Timberwolves

Should Chris Finch Be In the Conversation For Coach of the Year?

Oct 23, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Chris Finch reacts with an official during the second quarter against the New Orleans Pelicans at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

During the 2020-21 season, the Minnesota Timberwolves surprised everyone with the abrupt firing of Ryan Saunders and immediate hiring of Chris Finch to take over as head coach. The way the Wolves handled that whole situation is still questionable, but that’s an entirely different story.

Regardless, the Finch era is in full swing in Minnesota and has been for nearly a full year now. So far, Finch appears to have led the charge in changing a losing culture into a winning and positive one.

As a result of that shift in mindset, the Wolves are off to a solid start. They remain in the thick of the playoff race near the end of the calendar year. Minnesota has already nearly matched the 16-win total that Finch hit in the 41 games he served as head coach in 2020-21. The Timberwolves sit at 15-16 following the loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday that ended a four-game winning streak.

Whatever Finch and his staff have done, it’s working so far. The welcomed turnaround in Minnesota warrants the question of whether he should be in consideration for NBA Coach of the Year.

Could Finch Be Coach of the Year?

Minnesota’s start to the year has been a pleasant surprise, so let’s unpack it a little. Why, what, or who is the leading force of that early-season surge? Finch arguably has sparked the initial success and is getting the most out of the Wolves’ roster through the first 30-plus games of the year.

Minnesota has dealt with some consistency issues that have resulted in a few stretches of both sizable losing and winning streaks. But they are not only hovering around the .500 mark; they are looking like they might end up in the playoffs.

If Minnesota can even get into the playoff conversation, Finch could and probably should be mentioned alongside other coaches in the league for the Coach of the Year honor. Granted, other coaches such as Phoenix’s Monty Williams, Cleveland’s J.B. Bickerstaff, Chicago’s Billy Donovan, Golden State’s Steve Kerr, and others have also made strong cases to claim the award.

Finch is likely a longshot when it comes to who ultimately takes home the league’s top award for coaches. But he could make a stronger case if the Wolves remain relevant down the stretch.

Odds Are Against Finch Winning — For Now

Regardless of whether or not Finch is a consensus Coach of the Year candidate among NBA insiders, the betting odds aren’t in his favor at the moment.

At DraftKings, Finch is tied for ninth with odds of +4500. DraftKings currently has Williams, Kerr, and Bickerstaff as favorites at +400. At BetMGM and Borgata, he comes in tied for 11th at +5000, with Williams and Kerr tied atop the list at +375. And at PointsBet, Finch is tied for 11th on the list at +6600, with Bickerstaff as the favorite at +300.

Finch’s best odds to claim the award as of now comes via FOX Bet, which lists him tied for sixth (+4000). Like other betting sites, Williams and Kerr are heavy favorites at +275.

Some could view those odds as low for Finch, but it’s hard to argue against any of those other coaches atop the list. Plus, even if the odds are low right now, that could be an opportunity for bettors to cash in at the end of the year if Finch ends up winning the award.

Finch might not be viewed league-wide as a serious Coach of the Year candidate right now. But if Minnesota continues to impress when the calendar year flips to 2022, his name will start being brought up in those conversations. That will all depend on how the Wolves perform over the final 50 or so regular-season games.

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Oct 23, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Chris Finch reacts with an official during the second quarter against the New Orleans Pelicans at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

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