Joe Ingles' veteran presence essential to Orlando Magic's playoff push

Joe Ingles stands out in a team filled with young, explosive stars on the Orlando Magic. With the trade deadline looming, Joe Ingles' value needs to be considered before casting him aside. His veteran presence is a key to the team's development, especially as the postseason nears.
Orlando Magic v New York Knicks
Orlando Magic v New York Knicks / Elsa/GettyImages

With the trade deadline climbing to a climax, the rumors of "trade this and that" are only growing more consistent within online spaces and talk shows for the Orlando Magic.

It is understandable. The team is 3-7 in their last 10 games and has not had a marquee win in a good while other than taking out Denver on Jan. 5. The team has slipped to eighth in the Eastern Conference standings, three games ahead of the surging Chicago Bulls to avoid the 9/10 Play-In Tournament game.

Yes, the mock trades look enticing. Yes, Dejounte Murray or Zach Lavine would be cool to see alongside Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner. But with those star players hypothetically entering onto the team means digging for every scapegoat and underperforming player on the Magic's roster to throw in for financial purposes.

To get something good, you have to give up something good. And there is no guarantee the team's chemistry will work out.

Enter Joe Ingles.

In a team full of Gen-Z'ers, Ingles is an outlier at 36 years old. In a team full of explosive athletes, Ingles is not that either. And his 5.2 points per game, 2.6 rebounds per game and 3.5 assists per game stat line in 18.4 minutes per game is not filling Magic fans with tons of confidence when they look at the box score.

But his value goes well beyond the stat sheet.

He is the glue guy. The veteran presence. The one with experience in situations that the 20-somethings have not seen in their short NBA careers just yet. Ingles knows that, and is making sure his presence is being felt

Franz Wagner too confirmed that when J.J. Redick of The Old Man and the Three asked him about the team's vibes and who has taken on the leadership mantle. Ingles is a player that stands out for his experience as much as his attitude.

He has been a welcomed addition to the team.

The numbers too back up how much better Ingles can make this team.

The Magic average 112.1 points per 100 possessions for the season. But when Ingles is on the floor, that jumps up to 117.8, the best mark of any player on the team.

It helps that he is one of the most dangerous shooters on the floor for this team. Ingles is hitting on 39.7 percent of his 3-pointers. He makes 53.9 percent of his corner threes and 49.0 percent of his catch-and-shoot 3-pointers.

According to Basketball-Index, he is one of the leaders in creating points off assists, suggesting how much gravity he has a shooter and his deftness as a driver and organizer. He has a +3.99 role adjusted assist points per 75 possessions, placing him in the 87th percentile. Essentially, this stat tries to answer the question: "Are they a good passer for their role?"

It is safe to say Ingles is an excellent passer for this team.

He also averages 6.6 high-value assists per 75 possessions (assists that lead to a layup, free throw or a 3-pointer), putting him in the 95th percentile.

Ingles is the kind of player who just makes other players work. And that is the role the Magic are trying to create.

And the Magic rarely lose much defensively with him on the floor -- 109.9 defensive rating with Ingles on the floor, likely boosted by playing a lot of minutes alongside Jonathan Isaac.

That veteran presence the Magic get from Ingles is extremely important.

Think about the top rosters in the NBA today. Some teams, like the Boston Celtics and the Milwaukee Bucks, have their own superstars at the helm keeping the team in check. They have been to the NBA Finals and won championships.

Other squads without championship pedigree, use veterans as glue guys and developers.

Mike Conley starts for the Minnesota Timberwolves and is the perfect playmaking developer for their star, Anthony Edwards. Davis Bertans is in Oklahoma City. Reggie Jackson and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope are still in Denver after their championship last year.

The list goes on.

The point is: Joe Ingles' role has to go beyond the stat sheet as the trade deadline looms. Ingles' $11 million (with an option for the second year) looks like a solid throw-in to trade for a younger and "more valuable" player.

Take a look at tough situations. Orlando is 6-6 this year in games decided by five or less points. The team is 27th in 4th quarter points per game. They just have not had a ton of tight games.

Paolo Banchero is doing as much as he possibly can down the stretch (see: 43 points in a loss against the Sacramento Kings or his game-tying three against the Atlanta Hawks -- both losses). Come playoff time, Orlando will not see the Washington Wizards and the Detroit Pistons of the world.

Orlando has cooled off against playoff teams recently. The team is 5-11 against the top six teams across both conferences.

Again, they just have not had a ton of experience in the postseason. The team's top eight players (Jalen Suggs, Anthony Black, Franz Wagner, Paolo Banchero, Goga Bitadze, Cole Anthony, Jonathan Issac, Markelle Fultz) have played in a combined 13 playoff games -- all from Issac and Fultz.

Ingles, on the other hand, has played in 50 playoff games. 50!

He has appeared in the postseason six times in the last seven seasons. It is the experience Orlando just does not have and Ingles can provide.

What happens in a close game in the playoffs? How do you deal with shaky foul calls when you are already down 2-1 in the series? How do you relax when your defender has not missed all night?

Banchero and the bunch will adapt quickly to those situations. This team is a top young squad and has proven themselves in close games.

The playoffs are a different beast and Ingles is built to develop this team for those moments, even if he is not always on the floor for that critical moment. Joe Ingles is constantly talking to players and even coach Jamahl Mosley giving some guidance.

It is a thankless role that is not easily filled.

Next. story link. Orlando Magic's All-Star future is taking shape. dark

So, as the trade deadline looms and the mock trades flow in, think about the role Ingles provides for this team long-term. Think about his role in developing this potential-filled roster before we jump the gun on casting him aside.

When this team fights through the postseason, his presence will shine.