Today's Series of Random Thoughts:

-For all of their problems, self-inflicted and unavoidable, the Timberwolves have this going for them:

They are an NBA team, meaning they are one great player away from relevance, ticket sales, competitiveness and hope.

John Wall is that player.

The Kentucky freshman is explosive, poised and unselfish. He's better than Derrick Rose. Put him on the Wolves, and add a worthwhile free agent, and Wolves fans could stop complaining about years of mistakes and misfortune. If the Wolves land Wall, think of the stars the Minnesota sports landscape would have to offer: Adrian Peterson, Brett Favre, Percy Harvin, Jared Allen, Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau...and Wall.

Wall isn't just a great talent, he's the kind of player who would make every competent player on the Wolves' roster better. You don't have to be a homer or a cheerleader to beg the basketball gods for a chance to watch this kid in person every winter.

-If you didn't stay up to watch the Wild last night, you missed a highly entertaining game. As our Michael Russo wrote, the Wolves dominated play and were rewarded with Martin Havlat's overtime winner. This is premature, but that's never stopped me before _ if the Wild can recover from their horrid start and make the playoffs, Todd Richards might be deserving of some coach of the year votes. The Richards/Chuck Fletcher combination is, as we thought this summer, highly promising.

-I can't tell if the Wolves are playing better, or if my expectations for the franchise are so low that I'm overly impressed every time they score a basket. ``Hey, the Wolves scored! How about that!''

-I like the Twins' approach this winter, getting Hardy for Gomez, bringing back Pavano on a one-year deal and waiting out the market for an affordable third baseman. Although I agree that the Twins need to start the season with a veteran at third base, I don't think they should sign anyone to more than a one-year deal, unless it's someone who could play second base, as well.

-To me, the Vikings' game against the Bengals will be the most revealing of the year. Did Arizona catch the Vikings on a bad day, or expose their flaws? Have the Vikings already peaked? Can the Vikings run the ball against a physical front? Is the offensive line overrated and too beat-up to be effective? Is Brett Favre a different guy now than the one who struggled in previous Decembers?

I think the Vikings will gear up and play well and win a close game. My pick: Vikings 34-27.


Upcoming: I wrote a lengthy piece for the Sunday paper developing the storylines that wove through Game 163. I interviewed a bunch of people throughout the organization and they graciously offered a lot of details about that day that I hadn't heard before. I highly recommend it, if I do say so myself, and I do say so myself.

-I lined up some great guests for Sunday Sports Talk, 10-noon on KSTP am-1500: My old buddy Ryan Lefebvre, the Royals broadcaster and former Gophers baseball player, who wrote a book entitled ``The Shame of Me,'' about his battles with depression. He's a brave guy, to tell this story, and he's always been one of my favorite people in baseball.

I'll also have on Twins pitching coach Rick Anderson, Cincinnati Enquirer columnist Paul Daugherty to talk about the Bengals and Brian Kelly, and Dallas Morning News football columnist and old friend Rick Gosselin.

We'll also have on Reusse, do NFL picks and do Brad Lane's Blitz. It really should be a 10-hour show, but then I'd have to skip the Vikings game.


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Winging on home

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Vikings beat Bengals, my picks for the day go very well