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Derrick Williams should begin to fulfill his high potential in year two.
Derrick Williams (13-2)
Derrick Williams has impressed thus far this preseason after a lackluster rookie campaign. The No. 2 overall pick in 2011 has a lot of potential and should see a significant enough uptick in minutes to have an outside shot at winning this award.
Michael Beasley (7-1)
It's unclear whether or not Michael Beasley has already reached his potential, but leaving Minnesota should afford him more of an opportunity to find out. Whether or not he has reached his apex as a player, he'll be a primary option in the Phoenix Suns' offense and has the potential to put up over 20 a game, at least if his original prospects coming out of K-State hold any weight.
Patrick Patterson (8-1)
Patrick Patterson seems to have a lock on the starting power forward job in Houston, and he's never been short on skills. Patterson is a good rebounder, good mid-range shooter, and an above-average athlete.
The Rockets have the potential to be a surprise team with the acquisition of James Harden and the high yet unknown upside of Jeremy Lin. Serving as the perfect role player for such a team could suit Patterson well.
Byron Mullens (8-1)
Byron Mullens will be the starting center in Charlotte this year, and he showed a lot of improvement last year in his third year in the league. Joining the Bobcats after spending his first two years with the Oklahoma City Thunder (who drafted him No. 24 overall in 2009), Mullens put up 9.3 points per game while grabbing five rebounds a game.
Mullens seems to be capable of putting up a line of 14 points per game and eight rebounds per game, though, and that would warrant consideration for this award.
Greivis Vasquez (10-1)
Austin Rivers is presumably the future in New Orleans, but he's going to need time and seasoning. That's good for Greivis Vasquez, who will assume the starting point guard duties for the time being. He leads a talented cast of Hornets, and with passing targets like Eric Gordon, Anthony Davis and Ryan Anderson, Vasquez may put up far better numbers than anyone is expecting.
In his per-36 minutes last year, Vasquez posted 12.4 points per game and dished out 7.6 assists, with only 3.1 turnovers. That kind of per-minute production should translate to a line of about 11 and seven this year, assuming Vasquez sees 32 minutes per game.
Omer Asik (12-1)
Omer Asik averaged 13 rebounds per 36 minutes last year while also blocking 2.5 shots per-36. He'll see 30-plus minutes a night in Houston, and if he can stay out of foul trouble, he should pick up a number of double-doubles. The improvement is expected, and what would win this award for Asik is if he displayed some offensive improvement.
Perhaps Asik is a year away from winning this award, as after establishing himself this year and then working hard on his offensive game, he could challenge for the award in 2013-14.
Even so, Asik can't be ignored for this award this year, if defense is to be given its due consideration in voting.