February 1, 2023

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Milwaukee Bucks forward Joe Ingles will make his return to the floor after missing the past 10 months when the Bucks face the New Orleans Pelicans Monday, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The last hurdle for Ingles was a five-on-five workout Saturday and after clearing that he was deemed to be good to go for the Pelicans game.

Ingles last played on Jan. 30, when as a member of the Utah Jazz he tore his ACL in a loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves. He was traded to the Portland Trail Blazers while injured, but obviously did not play for them and was largely just cap filler. After becoming a free agent in the offseason, he signed a one-year, $6.5 million deal with the Bucks. Milwaukee was betting that it could get a very valuable role player at a bargain price due to Ingles’ injury, and now, with him set to return only two months into the season, they appear to have been correct.

Typically, an ACL recovery takes a year or more. For Ingles to be ready this quickly is quite impressive, and it gives the Bucks two sorely needed skills off their bench: shooting and playmaking. Ingles is a career 40.8 percent 3-point shooter, which is essential next to Giannis Antetokounmpo, and his 3.8 assists per game give the Bucks a necessary secondary ball-handler for many of their bench lineups. Ingles can function as a sort of backup point guard at the forward spots, and he should run some pick-and-roll with Antetokounmpo once they’ve developed chemistry.

That is going to take a bit of time, but fortunately, the Bucks have some to spare. The 20-8 Bucks trail only the Boston Celtics in the NBA standings, and they’ve managed that despite injuries to Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday. Now Milwaukee is finally getting healthy, and nobody wants to play the Bucks at full strength. They were imposing enough with half of their roster. With Ingles in the fold, Milwaukee might just be the championship favorite.

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