Orlando Magic center Kyle O’Quinn has had to make a lot of adjustments, coming from tiny Norfolk State in Virginia, to being drafted in the second round of the NBA draft, and now to the NBA Summer League in Orlando. But perhaps the biggest adjustment has been figuring out an entirely new offensive system.
“Oh man, [I’ve learned] probably 20 plays,” O’Quinn said. “I had to throw out my whole college playbook.”
How many does he have down?
“I’m not gonna tell you,” he said, laughing.
“Not twenty, but I’m working on it.”
O’Quinn broke onto the national scene last year when his 15th seeded Norfolk State defeated heavily favored 2nd seed Missouri in the National Tournament. O’Quinn destroyed the Tigers for 26 points and 14 rebounds, so for many fans, that game was his introduction. But he doesn’t enjoy being defined by it.
“I really hate when people say that game developed me,” he said, with emphasis. “I had to be pretty developed coming into that game, you know?”
Regardless of how developed he was then, O’Quinn is certainly developed now. In his first summer league game Monday morning, O’Quinn put up 16 points on 8-10 shooting, showing not only a nice mid-range shot but also a proclivity for diving to the basket at exactly the right time in pick and rolls.
“I’m more comfortable shooting mid-range shots,” O’Quinn said. “My post game is a little immature. At school a lot of plays ran through me, so I didn’t have to use a lot of post moves. But that’s something in the making, just like my jumpshot. So hopefully in the next year or two both will be down pat.”
Though his body is a little underdeveloped (a common theme at Summer League games), O’Quinn has a good frame that should fill out with an NBA regimen. He was a vocal defender, talking constantly, warning his teammates of screens, alerting them to switches, and calling out rebounds. He also displayed excellent defensive timing, recording two blocked shots and utilizing his monstrous length and athleticism to swat the ball away.
As a post player looking for a roster spot with the Orlando Magic, it’s tempting to wonder what O’Quinn thinks about the ongoing Dwight Howard saga. But O’Quinn is focused on the task at hand.
“We go off what’s going on today, and [Howard] needs a reliable backup. I’m think I can be that,” he said. “[General manager Rob] Hennigan and Scott Perry are always looking for young talent and you want to be in those type of situations.”
But first he has to make the roster. Like every player in the Orlando Summer League, O’Quinn has to prove himself, and today, he took one step toward doing so. But he recognizes that one step isn’t nearly enough.
“You constantly have to prove yourself,” he said. “Everything someone thinks about you, you’ve got to make them believe it. They see it one time, you’ve got to show them again. They see it twice, you might have to show them a third time.”
Let’s count Norfolk State’s big victory as the first time. Today was the second.