O.T.T.T: Joe Ingles Will Be the Most Improved Player for This Season
The Utah Jazz have had a mixed start to the season, but they’re slowly getting it together, sitting at a 3-2 record and some impressive displays already under their belt. Despite the good start from the team, not all of Utah’s stars have had strong beginnings to the new season.
Luckily for the Jazz, the supporting cast has been able to pick up the slack and continue to give coach Quin Snyder multiple options to score with. The internal growth the Jazz have backed to continue their rise in the standings has been apparent, notably with the improved play of 31-year old Joe Ingles.
Ingles’ improvement across the board has the Australian as a strong contender to come away with the Most Improved Player award this season.
Sophomore star Donovan Mitchell had started the season slowly, shooting the ball at 34.4% and “pressing the issue” by his own admittance. Ricky Rubio had also started poorly, with the Spaniard shooting a ghastly 21.9% from the field, unable to find his shot.
With the back-court duo struggling, Ingles was able to start the season on fire, with two standout scoring performances. Against Sacramento, Ingles finished with 22 points, six assists and four steals, while shooting 4-6 from the three-point-line.
In the heartbreaking one-point loss against Golden State, Ingles was able to have a career-night in Utah’s shooting explosion. Scoring a career high 27 points, going 7-11 from the three-point-line, and adding four assists and two steals, Ingles put his name up in lights.
Ingles’ skill lies in his versatility and his ability to fulfill any role that Snyder needs, which early in the season meant getting buckets while others couldn’t.
Despite cooling off his scoring while Mitchell and Rubio have bounced back, Ingles has still bumped up his scoring average from last year’s 11.5, to 15.2, while shooting a blistering 44% from three-point territory.
Putting up more shots with confidence (11.5 per game versus 8.8 last year), initiating the offense with four assists, and averaging a career-high two steals, Ingles is increasing his contributions on both ends.
Able to play in multiple positions on the floor and in different line-ups, Ingles’ versatility and importance for a potential top-seed in the West is making people take notice.
With that notice, Ingles is in prime position to be the oldest MIP winner since 30-year-old Darrell Armstrong received the award in 1999, and drive Utah towards postseason success.