Can we Create an Award for Joe Ingles?

No end-of-season award encapsulates what Joe Ingles does on a night-to-night basis for the Utah Jazz, so I guess it's time to make one up. The Joe Ingles Award is upon us.

Joe Ingles is not going to win MVP. He also won't win Defensive Player of the Year or Most Improved Player. He isn't eligible for Rookie of the Year or Sixth Man of the Year, so those are out. The last major NBA award is Coach of the Year, and I'm pretty confident he's not even going to finish top-10 there. As far as All-NBA teams, you'd be hard-pressed to find someone who says that Ingles is one of the nine best frontcourt players in the league, nor is it likely that he's one of the six best frontcourt defenders, so the All-Defensive team is out too.

Among these awards and end-of-season recognitions, Joe Ingles is almost certainly going to win zero of them. But I'll be damned if Joe Ingles doesn't deserve some kind of award. Watch this and tell me otherwise.

What can we do to fix this? Allow me to introduce the first ever Joe Ingles Award.

Obviously, Joe Ingles is winning this year's award, but to properly appreciate Ingles, we have to distill what makes him - and thus any future Joe Ingles Award winner - so great. Below are the six categories that the Ingles Award Committee (me) looked at for this year's award.

1) Not Dunking

Anyone who is going to win the Joe Ingles Award cannot be a high-flyer and constant dunker. His teammate, Donovan Mitchell, cannot win the Ingles Award because he's too good at dunking. This immediately limits the award to guys who are do-everythings rather than flashy guys.

For the record, Joe Ingles has dunked 14 times in his four years in the NBA. His most in a season was five (5) in his rookie year, but he has really reined it in since then. He's gone for two, four, and three (this year) since then. That's a major component of this award.

2) Lots of Minutes

An Ingles Award winner has to be integral to the team. It can't be someone who gets sparse minutes here and there or who only plays because there's an injury. Joe Ingles, our namesake and hero, is averaging over 31 minutes per game this season. He's a starter, sure, but he's also getting more minutes than anyone except Mitchell and Rudy Gobert - one of whom is a ball of 21-year-old energy, the other a league-altering defensive presence.

Barring a late injury, Joe is also going to lead the team in games started. He's in the lead already, and the only way it will change is if he takes a couple of games off down the stretch. However, as Utah is battling for the playoffs, that's not gonna happen. In all likelihood, Ingles will wind up appearing in all 82 games and starting 81 of them.

3) Three-Point Shooting

OK so this one isn't very unusual, and it gets factored into a lot of awards, but it's definitely a factor if we're making an award for Joe Ingles. Ingles is 2nd only to Darren Collison this year when it comes to three-point percentage. He's a blistering 44.5% from deep (Collison 45.1% - both accurate through Friday's NBA games). 

It's not a fluke, either. Last year, Ingles finished 3rd in the NBA from deep, behind only Kyle Korver and Allen Crabbe. This is Ingles's fourth season in the NBA and he's shooting nearly 42% on three-pointers in his young career - his first year was only about 35%, but he clearly just needed a little time adjusting to the NBA after playing a few years in the NBL (Australia) and then Europe (Spain and Israel).

4) Being Part of an All-Around Good Team - but NOT the Team's Best Player

The Jazz are good. They've been pretty good for a few years now, despite dealing with constant injuries. Joe Ingles has unquestionably been part of that success. Rudy Gobert and Gordon Hayward were and are better players. Donovan Mitchell this year is pretty close to Ingles as far as actual all-around talent goes, but Mitchell's ceiling is, of course, higher. Ricky Rubio is making about as much money as Joe, so maybe they're a good comparison as they're both playing well. 

In any case, this is an important piece of the puzzle, because Steph Curry fits the first four criteria and he's most definitely not a Joe Ingles Award contender.

5) Not Winning Other Awards

This was kind of alluded to in the opening, but a player who is going to win any other end-of-season award can't be a JIA winner. It's not in the spirit of the award, based on what the committee has decided.

Joe's not going to win any currently-sanctioned NBA award. Perfect.

6) Be Good at Everything Else, too

Joe Ingles is just a good all-around basketball player. He's a good shooter, he has decent assist numbers, he has decent rebound numbers, and he's a surprisingly good defender for a guy who appears to play the same style as a 45-year-old at the rec center who is just better than everyone else because he's smarter than everyone else.

Ingles and his unorthodox style have been great. He's only averaging about five rebounds and assists per 36 minutes, but the team doesn't need him to do more than that. When the team does need him, he can spring for bigger stat-lines at a moment's notice. Just in the past ten games, he's had points/rebounds/assists totals of 18/7/8, 11/4/10, 17/7/7, 14/7/9, 16/8/7, and 18/6/10.

An Ingles Award winner must be truly multi-faceted. Otherwise, it would be called a  Kyle Korver award.

Historical Precedent

I decided we should try to find some players who matched what Joe Ingles has done/is doing this year. On a Basketball-Reference player-season search, I opted for players who've started 80+ games, taken 120+ three-pointers, shot 42% or better, and added at least 3.0 defensive win shares (Joe is a good defender).

Since 1985, this combination of stats has only happened eight times. Joe Ingles would be the 9th. Among those top-8 are guys who are clearly ineligible for the award, including Michael Jordan (95-96), Larry Bird (85-86), and Dirk Nowitzki (09-10). Of the remaining five, Detlef Schrempf did it in 94-95 with Seattle, but he also made the All-Star team, so he's out. Bruce Bowen also did it in 05-06, but he was First Team All-Defense, so he's out too.

The final three are the retroactive Ingles Award honorary names-to-watch (they're not honorary award winners because the committee [again, me] doesn't believe in backward-facing awards). Chris Mullin (97-98), Shane Battier (06-07), and Danny Green (12-13). It's a near-perfect list. None of them were the best player on their team, all of those teams were good, all of those players were good, and none of them won any awards. Mullin certainly had the best career - he's a Hall of Famer, after all - but we're looking at individual seasons here.

Among those guys, the award could go back to Shane Battier, but the committee has spoken, so it's the Joe Ingles Award forever and always and Shane Battier can stay out of my personal affairs.

Put it on your resume, Joe Ingles. You just won your first NBA award.

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