Joe Ingles set to be a New Orleans Pelican?

Joe Ingles set to be a New Orleans Pelican?

Flash-back to the 2012 London Olympics and the basketball world was transfixed on how Team-USA would win their next gold-medal. Lebron James and Carmelo Anthony led the way as they walked easily towards their goal of being the best basketball nation in the world.

One of the sub-plots to transpire was the emergence of Australian small-forward Joe Ingles. The Boomers were down Andrew Bogut and had to rely on several young players to carry the team. Many predicted that Patrick Mills would be the player to do this. However, it was Joe Ingles who emerged as the best player on the team.

In 2009 Joe Ingles sat and anxiously awaited his name to be called during the NBA draft. It was a bittersweet night for Ingles seeing his fellow Boomers teammate Patty Mills end up in Portland but also a number of Small Forwards like Greece’s Nick Calathes and Taylor Griffin (Brother of Blake) end being drafted only to fail to live up to their potential and go on to have nowhere near the international success or develop as a player as we have seen with Ingles.

Joe Ingles-WarriorsAlthough many NBA teams loved his potential, an untested swing-man who didn’t have a terrific jump-shot scared many teams on draft night. Since then Joe Ingles has tried to remain in minds of basketball front office types suiting up for the Golden State Warriors summer league teams in 2009 and 2010.

During these stints however Ingles has shot only 20% from the field and 25% from beyond the three point line which did little to alter the NBA’s perception of him.

For the most part Ingles has played in Europe, mostly as a member of FC Barcelona, clearly one the best team’s outside of the NBA. During this time has developed as a reliable outside shooter (39.4% in Euroleague this year) and a strong finisher inside (50% two-point field goal percentage this year) as well as clearly working on his ball-handling skills his defensively has improved out of sight. This development has earned him a place in Barcelona’s starting unit as well one of the key players for Australia’s National Team.

joe-ingles-boomers-nbaIt was as a part of the Australian team where Joe Ingles name’s resurfaced amongst the NBA landscape. In London Ingles averaged 15 points per-game, 4.2 assists, 5 rebounds and 2 steals and was clearly one of the best players in the tournament without an NBA deal. Against the USA he was tremendous delivering 19 points, had 8 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals and 2 made three-pointers.

NBA Scouts perked their ears up and have taken notice. Numerous teams have inquired about Ingles availability throughout the year including the Memphis Grizzlies who came extremely close to signing him mid-season. Unfortunately Ingles being untested, combined with the fact that any NBA team who found Ingles appealing enough to offer a contract to in 2012/13 would have to cover the multi-million dollar buy-out clause Barcelona had on his contract.

“There’s some NBA teams that have shown a lot of interest.” Ingles reported to the  media this week.

“That’s definitely the goal, to get over there, and I’m going to have a fair crack at it either way”.

“If I can get a contract or if it’s going to training camps or whatever it is, I’m going to take a shot at it.

Most recently it appears the newly named New Orleans Pelicans, who by no coincidence have a gaping hole in the small-forward position, have taken interest in the newly uncontracted Ingles.

Al-Farouq Aminu never really moulded into the player that the organisation had hoped for. His inconsistency and inability to stretch the floor or handle the ball made him somewhat of a liability, Ingles however would make a versatile wing-defender to pair with Anthony Davis.

Joe Ingles makes perfect sense for the Pelicans because he brings exactly what they need. He doesn’t have to be the primary ball-handler, but isn’t a liability to shoot the ball. Defensively he can guard opposing wings (Joe posted the 7th fastest Agility at the 2009 NBA combine, as fast as Jrue Holiday and Darren Collison).

The Pelicans have plenty of cap-space this summer and can afford to take a risk on a European player. If Ingles doesn’t work out it’s not the end of the world, the 2014 Draft waits. He’s been tested and is hungry to prove himself in the NBA. Scouts have overlooked him and he has noted he knows his NBA window is closing. “I’m 25, turning 26, and the window is closing [on a chance to play in the NBA], not too fast but it is closing.”

“I’m coming off a pretty consistent three years at one of the best teams in Europe.”

Ingles value is not far off a minimum at this point, but increased competition for his service may mean teams might have to pay a bit more than expected. Joe’s contract has just expired with FC Barcelona. A 2 year/$6 million deal with the second year being a team-option is likely to be what an NBA would invest in a player of his caliber and reputation.

If successful Joe Ingles would become the 11th Australian to play in the NBA.

David Andersen
Chris Anstey
Aron Baynes*
Andrew Bogut*
Mark Bradtke
Andrew Gaze
1994; 1999
Shane Heal
Nathan Jawai
Luc Longley
Patrick Mills*
Luke Schenscher
* denotes currently active on an NBA roster This does not include Kyrie Irving who was born in Australia
Dan BoyceAuthor: Dan Boyce (338 Posts)

Dan Boyce is a die-hard Sydney Kings fan who grew up in Melbourne during the roaring 90's of Australian Basketball and spent far too much time collecting Futera NBL Basketball cards