1. Is there a player in the upcoming NBA draft that you hope the T-wolves land and if not a specific player, at what position do they most need a body?
Nate Leer: If the Wolves stand pat at #7, I hope to see SF Jayson Tatum fall to them. However, that is unlikely so they may take an athletic PF/C of which there are several options in the mid lottery. A trade up a slot or 2 would increase the chance to get Tatum, potentially with Orlando for the #6 and #25 picks. The Wolves have assets to offer including PG Ricky Rubio, PG Kris Dunn, SG Zach LaVine, PF Nemanja Bjelica, C Gorgui Dieng and even PG Tyus Jones and C Cole Aldrich as well as cap space. They could also trade back or add another later 1st round pick and take a player such as Jordan Bell to bring athleticism to their front court.
Kras: As Nate Leer mentioned above, I think Jordan Bell is an interesting potential pick as he might bring a defensive style to the post that has been missing from this team. Bell being able to help on D might be more of what coach Tom Thibodeau wants and/or needs to pair up with Karl Anthony-Towns. I think the T-Wolves will be an interesting team to watch going into the draft and afterward to see how they start to reshape their roster. The Wolves never did take the expected next step forward last season and without some changes I expect more of the same.
2. Have you seen enough from Byron Buxton to believe he is over his slump or do you think there are more woes to come?
Kras: I believe his slump is over, for now. Buxton has shown too many struggles over the past couple of seasons for me to believe his hitting woes have suddenly come to an end. Buxton has only shown to be a quality bat in small doses. He will put together a good month here and there with some pretty awful stretches laced in between. I think he has the ability to improve and become more consistent at the plate but with those improvements will come some struggles. I don’t think Buxton will have a stretch as bad as he did to start the season but don’t be surprised to see him add to his strikeout total moving forward.
JJ Benz: I have really enjoyed watching Buxton have success the past couple of weeks. I still think he could have another slump in the marathon that is the MLB season. He is still a young player and what I have heard is Byron has really taken to Torii Hunter as a mentor. Byron has so much talent that he should be able to bust through slumps quickly using mainly his speed. Unfortunately, slumps are a part of the game and few have gone through a career avoiding them. The slumps will come for Byron, how well he can adjust and get through them will be the key for long term success for the young center fielder.
3. Who will be the Vikings most productive WR in 2017?
Nate Leer: I think Stefon Diggs is the player who is most likely to leads the team in all receiving categories but Michael Floyd could surprise. Adam Thielen was the leading WR last year but Diggs is more talented and just needs to stay healthy. Floyd is a sleeper pick here because he provides a big target who can also stretch the field. He probably won’t lead the WRs in receptions but could have the most TDs and maybe even yardage.
Kras: If Stefon Diggs can remain healthy and on the field, I believe he will lead the Vikings receiving core and be their most productive WR asset. With the Vikings restructured new O-line and the addition of a dual threat RB in Dalvin Cook, the Vikings should be able to open up the O a bit more and provide more of a balanced attack when throwing the ball. If Diggs is hampered by injuries again this season, then I think Adam Thielen becomes a viable option to be the most productive WR. Last season Thielen had 69 catches for 967 yards and 5 TDs, all numbers that he can certainly improve on.
1. Which former stud RB is most likely to have a big season in his new home, Jamaal Charles in Denver, Adrian Peterson in New Orleans or Marshawn Lynch in Oakland?
Kras: As it stands today, I would have to pick Marshawn Lynch. Over the past three seasons, Lynch has shown more than Adrian Peterson and Jamaal Charles, not to mention he wasn’t even in the league last season. Furthermore, Lynch is going to Oakland where they will hand him the keys to the starting RB job provided he is healthy. Charles and Peterson will be in more of a RB by committee situation which will hurt their overall production on the field. Of the 3 RBs mentioned, I also think Lynch will be playing behind the best of the O-lines for the teams. Peterson and Charles haven’t been productive football players recently and might be done, whereas Lynch retired and still looked to be able to play football at a high level. It will be interesting to see how all 3 RBs fair in their new homes but I’m betting on Lynch.
Nate Leer: I agree with Kras that Lynch is the best answer here. The big question with him is whether he lost some speed taking a year off. This will be an interesting test case to see whether a year off lets a vet rest up and regain speed or if a lack of intense training makes him slower. No one has ever questioned Lynch’s effort on the field but does he still have the zip to get to the holes his line creates. After Lynch, I think AP has the best chance to have a good year. I think he still has significantly more talent than Mark Ingram who he will be competing with for carries. If New Orleans is serious about taking some pressure off of Drew Brees, AP could still get close to 200 carries. Charles has the most well rounded skillset of any of these 3 and he is probably still the fastest RB in Denver so he could surprise, especially in the screen game.
2. Is there any chance the NBA Finals is not a matchup of Cleveland and Golden State?
Nate Leer: The best chance is (was) the Spurs. They have several good to great perimeter defenders and can hurt the Warriors with their post scoring. Plus Pop is a WAY better coach than Mike Brown who has been filling in for Steve Kerr. However, the injury to Kawhi Leonard changes the whole dynamic of the series. If he can come back relatively healthy for game 3, maybe the Spurs can steal a game or 2. If the Spurs are able to protect their home court, they could get back into this series and maybe give the Warriors a scare. One can hope!
Kras: As much as I want to believe the Spurs or Celtics could rise up and be able to get passed the Conference Finals, I don’t see it happening. For the Spurs to challenge Golden State, they need Kawhi Leonard healthy and that is not the case this year. Leonard has been battling injury throughout the playoffs this year and has missed a couple games already. Without the Claw on the floor the Spurs are going to struggle to try and keep up with Golden State. As for the East, Lebron is King and I don’t think he is getting knocked off the throne this year. The Celtics are a nice team with some good players but without the playoff experience they will need to take down the Cavalries. I also believe, like most people, that the Celtics are a star player away from really being a tough and legitimate contender in the East.
3. Were you surprised with the lack of big names on the leaderboard this weekend at the Players Championship and do you believe that will be the trend moving forward?
Kras: I think it is a bit strange that we are not seeing Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, and Rory McIlroy at the top of the lead boards together like we have in the past. Those guys were touted as being the up and comers and the guys who were going to set up awesome final rounds for years to come and it hasn’t quite happened that way. Although I don’t think it is bad thing for golf and the PGA to have different winners week in and week out, I do think it might be a turnoff to the average golf viewer. I think for fans to see golfers such as Dustin Johnson and Jason Day battle it out in a final round for a major is more exciting than watching someone they have never heard of play the best golf of their career and win a major. Golf is easier to follow and watch if they can promote a final round dual or manufacture some sort of fun rivalry. All that being said, for someone to go out and play 72 holes and come out a major champion is pretty incredible and is worth watching in my opinion.
JJ Benz: I am not overly surprised at the lack of big names on the leaderboard at the Players. The Players is considered the 5th major because of the purse and the number of big names all that money brings. The Players might be considered a major by some people but it really isn’t. You don’t get the same respect for winning as you would if you won the Open or the PGA. Not that golfers aren’t trying to win but it just doesn’t have knife cutting pressure that the other Majors have. There are a lot of great golfers in the world and the TPC Sawgrass has maybe the toughest finishing holes in all of golf. It was a great win for Kim this weekend but I would be surprised to see his name on the leaderboard on Sunday at US Open at Erin Hills come the middle of June.