Finch earns praise of Wolves in handling tough circumstances amid COVID absences

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  • Chris Finch
    American basketball player-coach
  • Patrick Beverley
    Patrick Beverley
    LiveTodayTomorrowvs--|

LOS ANGELES – The role of NBA coach can be a tricky needle to thread in 2022. For so long the league has been a players' league and as salaries have risen, players make multiple times over what a coach can make.

But a coach is supposed to be an authority figure, to demand accountability and give orders for players to carry out, despite the discrepancy in pay.

Basketball also has fewer players than the other major pro team sports, so a few players can have a large sway on the character of a team, and a coach has to find a way to have the players' respect without becoming too chummy or too harsh that they tune him out.

If there's something that the last few COVID-affected weeks have shown about the Wolves it's that coach Chris Finch seems to be navigating that line like a member of the Wallenda family might walk a highwire across Niagara Falls.

Some of the Wolves have heaped praise on Finch during their postgame media sessions, like Patrick Beverley after Tuesday's loss to the Knicks. This is because the Wolves have been scraping together a roster some nights thanks to COVID protocol issues and have been competitive in every game they've had to play under these circumstances.

"It's all Finchy, though. I've known him in the past, and he's a hell of a coach," Beverley said. "His [after timeout plays], his mindset, how he conducts practice, very detailed man. His professionalism, I preach to these guys every day that they're fortunate to have a coach like that, for sure."

Beverley and Finch go back to their time together in Houston when Beverley was just getting started in his NBA career. He said earlier in the season Finch was "one of his guys," not a moniker Beverley throws around lightly. D'Angelo Russell also made similar comments about Finch earlier in the season.

"When it comes to details and professionalism, he's up there with the top of them …" Beverley said. "Very detailed — very, very detailed man — very professional. He doesn't disrespect the game when it comes to practicing, one voice when he speaks, and you kind of appreciate that nowadays from coaches. Because coaches don't have a lot of control due to it's a players' league, but he speaks, everyone listens."

Finch will hold everyone on the roster accountable in practice, regardless of salary or status. It's one reason the players have taken to him. He said he was appreciative of Beverley's words.

"It's a great honor when your players trust you and believe in you and work hard because it's a players' league and we're just here to put them in the best position possible and kind of get out of the way," Finch said. "So, I feel that's an obligation for me to keep working hard to put these guys in that position."

That's one of Finch's best characteristics according to Anthony Edwards. Edwards has only been in the NBA for two seasons and played for just two coaches, Ryan Saunders and Finch, but he'll take Finch over any coach in the league.

"Finch is the best coach in the NBA, if you ask me," Edwards said. "He does a great job of getting guys involved, just coaching guys and making guys better. Letting people know what he want, what he need from you. He's just a great all-around coach, man. He wants everybody to succeed. He's going to put you in positions to succeed."

Added Malik Beasley: "He just tells the truth. He's one of the guys who comes up to you straight up, tell me how you feel or vice versa. He's yelling at you, that means it's a good thing in my eyes, because he's trying to make sure you're doing good."

That's all Finch has been trying to do while the Wolves wait to get fully healthy. His efforts haven't gone unnoticed with his players.

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