1. Do you think it is just a matter of time before the T-wolves trade Ricky Rubio and if so, what should they try and get for him?
Kras: I do believe that Rubio’s time is coming to an end in Minnesota. Which seems like a shame considering Rubio is a good to great defender and Coach Thibodeau is a defense first coach. That said, Rubio was not a Thibs pick and Kris Dunn is/was. Dunn is certainly the point guard of this team heading forward and should be for some time to come. As far as Rubio and what to do with him, trading him is the obvious answer and what he will bring in return remains to be seen. Ideally, I think if the Wolves can get a mid-first round pick they would be sitting pretty. Teams such as the Nets, Jazz, Pistons, and Bucks could use the services of a quality point guard who doesn’t need to score to be effective on the floor.
Nate Leer: Yes, hopefully Rubio is traded sooner than later. I like the guy, he is a solid player, and, if he can become a decent shooter, he has some upside left. However, the Wolves have 2 young PGs behind him that need minutes to develop and bring certain qualities Ricky does not have – supreme athleticism for rookie Kris Dunn and better shooting from 2nd year man Tyus Jones. I do not expect that the Wolves will get a lot in return for Rubio. They should try to get some future draft picks to help provide depth for the club as they (hopefully) try to make deep playoff runs down the road.
2. Should the Vikings be encouraged by how they played against arguably the best team in the NFL in the Dallas Cowboys?
Kras: As usual, the D was good most of the game and gave the O chances to make some plays on a short field. The O, however, was its usual lackluster self. QB Sam Bradford threw for 247 yards and a TD against a Cowboys D that has not been very good lately, giving up 400 yards passing in 2 of the last 4 games now. Bradford and company will have to try and solve a Jacksonville D that is only giving up 195 yards per game passing. I’m not sure there is much the Vikings will be able to do to improve on O. All one can do is hope the O-line can hold up long enough to get Bradford to the offseason healthy.
JJ Bens: Encouraged? No. The team played hard. However, they made too many mistakes. It is so hard for this team to make up for 1 mistake let alone multiple errors. I will be surprised if Bradford makes it through the rest of the season.
Nate Leer: I say yes, be encouraged but it might be too late to matter. The O-line had their usual issues but Bradford showed increased mobility that really helped open things up down field. The D also looked almost as good as it had earlier this year against a very tough opponent. The problem is the Vikes virtually have to win out AND get some help to make the playoffs. That is a lot to ask.
3. Will the Twins trade Brian Dozier this offseason, or do you believe he is too valuable for the team to move?
Kras: It will all depend on if new management gets an offer they feel they can’t refuse. I don’t foresee Dozier going anywhere but anything is possible for a franchise that desperately needs more than just one piece to help get back to its winning ways. I think, if they get an offer that has potential to fill multiple team needs, Derek Falvey would give the offer serious consideration. Oh, and if they could get a pitcher or two for the future out of the deal, then even better.
JJ Bens: This team hasn’t been good for a while. I think it is in the best interest of the team’s future to get as much as possible for the second baseman coming off a career year. The Twins need arms any way they can get them.
Nate Leer: I would argue that Dozier is too valuable NOT to move. The point is that his value will never be higher than it is right now. The Twins are too far away from contending and need too many players, particularly Ps, to not listen to offers. They should work to get 2-3 upper-level prospects and hopefully another lower-level players. In other words, don’t give Dozier away but please do trade him to help jump start the rebuilding process.
1. Can Russell Westbrook maintain the Oscar Robertson like pace and average a triple-double throughout the entire season?
Kras: It just seems like a tough task to accomplish in the modern-day NBA. Westbrook now has 6 triple-doubles in his last 6 games. Westbrook is doubtful to slow his pace if he has any input on the matter so it is hard to imagine his numbers dropping too drastically. Barring injury or teams completely selling out in defending him to ensure he does not have chances, Westbrook should see similar production. Russ is currently averaging 30 points, 10 rebounds, and 11 assists not to mention making everyone around him better in the process. I don’t know if he will be able to keep it up over the 82-game grind, but if I had to pick someone to be able to do it, Russ would be my guy. People shouldn’t be totally shocked by his production, Russ did show some flashes of this brilliance when KD was out in the past.
JJ Bens: I do not pretend to be a Westbrook fan but I do think he has a shot to keep this pace up. The main reasons are the fact he is averaging a little over 35 minutes a game. Also and he is achieving these triple doubles midway through the 3rd quarter, not with seconds to go in the game.
Nate Leer: I don’t think he will be able to maintain the pace particularly in the rebounding category. I can’t think of any guard that has averaged 10 boards per game in recent memory so i fully expect Russ to fade in that category. Plus, if the team starts to look like a lock for the playoffs, they need to rest him some. If that means less minutes per game, all of his averages will suffer.
2. Are the Detroit Lions a Top 5 team in the NFL?
Kras: It is hard to believe that this is even a real question, but it is a real question and it is one that a person should think about, even if just for a bit. Dallas, New England, Oakland, Kansas City, Seattle, Denver, and maybe Baltimore are teams that could, and probably should, be ahead of them. That would mean they are not a Top 5 team but I think an argument could be made for them. The Lions have won 7 of their last 8 games and even recently won a game that was not decided by 7 or fewer points. Over that span the D has improved and QB Matt Stafford has performed at an MVP-like level. The road win in New Orleans over the weekend puts the Lions in great position to make a run at the NFC North and even better, a home playoff game. The Lions will need to beat the Cowboys or the Giants (both road games) before I will believe that they are a true Top 5 team. This is definitely one of the more impressive Lions teams we have seen in some years.
Nate Leer: I think they are close but just outside of the top 5. I would put New England, Oakland, KC, Dallas and Seattle ahead of them. However, KC and Seattle are only slightly ahead. Depending how games go this weekend, they could get into that elite group.
3. Do you agree with MLB to stop using the All-Star game to determine home field advantage for the World Series?
Kras: I do agree with the MLB to move away from this format. The All-Star game is more of an exhibition match up than a real game and to have it decide something that most of the players won’t experience that year is mildly confusing to me. I do agree that home field should go to the team with the winningest record. That said, I am open to ideas and suggestions on how else one would go about deciding home field advantage, not just in baseball but other sports as well.
Nate Leer: Yes! Basing something as important as homefield advantage in the World Series on a game that features rosters put together through a popularity contest, not actual merit, is absurd. The returning setup is not perfect since not all teams play the same opponents but regular season record determines division winners and homefield advantage between them so it should continue into the World Series.