OKC Thunder – Utah Jazz Series: How big man battle can decide series

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - OCTOBER 21: Carmelo Anthony
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - OCTOBER 21: Carmelo Anthony /
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Small Forward Showdown:

In the blue corner: a five-time All-star, three-time All-NBA, three-time All-Defense superstar, Paul George

In the purple corner: Joe Ingles

Therefore, that’s a huge advantage for the Thunder, right? Well, it is an advantage, but it won’t be as big as you’d think. Joe Ingles is good. No wait, Joe Ingles is good. Firstly, he’s a great passer. Ingles has an Assist Percentage of 22.2 (stats per NBA.com), which is 12th among all forwards, and massive for a “role player.”

Most noteworthy, he’s a flat-out knock-down shooter: 51.4 percent from the left corner and 47.5 percent  from the right on an attempt from each per game, 41.5 percent from above the break on 3.8 attempts. That’s 44 percent overall, tied for sixth (min 100 attempts) with some guy named Klay Thompson.

Lastly, Ingles is an excellent defender, which is something you would not expect from someone of his, um, athleticism. For support of that fact, I give you simply the eye test. You’ll have to take my eyes’ word for it. Trust them, it’s true.

‘Playoff P’

So, put that all together, and it may seem like the Thunder’s advantage at the Small Forward position has disappeared. But fear not, the Thunder made a late-season acquisition. Paul George has been traded from the Thunder, and the Thunder will receive Playoff P in return. Just listen to PG’s ringing endorsement of the guy. It’s not often you hear someone support their replacement so enthusiastically.

Seems like he’s not wrong. This Playoff P guy is an absolute beast. Over the last four seasons (three post-seasons due to PG’s gruesome leg injury), he’s averaged 24.4 point per game and 40 percent from three and 84.6 percent from the line (7.4 attempts), all while acting as the primary defender for guys like DeMar DeRozan and LeBron James (stats per Basketball Reference). That is the guy the Thunder traded for, and Paul George seems confident that he’ll be walking through that door.

Hence, if he does, huge advantage: OKC Thunder.