On January 22, Joe Ingles and the Utah Jazz fell to 19-28 on the season after registering a loss to the lowly Atlanta Hawks on the road. The defeat saw the Jazz drop five games behind the eighth seeded Denver Nuggets in the West and it appeared that injuries, in addition to the loss of All-Star forward Gordon Hayward in the off season, was too much for the franchise to overcome in their hopes of making it consecutive playoff appearances.
However, fast forward almost a month and the Utah Jazz are arguably the hottest team in the league – winning 11 straight games to rally their overall record to 30-28. While the Jazz still occupy the 10th seed in the Western Conference, they sit just 1.5 games back of a playoff spot and the latest ESPN BPI Playoff predictions have Utah pegged as a 71.6 percent chance to make the post season – a higher percentage than that of Denver, Portland, New Orleans and the LA Clippers.
Utah’s sudden resurgence can be credited to multiple positive factors that have fallen into place at the right time. Star centre Rudy Gobert has seemingly recaptured his unparalleled form defensively after missing the early part if the season with a knee injury, while Ricky Rubio has once again seen an uptick in his scoring prowess. The emergence of rookie Donovan Mitchell combined with the structures of lauded head coach Quin Snyder has in place for his squad are all fueling the current 11 game win streak Utah finds themselves on.
In addition to those factors, Aussie Joe Ingles, often deemed the ultimate glue guy on a basketball team, has played a significant role in Utah’s significant upswing in play.
Over the course of Utah’s 11 game win streak, Ingles is shooting a remarkable 54.2 percent from three, and has averaged 15.9 points per game since the Jazz’s loss to the Hawks in mid-January. The Aussie is knocking down 49.1 percent of his three-point attempts from the top of the key, while shooting 63.6 percent from the left corner and a ridiculous 83.3 percent from the right side. (Although, it must be noted most of his attempts have come from the top of they key, as opposed to shooting 5 of 6 from the right corner.)
To put that in perspective, Ingles’ overall percentage from three over the last 11 games is equal first out of the entire NBA of those that play over 30 minutes a night– alongside fellow Jazz teammate Ricky Rubio. Noted sharpshooters Klay Thompson, JR Smith and Devin Booker have connected on 46.2, 47.9 and 42.2 percent of their three pointers over the same time span, respectively.
On the season, Ingles currently sits second in the league in three-point percentage at 45.3 percent, just behind Thompson who is connecting at a 45.4 percent clip.
To further demonstrate how hot Ingles has been over this winning streak, the Aussie has the fourth highest true shooting percentage in the league across the last three weeks of those players logging 20 minutes or more game time. Ingles’ true shooting percentage, a stat that considers free throws, three pointers and field goals, sits at 71.5 percent during the win streak.
In comparison to the rest of the league, Ingles’ true shooting percentage registers as the fourth best over the last 11 games. Only Jarret Allen at 72.8 percent, and Ed Davis and Rodney Hood at 72.7 percent, have a better percentage while playing over 20 minutes. Considering that both Jarret Allen and Ed Davis get most of their shots around the rim, Ingles’ 71.5 percent clip is mightily impressive.
The schedule for the Jazz over the course of the win streak hasn’t been easy, either. Eight of the 11 wins have come on the road – including victories over Toronto, San Antonio and Portland. The Jazz also blew the Warriors out 129-99 at home. As a team, Utah has a Net Rating of 14.6 – the highest in the league over that span. They are averaging 111.5 points per game which is an additional eight points better than their season points average of 103.5.
Again, Joe Ingles comes off handsomely when looking at his individual Net Rating in recent weeks. Net Rating is the measurement of a team’s point differential over 100 possessions, and when applied to an individual player, it shows the difference in scoring when that player is on the court as opposed to them sitting on the bench. Ingles has a Net Rating of 21.7 over the previous 11 games, meaning the Utah Jazz are 21.7 points better per 100 possessions when Jingling Joe is on the floor.
Yes, that is as insane as it sounds.
Ingles’ Net Rating over the last 11 games is identical to that of Houston Rockets superstar Chris Paul, and equal fourth highest in the league of those players that play over 20 minutes a game (Fred VanVleet, Jakob Poetl and Ricky Rubio occupy the top three places).
Basketball Reference’s current Playoff Probabilities report has the Jazz finishing the season as the eighth seed in the West with a record of 44-38. If Utah does end up making the post season, it could mean that eight of the nine Aussie players in the NBA will feature in the playoffs – with the expectation that Andrew Bogut signs with a playoff bound squad. The lone Aussie to potentially miss the playoffs may be Mangok Mathiang, who is currently a two-way player with the Hornets.
While Ingles and the Jazz may regress back to the median somewhat post All-Star break, their recent play shows they are certainly capable of operating at an elite level.
The Jazz return to action against the Trail Blazers on Saturday 1pm AEST.