Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
Eric Bledsoe, Los Angeles Clippers
Los Angeles Clippers reserve point guard Eric Bledsoe has become every NBA pundit's favorite rising star. From his explosive athleticism to his lockdown defense, there aren't many areas of Bledsoe's game for detractors to target.
The question is, will Vinny Del Negro actually grant Bledsoe with the playing time he deserves? As likely as it may be, there are no signs that VDN will give him starters minutes.
Keep in mind, Bledsoe averaged 5.1 less minutes after the All-Star break than before it.
For that reason, the "Honorable Mention" tag is fitting, as playing time is too much of an X-factor to make a definitive evaluation—a sad, but honest, truth.
Lance Stephenson, Indiana Pacers
The Indiana Pacers are an elite defensive team with All-Stars in Paul George, David West and Roy Hibbert. They also have a dynamic point guard in George Hill and are quietly receiving contributions from Lance Stephenson.
It's not about the numbers with Stephenson, as the 22-year-old is more inclined to apply elite defensive pressure. With the ball in his hands, however, he can attack off the bounce and finish in traffic.
A true breakout season could be one year away, but Stephenson is a player worth watching.
Derrick Williams, Minnesota Timberwolves
Derrick Williams finally began to quiet the critics in 2012-13, averaging 15.0 points and 6.3 rebounds after the All-Star break. With that being said, Williams was also playing in the absence of star power forward Kevin Love.
Assuming Love returns to full health, we can't help but ask what that means for Williams' future.
It's clear that Williams can play at the NBA level, but playing time is just as important as ability. If Williams is forced to play out of position or in a manner not fitting to his style or approach, his numbers could suffer.
For that reason, a breakout season is difficult to predict when playing time is so uncertain.