It has been a frustrating season for fans of the Minnesota Timberwolves. After an offseason where Tim Connelly and the front office went all-in on Rudy Gobert, the Wolves had exchanged their future draft capital for a foundational win-now piece, and were pushing all their chips to the center of the table.
Their massive trade for the French big man signaled that they believed in themselves as a contender here and now. And although the organization recognized that the Gobert era in Minnesota would be a multi-year process, it has been a shaky start to say the least. It certainly seems that more questions have been raised than have been answered since his arrival.
The Timberwolves were expected by many to be among the top five or six teams in the Western Conference this season with their plethora of talent. But due to a multitude of factors, they find themselves at .500 with 20 games remaining, and teetering on the edge of missing the playoffs entirely. With the team’s disappointing campaign this year, many fans are wondering: should Head Coach Chris Finch be on the hot seat?
Much of the Timberwolves’ shortcomings can be attributed to coaching failure
Coaching his second full season in Minnesota, Chris Finch has certainly had his share of mistakes. Friday’s home loss to the Charlotte Hornets was the latest iteration of a season-long trend wherein the Timberwolves failed to beat a team they held a massive talent advantage over.
The Hornets entered the game with the fourth-worst record in the entire league, and proceeded to outlast Minnesota on their home floor, 121-113. Sadly, it was same story, different day for the Timberwolves. The loss was their eighth of the season when facing the teams with the five worst records in the NBA.
When facing the Rockets, Spurs, Pistons, Hornets, and Magic this season, Minnesota holds a dreadful 5-8 record. They failed to beat Detroit, Charlotte, or Washington in six collective tries. In the big picture, their losses to inferior competition this season are what could keep them out of the playoffs.
Fingers can be pointed in every direction when it comes to these losses, but much of it falls on Chris Finch. Lineup mistakes, massive leads being blown, and players looking unprepared for their opponent are all failures of the coaching staff. Seeing these shortcomings unfold in real time has been massively frustrating for Wolves fans this season, but it may not be time to let Finch walk just yet.
Chris Finch should get benefit of the doubt from Timberwolves fans
When coaching mistakes are as prevalent as they have been in Minnesota this season, the knee-jerk reaction is to fire the coach and move on. But there is reason to believe that would be an overreaction, at least at this stage in the process.
The Timberwolves have confidence in their group to be a multi-year contender going forward, and that includes their Head Coach. Finch’s ability to cultivate a high-powered offense is well-documented, as it led to Minnesota leading the NBA in total three-point makes last season. He has not been without blame this season, but he has the chance to improve on his mistakes.
Finch unquestionably deserves the benefit of the doubt when you consider the hand he was dealt this season. Not only did he have to work on integrating a new player that the organization sold the farm for, but he had to incorporate several other new role players while dealing with a myriad of injuries throughout the season. No one would dispute that Karl-Anthony Towns’ absence has severely limited this team’s ceiling.
In the long-term, it would likely do more harm than good to fire Chris Finch. Yes, this team is underperforming, but they have hardly had the chance to even take the floor with a healthy roster. The pieces are there for them to contend in the Western Conference beyond this season, and getting rid of Finch would be a misstep that could derail this team’s trajectory.