Joe Ingles. That’s it. That’s the article. Ok just kidding, but it could be. A Clippers cast away turned Utah Jazz fan favorite has had quite the NBA story He’s been an important piece for a playoff team for several years now, but he’s also not getting any younger. Last year wasn’t an easy one for Joe, as his role changed so much throughout the season. He was key when Mike Conley went down with injury and put up career stats. Then he all but disappeared at the end of the season. What can we expect of him in his age 33 season?
Mike Conley’s first year in a Jazz uniform certainly didn’t go as planned or expected. An unfortunate injury sidelined him for many games mid-season. Enter Joe Ingles. During Mike’s absence Joe averaged 15.3 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 5.9 assists. He also shot over 51% from three on over 6 attempts per game. He was amazing. He had swagger. He was Joe Ingles.
But after that? Not so much. From then on those numbers dropped to 8.0 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 5.8 assists. But most worrisome, his 3 point shooting disappeared to 35.8% on just over 4 attempts per game. He hesitated. He was less engaged. He looked... old.
So what should we expect this season? Is Joe Ingles on the decline? Or was it just an off year during a global pandemic with some additional personal life changes? Honestly, I don’t think anyone knows yet. But I do think there is reason for optimism.
First of all, even Joe said last year was an off year. He recently said how his body is feeling great this year, likely due to the fact that he stayed in Utah for the entire offseason for the first time in his career. The full story about that can be found here.
“Being here and having access to the facility when it was open was something I’ve never done before” in the offseason, Ingles said. “I’ve been going pretty hard for a long time now. I don’t know how long, but it feels like forever. I wanted to be as fit as I could possibly be and I think I’m right there. …
“My shot feels great. My body feels fit. I feel good.”
But more importantly, his best running mate is back. I think Joe had a hard time fitting in with the bench unit last year. He played great with the starters, but understandably had a harder time with guys like Clarkson, Niang, and Bradley. The front office prioritized the bench defense this offseason by bringing in Derrick Favors. That will undoubtedly bring Joe’s game back as well.
“That relationship got built over the time we played together, over five or six years,” Ingles said. “With the way our rotations were, we’d start and we’d both go out at the same time and come back in and have a lot of time out there together.”
“He’s obviously a guy I feel super comfortable playing with,” Ingles said. “So when we didn’t have him last year, it was different. I was trying to find my fit with that second unit. I’m really glad he’s back.”
The Joe Ingles - Derrick Favors pick and roll was absolutely lethal those last couple years together. Now imagine what they’ll do to opposing teams’ benches! The move to bring Favors back will also help bring Joe Ingles back. It was a two-for-one offseason move. And I’m all for it assuming we get to see more of this:
Jazz depth was a catastrophe last year. Before Jordan Clarkson was brought in it was an absolute embarrassment. It was like clock work the way the starters would build a lead and the bench would just obliterate it. Now? Their 8-man rotation is ridiculous. Assuming everyone stays healthy, the Jazz have Clarkson, Ingles, and Favors as guys 6, 7, and 8 on the roster. Hopefully that difference brings Joe Ingles back to his natural habitat.
If you were like me and you hadn’t seen this video yet, you’re welcome! This is 8 minutes of pure Jinglin’ Joe Joy.