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When Chris Finch came to Minnesota a year ago, he was aware the Timberwolves coaches didn't always have the longest shelf lives — but there was never any hesitation for taking the job. He saw a lot of potential in the team and the chance to make a mark in his first NBA head coaching job.

The 52-year-old finished last season 16-25 and is 32-28 this season as the Wolves have the seventh best record in the Western Conference.

As Finch commemorated his one-year anniversary on the job last week, he sat down with the Star Tribune to reflect on that first year and discuss his coaching style. Answers are edited for clarity and brevity.

Q When you took the job, what were your expectations for dealing with players like Karl-Anthony Towns, Anthony Edwards and D'Angelo Russell?

A My expectation was one of excitement. I thought there was a lot of talent, particularly in KAT and D-Lo. Not just talent but skill. You can have talent, but skill is another thing altogether too. …

I always look for reasons why guys shouldn't fit together or teams shouldn't fit together and I couldn't really find any that was going to stand in the way. Ant was very different. I didn't have a great window into who he was as a player because I didn't see him play a lot. Very raw, very young. So with him it was just about how can we trend him in the right direction by getting him to do more of what he's good at or could be very good at.

That was the initial approach. Everything else was about getting to know them as people. Building a relationship with them, gaining their trust and then leaning on them, for them to tell me what their experience has been like. What's worked, what they liked, what they haven't liked. Whether it be here or other places. …

The final thing about those three guys is that they're the guys who have been open and gracious enough in the way they've allowed us to coach them and respond well to that. I think that's a credit to who they are because they wanted direction, feedback and to be able to win.

Q That's what a lot of players say, you can coach everybody hard. How have you walked that line of them accepting the coaching without losing them?

A It's about having the right relationship with them. Getting them to understand that A, I know basketball. I know what I'm trying to sell at least. B, I have their best interests individually for their career, their performance, at heart. Which is important.

That was one of the lessons I learned when I first came to coaching the G-League. [Be] as invested in their careers individually as they are — because they have a lot of pressure on them to go out and perform, get another deal and improve and achieve all the goals they want to achieve, just individually. Especially when they're young.

Then it's not being afraid of them. We just be honest with each other and not overdo it, but be honest with each other and give them enough freedom to be able to express themselves as a player because they all are great players. … I try to embrace who they actually are as a player. That helps a lot of the tension go away because I'm not mad they can't do something. That's not who they are.

Two is we give them the freedom to express themselves in the game, which allows them to hopefully be the best version of themselves. When they're not doing that, it's easier for me to nudge them back into place. It tends to stick out like a sore thumb.

Q How have you gotten this group to, while helping them with the individual goals, come together as a team?

A It starts a lot with them. They naturally do like each other. We have a lot of engaging personalities on the team. We have a lot of different personalities on the team. We don't have a team full of the same personality. I think that allows the team to interact in a way where everybody is able to be themselves and accentuate the group.

So, I think providing opportunity to guys, everyone wants to be able to prove themselves and … when they see their teammates having success there's no jealousy there, which for a young team is kind of unusual. We have really good vets. Taurean [Prince] has been a great vet and he's gone through periods where he hasn't played or hasn't played well. He's never used it as a reason to be upset or moody or jealous with his teammates. So, that's important. Because that's what leadership is about is like, do people see how you behave and then do they model that behavior.

Q Defensively, lot of talk about additional concepts. Ultimate point of that is to become more versatile? Why is that important?

A For a couple of reasons. Now that you played teams multiple times, they have a good feel for who you are and what you're trying to do. You run the risk of that being used against you in a number of ways.

Our defense is pretty aggressive and aggressive defenses can be baited into a lot of things. Tempering some of that or using that at the right time is key. Two, as we whittle everything down towards what we hope is a playoff presence, it's all about being able to adjust and execute different schemes in a playoff. … Whether we make the playoffs or not, it's still something we're going to have to be able to do because the best teams do it. We have reason to do it.

With our defense we've always been a little bit of a changeup in a fastball league. A lot of teams' defenses are very similar. Ours was something people didn't see every night. Now that they've seen us or seen it more through the year, they're way more accustomed to understanding how to attack it and these teams are a lot better version of themselves.

Q With Edwards, he's gotten different defenses thrown at him. How has that process been with him learning different coverages?

A He is definitely a smart and quick learner. He's now recognizing these things and understanding why they're happening. Obviously we're walking him through it on video, pointing it out when we see it in a game as soon as it happens and communicating so he can start making some adjustments.

What we haven't done enough of, and this is really hard to do during the season sometimes, is have him rep out enough things to, in his player development. He needs a really big offseason going through [this]. Now we have this catalog of things that we have to now study, and that's going to help him take the next step. …

It's not on autopilot for him to switch gears right away and do something different. Every night it might be different so he's still in that phase where he's struggling to get an offensive rhythm at times because of this. It's normal and it doesn't happen to many 20-year-olds to go through this, this early.