Joe Ingles is on fire at the moment.
In December, he’s shooting 53% from the field and an even better 55% from 3-point range. Despite moving to the starting lineup, he’s using more possessions than he did in October and November, and he’s averaging about 14 points and six assists per game. As he’s turned his season around, so have the Jazz, winning eight of their last 10.
So what’s the key to his success? Jazz coach Quin Snyder credits Ingles’ ability to handle how teams are guarding him. In last year’s playoffs, the Houston Rockets sat on Ingles’ left shoulder all series long, and he really struggled to create when forced to go to his right around screens. Now, teams from all over the NBA are copying the strategy — after all, it’s a copycat league.
All summer, Ingles worked on a solution with assistant coach Vince Legarza, who worked with him both in the Zions Bank Basketball Campus practice facility and back at Ingles’ home in Melbourne, Australia.
“It’s just something I had to I had to get because it was inevitable that they were going to send me right,” Ingles said.
Now, he’s hitting a 3-point shot moving right with regularity. Sometimes, it’s as he quickly comes around the screen, and sometimes, he probes the defense before stepping back to take the shot. Either way it’s been a big part of the Jazz’s attack, especially early in games; Ingles said he now feels more comfortable shooting the 3 going right than going left, despite left being his previous tendency.
The good news is that if Ingles is allowed to go left, that’s where he becomes a dangerous pick-and-roll layup finisher and distributor, especially when working with Rudy Gobert. Since moving into the starting lineup, he’s done most of his work with the French big man, and to much success.
His play has earned fans from around the league, including Detroit Pistons head coach Dwane Casey.
“I don’t enjoy coaching against him, but I enjoy watching him play. He’s tough, he’s gritty, a little nasty. Left-handed, crafty with the basketball, can shoot it. Pick and roll, he guards,” Casey said. “I don’t know him. Never met him. But I just enjoy watching him play.”
And Casey has another explanation for how he’s been able to impress: his appearance.
“He looks like he’s slow, can’t move. A bartender-type look,” Casey said. “But he gets it done. I’m serious, he does. He looks like a guy that just comes off the rec league, but he’s a legit star in our league.”