NBA Head Coach: Timberwolves' Issues Appear to Be 'Interpersonal' amid Slow Start

Doric SamNovember 19, 2022

ORLANDO, FL - NOVEMBER 16: The Minnesota Timberwolves huddle up before the game against the Orlando Magic on November 16, 2022 at Amway Center in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images)
Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

Many are wondering what has caused the Minnesota Timberwolves to get off to such a slow start this season.

ESPN's Tim MacMahon reported Saturday that an opposing head coach thinks Timberwolves head coach Chris Finch is capable of fixing on-court issues, but he also noted that he "believes the Wolves' biggest problems are 'interpersonal.'"

Minnesota ranks 10th in the Western Conference with a 7-8 record. The Timberwolves earned back-to-back wins against the Cleveland Cavaliers and Orlando Magic this week after having lost six of their previous seven games.

2020 No. 1 overall pick Anthony Edwards has not taken a step forward this season as had been expected. He admitted to coming into training camp "a little too heavy," though he said he's slimmed down since then.

However, star forward Karl-Anthony Towns publicly called out Edwards for his diet and conditioning earlier this season in a moment that indicated some internal strife, a decision KAT received external criticism for.

The 21-year-old also raised some eyebrows when he appeared to criticize Minnesota's lineups, saying after a loss to the Utah Jazz, "The smaller we go, the better it is for me." The Timberwolves frequently deploy two 7-footers, apparently not to Edwards' liking.

This past offseason, Minnesota made a blockbuster trade for three-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert. The expectation was that he would pair with fellow All-Star big man Towns to form a dominating tandem on both ends of the floor, but their chemistry hasn't developed as the team had hoped.

According to MacMahon, the Timberwolves offense is averaging 106.6 points per 100 possessions with Gobert on the floor, which would be 28th if it were the full team's mark. The team's defense suffers immensely when he's on the bench, giving up an average of 113.2 points.

In today's NBA, having two bigs on the court is a rarity. While the Timberwolves' experiment may have sounded good on paper, it has created spacing issues that are detrimental to the team's efficiency. Minnesota ranks 25th in the league with a 33.5 three-point field goal percentage.

"It's our main thing on offense we're trying to figure out," T'Wolves guard D'Angelo Russell said after a loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Nov. 11. "Obviously, you see us running into each other, trying to back door and might run into a guy. It's just little things like that that aren't in sync right now. It's kind of hard to find rhythm or flow."

The Timberwolves will return to action Saturday night against the Philadelphia 76ers (8-7).