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Wednesday Cup of Canis

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This is more like it, eh?

Portland Trail Blazers v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by David Berding/Getty Images

Hello, friends. We’re a little later here than normal for your mid-week Cup of Canis, but hopefully we’re just in time for that post-lunch caffeine boost that we all need.

I can’t help but want to talk about how much more fun this past week-plus has been for watching Timberwolves basketball, at least to me.

Sure, they’re just 2-2, which isn’t anything to get all hot and bothered about, but it’s really just been how the team is playing and the steps we’re seeing some of the young guys make.

I’d personally credit a lot of that to Chris Finch.

I was hopeful about the hire, yet skeptical because of the history of this franchise. While we still have a long ways to go, there are two two key reasons why I feel increasingly optimistic about what the Chris Finch-era will entail.

For one, he’s getting the most out of Anthony Edwards marvelous talent, and it’s helped ANT be much more consistent. The jumper is obviously the swing skill for Edwards, and it’s hard to know how much of him shooting the ball better is due to the new coaching, his own work he put in over the All-Star Break, or simply just the variance that comes with three-point shooting. I tend to think it’s more of the latter two reasons than the first, but the results do suggest that Finch has had a positive impact on ANT in that sense, albeit in a small sample size.

Again, it certainly could just be a hot streak, but this is the best Edwards has looked this year, and he is doing it on a significantly more consistent basis. Whatever “bumpers” Chris Finch has used to lead Edwards thus far is working, and that is a massive win.

The other thing that I’ve seen that brings a lot of optimism is the adjustment to bring Karl-Anthony Towns to the level of the screen on defense. There will still be warts and snafus, especially as they try it out, but I feel like we’ve seen enough to know that KAT is not a “drop” big on defense. Admittedly, I’m biased against the philosophy in general.

There’s just too much shooting on the floor, especially on good teams, for that coverage to really work in a postseason environment, in my opinion. If that coverage can’t survive in the postseason with Eric Bledsoe as the point-of-attack defender, 2019-2020 Brook Lopez as the protector, and Giannis Antetokounmpo as the weak-side help defender, I have my doubts that Minnesota will ever employ the personnel to make that work. Now, Minnesota does have a ways to go before they worry about what does or does not work in the postseason, but they might as well try to build those habits now.

With Towns, I envision him playing at the level getting similar results to what Denver has found with Nikola Jokic. Yes, the bad with Jokic on defense looks really bad, but by making him the aggressor in ball-screen scenarios, they at least give him a chance to be a defensive playmaker. It’s part of why, despite the bad highlights, Jokic generally grades out as an average defender. With non-elite rim protecting bigs, I just don’t think drop coverage is where you best use their talents.

Edwards consistent production combined with KAT’s new defensive assingment has me hopeful. There’s no guarantee it’s going to work long-term, but in this moment right now, I’m enjoying this team and the little tweaks they’re making to improve.