Joe Ingles had an easy 14 points, shot 4 of 8 from deep and was a critical component of the Utah Jazz’s defense in their 129-107 win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday night.
But if you ask him what the best part of his game was, he’d tell you it was his passing and his six assists.
“Regardless of what I shoot or how I defend, I think my best attribute is my ability to get my teammates involved,” he said after the game. “The most enjoyment and the best thing I can do is the little things to help those other guys.”
It’s a double-edged sword with Ingles, because although he loves to pass the ball, he also happens to be an incredibly efficient shooter.
As a starter this season, Ingles has shot at a 50% clip from 3-point range, good for the fifth best percentage in the NBA among starters who have played in five games or more.
Overall, Ingles is an above-40% 3-point shooter, which is one of the reasons that teams want to get the ball out of his hands quickly.
But the thought of a defense trying to force him to pass the ball makes Ingles practically giddy.
“I don’t know why you would blitz me, because I’m a pass-first guy anyway,” Ingles said. “I can’t think of anything better than to pass the ball, especially to Rudy (Gobert) to keep him happy.”
For those who might not know what blitzing is in basketball, it’s a defensive tactic that involves the defenders on a high pick and roll. Rather than stay with their man, or switch to keep guarding the ballhandler and screener, the two defenders will essentially move to trap the ballhandler.
The problem with doing that against the Jazz is that Ingles’ size and length makes passing over and around defenders pretty easy, and the guy who is rolling to the basket is a 7-foot-1 Frenchman with a knack for dunking over people.
So, even if one of the wing defenders rotates in to help on Gobert, they’re probably going to be at a significant size disadvantage.
It took just a couple of possessions on Monday night to figure out that the Blazers were going to be blitzing, so Ingles and Gobert went to work.
But let’s say that the defense rotates well and stops Gobert’s roll. Well, the Jazz have a ton of shooters and that usually leaves someone open in the corner.
“For me, it’s the easiest coverage,” Ingles said. “You make them make a decision. Do you want to give up a dunk to Rudy, or a 3 to Bojan (Bogdanovic)?”
In this instance, the Blazers blitz Mike Conley on the pick and roll and he gets the ball to Ingles on the wing, and Ingles sees that Anfernee Simons is helping in the paint on Gobert, leaving Jordan Clarkson wide open in the corner.
Ingles is right. The defense has to pick their poison if they’re going to play this way, but there’s not really any good choice.
That doesn’t stop teams from blitzing the Jazz in hopes that they can disrupt that first action, and Ingles loves that they keep on trying.