After missing nearly a year of NBA action due to an ACL injury, Joe Ingles returned and made his Milwaukee Bucks debut on December 19.
In his first five appearances with the Bucks, Ingles averaged a mere 3.8 points and 1.4 assists in 17.6 minutes per game. The forward could not find a shooting groove, as he shot just 24 percent from the floor and 19 percent from 3-point territory. Given that Ingles was coming off significant surgery and playing on a new team for the first time in his NBA career, it was expected that he would show some rust early on. Since then, Ingles has started to shake off some of that rust and produce in a big way off the bench for the Bucks.
Joe Ingles has found a groove with the Milwaukee Bucks as of late
Ingles first looked like he found his stride in Milwaukee’s win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on December 30. The veteran notched a double-double with 14 points and 10 assists while pulling in five rebounds in 24 minutes. It was a stellar showing from the forward, and he offered a glimpse of what he could bring to this Milwaukee Bucks team moving forward.
In his last eight games, which includes that win over Minnesota, Ingles has averaged an improved 8.8 points while knocking down 43.6 percent of his field goals and an eye-catching 40.5 percent of his outside shots. With some key players missing time lately, Ingles has helped pick up the slack on the offensive end and put points on the board. Not only has he been hitting his shots efficiently, but he has also gotten his teammates involved by averaging 5.6 assists in that span.
Looking at the numbers, some fellow Bucks have undoubtedly benefited from Ingles’ presence by thriving on 3-point opportunities off passes by the veteran. Per NBA.com/stats, Bobby Portis has shot 6-of-8 from deep, A.J. Green and Pat Connaughton have shot 4-of-6, and Grayson Allen has knocked down two of his five triples off passes by Ingles in that timeframe. He has certainly been racking up assists, as Ingles is averaging the third most assists among Bucks who have played at least 10 games this season even with his early season struggles.
Over this recent stretch of games, Ingles has looked like the player the Bucks hoped they would get when they signed him. His outside shooting has been excellent, and the spacing he has given will continue to be vital for the Bucks. The same goes for his pristine passing ability, as Ingles has quite a knack for finding his open teammates.
Both of those attributes will be fascinating to see once the Bucks get healthy again. Some rumors are swirling that Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton could both return to the lineup this Saturday, which would be a massive boost. If so, it would be the first time Ingles has played with the Big 3, and he could be the perfect complementary piece alongside them. Of course, his 3-point shooting will give all three more room to operate offensively, but his ball-handling and passing will alleviate pressure off of them all as well.
The Bucks have truly lacked a player who possesses all of the attributes Ingles does, and it will be interesting to see how things go when the team gets healthier. For now, there is no denying that Ingles has found a nice groove as of late and has shown his importance to this team. If the veteran can continue to make an impact off the bench, he could arguably be the team’s main X-factor.
Stay tuned to see if Joe Ingles can sustain this nice rhythm he has gotten into lately.