The events of the past few days have cemented a truth on the Twin Cities pro sports scene: There are five stages of building a franchise, and the Timberwolves, Twins, Vikings, Wild and Lynx represent all five of them:
Timberwolves: Ground level
Minnesota had the worst record in the NBA last season, going 16-66. It’s hard to be much worse than that, so the natural inclination with any roster next season is to think there’s no place to go but up. That is particularly the case with the Timberwolves, who built on a young nucleus by adding No. 1 overall pick Karl-Anthony Towns and local hero Tyus Jones during Thursday night’s draft. This roster might take them far, but right now they’re at the very beginning.
Twins: Curious potential
The Twins have been bad for several years. This season, there is justified optimism, but it’s also tempered by this reality: Out of three months of baseball, they’ve had one very good one and two pretty bad ones. Their 20-28 combined mark in April and June is offset by a scorching 20-7 month of May, but they’re still a team with its best days ahead, and that might not come for a while considering how long it can take prospects to hit their stride.
Vikings: Poised to make a move
Minnesota went 7-9 in Mike Zimmer’s first season as head coach, and there are three reasons to think the Vikings could reverse that record (or better) in 2015. First, they just might have figured out a long-term solution at the sport’s most important position (quarterback). Second, they can play defense — particularly pass defense. Third, they’ll have a motivated Adrian Peterson running for them. It adds up to a young team on the rise.
Wild: Very good trying to become elite
After re-signing goalie Devan Dubnyk, the Wild figures to be a very similar team to the one it was a year ago — one that has a nice mix of young players and veterans but one that is trying to go from being very good (and clearly the most accomplished of the four major men’s pro teams in town) to being an elite Stanley Cup contender. The roster is built. Now it’s a question of how well it is built and how well players perform.
Lynx: Elite team trying to stay on top
This is the final stage of building. The Lynx have been one of the WNBA’s best teams since 2011 when they won their first of two championships. This season they’re 7-2 and again clicking behind the same key core of players who have fueled their past success. While some keep whispering that time might catch up with the Lynx soon, it won’t be this season. They are enjoying a sustained stretch of dominance, a rarity in this market.