Joe Ingles performs nearly every NBA skill, up to and including heavily-accented shit-talk, at a high level. On a team as diffuse and decentralized as the Utah Jazz, the Aussie is a do-everything hub. The scoring rarely leaps out, but that isn’t the point.
Name your need: rebounding with a side of sharp elbows, pure sharpshooting (even after a downtick this season), stout defense at his position with a 6-foot-10 wingspan, playmaking off the bounce or at the top of the key. Other skills include: irritating the irritant-in-chief, kissing the Pistons fanbase to death, chafing the league’s best, calling his shot like it’s HORSE. Ingles is a neck-bearded multitasker who could be plugged into any NBA roster with productive (and noisy) results. Whatever the situation calls for—within the reasonable constraints of his middle-manager foot-speed—the lefty can adapt and make it happen. Except for Wednesday night’s home game versus the Lakers, when the Jazz crowd called on him to round out his first career triple-double, and Ingles refused them with a smile:
Ingles rode the bench for the remainder of the 115-100 win, sitting on 11 points, nine boards, and 14 assists. That last mark was a career-high for the Australian, who has developed some chemistry with Rudy Gobert. Here the big man offers two screens to shear off Ingles’s man, then rolls right into Ingles’s spot-on pocket pass:
Ingles doesn’t need to get up in the guts of the defense to make his plays. He’s often content to hang back and read the angles. Here he takes a leisurely stroll across two screens before injecting a difficult bounce pass right into the defense.
But he will absolutely get the rack when given the chance. Because he can kill teams from either corner, the close-out from Alex Caruso came hard, which gave Ingles the go-ahead to rumble around him, lure in the help, and dump off the rock to Derrick Favors.
That the game took place on Utah’s Autism Awareness Night was especially meaningful for Ingles, whose son was diagnosed with autism in January, leading to a stretch where the forward struggled on-court and occasionally felt he didn’t want to be playing basketball. (A career 40-percent shooter from three, Ingles sunk to 31 percent that month.) “I was glad I was able to just do something out there. I just wanted to win the game and see how much we could raise. Those were the only goals for me tonight,” he said after the game. The typical Joe Ingles Experience—flirting with a triple-double, needling even his own supporters, smirking his way to the bench—was an even more welcome sight than usual. All he forgot to do was verbally deposit Lance Stephenson in the garbage can.