1. How would you grade the overall job the Twins did in the draft and do you think the drafting of Royce Lewis increases the likelihood that prospect Nick Gordon gets traded for help sooner than later?
Nate Leer: I really like what the Twins did so I will give them an A, contingent on them signing their top picks which is getting done. Royce Lewis is a SS/OF they took #1 overall. I don’t think that means they have to trade Gordon as the 2 are separated by 3 years of development, an organization can never have too many elite athletes and neither is guaranteed to stick at SS even if the Twins want them to. It would be cool if they are an elite double play combo into the 2020s. After Lewis, the Twins took college superstar OF Brent Rooker. Hopefully he can quickly develop into a quality, all around offensive player with some upside. The Twins then took 2 upside high school SPs, a polished but limited college SP and an upside high school 3B. The Twins saved money on their 1st 2 picks to try to sign the upside high schoolers. If they can bring in 2 of the 3 with their saved money, this draft could look pretty good!
Kras: Since I remain a sceptic of the Twins, even though they are under new management, I will give them a B grade. As far as the draft, I was a bit surprised that they did not draft 1 of the top 3 pitching talents seeing how they always seem to be lacking in talented arms. However, looking at the draft, the Twins did not skimp on drafting pitchers. They ended the draft having taken 21 pitching options that, hopefully, will bud into something worth joining the big club. As happy as I was to see them draft all the arms, none of them have shown or proven anything on a worthwhile level and because of that I have to remain leery of the Twins. Hopefully this draft will be the start of a new era. As for whether or not Royce Lewis was drafted to free up Nick Gordon for trade potential, I’m not sure. I think it is reasonable to think that it is a possibility that’s why he was drafted but I would tend to lean towards the idea that Lewis was drafted to save money to spend later in the draft. It seems the Twin brass wants to put the most top end talent in the system to start grooming. For what is it worth, Lewis is so far away it is possible he is traded away before he ever sees the field with the Twins.
2. Should the T-wolves trade the 7th pick in the NBA draft and, if so, is there a guy you want them to move up and get or do you want them to move back in the draft?
Kras: If the price is right, yes, trade it. However I doubt it will be. My guess would be that if they do move the pick it is packaged with a couple players and not just straight up. It doesn’t appear that there is anyone in that area of the draft that is so coveted that teams will be willing to package relevant assets to move up and get our pick. It will be interesting to see what happens on draft night and the nights preceding it. With Ricky Rubio rumors always swirling around, you never know what kind of deal could come up.
Nate Leer: I think the Wolves are caught in no man’s land with respect to the players coming down the draft pipeline. There are some elite talents that won’t make it to them at 7 and there are potential values later that would be too risky at 7. So, to answer the question, I think the Wolves should move or trade the pick for a vet. It all depends on what possible deals are out there as to which move makes the most sense. If they can trade up far enough to get one of the athletic forwards without moving one of their 3 young upside guys, I would like to seem them go for it. My dream scenario would be to see Josh Jackson fall far enough where some combination of our extra PGs and/or bigs allow with the 7 pick would let us move up to get him. This draft could be full of surprises and it would be nice to see the Wolves catch a break or 2.
3. Who is one free agent you want to see the Wild add this offseason and will they be enough to get the team make a deep playoff push?
Kras: I think we can all agree that there is a good chance the Wild could end up losing a defenseman in the expansion draft with the Las Vegas Golden Knights being introduced to the league in the 2018 season. With that said, they may have a need and a void to fill on the back end. There are a couple guys that the Wild could add to help replace the possible loss. One is free agent Michael Stone who is 27 years olds. Otherwise they could go the veteran route and try to add a guy like Ron Hainsey, who is 36 and can still play a significant role on this team. This team also has a need at forward and a guy who will show up during the playoffs when they always seem to lack scoring. TJ Oshie will be a free agent but will likely be on the high end from a financial aspect. There could always be the possibility that Martin Hanzal comes back but he didn’t do anything in his short stint with the Wild last season that made me feel that he HAS to be back. No one move is going to be the answer for this team but another piece may add a missing element that helps this team in their pursuit of a Cup.
JJ Benz: Kras makes some good points, the Wild have to expose a few good players to the expansion draft process. Besides filling the voids left by the expansion draft, I would like to see this team re-sign Martin Hanzal. Personally, I don’t think Charlie Coyle can play center even though this franchise has tried to make him into one off and on his whole career. Coyle had his best year playing wing last year so resigning Hanzal might be their best move. Most Wild fans are holding their collective breaths for the talent coming up from the minors, which is very intriguing.
1. Where do the Warriors rank on your list of all time great teams?
Kras: I think this Warriors team is a great team, for this generation of basketball. They are one of the best groups of talent ever assembled on a basketball court and for that they will always be in the conversation of greatest teams. I think there is something to be said about different time, different game. The rules change as well as the size and makeup of the teams that we consider to be the greatest. I think there is a case to be made for the Warriors but they are not the team I would pick to be the greatest. For me, in this debate, in order to be the greatest, you have to have the greatest, Bulls, MJ.
Nate Leer: I know this team looks great but people are going a little overboard with recency bias. The 72 win Bulls team, the best of the 80s Lakers or 80s Celtics and some of the dynasties from the past were as talented of teams. They also were better put together with balance between bigs and guards/wings. Kareem Abdul-jabbar or Kevin McHale would make hay offensively against the Warriors front line and Dennis Rodman would have dominated the glass. On pure talent, everyone would take Jordan over Durant, Pippen is a better all-around player than Steph Curry, I think it’s debatable whether Draymond or the Worm is a more impactful player and Toni Kukoc is underrated and was close to as good of a player as Klay Thompson is. Plus, Michael Jordan…
2. Is what the Philadelphia 76ers gave up to get the #1 overall pick worth it or did the Boston Celtics pull another one over on a lowly NBA franchise?
Nate Leer: This is a tough question that I have wavered on regarding who wins or if it is truly a win win. My evaluation as of today is that the Celtics did in fact win this decisively. This is especially true if they are able to package the 2 picks they got for a superstar. That seems to be the end play for Boston and it could make them a legitimate title contender for the next few years. If they achieve that, any and all trades to get there are wins. However, even if the Celtics stand pat with the #3 pick, my 2 top players in this draft will likely be available and at least 1 will almost certainly be available. Markelle Fultz is clearly the player the 76ers crave with the #1 pick which means Josh Jackson or Jonathan Isaacs will certainly be available at 3. I think Jackson is the best player in this draft and could take the Celtics to the next level within a couple years. If the Lakers are smart and take Jackson #2, Isaacs has the most upside of any player in this draft. He could be another Kevin Garnett. If the Lakers take Lonzo Ball at #2, as many expect, both these players will be available as well as several other options. The jist of it all is that Boston has moved back in a deep draft in which, arguably, the best talents will still be available at their new slot AND they got a potential high lottery pick in a year or 2. Pretty good move. All that said, Philly can still look good if Fultz works out well. It will take a couple years for the real winners and losers to shake out.
3. Is Brooks Koepka’s -16, U.S. Open victory the first of multiple major championships for him or will this likely be his last?
Kras: I don’t think anyone can argue with the potential that Koepka has; clearly he is good enough to win a major. I also believe that it is really, really hard to play 4 rounds of lights out golf. Because of that, and all the other quality golfers that are on tour, I believe it will be hard for him go on a run and win 2 or 3 majors in a row. I think if he could win 1 more in the next 2 years he would be doing exceptional. With the exception of Rickie Fowler, the leaderboard was full 2nd and 3rd tier golfers. Even Fowler has not won a major. In closing, we know Koepka can do it but, because the talent pool in golf is so deep, I think it is more likely that he doesn’t win multiple majors. Best of luck to Koepka, as it was fun to watch him play that caliber of golf over 72 holes, at a U.S. Open.
JJ Benz: Considering the last 7 major winners have been first time major winners, I don’t expect Brooks to win another major anytime soon. I think, with the amount of talent on the tour, 1st time major winners could go on for a couple of years. The tour is talented but they don’t have the step-on-your-throat attitude that Tiger Woods had for so many years.