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Wolves Day 1 Practice Notes

Finchy discusses the Pack after the first day of camp

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Minnesota Timberwolves
Finch by Finch, Day by Day
Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

After an eventful 2021 Wolves Media Day kicked off the new season, head coach Chris “Finchy” Finch—Anthony Edwards called him “Finchy” yesterday on record so you know it’s real—addressed the media after today’s first practice. A lot of the notes are paraphrased, but as always, the point still stands.

To begin, Finch said he thought the Wolves have done a good job of separating themselves from everything else (read: the dramatic events of Gersson Rosas’ abrupt departure) and have had a good week since. In terms of the rotation, you know, actual basketball stuff, Finch says they’ve been preaching to the group how the best teams sometimes have 7 or 8 starter quality guys and those teams find ways to use everyone to the best of their abilities. It’s not a direct comment towards Malik Beasley, Patrick Beverley, or Josh Okogie but those players certainly come to mind when hearing that.

Finch was pretty clear in the fact he’s not trying to be married to anything right now as far as lineup combinations go, nor should any good coach be. Training camp and preseason is a perfect time to experiment and even the regular season is going to bring on numerous opportunities to mix and match. The takeaway is nothing is set in stone. During the preseason, Finch says, the Wolves won’t be resting the players unless an injury situation arises. Yeah, so, preseason load management isn’t in the cards as of now, as it likely will be in other organizations.

KAT’s core strength has been a noticeable improvement, says Finch. He saw it out in Miami when they got together for team workouts. As for the neverending questions surrounding the Wolves defense—rightfully so, given it’s BEEN the very most obvious pain point—Finch says they're going to be flexible with coverages and have various systems in place for different personnel. It sounded like they’ve been putting in a defensive concept that is way more committed to the low man and helping at the rim, which is a welcome development. He had a wonderful quote, and excuse me if it’s not perfectly transcribed here, but Finch basically said “last year we tried to fly around and this year we want to fly around with more purpose.”

2021. FLYING AROUND WITH MORE PURPOSE. Sounds fun. My mind immediately dreams of Anthony Edwards, who said he wanted to average 2 to 3 steals per game yesterday—often intercepting cross-court passes and taking it home for six. I mean, two. Wrong sport. Wait, I thought Ant was a football player? A vision of Jaden McDaniels flying over from the weak side to stuff an opponent’s soft dunk attempt into the 8th row also flashed into my mind.

The comment “we have a lot of complementary players,” was made. Finch specifically mentioned the additions of two defensive presences in Patrick Beverley and Taurean Prince, plus how they brought back Jarred “Vando” Vanderbilt—a very strong defender at the 4/small-5. Sounds like defense is on his mind.

What about new rookie Leandro Bolmaro? Finchy wants to see Balmy show a high level of competition, defensive effort, and rebounding to begin. That sounds like the perfect focus for the rook at this point in his development. Bolmaro mentioned physicality and speed as things to work on during his introduction. We’ll see how much he’s mixed into early rotations, being the inexperienced youngster he is.

When it comes to getting Pat Bev—even before arriving at camp, says Finch—his leadership, confidence, and understanding of defense were already on display. Finch said the way the Wolves are trying to build their defense comes natural to Beverley and that should help tremendously. Not only can he take a difficult assignment they give but that assignment can turn into more favorable matchups for D’Angelo Russell.

Other things Finch noted in his 15 minute-ish availability were 1) keeping KAT out of foul trouble (please!) 2) how a lot of time the analytics will back up what we already see on the floor and 3) some preseason lineups will look awesome but it’s not enough to definitively say YES THAT LINEUP IS AWESOME. “You have to make sure you have enough sample size.”

Practice resumes tomorrow at 11 AM. Stay tuned.