Some mornings you do a whole bunch of research, only to arrive at dead ends when it comes time to write something conclusive. This was one of those mornings.
Then again, some mornings an idea just finds you. This, too, was (thankfully) one of those mornings.
In the midst of being frustrated by dead ends involving the Wild and Astros (not connected, you guys), Twitter follower Isaac Wenzel reminded me of a tweet from exactly two years ago in which I tried to determine the 10 Minnesota athletes we would love the most over the next 10 years.
The idea was that there were a whole bunch of up-and-comers on the local pro sports scene — and only those who weren’t yet really established were considered for the love affair list. The Nov. 2, 2015 list went like this:
1) Karl-Anthony Towns, 2) Miguel Sano, 3) Byron Buxton, 4) Teddy Bridgewater, 5) Andrew Wiggins, 6) Matt Dumba, 7) Stefon Diggs, 8) Jason Zucker, 9) Anthony Barr, 10) Eric Kendricks.
All 10 of those players were either in the midst of or had just finished either their first or second year at the top level (Zucker had a few cups of coffee over more than two years, but he had played fewer than 100 NHL games when the 2015 season started).
All 10 have experienced some level of success since then. That said, here is an attempt at a REVISED list using only players who would have been eligible two years ago.
That means no Jimmy Butler even though everyone in Minnesota already seems to love Mr. Buckets. That means no Lynx players since their core has stayed relatively intact with veteran stars. That means no Dalvin Cook, Jose Berrios or Luke Kunin, even though those three (and others) would make a list if we were starting from scratch today. Same goes for Minnesota United players after the switch to Major League Soccer.
Here we go with the revised list:
1) Byron Buxton, Twins: There isn’t a more electrifying athlete in the Twin Cities right now.
2) Karl-Anthony Towns, Wolves: This is a big year for Towns, who has developed into a dominant and efficient scorer but needs to make consistent strides on defense.
3) Andrew Wiggins, Wolves: I was convinced two years ago that Towns had the higher ceiling than Wiggins. Now I’m not so sure.
4) Miguel Sano, Twins: Before Sano was injured in August, he was on track for a monster year. His recovery sets up an important 2018.
5) Adam Thielen, Vikings: Our first new entrant, Thielen’s underdog local story combined with his performance propels him to this spot.
6) Anthony Barr, Vikings: His 2016 play put him in danger of falling off. But Barr has been tremendous this year, and his tweet in response to Aaron Rodgers made him a legend to some.
7) Stefon Diggs, Vikings: When healthy, he’s an electrifying playmaker.
8) Eddie Rosario, Twins: Another new entrant, Rosario could become the heart-and-soul of the Twins.
9) Jason Zucker, Wild: He’s evolved into one of the Wild’s most consistent and exciting offensive threats.
10) Danielle Hunter, Vikings: The final new entrant, Hunter — a rookie in 2015 — has a chance to be special.
It was painful to drop Bridgewater from the list because I think a lot of fans still love him. It’s just hard to say what role he will play over the next 10 years. Dumba could still play his way back onto this list, but he was uneven over the last two years even before his major gaffe earlier this week for the Wild. Kendricks hasn’t done anything wrong, but Hunter has eclipsed him in terms of upside.
Your thoughts, as always, in the comments.