Who are the 10 most ‘lovable’ local pro athletes for the next decade?

·3 min read

More than six years ago, I apparently made a list of the 10 athletes Minnesota fans would have "love affairs" with (metaphorically speaking) over the next decade.

I say "apparently" because, as often happens, it's hard to remember making this list. But a Twitter follower alerted me to it a few days ago and suggested it might be time for a revised list.

The old top 10 feels like a bit of a relic from a pretty optimistic time. It went, in order 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 had their moments. None has won a championship. Five are no longer with Minnesota teams, while a sixth, Miguel Sano, might not ever play for the Twins again.

The point of the list was to point out potential. All those players were relatively young at the time, and so this updated list will have a similar bent: Nobody made the cut that I can't envision playing at least the next five years for a Minnesota pro sports team.

As La Velle E. Neal III and I talked about in hashing out some of this list on Wednesday's Daily Delivery podcast, the top three are pretty obvious.

But the order they go in — and the rest of the list — are anything but a slam dunk. Let's give it a try, from 10-1.

10. Jaden McDaniels, Timberwolves: He's still only 21, with plenty of room to grow an already impressive game.

9. Joel Eriksson Ek, Wild: The 25-year-old center has become a two-way force. If the Wild ever makes a deep playoff run, guys like Ek will be front and center.

8. Joe Ryan, Twins: It's been a while since the Twins had a young pitcher you could envision as an ace of the staff.

7. Napheesa Collier, Lynx: She was already the league's top rookie and is showing how valuable she is in her absence this year.

6. Luis Arraez, Twins: Clutch hits, batting title contention and comparisons to Rod Carew are all good things.

5. Karl-Anthony Towns, Timberwolves: The first of two repeat selections from six years ago. Towns is still relatively young (26) and could get to another level yet.

4. Byron Buxton, Twins: With a long-term contract and the production to match his potential, Buxton might deserve to be No. 1 if he can ever shed the "if healthy" label.

3. Justin Jefferson, Vikings: Already one of the best wide receivers in the league, but it's hard to be No. 1 on this list at his position.

2. Kirill Kaprizov, Wild: Right up there with Buxton in terms of production and talent on this list. Thought about putting him No. 1, but ...

1 Anthony Edwards, Timberwolves: This list isn't just about talent. It's about what fans love. Edwards is a budding superstar in a superstar league. His wit and charisma, plus his game, put him in the No. 1 spot.

(Watch list: Royce Lewis, Twins; Jesper Wallstedt, Wild; Emanuel Reynoso, Minnesota United; Matt Boldy, Wild).