Timberwolves head coach Chris Finch recently sat down for an extensive interview with Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. Finch and Hine engaged in some nitty-gritty conversations pertaining to the team’s plans for development on both sides of the ball, Finch’s relationship with new team president Sachin Gupta, and how power forward Jarred Vanderbilt is an under-appreciated contributor.
Under Finch, Minnesota sports a competent record of 18-25. They are currently 2-0 this year. Team stars Anthony Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns, and D’Angelo Russell have exhibited encouraging chemistry together during this early portion of the 2021/22 NBA season.
The Timberwolves boast a 93.1 defensive rating thus far, good for the second-best in the league. Their 104.8 offensive pace ranks fifth in the NBA.
The full conversation is well worth a read, but here are some highlights from the chat:
On his time developing a relationship with Gupta with the Rockets, where Finch was an assistant coach and Gupta was a front office advisor:
“I remember the first project that (Sachin) and I ever did together. We were studying corner threes and I was looking for places on the floor where the passes came to generate the best corner threes. Some of it made sense just looking at the game, but he mapped it out. He gridified the half court and had all different color zones about the best way to create open corner threes from where you were passing on the floor.”
On how he hopes to re-tool the Timberwolves’ offensive possessions:
“I think probably develop a little bit more of a complete package for Anthony. So he’s kind of not like going through the game looking for opportunities. Maybe direct the ball more to him. Opportunities to post D’Angelo for his playmaking down there. Then continue to experiment with (Towns). Just move him around and continue to play him more like a guard as well as a big. When you have a guy like that, it’s a lot of fun.”
On how the recently re-signed Vanderbilt helps the team win, per analytics research:
“Multiple possessions guy (with offensive rebounding). So anyone who gets you multiple possessions is worth it. If you think about the average possession in the NBA, it’s worth like 1.1 points or whatever, let’s say. If you get three more possessions than your opponent, that’s about 3.5 points more. So it’s just basketball mathematics in that way. That’s one. Two is his defense, versatility on defense. So when he’s on the floor with multitude of defensive lineups, they are generally plus defensive ratings. Then, his rebounding too. He’s not only getting you extra rebounds offensively, but he’s helping a place where you’re already weak defensively. With that, it’s probably not as strong as the other two for sure. And a lot of the defensive stuff is his ability to be successful in pick and roll as a switch defender.”
On how he intends to improve the club’s defense:
“Transition, eliminate our fouling or reduce it, and rebounding. If you look at those three play types, from an offensive point of view, they’re the three most efficient play type starts. Teams that score in transition score at a higher rate. Free throws are big and then offensive rebounds. So even if we got back and we’re not a great half-court defense, but we make them play in the half court more, we’re going to win that small battle, even if they’re making shots against us. They’re not going to make shots at the rate they do in transition.”