Utah Jazz point forward Joe Ingles has fast become one of the NBA’s most dynamic players.
Fresh off signing a four-year, $US52 million dollar to stay with the Jazz in the off-season, the Australian is turning in his best season yet.
Ingles won’t get the fanfare of Indiana’s Victor Oladipo or Houston’s Clint Capela, but is one of the most improved players in the league whose impact has been profound.
His crafty playmaking skills, shrewd shot selection and ability to get to the rack have been highlights of his advanced 2018 game.
He is averaging a career-high 10.8 points, 4.1 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game, on 46 percent shooting from the field and 84.4 percent from the free-throw line.
Ingles is knocking down the three-ball at a 44 percent clip, which ranks second in the league behind Golden State’s Klay Thompson. He ranks 12th in the league for three-pointers made.
What is most impressive about Ingles’ emergence is that he has turned into a real leader for a Jazz team that lost 2017 All-Star Gordon Hayward to the Boston Celtics in the off-season and been without star defensive center Rudy Gobert for the majority of this season through injury.
The 30-year old Ingles has kept Utah afloat in a tough Western Conference, leading the team to a 9-2 record in February where he has really turned it on. He recorded back-to-back career-best scoring nights with 23 and 24 points respectively.
He even has 20 point games against powerhouses Golden State and San Antonio to his name this season. Ingles, who was once thought of as just a role player is now so much more – he is a difference maker.
His ascendancy into the NBA spotlight has been a remarkable one. He had two stints for the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Summer League, but spent most of his pro years in the NBL and Spanish league.
In 2014, he failed to make the LA Clippers 15th roster spot after a strong showing for with Australia in the 2014 FIBA World Cup. He signed with the Jazz just two days later and the rest is history.
Ingles has finally made his mark this season as a full-time starter and is rallying the Jazz towards a playoffs push. They currently sit two and a half games out of the eighth seed with a 31-30 record. Not bad for a team that was once 19-28 just a month ago and looked lottery-bound.
All the hype has surrounded rising superstar Ben Simmons for Aussie NBA fans, but Ingles is quietly building his own plaudits after an outstanding breakout year.