Timberwolves Players Love Chris Finch and His Up-Front, Blunt Coaching Style

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It took until Chris Finch’s first press conference for me to understand how good of hands the Minnesota Timberwolves were in. But for those in the basketball world who had crossed paths with the first-time head coach during the last two decades, there was never a doubt.

Related: Chris Finch Becomes First Timberwolves All-Star Game Coach Since Flip Saunders

Before landing in Minnesota, Finch had coached all over the world and found success pretty much everywhere he went. And at every stop, he made good players into better players. Which is why former Wolves president of basketball operations, Gersson Rosas, pre-targeted Finch back in February 2021, when he was an assistant with the Toronto Raptors, and Ryan Saunders was still the head coach here.

Rosas was fired not too long after hiring Finch, and that saga was something worth digging back into another time, but there was never a doubt about Chris, even after Gersson was out. The rest of the organization clearly knew what it had, in Finchy, very quickly.

Minnesota Timberwolves players celebrate All-Star head coach

Three years later, to the month, the Timberwolves are the best team in the Western Conference entering the All-Star break, meaning Finch is the head coach of the West All-Star team, an honor he clinched last night when the Wolves blew out the Houston Rockets at Target Center.

After becoming the first Minnesota Timberwolves head coach to earn the All-Star nod since Flip Saunders did it exactly 20 years ago (2004), Wolves players waited quietly in the locker room as Finch walked in, as if this was just going to be another postgame speech. As he started to speak, they ambushed their All-Star coach with water bottles in celebration.

Then, one-by-one players went to bat for their head coach and how badly they wanted to get this win for him. It doesn’t take very many of these quotes before you realize how instrumental Chris Finch is to the development and growth of the Minnesota Timberwolves and youngsters who had never reached their full potential before he arrived.

“That probably was the greatest thing of this season. That’s dope for him to get recognized for how great he’s coached this year.”

Anthony Edwards postgame on Chris Finch

Finch is more than a players coach

But that doesn’t mean Finch is a players-first coach who lets the locker room run wild, caring more about player feelings than he does the basketball being played on the court. There have been multiple times this season, both after losses and wins, that Finchy has come to the postgame podium ready to vent over his teams failures from that game.

Related: Timberwolves Tried Trading 4 Draft Picks for Tyus Jones but Wizards Said No

Most notably, Finch used his postgame interview to vent after KAT went off for 62 points, in a Wolves loss early last week. The head coach was so disgusted and blinded by how poorly the Timberwolves played that he seemed to completely forget about Karl’s huge night.

Wolves players don’t just like Chris Finch, they respect him. He’s a real dude and whatever he’s willing to say in front of media, he’s already been much more up-front with that player. If you think the above was a one-off scenario, try again.

At MSF, we’ve documented a couple times he’s used the media to vent over the last couple season, not to mention his rant above. They know what he expects and they know that, should they not meet expectations, they’ll know about it.

The first thing that Wolves players mention when asked about Finch is his willingness to coach this team hard. The modern NBA is a star-driven league, and that can make the practice of coaching them a delicate one. But these players say Finch doesn’t play favorites.

“He doesn’t back down from anybody,” Conley said. “He’s a guy that really challenges you, calls you out in front of everybody. He lets you know what you need to do to get better every day and is consistent with that.”

The Athletic

Every basketball soul Finch has come across has the same message. Not only is Chris a great basketball mind, but he knows what makes players tick, which is so much more important than X’s and O’s.

If you see Gersson Rosas, thank him for Chris Finch

Chris Finch during Dallas Mavericks vs Minnesota Timberwolves
Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

In mid-February 2021, Gersson Rosas fired Ryan Saunders immediately following an ugly road loss vs Tom Thibodeau and the New York Knicks. Like… before the team got back on the plane that night, meaning Saunders had to find his own way back to MSP.

Related: Every Player the Minnesota Timberwolves Have Been Linked to Before NBA Trade Deadline

Gersson was so desperate to hire Finch that he didn’t even take the time to order Ryan an Uber to the airport, because he was already on the phone offering Finch the head coaching job. No coaching search, no interim replacement, no diversity.

All Rosas wanted was Chris Finch and he didn’t care who he had to piss off or offend to get it done. As long as he landed Finchy, everything else would work out. Clearly, Gersson was right, even if he never got to stick around to see his controversial coaching hire bear fruit.

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