Rand: Here's what local pro teams are missing

  • Updated: May 19, 2013 - 11:59 PM
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The Wild's Zach Parise is a terrific, relentless forward, but the team still needs a pure goal scorer.

Photo: Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune file

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The Wild made the playoffs this year after finishing a distant 12th in the Western Conference a year ago. The Vikings went from three to 10 wins and a playoff berth. The Twins lost at least 96 games each of the past two seasons; they will not lose as many this year, despite a disappointing home stand. The Wolves, as sad as this is, won more games (31) this past year than in any other season pre- or post-Kevin Garnett.

If we can all agree that the Wild, Vikings, Timberwolves and Twins have improved in some fashion from where they were recently, then we can all probably agree on this: None of the four has everything needed to win at a higher level. More specifically: Each of them lacks, for now, the most important thing it needs to take the next step:

• Wild: A pure goal scorer. Zach Parise is a terrific, relentless forward. But he is not a sniper. The same can be said for Mikko Koivo at his best. Dany Heatley? He can still pick a corner, but with far less frequency than he used to. The deficiency in pure goal scorers became most evident during a powerless playoff series against Chicago. Best hope for solving the problem: A crafty move in free agency or hope a young player develops into that missing piece.

• Vikings: A bona fide playmaking quarterback. Adrian Peterson had one of the most amazing seasons Minnesota — or the NFL — has ever seen in 2012. He willed the Vikings into the playoffs. But still, the NFL is a QB league. And Christian Ponder hasn’t shown yet that he’s an upper-echelon quarterback. Best hope for solving the problem: This looks to be a make-or-break year for Ponder. Best-case scenario, he makes it. Worst case, the Vikings tread water and start over.

• Twins: An ace. The squad still needs many things, but one that would solve a lot of problems is a true No. 1 starting pitcher. Twins starters rank near the bottom of MLB with an ERA above 5.00, and nobody in the current rotation has the look of an ace (or even, let’s be honest, a No. 2 starter). Best hope for solving the problem: Minor league development. Kyle Gibson could be that guy. Trevor May or Alex Meyer could be that guy. But it will take time.

• Wolves: A shooting guard. Luke Ridnour has played through pain. He has played despite being undersized. His effort is appreciated, but he is not a shooting guard. Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love would be that much better with a properly sized, young, talented shooting guard to run with in a league that is heavily dependent on getting to the basket and shooting three-pointers. Best hope for solving the problem: This year’s draft. Minnesota must take a shooting guard, and it must be someone who makes a quick impact.

MICHAEL RAND

 

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Kansas City - WP: J. Guthrie 3 FINAL
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California 41
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Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
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Ga Southern
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Tulane
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Memphis
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(16) Nebraska
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Iowa State
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(11) Kansas State
(10) TCU 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(22) West Virginia
Texas 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Texas Tech
Northwestern 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Iowa
Maryland 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Penn State
Houston 1 FINAL
Chicago 2
Montreal 23 FINAL
Ottawa 17
Saskatchewan 27 FINAL
Calgary 40
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Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Winnipeg
Hamilton 10/31/14 6:30 PM
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Winnipeg 11/1/14 3:00 PM
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Brt Columbia 11/1/14 6:00 PM
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