SALT LAKE CITY, UT - OCTOBER 11: Joe Ingles #2 of the Utah Jazz shoots over Josh Hart #3 of the New Orleans Pelicans during the first half of their game on October 11, 2021 at the Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.(Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)
Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images

Ingles Ready for Wednesday After Slow Preseason

After sitting out three of the four games in the preseason, Joe Ingles can't wait to get back on the court when Utah begins the season Wednesday against Oklahoma City

Wednesday can’t come soon enough for Joe Ingles.

After a long and exciting summer that culminated in an Olympic medal with his home country of Australia, Ingles earned a well-deserved break for most of Utah’s four preseason games—even if he didn’t want it.

“I hate sitting out, obviously,” Ingles said with a smile. “But again, with the medical team and coach and all that, they have a plan. … They know a lot more about that stuff than I do, so whatever they say goes. It was nice to watch the guys play as well and still be around the team, but obviously being out there is very different.”

Due to Ingles’ long summer, head coach Quin Snyder elected to give him plenty of rest to ensure he’s ready to go for the upcoming season. Ingles saw the court for just one half of basketball in the preseason, playing 20 minutes against New Orleans and finishing with six points, four assists, and two rebounds.

If it were up to Ingles, he would’ve played in every game—and that’s because he loves the game. Despite wanting to be on the court at all times, he fully understands the reasoning behind the decision.

“That little taste of playing against somebody else and just getting back into the rhythm of it. … Just getting a half was good,” Ingles said. “I’m just ready to get going now, and start the season and get ready for however many months.”

The Jazz are focusing more on overall health this season, making a conscious effort to get their players significantly more rest so they’ll be fresher come April, May, and June. But even with that as a top priority, it hasn’t stopped the players from going at it in practice with ultra physical and competitive showdowns.

“I’m sick of Royce fouling me in practice,” Ingles said with a laugh. “This was probably our last kind of, not real practice, but last one getting into it a little bit. Just the excitement of getting to play again, everyone starting reasonably healthy as a team, getting everyone out there. … Having fans back, all of it combined, it’s exciting.”

Utah can prioritize health this season because it might be the deepest team in the league.

Not only are the Jazz returning the same starting five from the team that finished with the best record in the NBA last season, but Jordan Clarkson and Ingles also finished first and second in Sixth Man of the Year voting, respectively. Add in offseason additions Hassan Whiteside, Rudy Gay, and Eric Paschall, and the team has many options as to who will eat up minutes.

One player looking to crack that rotation is rookie Jared Butler.

Coming off a national championship at Baylor and being named the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player, Butler somehow dropped to Utah with the No. 40 overall pick in the 2021 draft. But he’s primarily outplayed that draft slot after averaging 18 points per game in the preseason, numbers that not only led the Jazz but all rookies as well.

“I think so,” Mitchell said when asked if Butler is ready to contribute from day one. “You look at what he’s done in preseason, what he’s doing in practice, he’s talented and he’s ready to go. It’s going to be a process. … he may be brilliant or may he go through that rookie lull, but the biggest thing I’ve told him is just be ready.”

Utah will begin its quest for the Larry O’Brien trophy when it hosts Oklahoma City on Wednesday at 7 p.m. The Jazz will also be hosting a Block Party for all fans before tipoff, set to start at 5 p.m. in front of the Northeast plaza of Vivint Arena. To purchase tickets for the game, click HERE.


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