The 10 Biggest Winners Of The 2012 NBA Draft

The 2012 NBA Draft has come and gone like Maybach Music Group‘s Self Made 2 drop earlier this week. Billed as one of best drafts in recent memory, it didn’t provide the same kind of trade activity that all the pre-draft talk suggested. Nevertheless, the lack of major moves impacted the way the draft played out. Hell, David Stern, Adam Silver and the entire ESPN broadcast couldn’t even keep up with the rate Twitter was disseminating the picks at warp speed. Now GMs, teams and players have no time before they’re notified of how great or how poor their evening went.

We could say New Orleans had the best night of all, but that would be cheap. We’ve known since the draft lottery they’d have the greatest night of anyone. Anthony Davis confirms that (Austin Rivers is the icing on top).

We documented each selection as it unfolded, and besides the Hornets obvious moves in the lottery, here’s our list of the top 10 winners of the draft.

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With the 60th pick the Los Angeles Lakers select… Robert Sacre. The Prudential Center was as tense in anticipation of this name called as it was assured that Anthony Davis was going to the New Orleans Hornets. He became this year’s Mr. Irrelevant. And that’s not a bad thing at all. Little Isaiah Thomas made a name for himself last season. Sacre has a real chance to make the Lakers roster, especially with the possibility of a Pau Gasol trade, and Jordan Hill as a restricted free agent. The Lakers will need size in any scenario. Sacre could just look at how they developed a fellow former Bulldog and second round pick, Ronny Turiaf. There’s light at the end of the draft for Sacre as he embarks on his NBA career.

The string of hard-nosed, tough Marquette players catching the eye of NBA execs continues. Their basketball program hasn’t produced a superstar since Dwyane Wade in 2003, and that was back when they belonged within Conference USA. Since joining the Big East in 2005, Marquette has taken on the same strong persona as its storied conference’s hoops tradition. The players that have left to go pro reflect this embodiment and it has served them well enough to get picked in the draft. Steve Novak, Lazar Hayward and Jimmy Butler have all been drafted in the late first and second rounds. And now Jae Crowder and Darius Johnson-Odom are the newest Golden Eagles to get selected. This trend has become a mainstay, where future Marquette recruits can point to and believe that they, too, have a spot in the league.

As ESPN’s John Hollinger tweeted, “Only three of the final 13 picks were from the United States.” And actually 16 players out of the total 60 drafted had a passport from abroad. This list includes foreign players who played collegiately in America such as Andrew Nicholson, Fab Melo, Festus Ezeli, Jeff Taylor, Kris Joseph, and the aforementioned Sacre. So while this class was dubbed as a weak international pool initially, it really was not. Most of them were picked in the second round and quite a few happen to have hooped during March Madness. Teams decided they were better off scoopin’ cats that they could stash away than to deal with home-grown players who need the bread right away. These foreigners won the latter part of the night, and pissed off some American ballers in the process.

To know that Bernard James was one of the winners on draft night, all one had to do was listen to the crowd’s chant, “U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!” He received the loudest ovation out of any player selected, without question. Well, besides the boos Adam Silver got when the New York Knicks were on the clock. Although he’s the oldest draftee at 27 years old, his story as an Iraq war veteran touched the raucous dirty Jerseyans. This moment will be something James won’t forget. Also, he is in an ideal position to sign a two-year deal with the Dallas Mavericks and immediately capitalize on a second lucrative contract right away, similar to the situation faced by DeAndre Jordan. The Mavs are likely to amnesty Brendan Haywood, they won’t bring back The Goods, may not sign an expensive free agent center, and Ian Mahinmi and Yi Jianlian, the probable backups, are free agents. Going to war was a lot harder than whatever comp they may have in their bigs depth chart – if any.

The Mavs were one of the few teams that consummated a trade. They were able to flip one mid-first round asset into three picks, all of whom will make their squad next year. Trading Tyler Zeller to the Cleveland Cavaliers for draft rights of Jared Cunningham, Jae Crowder, and the aforementioned James enables them to fill their roster out a bit prior to free agency. While none of these guys seem likely to start right away, they bring much-needed youth, toughness, and depth that they sorely lacked this past season. The Mavs are trying to reload without adding expensive contracts in the process in order to maintain flexibility to attract Deron Williams back home. These selections offer a good start to their offseason objectives.

Perry Jones III experienced one of the biggest falls during the draft. For someone with arguably the most talent and upside in this class to drop almost to the second round (No. 28 overall), he instantly becomes a steal. Despite the fatter check, the last thing he needed was to get drafted in the lottery and bared the expectations he couldn’t fulfill. Now he doesn’t have the burden of franchise on him – that’s Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook‘s responsibility. Jones walks into a perfect situation where he’ll be allowed to develop appropriately and at his own pace. Jones needs to learn how to be a pro and earn his minutes, which is clearly the Thunder way.

The Houston Rockets were probably on the phone lines harder than any other team in the league. There was no secret the Rockets were on a mission to trade up in the draft in order to possess more attractive assets to then flip in a blockbuster trade. While their attempts didn’t materialize, they still were able to nab really nice pieces with their three first-round picks. Jeremy Lamb, Royce White and Terrence Jones are key to any potential offseason moves, or to reboot a miscast roster. The Rockets are now in a promising position to either swing for the fences for a superstar or rebuild altogether with all the assets they’ve accumulated.

No two prospects rose on draft night higher than Dion Waiters and Terrence Ross. Although the draft has had a predetermined pay scale for some time now, there’s still some money to be made depending on how high in the lottery a cat goes. Per HOOPSWORLD.com, $3,444,400 and $2,136,100 will be the rookie salaries these guys will make as the fourth and eight picks, respectively. Besides their newfound riches, they both go to teams that will immediately start them at the shooting guard spot and give them the green light to score buckets. Waiters and Ross couldn’t have hoped for a better situation to receive what every young hooper desires.

John Wall finally gets a legitimate backcourt mate that compliments his skills and talent. For the past two seasons he’s been stuck with chuck-first-and-only cats like Nick Young and Jordan Crawford. He hasn’t been able to firmly adjust and enhance his game because he’s been surrounded with inefficient and immature teammates. Bradley Beal will be the Ray Allen remix to his more dynamic Rajon Rondo impersonation. Wall will now validate the hype he came into the league with and the year-too-soon prediction made by us here Dime.

With all the talk that this draft is supposed to be one of the best ever, there wasn’t a single trade that featured an established impact player changing the course of an entire franchise. One would’ve thought that one of these lottery guys or a combination of first-round picks would be worth the price for an All-Star. However, it’s this pending trade between the Clippers, Mavs and Utah Jazz that was the clear-cut winner of the draft. Nobody needed a change of scenery more than The Goods. He definitely was not himself this past season because of personal reasons and being homesick from his adopted L.A. He needed to go back to the only city he feels comfortable living in, shares his laidback personality, and drive ratings for his lousy show with his wife, Khloe. As for the Clippers, they bring back one of their originals who can still play at a high level and address their frontline depth. There was no way they would’ve opted to overpay for Reggie Evans and Kenyon Martin‘s services in free agency when they can get everything they provided and then some in Odom. Additionally, they had no more use for Mo Williams as a backup point guard since Eric Bledsoe‘s emergence. The Clippers are just a shooter away from posing as a legitimate threat in the West.

Of course, all of this stems on Williams picking up his $8.5 million player option so the trade can actually be official. Reports are that he’ll make his decision in the next day or two.

Who were the biggest winners on draft night?

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