1. It’s a small sample size but what do you think of Kris Dunn in his first bit of work in the summer league?
Kras: So far, so good. to me he has looked and played hungry. He has shown the ability to shoot, rebound, and even throw in some impressive cross over moves but, it is an iota of work on the court. We all hope that he continues to build on the little bit he has shown but there are sure to be plenty of growing pains along the way. From what I have seen of him so far, he has a good looking shot that seems to be consistent, his defense is as advertised, and he is not afraid to be rebound the ball (5 rebs vs DEN, 9 rebs vs TOR). All things considered, this is the summer league and is not elite NBA competition but it is still competitive and it gives Dunn a chance to get NBA ready. It will be fun to follow his development and see where he is this coming fall when the season starts.
Nate Leer: Kras is correct that this is a very small sample size but it is better than if Dunn would be looking over-matched. In particular, it looks like his shot is better than advertised and that will help add versatility to his game, possibly including playing on the floor with Ricky Rubio for stretches.
2. Do the Twins trade Trevor Plouffe?
Kras: I think they should, whether they do or not remains to be seen but they should. I know Plouffe is a solid bat in the line-up and has worked hard to become an everyday third baseman but I think you field offers to see what you can get for him and let Sano take over as the everyday third baseman. Sano is the future here in Minnesota and I think the Twins need to acknowledge that. Along with that I believe there will be teams looking for a quality third baseman with some pop in the bat and Plouffe provides that. In a perfect world, I think the Twins trade Plouffe for pitching prospects that they can groom for the following year or two to help add much needed depth.
Nate Leer: Plouffe has been the consummate pro and worked hard to make himself into an above-average 3B. However, it looks like his future will be with another team no later than next year. If he can get healthy by the end of this month, he makes a perfect trade chip that the Twins can use to add a couple future assets. I would like to see them get a lower-level, high-upside SP prospect and a young relief pitcher who can help as soon as this year.
3. Will Adrian Peterson rush for 1,500+ yards this season?
Kras: I think he can rush for 1,500 or more but I think that depends on what transpires around him. If Bridgewater develops and progresses in the passing game I think that will help open up lanes for Peterson and he should find success. The other big factor that can help or hurt Peterson is the offensive line. With depth added in the offseason at the O-line position and players returning from injury it has the potential to set up nicely for Peterson to have a solid squad in front of him to help guide him to the 1,500 yard mark. We all know Peterson is capable of doing it, even being 30. The real question mark is the pieces that he has to rely on that will dictate the year he has in the backfield.
Nate Leer: I would have to bet against AP going over 1,500 yards. It is more important that he average 4.5 or more yards per carry. If the Vikes have to run too much, he may get more total yards but actually be less effective than if they have a well-balanced offense.
1. With Tim Duncan retiring, where does he rate among the all time greats?
Kras: I haven’t always been a basketball guy but there is one name that has been around from the time I remember watching basketball as a kid until now, Tim Duncan, The Big Fundamental! Duncan has called it a career after 19 years with the same team. Duncan and the Spurs have been a staple in the playoffs ever since the two were united back in ’97. Over his incredible career (1,392 games) he averaged 19 pts, 10.8 rebs, 3.0 ast, and 2.2 blks while racking up 1,001 wins in that time. He was a 15-time all-star, a 2-time season MVP and 3-time Finals MVP. All that totaling 5 finals Championships while he was the centerpiece of a well-oiled machine we call the San Antonio Spurs. For me it is hard to say where he ends up among the all-time greats but it will be hard to find a player at the power forward position who does it better.
Nate Leer: Timmy seems like a top-ten player all-time in my book. However, as when any great player retires, there is some recency bias that goes into our opinions. Is he better than any of Jordan, Chamberlain, Russell, Magic, Bird, Kobe, Robertson, Abdul-Jabbar, LeBron or Shaq? I think he sneaks into the top-10 just ahead of Shaq and maybe Kobe. However, if you are putting together a real starting-5, He would have to be the best option ever at PF. Plus, factor in his leadership and the respect he has as a teammate and he is a must-start for any team of all-time greats.
2. With few Top 10 names attending the Scottish Open, do any of the guys have a chance to win at The Open this coming week, and who do you think will win The Open?
Kras: Danny Lee, Russell Knox, Graeme McDowell, Phil Mickelson, and Henrik Stenson all finished in the top 15 at the Scottish Open and all are capable of playing golf well enough to win The Open. Of the names listed I personally think Russell Knox and Graeme McDowell have the best chance of the names listed above. Another golfer, not on the list above and not in the top 10 that I believe who could be on the leader board come Sunday is Branden Grace. He has been trending up with his golf game and has a history of playing well on link-style courses. As far as who I think will win The Open, I find it hard not picking the guy playing the best golf right now in Dustin Johnson. If DJ can keep it together on the greens he can keep his incredible run going. DJ looks to duplicate McIlroy’s performance from a few years ago, when he won the U.S. Open, WGC- Bridgestone Inv. and then went on to win The Open. It would be an incredible stretch of golf if DJ can pull it off and would surely give him the world #1 ranking. The others that I believe will be in the hunt on Sunday include Jason Day and Jordan Speith. I would like to see McIlroy have a good showing but he has been too inconsistent this year to put a lot of faith in.
3. With the baseball season at the All-Star Break right now, what are 2 (1 from each league) take-aways so far?
Kras: AL- For me the AL story is not so much about a team or even a division, but about a man. David Ortiz and his ability to age like a fine wine and continue to have success at the highest level, even now at 40. So far this year his batting average is .332 which is good enough for the best in the AL and fourth best in Overall. Along with that he has 22 HRs, 34 2Bs and, for fun, 1 3B. Ortiz has walked 48 times while striking out 43 times and stealing 2 bases. Ortiz does a little bit of everything. He has been the beneficiary of playing on some pretty good Boston teams in the past but he is the one thing that has remained the same. With all the changes Boston has gone through since winning The World Series in 2004 there has been one man to walk through it all and still be a major part of the Red Sox success today. Big Papi! With his size, ability to remain relatively healthy and knack for coming up with big hits in big moments he sure is a fun ball player to watch. Watching him do it again this year, at 40, really puts in perspective how good Ortiz is.
NL- The best story to me in the NL, and perhaps all of baseball, is the dominant pitching. There is talent and ability all across the NL with some prospects ready to burst onto the scene after the break. Guys like Kershaw and Bumgarner with ERA’s under 2.00; Fernandez and Scherzer with 150+ strikeouts; Strasburg, Arrieta, and Cueto all with 12 or more wins – the numbers from the pitchers in the NL are pretty impressive and this doesn’t even mention guys like Syndergaard, deGrom and Pomeranz. All of them have talented arms and are putting up very respectable numbers along with the aforementioned names. All this talent is already taking the mound on a nightly basis and there figures to be more live arms on the horizon. Prospects such has Julio Urias, Lucas Giolito, Alex Reyes, and Tyler Glasnow all figure to get some run in the second half of the season and figure to be the next wave of pitching talent to join the rest of the studs already out there.