There might not be two players more different in their athletic gifts than Donovan Mitchell and Joe Ingles. Mitchell, one of the most athletic players in the NBA, is fast, strong and bouncy. He can get well above the rim, or sneak in a layup well below it with an acrobatic finish.
Ingles, on the other hand, is not one of the most athletic players in the NBA. He has been nicknamed “Slow Mo’ Joe.” He does not have a terrific vertical leap, and while he can dunk — he has two this season — it’s certainly not a play he relies on.
But Ingles does have pick and roll craft in his game, a facet he’s showcased in recent games as he’s played more minutes with rolling big man Rudy Gobert. He can get downhill despite his lack of speed, and is effective at finding Gobert rolling to the rim. Can Mitchell learn from Ingles’ abilities, or are they too different for Mitchell to take concrete lessons?
“The first thing I learned (from Ingles) was slowing down. He has no choice but to be slow, because he is slow,” Mitchell said. “Look at his reads. ... For me, I’m trying to be able to find ways to implement those reads. He had 10 assists on Saturday without blinking an eye."
Ingles also has a compelling pass fake to Gobert, one that Mitchell is struggling to learn.
“I can’t even figure out the steps,” he said. “I’m trying to figure out the steps to do it.”
Mitchell was proud of an under-the-rim layup he completed against Memphis, where he finished a reverse after dribbling underneath the basket, like Ricky Rubio used to do during his time in Utah. That, too, was a crafty move that he’s been trying to learn, one technique where he can keep his dribble alive to score.
But Jazz head coach Quin Snyder says that because Ingles and Mitchell are such different players, the way they attack pick and roll situations are going to look very different as well. Ingles, he pointed out, is played more often to shade him right, away from his weak hand, so he cuts back against the grain toward the middle of the floor more. And sometimes, the difference is as basic as whether or not each even uses the screen provided.
“Joe needs the screen, so he uses it more. A lot of times, Donovan has the ability to reject the screen and attack,” Snyder said. “Players can always help each other, but they are different and I want Donovan to continue to be instinctive.”
Mitchell is especially jealous of one of Ingles’ pick and roll advantages.
"Some of his reads are easier for him because he’s 6-7. I’m still waiting to grow,” he laughed.