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Kyle O'Quinn should blossom with the Knicks

O'Quinn's 4-year, $16 million is my favorite Knicks signing yet.

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Kyle O'Quinn hasn't produced much yet in the NBA. In irregular minutes as a Magicman, he showed the basic dexterity and willingness to do most things, but never quite embraced a role. Over the next 3-4 years in New York, O'Quinn will hopefully earn more stable work, and find an effective niche for himself in the process.

O'Quinn is 25. He is a large gentleman -- around 6'10 and easily 250 pounds, with broad shoulders, a 7'5 wingspan, and often sports a beard you or I could comfortably sleep inside. He smiles constantly.

O'Quinn grew up in Queens, then attended Norfolk State for 4 years, winning MEAC DPOY as a junior. He shot threes regularly in college, though with decreasing accuracy (from quite good to quite horrible) each season. The jewel of O'Quinn's fine college career was the Spartans' famous upset of Missouri in 2012, in which he dropped 26 and 14 and played grief counselor for Phil Pressey:


(Eric Francis/Getty Images)

He kills you, then he hugs you so tenderly you forget you're dead.

Orlando picked O'Quinn 49th in 2012, the same draft in which they selected Andrew Nicholson. The Magic frontcourt stayed crowded with youth throughout O'Quinn's career, and his developmental trajectory sorta vacillated within it. His second season was perhaps most exciting. While Nicholson's production flagged, O'Quinn distinguished himself as an adequate defensive anchor and rebounder who could help manage space on the other end. His go-to post move has always been "turn around and be huge," (and it's worked!) but a station away from the rim uncovered that polished face-up game -- a handsome if not-that-accurate 16-footer, a sense for screens, and some truly lovely passes.

This video is from the season prior, O'Quinn's rookie year, but it exhibits his adroitness from the top of the key. Whether rolling or facing up, he's got a smooth release, an eye for cutters, and a hard dribble or two if it's available:

Last season should have been O'Quinn's breakout year, but it didn't go so hot. He sprained his ankle in the first game of the season and sat almost all of November. When he returned, Jacque Vaughn had O'Quinn pop out to the three-point line more often to see if he could recover some of that freshman year magic. He did not -- shooting .8 threes a night and hitting 28 percent of them. Basically one three-pointer a week.

James Borrego replaced Vaughn in February and had less time for O'Quinn, whose year wound down with a lot of minutes lost to Dewayne Dedmon, an even bigger gentleman who blocks shots better than he does.

And so he's a Knick. Orlando opted not to match New York's long but reasonably-priced 4-year/$16 million offer, instead using their RFA rights to extort some cash and a future second-round pick swap. Everybody wins!

I like this signing a lot. New York's rotation and system are still taking shape, but they look on track to accommodate O'Quinn. He should play, and he should find opportunities to deploy his versatility. O'Quinn's passing ability alone befits Derek Fisher's most basic sets; I can picture him filling every point in the Triangle, like making reads from the elbow while Carmelo Anthony or (former teammate!) Arron Afflalo posts up on the strong side. I hope the Knicks will test that jump shot. If he can hit it, hooooo-wee, could O'Quinn be a problem. But even without competent shooting, I like him as a screener and facilitator away from the basket, both in Triangle and high pick-and-roll sets.

And the more I read about O'Quinn, the more I think he could be a reliable cog in a solid team defense, if ever the Knicks employ one. His range isn't suited for a goalkeeping role, but he'll guard his man, and he'll talk and move his feet in a sound pick-and-roll coverage. His tendency to foul may be the big thing limiting him on that end. At the very least, he'll grab some rebounds.

I think you're gonna enjoy having Kyle O'Quinn around. He's fun, he's fuzzy, he's got a variety of talents, and he seems like a natural fit. O'Quinn's contract makes perfect sense for a player of his age and background, so now it's on the Knicks coaches to make the front office look brilliant. If this staff has any knack for honing big men, they could pull a ton of value from a relatively minor signing. I think he could be really good.