.3 rebounds per game on 50.1 percent shooting. His per 36 minute numbers were also pretty tame — 13.0 points per 36 (down from last year), 11.0 rebounds per 36. That did not quite capture his impact for the Magic or what got him playing time.
O’Quinn is not a particularly gifted offensive player. His offense was limited to putback and pick and pop jumpers. The Magic were not running a whole lot of post ups for him — he had 52 possessions posting up and had 126 and the roll man on pick and rolls for 0.94 points per possession according to Synergy. His impact was so much more than that and more than what numbers can encapsulate.
This is a guy that came into the league with almost zero expectations who was comfortably starting at the end of the year ahead of Tobias Harris. He was the player that gained and earned Jacque Vaughn’s trust and demanded playing time with the energy he brought to each possession.
He had a 16.5 PER for the Magic this season and 2.5 win shares, which for a team with 23 wins should be pretty impressive and ranked sixth on the team ahead of even Victor Oladipo.
Again, numbers do not quite encapsulate O’Quinn’s impact and his improvement.
By leaps and bounds, though, O’Quinn seemed to be the one player that gained more playing time and more trust. He found his place on the team and probably in the league with his solid timing on blocking shots around the rim and his desire and will to work and do the little plays teams need to win. As his play increased as the season went along, O’Quinn’s production also increased. He was not just a small-minute boost, he was a legitimate rotation player.
If there was one extremely bright spot all season it was O’Quinn and his continued improvement.