An NCAA Tournament Champion during his senior season at Duke, Canton Charge guard and recently-named D-League Rookie of the Year Quinn Cook is no stranger to the pressure that comes with do-or-die scenarios. He's going to be facing another one of these head on, this time at the professional level as the Charge take on the Goliath that is the Sioux Falls Skyforce.
During Game 1 of the series, the Charge had Sioux Falls on the ropes, but a 14-point advantage in the fourth quarter was enough to give the Skyforce the crucial victory. As the team heads into a must-win scenario on the road, a place where Sioux Falls only lost three times in during the regular season, the Charge are going to be looking for the rookie Cook to take the lead.
Up to this point, he has taken the intensity of the playoffs and thrived, exceeding his season averages in just about every measurable fashion. His work on the offensive end helped the Charge make quick work of the Maine Red Claws and he performed well in the opening game against Sioux Falls despite the team coming up short in the end.
Throughout the playoffs thus far, Cook has seen has scoring average jump from a respectable 19.6 during the regular season to All-Star levels of 27.3 points per game. While he's been able to keep his 38% three-point field goal percentage, his overall efficiency has improved by 9% to an astounding 55% in the playoffs, a remarkable number for a guard that has been shooting as often as he has.
He has been able to score in a number of ways over the past few games, but it has been his ability to get to the rim and finish that is truly propelling him to this upper-echelon level of play. After shooting 60% from less than five feet during the regular season, he's hitting at a 73% clip in the playoffs and with that, he's seen his shooting in the Restricted Area jump 15%, all the way to 78%.
What's potentially even more impressive is the fact that he's been able to hit his layups with such regularity in the postseason. While he shot a respectable 67% on these shots through the 43 games he played in during the year, he's converting 81% of his attempts in the playoffs.
Although it hasn't shown by way of increased efficiency from behind the three-point line, Cook's ability to get to the rim has also positively effected the looks that he's getting away from the rim. A 37% jump shooter during the regular season, Cook has been hitting at just over 42% at the playoffs, which marks a rate higher than NBA star guards like James Harden, Damian Lillard and fellow Duke alum Kyrie Irving.
In addition to the work that he has done in the scoring department, Cook has taken his game up a level in controlling the flow of the Charge offense. He has taken the reigns of the offense drawn up by head coach Jordi Fernandez and is averaging 8.7 assists in the playoffs along with an improved assist-to-turnover ratio.
Cook, who stands just 6'2, has also been able to pitch in on the glass. Though he averaged 3.9 rebounds during the regular season, he's up to 6 per game in the playoffs, including an effort where he pulled down ten in the series-clinching game against Maine.
With their backs against the wall going up against a Sioux Falls team that has dispatched opponent after opponent this year, the Charge are going to need to find an answer. Based on the performance that he has had through the playoffs so far, along with his experience in these types of situations, Quinn Cook is going to have to be the key factor for Canton.