Kyle O’Quinn is destined for greater things. He seems preordained to give a championship caliber team 15-20 quality, productive minutes off the bench every night, not to see his minutes fluctuate wildly on a game to game basis for a 31-win shitshow of a team like the Knicks.
O’Quinn very clearly worked his ass off during the offseason, and showed up for 2016-17 better at pretty much every facet of his game. He is exactly what any team needs in a backup big. He brings energy and intensity off the bench, not to mention shot blocking and offensive rebounding at starter-level rates in limited minutes. This is not to say that O’Quinn is a starting caliber player. He certainly can start, but odds are your team kinda sucks if he has to.
O’Quinn averaged 6.3 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks in 15.6 minutes per game. Per 36 minutes, these numbers jump to 14.5/12.9/3.0, a line that nobody other than O’Quinn managed this season. His shot blocking ability makes these per 36 numbers so unique. Several players averaged at least 14 points and 12 rebounds per 36, but none averaged three blocks, and only Rudy Gobert and Hassan Whiteside averaged over two.
He was definitely serviceable offensively, posting a 55.2 True Shooting Percentage and displaying improved touch around the rim, shooting 66% between 0-3 feet. He’s able to make jump shots from pretty much anywhere inside the three point line, but ideally you want him shooting from 10 feet and in.
O’Quinn’s most valuable skill, though, is his offensive rebounding. He posted a top-15 ORB%, and tied Enes Kanter and teammate Willy Hernangomez for the league’s 9th most offensive rebounds per 36 minutes (4.6).
His best game this season, a 118-114 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on December 2nd, was an amalgam of everything that makes him so valuable off the bench.
O’Quinn started in place of the shockingly injured Joakim Noah and finished with 20 points on 9-11 shooting, 14 rebounds (including seven offensive rebounds), and two blocks in a season-high 31 minutes. One of his seven OREBs came during a sequence that I believe epitomizes Kyle O’Quinn, and I’ve immortalized it in GIF form below so I can watch it on an endless loop forever.
If anyone ever asks you to describe Kyle O’Quinn as a player, don’t say a word. Just show them this GIF.
O’Quinn chased down a Derrick Rose missed free throw and emerged with the ball, SCREAMING at the top of his lungs, from the middle of three Minnesota players. Look at him. He looks like he’s about to straight up pop the ball like a Monstar. Why anyone would ever try to take the ball from him after this is beyond me. This is a dude who relishes the opportunity to make hustle plays when he sees his opponents lose focus even for a moment. He lives for this shit.
O’Quinn shouldn’t be a Knick next year and we shouldn’t want him to be for a couple reasons. One is that he deserves better. The other is that he is low key the Knicks’ most valuable non-Kristaps, non-Willy asset, and they should absolutely be looking to move him to a good team for late draft picks.
Kyle O’Quinn made $3.9 million last season and posted a 3.5 box plus/minus. Here’s a list of some players who made at least twice as much money as Kyle O’Quinn this season:
- Tyler Zeller—$8.0 million, -2.5 BPM
- Kosta Koufos—$8.0 million, -1.9 BPM
- Tiago Splitter—$8.5 million, played 76 minutes
- Meyers Leonard—$9.2 million, -3.4 BPM
- Alec Burks—$10.1 million, -4.2 BPM
- Monta Ellis—$10.7 million, -2.3 BPM
- Miles Plumlee—$12.5 million, -2.5 BPM
- Arron Afflalo—$12.5 million, -3.5 BPM
- Brandon Knight— $12.6 million, -4.5 BPM
- Jeff Green—$15.0 million, -4.6 BPM
- Enes Kanter—$17.1 million, -1.2 BPM
- Luol Deng—$18.0 million, -2.5 BPM
He’s set to make just $4 million next season with the salary cap projected at $101 million. Front offices dream about a player as productive as O’Quinn that takes up less than 4% of the salary cap. He would be perfect on the Spurs, Cavs, Warriors, Wizards, Celtics, and just about every good team in the league. He would give any of these teams added flexibility to chase free agents or sign currently rostered players to massive extensions without any decrease in bench production.
Hopefully now you understand my vision for Kyle O’Quinn’s future, and why I hope it doesn’t feature him in a Knicks uniform. He’s a criminally underpaid player capable of high-level production in limited minutes. Knicks players are supposed to be criminally overpaid starters incapable of high-level production. O’Quinn just doesn’t fit in to the culture this franchise has built over the past 17 or so years.