Joe Ingles' threat of shooting makes a difference for Orlando Magic

Joe Ingles has not always put up the biggest scoring numbers. He still seems like an odd fit for the Orlando Magic as a whole. But Ingles has made a big difference for the team.
Joe Ingles has provided a big boost to the Orlando Magic just for the threat of his shooting. He has fit in perfectly for the Magic's bench groups.
Joe Ingles has provided a big boost to the Orlando Magic just for the threat of his shooting. He has fit in perfectly for the Magic's bench groups. / David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Tuesday's win over the Brooklyn Nets seemed like a celebration of everyone on the Orlando Magic's roster. Yes, Franz Wagner was a driving force for the team with 21 points on a tight 8-for-11 shooting. It likely would have been more if the Magic did not blow the game open.

Orlando got double-digit scoring efforts off the bench from Moe Wagner (16 points and a free throw machine still), Cole Anthony (12 points) and Markelle Fultz (12 points. Everyone contributed something with no one seemingly eating more.

It was the definition of a by-committee approach that Orlando always aspires to.

Everyone contributed something. Even someone like Joe Ingles, who was the lone rotation player to go scoreless in the game (missing two 3-pointers as his only shots).

Ingles is not a volume shooter anymore. He is not the same shooter he was before his knee injury with the Utah Jazz (Thursday's opponent at the Kia Center). But the threat of that shooting still makes a huge impact on the Magic. There is no denying it even still. The Magic's lineups are typically better with Ingles in because of the threat of his shooting.

Even if Ingles has not been a consistent heavy-shooting threat, that still appears to be the case. He may not put up crazy big numbers, but Ingles remains an important piece for the Magic.

For the season, Ingles averages 4.6 points per game and shoots 41.5 percent from three. He is shooting only 2.6 3-pointers per game though, the lowest since his first two years in the league. Ingles has been as low usage as he has been in his career. That is perhaps a sign of his age.

Still, Ingles has proven vital to the team's passing attack. He averages 3.0 assists per game in 17.4 minutes per game and 6.2 assists per 36 minutes. The Magic average 27.9 assists per 100 possessions with Ingles on the floor, the most of any rotation player. The ball moves with the bench unit with Ingles in the game.

The Magic have a +4.1 net rating with Ingles on the floor including a rotation-player-best 116.6 offensive rating. Ingles still has this positive impact on the team. The Magic value Ingles for the intangibles he brings to the team as a leader and veteran presence on the floor.

"[Joe Ingles] brings that poise," coach Jamahl Mosley said in November. "He brings that maturity. He settles things down. He's willing to make the physical play. He makes the right pass, gets guys in the right position on the floor. He's coaching on the floor. I think it's just so great to have him. That he settles so many things down while he's out there. He allows that second unit to be who they are and thrive in the way they are."

That has been something that has continued throughout the season even as Ingles has dealt with injuries and as the team has gone up and down. The Magic always valued Ingles as much for his shooting as they did for these intangibles. His passing and leadership are vital to the team's success.

Still, his shooting is what is a threat. It is ultimately the gravity he brings and why he is still a presence for this team.

Ingles does not accumulate a ton of the counting stats, but he takes advantage of the shots he gets. His shooting is still powerful.

He is hitting 50.7 percent of his catch-and-shoot 3-pointers and 47.6 percent of his corner 3-pointers. These are still on relatively low volume -- only 1.7 catch-and-shoot threes per game according to Second Spectrum. Ingles does not force things, and he takes open threes when he gets them.

That is all the Magic have ever wanted from him with the ball in his hands.

The bigger thing they needed from him was his gravity and his ability to force attention on him, even at low volume. It is not like Ingles takes a ton of open threes. And it probably says something that the Magic take fewer threes with Ingles in the game. He gives others space to operate and that is much harder to calculate. His passing adds to his impact too.

He at least provides some proof of concept of what a shooter can do for the lineup, even if Ingles is not the ultimate answer.

The Magic have not played him a ton with many of their key players outside of Franz Wagner with the second unit. Ingles' most common lineup is that second unit with Gary Harris, Cole Anthony, Moe Wagner and Jonathan Isaac -- they play at a +4.9 net rating with an astounding 101.8 defensive rating.

As the Magic try to play a lot of players throughout their rotation, they have pinched Ingles' minutes. He averaged 18.7 minutes per game through Dec. 11 before an injury knocked him out for 13 games. He has averaged 16.3 minutes per game since Jan. 15.

They know he needs to come in smaller doses with his limited mobility on defense.

Orlando is still going to be seeking the right way to mix him in because his impact in his minutes still seems to be great.

The Magic have limited their 3-point shooting of late. They are taking fewer threes. Ingles' impact is not merely about his ability to hit threes. Orlando does not take enough of them and Ingles is not a volume 3-point shooter anymore and certainly not for this team.

But the threat of Ingles' shooting and passing have proven valuable for this team. This has remained consistent throughout the season. The question will be whether it shows up in the playoffs and how long the Magic can take advantage of what he brings.

Orlando Magic teaching adaptability with lineups. dark. Next. Magic teach adaptability 02.27.24

The threat of his shooting still makes a huge difference for this team.