Coach Mike Budenholzer couldn't be happier with how Milwaukee's gamble on Joe Ingles has panned out, declaring the Australian integral to the Bucks' NBA playoff aspirations.
Ingles' career appeared in doubt when he slipped and tore his ACL playing for the Utah Jazz in January last year.
The 35-year-old swingman had previously enjoyed a clean bill of health and notably played 384 consecutive games for Utah between 2015 and 2021, which was the NBA's longest active streak at the time.
But with the long road back from an ACL injury stretching before them, the Jazz traded Ingles, who became a free agent after eight seasons with the franchise.
Ingles then found a lifeline at NBA powerhouse the Bucks, who signed the 2020 Olympic bronze medallist knowing he would spend the beginning of his one-year contract recovering.
Appearing in the twilight of his career, there was no guarantee Ingles would return to his best even once that process had finished.
But now that he is back on the court, quicker than expected, the Bucks are cashing in.
He might not have the speed of his championship-winning teammates or their dynamism in the paint, but through 28 games, Ingles has become a cornerstone of the Milwaukee bench.
He notched his first double-double of the season in his sixth game as a Buck and managed a season-high 17 points in early January.
"It's played out very much like we wanted," Budenholzer said of Ingles' return to play.
"Even while he was injured, the way he contributed in the locker room and the training room and at practices, he just brings an edge.
"He brings an IQ, a sense of humour."
The Bucks have found value in Ingles' shooting from deep and his ability to marshal the troops when the team's star players are on the bench.
He is averaging three assists a game and is shooting from deep at 34.2 per cent, just shy of the 40.4 per cent he managed across eight seasons with the Jazz.
"His play making, his shot making, his toughness, he's just a winner," Budenholzer said.
"It's just nice to have three or four guys that you can put the ball in their hands and play a two-man action late in the game and trust their decisions.Giannis dunks all over the Nets as Bucks win 15th straight
Giannis Antetokounmpo throws down some electrifying dunks as the Bucks make it 15 straight wins.
"We feel like he's someone who can do that."
Of the 10 Australians contracted with NBA franchises, Ingles appears the best chance of going deep into the play-offs given the Bucks lead the eastern conference with just over a month to play in the regular season.
With Jrue Holiday, Khris Middleton and two-time league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo on the books, Milwaukee has no shortage of star power, but Budenholzer will continue giving Ingles the chance to close games out as the season reaches its business end.
"He's going to be a big part of us going down the stretch (into the play-offs)," Budenholzer said.
"He fits with us really, really well."
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