Things with the Minnesota Timberwolves have been looking pretty murky this season. The team has a 7-24 record, the worst in the league so far. Their star player, Karl-Anthony Towns, has battled with injuries and COVID. And they recently fired their head coach, Ryan Saunders…their ninth coach in just fifteen years.
Saunders’ undoing was a recent Timberwolves loss to the New York Knicks. It was during this loss that Minnesota’s president of basketball operations, Gerrason Rosas, was looking for a new head coach. He would find one in Toronto Raptors Chris Finch, almost instantly after Saunders was dismissed.
How effective is Finch as a head coach, and could he work wonders for a moribund Timberwolves franchise? Let’s take a look at Finch’s background, and how he can positively impact his new team.
Finch got his start in the NBA as the head coach of the D-League’s Rio Grande Valley Vipers. There, he led the Vipers to not only their first playoff berth but their first championship as well, sweeping the Tulsa 66ers in the D-League Finals. A year after the Vipers’ title win, Finch would join the Houston Rockets. This is where he became familiarized with Rosas.
Following his stint in Houston, Finch would join the Denver Nuggets as an associate head coach under Mike Malone. A year later, he went to the New Orleans Pelicans, serving the same title under Alvin Gentry. In 2020, Finch joined the Toronto Raptors coaching staff, reuniting with Nick Nurse. Finch was an assistant coach to Nurse during the 2012 Summer Olympics.
Finch’s Fit in Minnesota
Finch is regarded in many NBA circles as one of the best offensive strategists in the game. He has coached many great players in his coaching career, including James Harden, Nikola Jokic, and Zion Williamson. His coaching prowess has certainly caught the attention of Rosas, who oversaw the Valley Vipers when Finch was the head coach.
With his offensive pedigree, Finch can bring new life to a Timberwolves team that has been near the bottom of the league offensively. Minnesota is currently 25th in points scored, 28th in field goal percentage, and 20th in three-point percentage.
All around, the offense is not very good. But Finch can implement his offense and remedy some of the Timberwolves’ offensive woes.
On paper, Finch has plenty of players on the Timberwolves to work his offense around. Karl-Anthony Towns is one of the best offensive centers in the game. Malik Beasley is capable of shooting well from three, whether it’s as a starter or off the bench. First overall pick Anthony Edwards continues to make growth on offense, as his shooting improves over time.
There are a few Timberwolves that can benefit from Finch’s coaching, such as Josh Okogie and Ricky Rubio to name a few. While Okogie is special on defense, his offense (4.7 PPG this season) can leave a lot to be desired. Rubio started the season off slow but has picked up the pace with D’Angelo Russell out of the lineup. Rubio and Russell together have been a poor fit on the court (the Timberwolves have a net rating of -21.8 when they share the floor), but Finch can find a way to rectify this issue.
Can Finch Turn Around the Timberwolves?
Looking back on his previous coaching experience, Finch could be the right fit for Minnesota. When Finch was in Denver, the Nuggets ran their offense around Jokic, designating the Serbian big man as the focal point. Finch can work the same magic with Towns in Minnesota, and have him reach his full potential on the offensive end.
One of Finch’s biggest traits on offense is off-ball movement. Many point guards have flourished from Finch’s maximization of off-ball movement, such as Jrue Holiday, Jamal Murray, and most recently, Fred VanVleet. Finch can help with Russell’s ability to move off-ball, and the same can be said for Beasley and some of the other Timberwolves guards.
While assistant coach David Vanterpool continues to work on the defense, Finch can use his offensive mind to have the Timberwolves humming on offense. Rosas has put all of his eggs in his basket by hiring Finch, and it’s now up to Finch to turn the Timberwolves’ fortunes around. Rosas stated that Finch has had success maximizing NBA players on offense, so it will be interesting to see how Finch can maximize the Timberwolves player on offense and lead Minnesota to new heights.