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Joe Ingles takes over as Jazz’s all-time greatest shooter

SALT LAKE CITY — Joe Ingles helped me go viral in Australia once.

Just kidding. But, in a way, it’s true.

Back in 2018, when I was working for another media outlet in the Salt Lake City market, I covered a Jazz preseason game in which Ingles played particularly well. Postgame, Ingles was especially snarky and relaxed, something that is pretty typical for his dealings with the local media. Wanting to practice my interviewing skills, I asked Ingles if it was hard to maintain his confidence after missing his first couple of 3-point attempts at the beginning of the game.

Without waiting for me to finish stumbling through my question, Ingles quipped “No. I’m the best shooter in the league. That’s a silly question.”

The Australian professional league, the National Basketball League, clipped the video of my “silly question” and posted it on Instagram, putting the sound of my monotone voice in the phones of 150,000 people on the other side of the globe. One of my friends, who weirdly and inexplicably was following the NBL, sent me the link, which I quickly reposted on my own Instagram. The texts from friends came pouring in shortly afterwards. It was a hoot.

In his response to my question, Ingles was obviously joking. While he is definitely in the upper quadrant of NBA shooters, he’s probably never been the absolute best in the league. Now, however, he can claim the title of best shooter in Utah Jazz franchise history.

With his second 3-pointer in Utah’s 120-101 victory over Dallas on Friday night, Ingles passed John Stockton with 846 made triples, ascending to the top of the Jazz’s all-time leaderboard.

It’s a big deal. Anytime a Jazzman can break a record held by one of the two statues residing on the corner of 300 West and 100 South, that’s pretty dang noteworthy. What makes it even more impressive is that this record was broken by a guy like Ingles, who crashed the NBA party and has carved out a remarkable career. As many Jazz fans know, he started out as a 27-year-old undrafted rookie who was a last-second release by the Clippers before the year began. He came aboard the Jazz the same year the team drafted Dante Exum — I suspect Ingles was brought on to help mentor the young, fellow Australian — and outlasted and outplayed the lottery pick in nearly every conceivable way.

Of course, the game has changed substantially since the former 3-point record holder was playing. In the 19 seasons that Stockton played, the Hall of Famer put up 2,203 total attempts, or 1.7 per game, from downtown. Ingles, in his seventh season, will probably eclipse that mark towards the end of this campaign as he carries a career average of 4.2 heaves from beyond the arc and already has fired 2,071 total. The career percentage clearly leans in Ingles’ favor as he has knocked down 40.8 percent of his 3-pointers as opposed to Stockton, who made 38.4 percent (both of those are terrific percentages, by the way; the league average is about 35 percent). Without question, Ingles is the best shooter in Jazz history.

The 3-point game has been growing and growing as a vital part of any successful team’s strategy. The Golden State Warriors, headlined by Steph Curry, who will more than likely go down as the greatest shooter in NBA history (sorry, Joe), led that revolution. However, Ingles’ Jazz have perfected that strategy. So far into this season, Utah is shooting the rock at a historic rate. With Gobert sucking defenses into the middle with his threat to dunk at will, Ingles and the squad’s other shooters; Bojan Bogdanovic, Jordan Clarkson, Mike Conley, and Donovan Mitchell, are seeing open shots at a rate that should terrify opposing teams. The Jazz are really, really good and their NBA-best record shows that.

Utah has an excellent shot at breaking every team single-season shooting record in the books. This year’s squad may go down as the greatest 3-point shooting team in NBA history when all is said and done. That makes them a contender.

By acquiring more capable shooters, it’s been a build-up to where the Jazz are now when it comes to shooting the rock, and Ingles has been at the center of that his whole career. Again, he is definitely the best shooter in team history. No silly question about it.

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