Joe Ingles is a Milwaukee Buck. This is big news — perhaps the biggest we will get between now and the trade deadline, depending on the shifting tide of GM Jon Horst’s moods. Upon hearing the news, your mind likely searched what it has seen and heard about Ingles to get a proper idea of the kind of player the Bucks had just signed. Essentially a Utah Jazz lifer before being part of a mid-season trade to Portland last year, tall at 6’8”, and a proven three-point shooter during his time in the league (he’s averaged to hit 40.8% of all threes on a 65.8% 3Par since coming to the NBA).
And yet unless you were watching a lot of Jazz basketball — truth be told, I wasn’t — your picture of Joe Ingles likely stems from the few times the Bucks would play Utah or whenever you’d catch the Jazz during a postseason run. So, as part of our collective fact-finding mission to understand Ingles, I decided to go right to the source: Our Jazz sister site, SLC Dunk.
Nathan, better known as DLC_Jazz on the SLC Dunk staff, kindly offered to answer five(ish) questions I had about Joe Ingles over email. I wanted to know more about what Jazz fans had come to understand about the Australian during his near-decade in Salt Lake City, how his game had changed, his strengths, weaknesses, and whatever else might endear us to our newest player.
My questions are bolded, Nathan’s responses left in plain text.
1) If you were to describe his strengths as a player (on either end of the floor, on the court, off the court, etc.) what comes to mind when you think “Joe Ingles”?
When I think of Joe Ingles I think of grit, attitude and trash talking. Ingles is a guy that had to scratch and claw his way into the NBA and his attitude and play on the court reflect that. Don’t get me wrong, he can play too, but he brings that toughness fearlessness that makes him the perfect NBA glue guy.
2) How did his role and skillset change over the eight seasons (!) he spent with Utah? Did he fit a particular archetype his entire tenure or did he have a pretty altered role in his last season versus his first?
I would say that his role was pretty consistent during his 8 years with the Jazz. The biggest difference being that at first, he was another wing that didn’t seem like anything special, but by the time he was traded this past season he had become a Utah Jazz legend. I say that because at times he was kind of a jack of all trades for the Jazz. He would play spot minutes as the point guard during his 8 seasons. But overall, his role during the whole time was to provide solid wing minutes and give us the three-point threat.
3) More particularly about his last season with the team, how would you have evaluated the level of his play prior to the ACL tear? Just glancing at his averages there was a pretty marked drop; a one-off or something more substantial than that?
This past season before he tore his ACL Joe had definitely experienced a drop off in his numbers and effectiveness. I believe that it is an aberration and that once he is back, he will still be good. The Jazz had some pretty bad chemistry issues this past season and I think that had more to do with bad play than anything. He might have lost a step or two on the defensive end in the last couple of seasons but Joe has never been a defensive stopper anyway. His effectiveness comes from his basketball IQ and being so good at making the right basketball play on the offensive end. I think he will be 90-95% of what he was prior to last season when he returns from his ACL injury.
4) In his last few seasons, what weaknesses did his game suffer from?
I would say that the biggest weakness Joe has struggled with in the last few seasons is honestly defense. He was never known for being great on that end of the floor, but at his peak in Utah he could at least bother other teams’ stars. That seemed to disappear for most part. He can still be semi effective against lesser players but even that is not great these days.
5) Here in Milwaukee we’re unfortunately used to role players contributing in a major way during the regular season before seeing serious declines in production during the playoffs. How did Ingles’s game translate to Utah’s numerous postseason runs?
It’s been kind of a mixed bag for Joe in the playoffs honestly. However, I would say that I think Joe is more often than not better when the playoffs come. The reason I say it’s a mixed bag is because the last time we saw him in the playoffs with the Jazz, we were getting embarrassed off of the floor against the Clippers. Everyone looked bad by the end of that series so that’s not a good sample. There are times when he disappears for a game in a series but overall, he is actually great. It’s one of the reasons why many consider him a Jazz legend. He has had some great games in the playoffs and was an integral part of us beating the Thunder a few years back when they had Russell Westbrook and Paul George still on their team. If he is healthy, he can be a very good x-factor in the playoffs.
If you have any particularly fond memories or stories to share about Ingles, we’d love to hear them too!
I have a lot of fond memories of Joe and I am disappointed that he is no longer a Jazz man. He is very likable and I hope that he does well for the Bucks (except when they play Utah ). Two memories come to mind with Joe. There was a game against Memphis a few years back where he got a pretty good cut on his forehead but he just had this makeshift bandage around it and he stayed in the game. Jazz fans started calling him “Headband Joe” after that, but that was just a microcosm of who he was. I think he had a streak of almost 600 games played in a row until a year or two ago, he is not one for “load management”. But the best memory that I have of Joe is actually that Thunder series that I mentioned before. The Jazz were not favored in that series at all. I don’t remember the seeding but I think it was 4/5 or 3/6, but all the “analysts” just wrote the Jazz off completely to the point of disrespect. Joe was so cocky in that series and talked so much trash to Paul George that I think that carried over to the whole team. Donovan Mitchell was a rookie and we had Ricky Rubio as our point guard, but all three of those guys outplayed anyone on the Thunder, including Russell Westbrook. I just remember how confident Joe was and it was almost like he was the leader of the team when it came to swag and believing in themselves.
Thank you for letting me ramble about Joe Ingles for a while. I think that you guys will love having him on your team and it will be fun to watch him hit a couple of threes in the finals next year hopefully. I don’t do social media really but I am DLC_Jazz on the Jazz SB Nation site (slcdunk.com).
I thank Nathan for the time and graciously getting back to me so quickly with responses to my questions. The answers provided are encouraging on a number of levels: In some ways I wonder if the personality of Ingles will end up being his greatest asset brought to this team. Sure, hitting lots of threes will be great and helpful in our offense, but we’ve seen that it can often fall to the role players on the roster to bring real in-your-face fire. PJ Tucker, Bobby Portis, and now perhaps Joe Ingles can all go down as our succession of guys who utilize an extremely outward show of competitive emotions to help galvanize their teammates and the crowd in critical moments.
There’s no way to measure that kind of impact, but in something as inchoate as professional sports, I think it has a real role to play. Here’s hoping Ingles fits right in when he hits the floor sometime mid-season for Milwaukee.