In some unspecified time in the future between the final season and this one, Royce O’Neale took over Joe Ingles’ beginning function with the Utah Jazz.
The transfer was a little bit of a shock, contemplating the truth that Ingles was second on the Jazz and 27th within the NBA in wins over alternative participant over the course of the 2 seasons through which he began on the Three (behind solely Rudy Gobert).
However O’Neale has accomplished a stable job in his function beginning alongside Mike Conley, Donovan Mitchell, Bojan Bogdanovic and Gobert.
His minuscule 7.9 utilization share (281st amongst 281 gamers with 200-plus minutes this season) might be a bit too low, but it surely makes him a pleasant match with gamers who wish to get photographs up (like Mitchell, Bogdanovic and Conley).
And on the uncommon events he truly does shoot, he’s proven pinpoint accuracy. Of O’Neale’s 73 photographs, 44 have been threes. His 47.7 three-point share is sixth amongst gamers with not less than as many makes an attempt (Bogdanovic is seventh).
“He’s a man that, like Rudy, actually simply sacrifices every part for the group,” Conley mentioned, per Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune. “[He’s] guarding the perfect participant, making massive photographs. … When you might have guys like that, that places you over the sting.”
It’s that skill and willingness to defend the opposition’s prime offensive participant that makes O’Neale particularly invaluable.
Utah is permitting 2.5 fewer factors per 100 possessions when O’Neale is on the ground, per Cleansing the Glass. His defensive field plus/minus of two.eight ranks 30th within the NBA (eight amongst non-bigs).
He’s in the midst of his third season (out of three) with a 1.5-plus defensive field plus/minus and a 35-plus three-point share. Solely 12 gamers in NBA historical past had extra seasons through which these qualifiers have been hit.
In case you up the qualifiers to 2.zero and 38%, O’Neale drops to 2 complete seasons, however Shane Battier, Larry Hen (4 every) and Nate McMillan (three) are the one gamers with extra.
This can be a Three-and-D specialist, in about as pure a type as potential.
And his gap-filling skill helps the Jazz’ beginning 5 carry out at about as excessive a degree as any lineup within the NBA.
When Conley, Mitchell, O’Neale, Bogdanovic and Gobert are on the ground, Utah is plus-16.1 factors per 100 possessions (99th percentile). The offense of that unit ranks within the 86th percentile, whereas the protection ranks within the 98th.
O’Neale is excelling in his function. If there’s any trigger for concern, it’s that he most likely doesn’t shoot fairly sufficient. Tune into any Jazz sport and also you’re more likely to see O’Neale go up open seems to be on a couple of event.
Unselfishness is nice, however a shooter that good can’t be passing up open seems to be. If he upped his quantity a bit, defenses must pay even nearer consideration to him on the perimeter. That, in flip, would open issues up inside for Gobert’s rim runs and Conley, Mitchell and Bogdanovic’s drives.
That’s nitpicking, although. Offensively, O’Neale isn’t requested to do a ton, however he’s efficient in his restricted function. Defensively, he doubtless has extra accountability than any Jazz participant not named Gobert. However he excels there too.
1 / 4 of the best way by way of the season, he’s been one of many NBA’s greatest function gamers this season.
Until in any other case indicated, all stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.