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With the preseason slate now over, the Jazz have myriad issues to resolve over the next week before kicking off the regular season schedule on Oct. 23 against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
At least one thing seems pretty apparent from that tumultuous five-game microcosm, though — Joe Ingles, a starting forward the past two seasons, looks primed to be the team’s first man off the bench in 2019-20.
Though coach Quin Snyder hasn’t definitively said as much, it’s telling that in the team’s five preseason games, Ingles started only the first — a matchup against the Adelaide 36ers, from his native Australia. (It should also be noted that both Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley sat out that game.)
With capable scorers and passers such as Mitchell, Conley, and Bojan Bogdanovic occupying the starting five, it makes some sense to have Ingles lead the second unit. And, as Snyder pointed out after Thursday night’s loss to the Blazers, it’s not like Ingles didn’t already populate that group a ton last year anyway.
“Because he can do a lot of things, he’s able to help the team in lots of ways — that versatility on both ends of the floor allows him to be in different situations and be effective, regardless of his role,” Snyder said. “Coming off the bench, he’s able to do that in different ways. The way we played Joe last year, we started him, but he came out pretty quickly and then he was kind of an anchor of the group on the bench. So in some ways, his role — although he hasn’t started — isn’t as drastically different as it may appear.”
Ingles’ versatility is actually well-suited to the second unit. With Danté Exum still out, and Emmanuel Mudiay’s ability to run the offense still unclear, Ingles has, many times, run the offense once Conley checks out. He had six first-quarter assists vs. the Kings on Monday. Meanwhile, he’s also capable of putting the ball in the hoop himself, having scored 12 points off the bench in each of the past two games.
He told ESPN’s Tim MacMahon that he’s embracing the apparent change.
“At 32, it’s a new challenge, which excites me,” he told MacMahon. “I honestly haven’t sat at home and lost any sleep over starting or not. It doesn’t bother me at all.”
In case you missed it
If you weren’t able to watch the Jazz’s preseason finale Wednesday night, you can read all about it here. I wrote about how their fourth straight loss was yet another example of big-time offense and iffy defense. Andy B. Larsen wrote about Bojan’s continued struggles, and, of course, he had yet another installment of the Triple Team.
Among our other coverage from recent days:
• Former BYU star Kyle Collinsworth, and journeyman rookies Stanton Kidd and William Howard are among those hoping to claim the team’s 15th and final roster spot.
• Columnist Gordon Monson noted how bizarre it would be if the Jazz’s offense is better than the defense this season.
• From Monday’s loss to the Kings, Andy wrote about Jeff Green getting the start in Quin’s latest lineup experiment.
• Andy took a deep dive into the Jazz’s defensive woes, while I broke down the myriad options the team might deploy at the four position this season.
Other people’s stuff
• Aaron Falk of utahjazz.com wrote about longtime Jazz big Derrick Favors’ memories of his old team, ahead of their matchup with his new team, the New Orleans Pelicans.
• Tony Jones of The Athletic took a big-picture look at the Jazz now that the preseason is over, focusing on five things we learned about the team.
• Jasen Lee of the Deseret News took note of the number of new Jazz players talking about having to unlearn old defensive habits on account of playing alongside Rudy Gobert now.
• Quin used his first ever coach’s challenge, and Ryan Miller of KSL.com wrote about the coach’s thought process behind this new tool at his disposal.
As has been mentioned a time or three, the preseason is over now. And so, the next game the jazz play will be the regular-season opener, on Wednesday, Oct. 23 at 7 p.m. MT against the Oklahoma City Thunder. The game will be played at Vivint Smart Home Arena, and televised on AT&T SportsNet-Rocky Mountain.