Pelicans Assistant Coach Chris Finch Discusses New Role in NOLA

Published: August 1, 2017

This morning, Chris Gordy of Sports 1280 in New Orleans interviewed the newest member of the Pelicans’ coaching staff, Chris Finch. (The full interview can be found by following this link or scrolling to the end of this post.) He touched on a lot of interesting topics, from how he got the job with New Orleans to individual players and how they fit in. After listening to him talk about his plans for the Pelicans, the best way to summarize Finch’s offensive goal is “randomness.” He believes that having multiple playmakers on the offensive end (he highlighted not just Boogie and AD, but also Holiday and Rondo) will allow the team to play with a high degree of randomness, which will make them more difficult to guard, since opponents will have a more difficult time predicting who any given possession will feature. Other highlights below:

On adjustments in Denver to generate a top-5 offense: Finch highlighted the ability to push the pace, as well as making sure that the offense not only ran through Jokic, but did so as early as possible. He also noted the importance of having players who complement each other offensively.

On how he got his new job in New Orleans: An interesting takeaway here was that Finch really had no prior relationship with Gentry or Demps. The Pelicans reached out to him because they were looking to retool their offense and saw the success that he had in Denver with the big men as the focal point. Finch said that he connected with Gentry immediately, as his offensive philosophy is similar to Gentry’s. Finch expects to help provide structure and accountability, and is excited to work with “two top-10 players and another all-star in Jrue.” He admitted that it will be a challenge to put it all together, but is really looking forward to it.

On how to make Davis and Cousins work: Finch preached the importance of understanding each other’s spacing & being able to read and play off of each other. He thinks that, in order to use both players’ entire skill sets, the team will have to give them a lot of freedom. He expects to play through Cousins and AD at top of the floor and have them make plays in their own unique ways – Cousins as an elite passer, AD as a continuously improving ball-handler. The Pelicans will aim to create high quality shots by forcing opponents to react what those two big men do, working to get the right efficient shots (get inside, to the free throw line or threes). He closed out this question by saying that if things are clicking, guys will gravitate to their strengths, and that (as stated above) playing with high degree of randomness will make the team more difficult to guard.”

On how to make the offense work with Jrue and Rondo: Finch started out by noting that a lot of the guys in the lineup can play multiple positions. He said that it’s a positionless game on the offensive end, so teams need to be able to guard multiple positions, and also that having multiple ball-handlers and multiple attackers will allow the team to play with randomness. Speaking about Rondo in particular, Finch said that he will help to spot mismatches and control tempo & flow, as well as help the team close games. He described himself and Gentry as not being big “play-call” guys – they both prefer to play through flow – but when you need to call plays, Rondo is the guy who can do that. He also emphasized the importance of willingness to pass the ball, saying that when you play with great passing players, you want to pass the ball, and if the team can master that, then it will have have something special.

Other roster comments: Finch is excited about the roster overall, describing it as having strong top-end talent and underrated role players. His comments on a few specific players:

  • Diallo: soft touch and great scoring ability
  • Jackson: can play multiple positions and handle the ball in the pick and roll
  • Hill: will be more involved in everything the Pels do – can be a playmaker at times in random situations. Great cutter, which will be important to put pressure on the defense
  • Miller: shot-making ability will be huge to space the floor

On what he hopes to do first: Finch wants to make sure the players understand the importance of sacrifice, meaning that everyone will need to give up a little bit to get a lot back. He has already spoken with DeMarcus, and will be heading up to LA to talk to Davis. He said that they must sacrifice for each other and to make your teammates better. Finch truly believes that there is no basketball reason that it won’t work – only human reasons, which can be overcome.

Final thoughts on team goals: Finch wants the Pelicans to be one of the top transition teams in the league, but also noted that doesn’t mean running at the expense of defense or a “seven seconds or less” offense. It is his belief that a team can’t be a great unless it is great in transition. He ended by stressing the need to maximize every possession.

Thanks again to Chris for hosting a great segment with the Pelicans’ newest assistant coach. If you want to check out the conversation in its entirety, it can be played below:

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