Joe Ingles entered the NBA with question marks over his ability to perform at the level. Now, fresh off the best basketball season of his career, he is one of the most effective offensive players in the sport.
Ingles, a career 41.6% three-point shooter at the NBA level, has quickly elevated into one of the deadliest shooters in basketball. Since Ingles entered the NBA in 2014, only four players have a higher conversion percentage from three-point range. They are Kyle Korver, J.J. Redick, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson; a quartet otherwise known as four of the greatest shooters in NBA history. As a pure shooter, the Australian’s performance stacks up with the very best.
While Ingles obviously doesn’t have a herky-jerky handle like Curry, and isn’t a fast twitch slasher like Korver or Redick, he is able to space the floor and boost the Jazz offence in his own way. Ingles’ dribble-drive game still catches opposition teams off guard. He also possess an uncanny knack of finding the tiniest of crevices within the defence, a skill leveraged through a professional career that now spans 13 years. These skills ensure Ingles shines as a playmaker.
He's not the sort to loaf off-ball either - observe how Ingles scrambled quickly into shooting position, right after handing the ball off to Rudy Gobert.
This talent elevated last season with the emergence of Donovan Mitchell and arrival of Ricky Rubio; two lead guards who are capable of breaking down the defence and generating team-wide offence. Unsurprisingly, 65% of Ingles’ made threes last season came via an assist from Mitchell or Rubio. Increased playmaking from the Jazz’s lead guards created a series of opportunities that Ingles capitalised upon.
A further dive into Ingles’ shooting profile, reveals that Quin Snyder’s offence presented him with ample opportunities to show off. Of the 464 three-point attempts Ingles launched during the regular season, 444 (or 96%) were classified as “open” or “wide open,” per NBA.com’s shot tracking data. While Ingles showed the potential of his off-the-dribble shooting during the playoffs - most notably in a career best Game 2 against the Houston Rockets – finishing the work of his teammates remains his NBA bread and butter. Only 31 of Ingles three-point field goals were unassisted last season.
Ingles is more than capable of attacking hard closeouts off the dribble, something he has improved over his NBA career. With the Jazz steadily improving under Snyder, there is now less urgency for this talent, as the looks being generated for Ingles require little thought. He is rightfully confident in relying on a deadly jump shot to boost Utah’s offence.
The accelerated development of Ingles’ shooting came to the forefront during the playoffs in April. He enjoyed a breakout series against Paul George, and while the basketball world got a glimpse of the many talents that make Ingles a bona fide NBA starter, his steadfast jumpshot – and truth be told, all around playmaking skills – delivered his biggest offensive explosion at the NBA level.
After a circumspect opening to the series against the Oklahoma City Thunder – Ingles totalled a meagre 16 points and 3 assists over the first two games – his offence came to life once the series shifted to Salt Lake City. In Games 3 and 4, the Australian shot 50% on a stupendous 10.5 attempts per game from three point range as the Jazz jumped clear of the Thunder. All told, with Ingles on the court in round 1, the Jazz posted a net rating of plus 19.0. In the 76 minutes when Ingles rested, this submarined to a minus 28.9.
The Australian’s impact is amplified given his reliability across the length of an NBA season. Ingles has played 324 out of a possible 328 regular season games since entering the NBA. Only Andrew Wiggins has played more games during this period, and Ingles, having played 222 consecutive games dating back to December 2015, holds one of the longest active games played streaks.
The Jazz will once again be relying on Ingles’ lethal offensive talents as they seek a return to the Western Conference Finals for the first time since 2007.