Timberwolves Roundup: Vanderbilt’s breakout, plus Finch on officials

Jarred Vanderbilt is in the midst of a breakout campaign for the Timberwolves, and Chris Hine of the Star Tribune wrote a fantastic piece on his journey to this point. Plus, head coach Chris Finch spoke out a bit more about challenges with the officials.

Timberwolves head coach Chris Finch speaks on officiating challenges

The Timberwolves haven’t played in three days. The last time they played featured a third-quarter meltdown that included a (justified) ejection of Anthony Edwards and a (more-than-questionable) flagrant foul call on Karl-Anthony Towns.

There’s been plenty of time to digest the issues related to the officials that the Wolves encountered against the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday. But as noted by a pair of Timberwolves beat columnists over the past few days, the Wolves’ grievances against the way they’re typically officiated goes back several years.

The Athletic’s Jon Krawczynski went in-depth on the issue (subscription required), deciding that the problems date back to when Ricky Rubio was hammered on a potential game-tying 3-point attempt by Kobe Bryant. The following year, it was the infamous “Oh! Ed Malloy!” non-call on a Kevin Love shot attempt in the final seconds of a Wolves loss.

He explains the issues the Wolves had in the ensuing years, including the last year with Chris Finch at the helm.

MinnPost’s Britt Robson took a Towns-specific angle on the issue, noting the adjustments he’s made to his game in order to accommodate the shifting makeup of the roster, as well as the way he, and the Wolves as a whole, are officiated.

Finch himself was candid when asked direct questions about the officiating the Wolves receive. After all, the Wolves continue to carry the largest disparity in free throw attempts per game, meaning the difference in free throw attempts per game by Minnesota versus the attempts at the line from their opponents.

It’s a storyline that will require constant watching as we sift through the dog days of January and March and look towards the home stretch of the regular season.

Jarred Vanderbilt’s breakout in the context of his rough road to this point

Chris Hine of the Star Tribune put together a great read on the challenging road that Jarred Vanderbilt has traveled en route to a starting role on what is likely a playoff-bound team.

Vanderbilt was a highly sought-after college recruit, despite serious foot injuries in his junior and senior years of high school. He was injured again while at the University of Kentucky, ultimately playing in just 14 games as a Wildcat.

Still, the physical talent and tools were so evident that Vanderbilt was still draft, although he fell to No. 41 overall, the 11th pick of the second round.

Hine’s piece goes all the way back to Vanderbilt’s pre-high-school days and includes the struggles he faced throughout college and through his time with the Denver Nuggets, where he only appeared in 23 games over two seasons.

It’s a great read and helps underscore just how meaningful Vanderbilt’s breakout has truly been.

Indeed, the Wolves wouldn’t be hovering around the .500 mark and sitting just 1.5 games out of the coveted No. 6 spot in the Western Conference if it wasn’t for Vanderbilt’s strong play to this point.