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2019 NBA Playoffs: The Curious Case of Joe Ingles

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What happened to Joe Ingles?

Houston Rockets v Utah Jazz - Game Three Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images

Joe Ingles came into the NBA looking like a 27 year old middle aged man. As he has progressed through the wrong end of his career, he has actually improved every season during a time in which most scouts, coaches, and front offices assume that you are who you are at that age. Not Joe Ingles, like an NBA Benjamin Button, he seemed to get more athletic, more crafty, and more skilled the further he went into his NBA twilight years. Could we expect anything different from a person nicknamed “Dad Bod God”?

So unexpected was his improvement that hit became the inside joke of this website and other NBA writers to sarcastically put Joe Ingles name among GOATs of the NBA because—ya know—the irony. This season that improvement stopped and the YMCA legend began to regress.

“It’s a funny thing coming home. Nothing changes. Everything looks the same, feels the same, even smells the same. You realize what’s changed, is you.”

- The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

For the first time in his NBA career, Joe Ingles eFG% dropped and did not improve. It didn’t just drop, it returned back to his 2015-2016 levels. His turnovers increased from 1.8 to 2.7 a game. His ability to finish at the rim fell. His sharpshooting as the year went on dropped. At one point in January during what we know now as a very difficult month for his family as they had received the diagnosis of their son with Autism, his 3 point percentage dropped to 30%.

Then came the renaissance. As Joe Ingles opened the world up to see the internal struggles that his family had been going through, it appeared that Utah had their Joe Ingles back. He started returning to his old numbers. His trash talking was back. His confidence was back. But now we’re seeing something else in this playoff series.

Joe Ingles is averaging only 5.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 4.0 assists in only 29.5 minutes a game. He’s shooting 32% from the field and 25% from three. He has almost made himself unplayable in Quin Snyder’s rotation. To put this in perspective, Joe Ingles wasn’t even this out of sorts in his first playoffs. This is a mighty fall for the trash talk legend.

A lot of these shots have been open looks. Tim McMahon of ESPN mentioned this on twitter last night.

While that stat will be a great free agent pitch in July, it doesn’t do one lick of good in April when Utah can’t take advantage of something every other team craves: WIDE OPEN LOOKS.

While Joe Ingles isn’t the only Jazzman to be reduced to G-League call up, it’s odd to see Joe Ingles—the same person who lived for these moments against Paul George last postseason and Chris Paul the one before last—missing wide open looks from three and missing his balding swag. Part of the reason this series has been so lopsided is the absence of a key competent of Utah’s identity: Joe Ingles pesky defense combined with big time shot making.

Joe Ingles Trebuchet shot has been broken. We have yet to see encouraging signs that it’s coming back, but the Jazz have just extended this series one more game. There’s a chance—however small—that Joe Ingles is able to turn it around. Conventional wisdom says that Joe Ingles can’t possibly have five terrible games in a row in this playoff series.

“For what it’s worth: it’s never too late to be whoever you want to be. I hope you live a life you’re proud of, and if you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.”

- The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Because of Utah’s Game 4 win, it’s not too late for Joe Ingles to be who he wants to be in this series. He can have the strength to start all over again and be an impact player in Game 5. If so, Joe Ingles can still have a playoffs that he can be proud of.