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Aussies in NBA: Where does Joe Ingles fit in the Utah puzzle?
It may just be a case of Slo-Mo Joe v Iso Joe in the battle for minutes at the backup small forward/shooting guard positions in Utah. There is no doubt that the acquisition of Joe Johnson will have an effect on the way Utah utilises Joe Ingles in the 2016/17 NBA season.
To say Ingles relies on his three-point shooting is an understatement. A massive 71.9% of his shots last season came from beyond the arc. With the league increasingly turning into a three-point contest, there is no doubt that teams need three-point specialists. But with the addition of Johnson, and the overall upward trend that Ingles' young teammates are on, the need for Ingles to be more than just a three-point shooter is obvious.
His Olympic campaign wasn't great, highlighted by his woeful three-point shooting - connecting on just 4/24 shots (16.7%) from beyond the arc for the entire tournament. In what was a positive and maybe a sign of things to come, Ingles took it upon himself to shoot more from the inside, when his shot wasn't falling from the outside. The results were very encouraging; Ingles ended up shooting 77% on two-point field goal attempts for the tournament.
Obviously his role in Utah is different to when he is wearing the green and gold for the Boomers. His scoring is relied upon more by the Boomers - taking just over 6 shots per game over the course of the Olympics, compared to just 3.6 shots for the Jazz.
This is where Johnson comes into the fray. He is a scorer, a more accomplished and proven scorer than Ingles. So he will be taking not just shots from Ingles, but minutes too.
With Johnson on the court, Utah have more options. Whilst 71.9% of Ingles' shots were from beyond the arc last season, Johnson can create his own shots and from all over the court, with a more well-rounded 35.9% of his shots coming from deep.
Ingles needs to add more to his offensive arsenal. Whilst it is obvious that his role on the Utah team is to shoot threes and space the floor on the wings, he needs to force the coaches to give him a bigger role - and there's only one way to do that.
Take care of the outside shooting - he needs to improve on the 38.6% 3PT shooting from last season - and then when he steps inside the arc, take his shots and drive to the basket with more purpose.
As seen in the Olympics against Serbia, the Serbs were happy to leave Ingles open on the outside because of his struggles. This will continue in the NBA if he can't make his shots early and before long he could find himself stuck on the bench - especially with options aplenty with Gordon Hayward, Rodney Hood, George Hill and Johnson on the roster.
Last season, Ingles had the third best 3PT shooting percentage on the team (behind Alec Burks and Raul Neto). Even more so than Johnson, Hill adds outside shooting, and after shooting over 40% from downtown for Indiana last season, he is another man who teammates will be looking for on the wings.
There is no doubt that Ingles brings more than just his basketball prowess to this up-and-coming Utah team. He is widely regarded around the league as one of the best teammates in the NBA. Along with his leadership on and off the court, Ingles is just a great glue guy to have on your team.
This season Utah needs Ingles to be more than a glue guy though. He is never going to be a guy that averages 20 points a game, but he can and should be the guy that shoots over 40% from downtown and over 45% overall.
The goal for this Utah Jazz team is the playoffs, and anything less than that will be a failure. Whilst Ingles' role may be smaller than last season (15 minutes per game), he will still have a say on the fortunes of this Utah Jazz team.