A few nights ago as I was going to sleep and like any sane and normal person, I was thinking about Joe Ingles. More specifically, Ingles as a possible power forward replacement if Derrick Favors is not re-signed by the Utah Jazz.
Here’s some reasons why it may be a very reasonable, and exciting, possibility.
Joe Ingles is bigger than you think
Every chance I get to see the Jazz play from close up I’m always surprised by the size of two players, Rudy Gobert and Joe Ingles. Rudy Gobert is probably no surprise to anyone, but did you know that Ingles is 6’8” and around 225 pounds?
That size has helped him bully opposing 3s and 2s in the league, but it may also mean that he could handle guarding most opposing 4s.
Here’s a look at the top 30 power forwards according to ESPN’s real plus minus for 2017-18.
The interesting thing about this list is how many of these players spend their time on the perimeter. And even players like Al Horford and Lamarcus Aldridge, who are great post players, spend a great deal of time on the perimeter either to shoot threes or as part of floor-spreading offensive schemes. Ingles could easily keep up with these players and possibly relieve some of the Jazz’s issues with 5-out offenses.
Derrick Favors brings a big advantage to Utah as a weak side shot blocker protecting Rudy Gobert’s back. The pairing has been one of the best in the league protecting the rim. Favors also has the size to match up with the bigger 4’s in the league. But how much of that advantage is negated by having to move out and guard on the perimeter?
The majority of the players on that list are between 6’9” and 6’11”. It’s a tall task (puns are good) to see if Ingles can guard the larger players but, if he can, then it opens up a huge amount of possibilities for the offense.
The question is, has Ingles crafty use of his size to bully opposing 3s and 2s been the key to his solid defense? And would losing that size advantage against bigger players remove his effectiveness as a defender?
Maybe, but it at least seems reasonable to believe that guarding players like Kelly Olynyk and Nikola Mirotic, who spend so much time on the perimeter, could be possible.
There would be times that Ingles would guard bruising power forwards like David West and Al Horford, and you hope that that doesn’t wear him out over an 82 game season, but with the Jazz’s roster versatility, Snyder could easily play Jae Crowder to take on those larger players.
Ingles has already played some power forward
I know that I’ve seen Ingles play the four in the past, but some of that was spot minutes for injuries or Quin testing lineups, but, according to 82games.com, Ingles may have been playing more than we thought.
This can probably be explained by Ingles sharing time on the floor with Jae Crowder, which could mean Ingles doesn’t have as much time at the 4 as this chart suggests. But considering all the switching in the NBA, it holds some merit.
It’s interesting to see the numbers tick down a notch with Ingles at the 4, but the question arises, how much better would the offense run with Ingles playing point forward more often?
With Ingles at the 4, it would allow Snyder to play an extra wing that could take the Jazz offense to another level. Think of the space to operate for Ricky Rubio and the lanes that would be created for players like Donovan Mitchell and Dante Exum! They would get to the rim with as much ease and quickness as me getting to the fridge for another ice cream sandwich. This could also do wonders for Rudy Gobert to have more space in the pick and roll.
Against the Houston Rockets, so much of what we saw Clint Capela do to the Jazz on offense was created by shooters spreading the floor with a single penetrator. Give Rudy the space to operate like Capela has and just watch his PnR numbers get even better.
And as much as we worry about Ingles ability to guard opposing 4s, what kind of havoc could Ingles cause at that position? His spot up shooting would be more plentiful and he could run opposing 4s and 5s into the ground with the pick and roll while having shooters all around him.
My mouth is watering now thinking of the offensive possibilities and also ice cream sandwiches.
This may be his natural progression
This offseason will more than likely be relatively quiet for the Jazz as they wait for the 2019 offseason where they’ll have cap room to throw money at someone. Until then, there is a chance for coach Snyder to experiment with things like giving extended minutes to Ingles at the 4.
At some point, Joe Ingles is probably going to slow down and lose some of his advantages guarding opposing wings as the NBA gets smaller and smaller. Why not start the transition now and get ahead of any regression?
Joe Johnson made the transition to the 4 and it extended his career and effectiveness. Ingles could do the same thing and be a more effective option with his versatility and shooting.
This is all hypothetical, but this would give the Jazz options on offense that they’ve never had before. And if Derrick Favors signs elsewhere, this could be the move that negates that loss.