On December 2nd, Mike Conley, starting point guard for the Utah Jazz, played 23 minutes against the Philadelphia 76ers before leaving with a tight hamstring. Conley’s only played in 19 minutes since then, on the 17th when the Jazz played the Magic, and Conley hurt his hammy again. Conley was having a poor year, averaging his fewest points per game (13.6) since 2012-13, on the worst shooting of his career, 36.5 FG%. A savvy move to trade for the 32-year-old point guard in the offseason is now looking like an unnecessary addition: Utah’s gone 8-4 since Conley went down.
From 10/22/19, the start of the season, until 12/2/19, when Conley got hurt (or, hurt too bad to play, he’s been nursing an injury all season, it seems like) these were the numbers for Conley and his teammate, Joe Ingles:
- Mike Conley: 29.9 MPG, 12.5 FGA per game (third on the Jazz), 13.9 PPG (fourth) on 36.9 FG% shooting, and 4.6 APG.
- Joe Ingles: 27.5 MPG (coming off the bench, he was a starter last year and averaged 31+ MPG), 6.8 FGA per game (5th on the team, he averaged 9.8 FGA last year), 7.3 PPG (with a 30 3PT%, yucky; he scored 12+ PPG last year and had a 39 3PT%) on 36.4% shooting, and 3.5 APG.
Needless to say, neither one of them had an impressive plus/minus from 10/22 to 12/2. Since then, however, Joe Ingles has done this: 34+ MPG (now a starter), 15.5 PPG on 53+ FG% shooting (and, 54 3PT% on 6.2 3PA per game), with 6 APG, 5 RPG, and 1+ steals per game. He’s had an 8.4 +/- since December 2nd. Is that good?
Here’s the list of players who average at least 24 MPG since 12/2 and have a higher plus/minus than Joe Ingles (8.4) in ascending order: Bojan Bogdanovic, Brook Lopez, Dwight Powell, Luka Doncic, Kemba Walker, Jayson Tatum, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Khris Middleton. We can debate the merits of plus/minus as a useful stat, but WHO CARES, THAT’S A GOOD LIST OF PLAYERS TO BE ON.
Last year, only 22 players averaged 12+ PPG, 4+ RPG, and 5+ APG, including Joe Ingles. Of that group, Ingles had the third best 3PT% (39.1) behind Kyrie Irving and Steph Curry (pretty okay, I guess). He also had the third fewest turnovers, 2.4 per game, of that group of 22. So, good shooting, great counting stats, and not many mistakes. Joe Ingles was a STUD last year. He was 53rd on the ESPN player rater for the season!
This year, since 12/2, Joe’s regained his form. Again, he’s averaging 15+ PPG, 5 RPG, and 6 APG since Conley got injured. Let’s disregard Ingles’ hothotFIRE! shooting ratios, since they’ll most likely regress a bit (50+% from three, and 50+% from the floor). Here’s the complete list of people averaging 15-5-6 for the entire season: James Harden, Luka Doncic, Kyrie Irving, LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, Kyle Lowry, Jimmy Butler, Steph Curry (only 4 games), Jrue Holiday, and Nikola Jokic. That, too, is a good list, and Joe Ingles has been playing like he belongs on it.
Guess what? Joe Ingles is 65% owned in ESPN. He’s been a top 100 player over the last 30 days, and he’s only getting better. Ingles performs best as the funky point forward for a Jazz team with an elite big in Rudy Gobert and an elite perimeter young stud in Donovan Mitchell. Perhaps because of Ingles’ familiarity with the team, he seems to have been a better fit as the main distributor than Mike Conley did over the first sevenish weeks (but, again, Conley’s been off, maybe injured, all season).
Regardless, Joe Ingles has been dynamite recently, and he might be poachable in a trade, especially if Ingles’ owners don’t pay attention to the Jazz. He’s playing like he did last year, which means he’s going to be a top 60 player, at least until Conley returns (who knows when that will be).
Ingles made sven threes against Miami, one of the better teams in the league, on December 23rd, then made six threes against the Trail Blazers on the 26th, and then made five threes against the vaunted LA Clippers’ defense on the 28th.
Joe Ingles is back.