Now that December is complete, it is time to look back at the month and see how each Australian player has gone. Today we look at Joe Ingles
Joe Ingles is still Mr Versatility and his role changed from the start of the month to the end of the month due to the run of injuries that the Utah Jazz had. Ingles has played every single game for the Jazz this season and this is a good thing, both for Ingles and the Jazz.
Ingles stat line is impressive for a player who was meant to be lost down the end of the bench with all the talent that Utah signed last summer. During December Ingles played all 15 games, even starting two of them as a reward for his play. He averaged 24.5 minutes, 9.3 points, 2.9 rebounds, 2,6 assists and 1.1 steals per game. His slash line is the most impressive one that I have seen for a long time 52/55/85. He was leading the NBA in three point percentage for the month. He made an incredible 2.2 three pointers on 3.9 attempts per game.
These incredible numbers have put Ingles ahead in the rotation, above former All Star Joe Johnson who was signed last summer to provide the depth that Ingles is providing. Ingles is a big part of the reason that the Jazz sit fourth in the Western Conference despite the fact that only Rudy Gobert has not missed any playing time of the starters for the Jazz.
Ingles had a purple patch from three in the first half of the month, going 19-of-29 from the 1st of December to the 16th of December. In that time Utah only lost to the Miami Heat by a single point and the Golden State Warriors by seven points.
Ingles had 15 points in the Miami game and was solid with seven games out of 15 in double figures. The game that could possibly set Ingles up for a great pay day during the 2017 off-season was the game that he played against the Warriors. The best team in the league had pounced early on a Utah team that was without four of their five starters, opening up a massive lead early in the game. I am sure that there was a bit of pressure relief once the game was out by 20 in the first half.
Ingles then stepped up to the plate. He scored a career high 21 points, going 7-of-13 from the field and an incredible 5-of-9 from deep. This performance was one for the ages for the combination guard/forward who was not looking like getting much game time this year. As a result, he started the next game against Sacramento and played well again.
Ingles is the type of player who accumulates stats that you don’t notice much, with the exception of the Warriors game. In the Sacramento game he collected a month high six rebounds. He did collect five rebounds twice, both times against the Warriors.
The passing game of Ingles has been great in December, having a seven assist game against the second placed in the East, Toronto Raptors. He had five assists in another game against Sacramento and four assists three times in the month.
One thing that I have loved about Ingles play is that he is always trying to interrupt passing lanes and as such is a good perimeter defender. He had four assists twice in the month, once against Toronto and once against the Warriors. He also had two steals twice in the month.
One thing that I really noticed last month watching Ingles play was that he always seemed to step up against the top teams. Career high scoring against the Warriors, high assist, steals and rebounds against the Warriors and Raptors. December showed me something that I always knew about Joe Ingles, he steps up and provides what the team needs. He did it for Australia in the Olympics and now the NBA is seeing the Joe Ingles I watched in the NBL.
My favourite player growing up was Nate McMillan due to the fact that he never averaged ten points in a game over his career but he was the glue that kept the Seattle Sonics together, helping stars like Shawn Kemp and Gary Payton propel the team to greater heights. I see this a lot in Joe Ingles. The game winner that he hit from deep against the Los Angeles Lakers showed that he and his teammates have great confidence in the play of Ingles.
May January see Ingles continue to do his part and help the Jazz into the Playoffs for the first time since the 2011-12 season.