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It’s Jingles Time.

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Joe Ingles has gone from fringe NBA player to role player and now to a three point and defensive specialist. Is Joe Ingles now a legitimate NBA starter?

NBA: Utah Jazz at Phoenix Suns Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

I come before you in need of forgiveness. Two years ago when the Utah Jazz signed Joe Ingles and he somehow found minutes in Quin Snyder’s rotation, I thought it was the most ludicrous decision of Quin Snyder’s coaching tenure. I looked at Joe Ingles as Quin Snyder’s crutch. I saw Joe Ingles sort of like Dante Exum’s Hagrid—not qualified enough to be on the court, but he was the idol of the chosen #5 pick. I said terrible things like:

In my snarky commentary, I doubted Quin Snyder’s staff’s ability to develop talent. Moreover, I never thought Joe Ingles would improve. Joe Ingles entered the NBA as a 26 year old rookie from the Australian Basketball League. The chances of improvement I perceived from there were slim to none. I saw Joe Ingles merely as a way of helping young Dante Exum make the incredibly difficult transition from High School to NBA.

But I’d like to point out I wasn’t alone. DraftExpress had this summary on Joe Ingles in 2009 when Ingles tried to make the leap from Australian Basketball league to the NBA:

Ingles’ perimeter shot wasn’t falling for him right from the get-go—partially due to poor shot-selection, but also because of the fact that he seemed to lose his confidence after he had a few open looks rim out. ... Defensively Ingles seemed limited guarding the perimeter, and there are plenty of question marks regarding his ability to defend his position at the NBA level.

Fast forward to the present and Joe Ingles has gone from out of place role player to reliable bench player in a pinch to reliable role player to 3 & D specialist. That’s not just amazing but incredibly improbable, yet here we are.

The improvement that Joe Ingles has shown from his first game until now is remarkable. I have eaten my words and I’m all aboard the Joe Ingles 3 point specialist hype train. Joe Ingles this season has been so good that when he checks in for Rodney Hood it doesn’t feel like a drop off. It speaks volumes about Joe Ingles’ improvement that we can say that.

When Rodney Hood went down with his knee hyperextension Joe Ingles stepped and filled in remarkably. He has averaged 8 points, 3 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2.7 steals with a +/- of +8.7 the last 3 games. Those might not seem impressive, but go into the advanced stats and you see why Joe Ingles is so valuable. Over the past 3 games he has an offensive rating of 113.3 and a defensive rating of 102.3. His usage rate is merely a 10.7%.

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Utah Jazz Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Rodney Hood averages better statistical numbers, but he has a glaring flaw, his offensive/defensive ratings and his net rating. Hood has an offensive rating of 103 and a defensive rating of 107 resulting in a net rating of -4 in 2017. For that reason I’m advocating something dramatic when Rodney Hood returns from injury.

Keep Joe Ingles in the starting lineup.

Joe Ingles is the perfect compliment for the starting lineup. He’s a tenacious defender. Over the past 3 games alone he has racked up 8 steals. His low usage rate makes his efficiency that more remarkable. He does more with less and with a lineup that includes George Hill, Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, and Rudy Gobert the Jazz don’t need a high usage player like Hood there.

This is not a knock on Rodney Hood, it’s a matter of using players where they can be most effective. Rodney Hood is a 22% usage rate player. When played with Hill, Hayward, Favors, and Gobert, that type of player can’t thrive. Think of James Harden with OKC’s lineup of old. James Harden came off the bench so he could still be a high usage player and not minimize a lineup that consisted of high usage guys like Westbrook and Durant.

Quin Snyder has developed the perfect 3 and D player to compliment his starting lineup. Joe Ingles at the 2 guard position is a great fit. He’s 6’8 with a wingspan of 6’10. Can space the floor, but more importantly allows Utah to have insane length on the perimeter. He’s a bulldog on defense and like George Hill can blow up pick and rolls on the defensive end. He allows the Utah Jazz to switch anytime with any player. Joe Ingles in the starting lineup is a way Utah can hedge its bet on defense while allowing their 2nd unit of insert whichever point guard here, Alec Burks, Rodney Hood, Trey Lyles, Joe Johnson, and Boris Diaw to provide change of pace.

NBA: Utah Jazz at Dallas Mavericks Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Dennis Lindsey, the General Manager of the Utah Jazz, recently said in an interview, “If we're going to move to a higher level as a team the most obvious way is to really double down on the defensive [end].” Well, this is how you accomplish that goal. Joe can defend almost every position on the floor. He’s the only Utah Jazz player that shares the same defensive intensity as Rudy Gobert and the numbers from this January prove it:

5-Man Lineups Advanced - January
NBA.com

Compare those numbers to the entire season:

5-Man Lineups Advanced - All Season
NBA.com

When Joe Ingles in January is part of Utah’s top 3 lineups with a net rating of 45(!!!), 23.4, and 23.1. Of insane note, the Utah Jazz’s best lineups has Boris Diaw in it, but shortly behind that one on both lists is the George Hill, Joe Ingles, Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, and Rudy Gobert.

It’s time for Joe Ingles to continue his improbable rise from afterthought training camp pickup to starter. This is speaks volumes of Joe Ingles’ insane relentless improvement. Don’t worry. Rodney Hood will still be awesome. He’ll still have swagger and the most beautiful jumpshot on the team. He’ll have the liberty to fire away coming off the bench. But Joe Ingles accomplishes Utah’s dream of being an elite squad because, as Dennis Lindsey said, if the Utah Jazz “are going to move to a higher level as a team the most obvious way is to really double down on the defensive [end].”