New York Knicks: Kyle O’Quinn Ready To Learn From Veterans


New York Knicks big man Kyle O’Quinn is ecstatic about the team’s offseason additions. Find out what he had to say about the new veterans.

Entering the 2016-17 NBA season, few players on the New York Knicks have as much to prove as Kyle O’Quinn. He clearly isn’t facing the same pressure as Carmelo Anthony, Joakim Noah, or Derrick Rose, but O’Quinn has some significant ground to make up.

Previously believed to be one of the Knicks’ most valuable reserves, O’Quinn is now in a position where he’ll need to fight for playing time.

New York already has Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis on the roster, and both players should see minutes at the 4. The Knicks have added Noah and Willy Hernangomez at center, and Mindaugas Kuzminskas is a small forward with stretch 4 potential.

According to Marc Berman of The New York Post, O’Quinn isn’t threatened by these new additions; he’s encouraged.

"“I’m excited about every year, but this year it looks so clear,’’ O’Quinn told The Post on Tuesday at the Orlando Summer League. “A lot of people will put us in there. It’ll be a different element in training camp instead of being a startup trying to shock the world. We made a lot of changes and it looks like the playoffs, but you got to put the work in.”“These guys have played in big-time games, big-time playoff series, you got the [2011] MVP on your team,’’ O’Quinn said. “Those things, you can’t take off someone’s resume. That will trickle from top to bottom and everyone’s ready to soak it in.’’"

In other words, O’Quinn isn’t concerned with what may come of his playing time; he’s viewing this as an opportunity to learn.

O’Quinn instantly won Knicks fans over in 2015-16 by displaying his well-rounded game. He’s physically capable of doing much of anything on the court, as he stands at a massive 6’10” and 250 pounds with a near 7’5″ wingspan.

When his physical gifts aren’t enough, O’Quinn has the skill to make his mark.

Unfortunately, O’Quinn lost minutes in 2015-16 because of the inconsistency with which he performed on both ends of the floor.

This coming season, O’Quinn will have an opportunity to play behind and learn from one of the NBA’s most prominent centers: Noah. The 2014 Defensive Player of the year has battled injuries in recent seasons, but his energy and effort still haven’t wavered.

O’Quinn believes that it’s a veteran like Noah who can help him learn the right way to play the game.

"“That’s his game,’’ O’Quinn said. “That’s why he’s gotten injured, because he plays like a dog. He ain’t no wuss. I think if he stays healthy, his competitive grit and grime will help guys like myself who’ve looked up to him throughout my career.”"

O’Quinn went on to comment on how he’s lost weight in an attempt to become a more reliable contributor on the defensive end of the floor:

"“Trying to trim down a little bit,’’ said O’Quinn, who recently returned from a week-long stay in Latvia to visit Porzingis. “I’m trying to stay in the best Kyle form I can be. … It just came to me, the yoga idea. Switch it up a little bit in the offseason.’’“I want to embark in that role from the start, stick with it, right from training camp and roll it out for the rest of the year,” O’Quinn said."

O’Quinn is saying all of the right things.

Team president Phil Jackson signed O’Quinn to a four-year deal worth just over $16 million in 2015-16. That contract is pocket change in the modern era, but it doesn’t change the fact that New York has invested time and money into his development.

Any player on a four-year deal has been given the faith of the organization—something they can either reward or break.

A season ago, O’Quinn did a bit of both. He finished the regular season with averages of 4.8 points, 3.8 rebounds, 1.2 offensive boards, 1.1 assists, and 0.8 blocks in just 11.8 minutes of action per game.

That translates to per 36 averages of 14.8 points, 11.8 rebounds, 3.6 offensive boards, 3.4 assists, and 2.3 blocks.

If O’Quinn can maintain those per 36 averages while increasing his workload, he can be of great help to New York’s postseason aspirations. The key will be deeper than statistics, however, as he must become a more consistent defensive player.

As for the most high-profile of new additions, O’Quinn feels lucky to even call Derrick Rose a teammate.

"“I know he’s ready to get out here and show the best form of Derrick Rose,’’ O’Quinn said. “If he stays healthy, I’m lucky to be in position to play with him.”"

Knicks fans are hoping to see the Derrick Rose that O’Quinn is alluding to.

There’s no telling how good, great, or mediocre the Knicks will be in 2016-17 until we actually get there. What’s clear, however, is that even the players who were already on the roster are excited about what could be.

If O’Quinn plays with improved consistency on defense, and is able to find his niche offensively, the rest could fall into place.

must read: Reasons to love the Mindaugas Kuzminskas signing

No matter what transpires from hereon out, the 2016-17 regular season can’t come soon enough.