Philadelphia 76ers: What can Kyle O’Quinn offer as the playoffs approach?

Philadelphia 76ers Kyle O'Quinn (Photo by Matteo Marchi/Getty Images)
Philadelphia 76ers Kyle O'Quinn (Photo by Matteo Marchi/Getty Images) /

What can Kyle O’Quinn offer the Philadelphia 76ers?

Kyle O’Quinn isn’t like the majority of the Philadelphia 76ers‘ bench unit. As a veteran big eight years into his career, he is one of the few players on this roster who isn’t there for their potential or youth.

Instead, O’Quinn’s vibrant personality and natural positivity is the main reason he’s found himself securing a spot on this team. For the entirety of his career, O’Quinn has possessed an infectious smile and has grown into a fan favorite over the course of all four of his East Coast stops throughout his career.

However, in Philadelphia’s recent scrimmage against Oklahoma City, O’Quinn found himself playing significant minutes instead of filling in his typical role of entertaining his teammates on the bench and flashing a few funny expressions after an emphatic Joel Embiid slam or flashy Ben Simmons assist.

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Although typical rotations seem to be something of a foreign concept in the midst of these recent scrimmages (as proven by Mike Malone’s hilariously unorthodox starting five in Denver,) it was still nice to see O’Quinn get some time on the court to show what he could offer to the franchise basketball-wise.

He didn’t disappoint, either. In around 10 minutes of playing time, O’Quinn racked up four points, five rebounds, and an assist. A strong rebounder and above-average passer for Centers, this stat line seemed to perfectly encapsulate all the positives of Kyle’s game.

Most impressively, O’Quinn didn’t record any fouls or turnovers during the game, two of his biggest weaknesses back when he was playing major minutes for the Magic and Knicks a few years back. In the past, O’Quinn has frequently appeared like a fish out of water who made a ton of bonehead plays that would headline that week’s edition of Shaqtin-a-Fool.

Being a Knicks fan, I remember having to hold my breath whenever he was involved in any play for the team, but when watching him again in the recent scrimmage, his game appeared a lot more smooth and controlled. As the big man evolved from a young prospect into a vet, this part of his game has appeared to of improved vastly.

In the clip above, O’Quinn picks up the pace around the 5:20 mark and doesn’t look back for the rest of the game. The big man’s offensive ferocity, followed by defensive struggles are clear.

The defensive performance of O’Quinn this game needs to be addressed. Being a traditional center who is a stellar shot blocker and paint defender, he seemed a bit out of his element when he found himself tasked with defending Mike Muscala, a center who’s game is highlighted by his 3-point shot and general outside game.

Muscala knocked down two 3’s on O’Quinn, who didn’t contest either all that well. During both plays, O’Quinn can be seen racing towards Muscala in a panic, too late to do anything to alter his defender’s shot. This is a major issue. In an era where most centers are comfortable stepping back beyond the 3-point arc and launching a few triples, it has never been more important for bigs to be able to prevent their opponent from doing so.

O’Quinn has to get used to defending centers that are known for their outside touch closely regardless of if they are near the rim.

The final verdict 

With all that out of the way, we have to ask ourselves the question: can Kyle O’Quinn offer anything to Philadelphia in the playoffs? Last season with Indiana, the answer was an emphatic no. Playing just one game two total minutes, it was difficult to extract or say anything out of his performance. Hopefully, this playoff run is different.

Being a third-string center who also has to battle for playing time with the likes of Al Horford, Ben Simmons (now that he’s a power forward,) and Mike Scott, it seems unlikely. But if the time ever does come this year where Brett Brown feels ambitious enough to insert Kyle into a game, he’s proven to us that he can be an energetic hustle player able to control the mood of his team.

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O’Quinn will battle to the end for a rebound, can consistently knock down a mid-range jumper, and has the pass vision bested by only a handful of centers in the league. Sure, he’s far from a perfect player, but if the Sixers want to play him for five-or-so minutes a night, I don’t see what the harm would be.