On the one-year anniversary of his tenure with the franchise, Timberwolves head coach Chris Finch sat down for a wide-ranging conversation with Chris Hine of The Star Tribune to discuss his approach to the team.
Finch, 52, has guided Minnesota to a 32-28 record this season thus far, good for the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference. Center Karl-Anthony Towns made his first All-Star team since 2019, and second-year shooting guard Anthony Edwards has continued his trajectory toward becoming an All-Star talent in his own right.
Finch was an assistant coach under Nick Nurse for the Raptors during the first half of the 2020/21 season before accepting the gig as the head man in Minnesota on February 22, 2021.
Finch discussed his expectations for the club’s roster upon arriving as head coach late into the 2020/21 NBA season. Under Finch’s abbreviated stewardship as a midseason replacement for Ryan Saunders last year, the Timberwolves ultimately finished 16-25.
“I thought there was a lot of talent, particularly in [Towns] and [point guard D’Angelo Russell],” Finch said of his initial impressions of Minnesota’s roster. “Not just talent but skill. You can have talent, but skill is another thing altogether too.”
This season, the Timberwolves have been striving to strike a balance defensively between a proactive and reactive approach towards opposing offenses. Finch considers this tactic a good dress rehearsal for adjusting to playoff matchups.
“Now that you played teams multiple times, they have a good feel for who you are and what you’re trying to do,” Finch noted. “Our defense is pretty aggressive and aggressive defenses can be baited into a lot of things. Tempering some of that or using that at the right time is key. Two, as we whittle everything down towards what we hope is a playoff presence, it’s all about being able to adjust and execute different schemes in a playoff.”
Edwards, the No. 1 pick out of Georgia in 2020, has taken an offensive leap recently. Finch discussed how the 20-year-old is learning to adjust to different defenses. Through 55 games this season, Edwards is averaging 21.4 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 3.7 APG, and 1.5 SPG. The 6’4″ wing has shooting splits this season of .431/.348/.765.
“He is definitely a smart and quick learner,” Finch said. “Obviously we’re walking him through it on video, pointing it out when we see it in a game as soon as it happens and communicating so he can start making some adjustments. … It’s not on autopilot for him to switch gears right away and do something different. Every night it might be different so he’s still in that phase where he’s struggling to get an offensive rhythm at times because of this.”