The 2015/16 NBA season has not been the best for Joe Ingles, when it comes to playing time. From an average of 21.2 minutes last season, he's only seeing the hardwood 14.8 minutes a night these days. Despite his shortened minutes, the Jazz swingman knows he has to stay ready for his team, and step up to the plate when the occasion arrives.
That opportunity presented itself, when Gordon Hayward's recent plantar fasciitis woes created a vacuum within the team; namely, the need for a veteran playmaker who could create for the team, and defend key opponents as needed. Jingles found himself defending the likes of LeBron James in mid-March, and had a breakout season high in 15 points against the 76ers the game after.
Hayward's subsequent return to the court triggered a drop in Ingles' court time, but the Australian forward continued to contribute. He had 8 points in 15 minutes in the Jazz's latest win, a road game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, which included this sequence where he took the ball away from rookie guard Tyus Jones, and finished with an easy slam in transition.
During an interview with Jazz beat writer Jody Genessy of the Deseret News, Ingles was frank about the consistency in routine he maintained throughout the season, regardless of the minutes he had.
“I was obviously still coming to the gym doing my normal routine, even more sometimes,” he said. “With less minutes, (I’m) just trying to stay ready."
The bench rotation obviously differs from game to game, and uncertainty is a way of life for a player in the reserve unit.
"You don’t want your team to be injured, but that’s how it’s kind of happened for me over two years," Ingles commented. His recent minutes spike came about with Hayward's unfortunate injury, but he agreed on that fact that you had to stay ready, regardless of the circumstances.
"When ever that opportunity comes, just try to stay ready.”
That state of mind is exactly what Jazz coach Quin Snyder is looking for.
“When you come off the bench in the NBA, that’s your job is to stay ready," Snyder said. "Your job is to keep your skills current.”
Ingles' state of readiness and level of professionalism has surely impressed coach Snyder, and he knows he can count on Slo-Mo Joe to deliver the goods, whenever his number is called.
“Whether Joe plays 25 minutes or seven minutes, he’s got [to] play a certain way during [these] minutes,” Snyder said. “That’s how you get six steals. He’s throwing himself in the defensive end.”
Ingles has not seen more than 20 minutes of play since Hayward's return. Could the situation change once more? Possibly, but it all depends on opportunity.
Like Jingles says, it's all about staying ready.