The Minnesota Timberwolves front office created a bit of a Frankenstein monster out of the Timberwolves’ roster this season. In most cases, an NBA head coach is held accountable for a team because, by rights, he is the person who is most directly familiar with and responsible for motivating, strategizing, and rotating the team’s players to ensure a spirited effort at all times.
But it’s hard to argue with any assertion that the Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Chris Finch is familiar with his team. After all, he was making introductions with his players up to the day that the 2022-23 NBA season began. As a result, he was severely handicapped in determining who would complement who on the Timberwolves roster.
And just as he was beginning to get a handle on this team, and the best lineups for various gametime scenarios, key players began to fall to injuries. Not the one or two-game variety. Rather, the injuries have impacted players for weeks.
Timberwolves roster woes
Of the 37 games played by the Minnesota Timberwolves so far this season:
- PF Taurean Prince has played 18 games (less than half)
PF/C Karl-Anthony Towns has played 21 games
Backup PG Jordan McLaughlin has played 18 games
C Rudy Gobert has played 31 games
PF Kyle Anderson has played 27 games
SF Jaden McDaniels has played 34 games
PG D’Angelo Russell has played 35 games
That is a lot of missed time and is particularly impactful to a team whose roster was relying on on-the-job training (OJT) to sort things this season.
The intermittent number and severity of injuries have forced the team to commit many minutes to too few players. And that in itself can elevate and amplify the risk of injuries to the remaining healthy players. Right now, young shooting guard Anthony Edwards is averaging more than 37 minutes per game. That’s a lot to ask from the team’s leading scorer over an 82-game season. And by the way, Anthony Edwards is the lone player on the Timberwolves roster who has suited up for every game.
A horrific effort from the Timberwolves’ bench
The greatest impact on the Timberwolves roster is what Coach Finch can get off his bench. Against the Detroit Pistons, the bench put on a pathetic performance, as they were outscored by the Pistons bench by a score of 65-20. They combined for two of 11 from the perimeter, put on an assist-to-turnover ratio of 0.4, and only scored on 39 percent of their shots from the floor.
It was so bad, that a normally calm and steady-as-she-goes Timberwolves head coach Chris Finch suggested that he will be changing things, or “I need to think differently about who plays and how.” as quoted below:
Tough talk? Hardly. After all, the Timberwolves’ six-game losing streak that has dropped this team to 16-21 has kindled those Timberwolves rumors that the team may part ways with Chris Finch before the end of this season. It’s hard to believe that any NBA head coach could or should be held responsible for what is happening to this team in terms of early-season injuries and lack of success. But like many things, firing a head coach is the path of least resistance in many cases.
So if it appears as though he is putting up a fight? He is. He didn’t create this Frankenstein. But it’s up to him to neutralize it.