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Timberwolves’ road map is simple: Collect elite talent, then let Chris Finch work

Finch already has displayed what he can do with less-than-the-best talent in this league during his short tenure with the Timberwolves.

New Minnesota Timberwolves player Rudy Gobert, center, holds up his jersey with team president Tim Connelly, left, and head coach Chris Finch during an introductory news conference at the Target Center in Minneapolis on Wednesday, July 6, 2022.
John Autey / St. Paul Pioneer Press
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MINNEAPOLIS — There are many questions about “fit” anytime a team makes an acquisition, especially a big one. Those questions — which often sound more like concerns — were voiced loudly around the basketball world after the Timberwolves paid a hefty price to attain Rudy Gobert’s services.

Can Gobert play alongside Karl-Anthony Towns? How will a big team fare in the playoffs while many of the best teams are going small? Isn’t that a lot of money to pay a pair of centers?

Maybe. We’ll see. And yes.

There are so many more layers to the Gobert trade from Minnesota’s perspective, not the least of which is the way in which the All-NBA center could aid in the development of young, star guard Anthony Edwards. But in terms of the immediate, on-court future, Timberwolves’ president of basketball operations Tim Connelly seems to have one concrete answer to all of the questions: Chris Finch will figure it out.

Here are a few separate excerpts from Connelly’s comments concerning the Timberwolves coach at Gobert’s introductory news conference Wednesday:


“Chris is an elite coach so when you have great depth, elite high-end talent, and you add a guy, like Rudy, it’s hard not to get excited. It’s hard not to be not overly risk averse and kind of throw your chips in a bit.”

“Rudy’s best basketball is in front of him, and we’re adding him to a really, really talented core of guys, we have an unbelievably creative coach.”

“We’re hugely fortunate that we have Chris as a coach, because Chris is so creative.”

Basically: Rudy Gobert is great, and Chris Finch is great, so how could this not be great?

New Minnesota Timberwolves player Rudy Gobert, center, shares a laugh with team president Tim Connelly, left, and head coach Chris Finch during an introductory news conference at the Target Center in Minneapolis on Wednesday, July 6, 2022.
John Autey / St. Paul Pioneer Press

And, frankly, that basic math adds up. Because elite talent and elite coaching is the relatively simple, consistent formula used to achieve high-level success in the NBA, as well as any other league.

Finch already has displayed what he can do with less-than-the-best talent in this league during his short tenure with the Timberwolves.

Minnesota’s roster frankly wasn’t very good in the spring of 2021, when Finch took over and led the Timberwolves to a 9-7 finish. Last year’s team lacked defensive acumen but finished 13th in the NBA in defensive efficiency. There was a night in late December in which the Timberwolves’ COVID-ravaged roster left the team with a starting lineup of Jordan McLaughlin, Malik Beasley, Jaden McDaniels, Josh Okogie and Nathan Knight.

On that evening, the Timberwolves beat a Boston team, while also short-handed, that still featured the likes of Jaylen Brown, Al Horford, Robert Williams III, Grant Williams and Payton Pritchard. Minnesota’s star players that game were Jaylen Nowell and then newly-signed Greg Monroe, who arrived on the scene just hours before tipoff.


From his early coaching years cutting his teeth in Europe to his time scraping together new lineups at a moment’s notice in the G-League, Finch has mastered learning how to do more with less. Now he gets to do more with more.

Regardless of which positions they play or if it’s the way the NBA is trending, high-end talent is high-end talent, and Finch is clearly excited to have it. When Connelly and the coach first discussed the idea of potentially adding Gobert, Finch whipped out a whiteboard and went to work diagramming how certain lineups would look in action.

“What we love is the dynamic between him and KAT will now force teams to choose a little bit more about how they want to guard one or the other, and then we’re going to have to figure out how we exploit that, and that’s the fun part,” Finch said. “That’s what the rest of the summer is for.”

Finch was already looking forward to Summer League action this week in Las Vegas, where he and his staff would be able to get together to put preliminary plans in place.

“Coach is going to be able to do a lot of cool things,” Gobert said.

With a lineup sure to be bigger than its opponent on a nightly basis, Minnesota is set for a season full of chess matches. Finch has proven to be good at that game. Everything the staff designs, he said, will be kept “simple and highly executable.”

The knee-jerk reaction when an opponent goes small is to do the same to match up, particularly in the playoffs. Finch already has stated that will not be the Timberwolves’ approach.

“We’re not doing that,” he said. “We’re going to have to figure out a way that all these things work.”


The Timberwolves are counting on their coach doing just that.

“We feel very confident in our ability to do so,” Finch said, “and more importantly, in our players’ ability to do so.”


The Timberwolves announced the signings of free-agent forward Kyle Anderson and rookie wing Wendell Moore Jr. on Friday. Moore, a first-round draft pick, signed ahead of his Summer League debut Friday in Las Vegas.


This story was written by one of our partner news agencies. Forum Communications Company uses content from agencies such as Reuters, Kaiser Health News, Tribune News Service and others to provide a wider range of news to our readers. Learn more about the news services FCC uses here.

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