The Minnesota Timberwolves shocked the basketball world Sunday night by firing Ryan Saunders minutes after a 103-99 loss to the New York Knicks.
On Monday, Minnesota officially announced the recruitment of new head coach Chris Finch, who left his acting as assistant coach at Toronto mid-season to join the Timberwolves bench.
It has been a long journey for Finch, who grew up in Pennsylvania, but began his coaching career abroad in 1997 with the British Basketball League's Sheffield Sharks.
Finch jumped back across the pond in 2009 when he became head coach of the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, a team in the (then) NBA D League. He won a D League championship with the Vipers in his first season and was quickly promoted to the NBA bench.
Finch was assistant coach for Houston (2011-16), Denver (2016-17), New Orleans (2017-18) and Toronto (2020-21). He was also the associate head coach for New Orleans in 2019-2020.
The 51-year-old is known as a creative, attacking coach. And he has the statistics to back it up.
Of the four organizations he has coached, all teams have taken a giant leap forward in offensive judgments during Finch's tenure. In the championship run with the Vipers in 2009-10, Finch & # 39; s team finished second in points per game (110.1) and first in offensive rating (114.9) in the D League.
Houston ranked 14th in the NBA with an offensive rating of 104.2 in his first full season with the Rockets (2011-12), but jumped to sixth place in 2012-13 (108.8).
Finch clearly impressed his next two stops. Denver rose from 17th (104.9) in 2015-16 all the way to fourth (112.2) in 2016-17 when Finch came on board. When Finch left for New Orleans for the next season, the Pelicans went from 26th in 2016-17 (104.7) to 12th in 2017-18 (108.5).
We're not saying Finch is guaranteed to be Phil Jackson's second coming, but he's clearly added insulting value to organizations around the NBA.
Looking at his time in Denver and New Orleans, one thing is consistent: Finch helped build fouls around great men.
He helped take Nikola Jokic's game in Denver to the next level, as the 6-foot-11 center increased his averages per game from 10.0 PTS, 7.8 REB and 2.4 AST as a rookie to 16, 7 PTS, 9.8 REB and 4.9 AST in 2016-17.
In New Orleans, Finch faced a major challenge: help design a crime around a pair of All-NBA great men in DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis. The Pelicans traded for Cousins by the 2017 deadline, so the 2017-18 campaign marked Cousins and Davis's first (and, well, only) full season in New Orleans.
That bodes well for two-time All-Star Karl-Anthony Towns, who has only played in 11 games this season and is still playing alongside this relatively new Wolves roster.
The Finch era officially kicks off Tuesday night when the Timberwolves battle the Milwaukee Bucks on the road. The game will be broadcast on FOX Sports North, with "Wolves Live" starting at 6.30pm.