2014 NBA Draft Suits: Grades for the Best and Worst Draft-Day Attire
You only get to make a first impression once.
At Thursday night's NBA draft, we got our very first glimpse of potential future superstars like Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Marcus Smart as professional basketball players.
How we perceive them will hinge greatly on how they chose to present themselves—specifically, how they chose to dress themselves.
A wise man probably once said, “A man is only as great as his finest suit.” So on draft night, which hopeful young athletes achieved greatness? Who walked on stage and immediately captured the hearts of millions without ever needing to set foot on an NBA court? Who left us praying that we'd never have to see them in formal wear again?
In many ways, a great suit is just like a great basketball player.
It’s bold. It stands out in a crowd. It’s aggressively unique but impressively classy. It’s unforgettable for all the right reasons. And most importantly, it just looks good.
The grades I offer will reward creativity but punish tackiness. They will celebrate the subtle while scoffing at the dull.
Indeed, the field of Suit Analysis is a controversial one—disagree as you may, but understand that my critical eye for fashion is a product of extensive experience, dedication and hard work.
And so, to all the anxious stars at the Barclays Center: Welcome to the NBA, gentlemen. I hope you dressed the part.
No. 1: Andrew Wiggins
Well, that certainly got off to an interesting start.
Andrew Wiggins was taken with the top pick in the draft and walked on stage in a suit that is certainly unforgettable—for better or for worse.
The velvet black-and-white flower-patterned jacket is impossible to take your eyes off of, and I'm relatively concerned that the pattern has been burned into my eyes and will haunt me forever.
At first sight, I wasn't sure if Wiggins' suit was the tackiest thing I have ever seen or a brilliantly courageous statement.
Then it hit me: The pattern on Wiggins' jacket is nearly identical to the pattern on the flowery swim trunks that my mom bought me off a clearance rack when I was 13. It didn't look good on the beach, and it doesn't look good on an NBA prospect.
Verdict: Thank God that jacket is custom made and young high school boys across the country won't be tempted to wear it to prom.
No. 2: Jabari Parker
Simple, sleek and classy. Jabari Parker took the stage with modest look that served as a breath of fresh air following the Wiggins debacle that opened the draft.
However, Parker doesn't quite hit a home run.
It's hard to go wrong with black and grey, and the tie clip gives him a very professional look. Nothing to get excited about here, however, and "boring" is a word that Parker's suit is dangerously close to. In addition, the jacket is a little on the long-and-baggy side, while modern style heavily favors a short, slim look.
Get with the times, Jabari—but thanks for keeping the custom velvet flower garden in the closet.
No. 4: Aaron Gordon
First of all, major credit to Aaron Gordon for perfectly selecting a suit that matches his new team's colors.
The University of Arizona star trotted on stage like a walking Orlando Magic advertisement, dressed up in a blue suit so bright it could probably light the Barclays Center in the event of a power outage. Pair that with a blue tie, and you get a guy who looks like a college freshman who spent all his money at the university book store so he could walk around town in his new school colors.
I definitely like Gordon's decision to go bold in his color choice, but it's just a little much. I'm not sure I could look at the suit for more than a couple minutes without needing a decent pair of sunglasses.
Major points for making a statement, but a slight knock for taking it a bit too far.
No. 5: Dante Exum
Australian point guard Dante Exum brought us the first slam-dunk suit of the 2014 draft.
The checkered shirt pops out without being too much and is complemented nicely by a slick gray jacket, vest and pants combo. Exum pulls off sort of a neo-hipster style, but really hits it big with the Australian flag stitched on the inside of jacket. It's bold while still being tasteful. It's unique without being tacky. It makes a statement in the most subtle way.
Cool, classy and with plenty of style, Exum takes the prize for best suit in the first five picks.
No. 6: Marcus Smart
The full extent of the glory of Marcus Smart's suit does not become fully clear until you see the inside of his jacket. Like Exum, he's got some custom stitching, but Smart's tells his whole life story, including an outline of the state of Texas and a tribute to his old high school.
Not only that, but Smart does the impossible by pulling off a bow tie without looking completely ridiculous, and the fact that it matches the pocket square is an extra bonus. The polka dots are surprisingly subtle—and where else on Earth do you see polka dots that can be described as "subtle"? The black collar looks great against the navy suit and gives him sort of a retro class.
Smart does what Gordon couldn't do: He pulls off a very bold blue suit without even getting close to going over the top.
No. 7: Julius Randle
Julius Randle continues an impressive string of nice suits by donning an outfit that exudes pure class.
Dressed entirely in black, white and grey, Randle doesn't need any color to stand out. With this look, he could walk into a high-class jazz lounge, grab a microphone and fit right in. The bow tie is a smashing success, and the fit is great.
Most impressively, Randle just doesn't look like he's trying too hard (cough, Wiggins and Gordon, cough).
Cool is always so much cooler when you're not even trying to be cool.
No. 8: Nik Stauskas
GAHHHHH NOOOOOO, NIK TURN AROUND AND CHANGE YOUR CLOTHES BEFORE MAKING AN APPEARANCE ON NATIONAL TELEVISION!
Nik Stauskas makes a splash with the ugliest suit since the infamous Wiggins Garden took the spotlight with the top pick. The checkered jacket and pants look like something you'd find tucked away in your dad's closet, but your dad would be trying to hide the fact that he had ever owned the suit in the first place. The pink patterned tie does not help matters.
I thought Stauskas was a huge stretch as a top-10 pick. After seeing the suit, I wouldn't take him in the first 10 rounds.
No. 9: Noah Vonleh
The best word I can use to describe Noah Vonleh's suit is "hypnotizing."
In some ways, this reminds me of the blue suit that Aaron Gordon brought us with the fourth pick, but I think Vonleh hits where Gordon missed.
The blue isn't quite as hard on the eyes, and the grey shirt with the white bow tie and collar is an unexpectedly awesome look. It's bold, but I think he pulls it off—and what's with all these players matching their new teams? Vonleh practically blends in to the Charlotte Hornets projection in the background.
I smell a conspiracy.
No. 10: Elfrid Payton
Elfrid Payton has the first six-button suit of the night, and he pulls it off nicely, though he doesn't give us much else to talk about with a pretty ordinary suit.
I'll give him credit for taking a risk with the alternative button style, even though he seemed to play it safe overall.
At least he wore a smile on his face after being taken by Philadelphia. Joel Embiid, the third overall selection, didn't look so thrilled. Maybe Payton was happy because he knew he was about to get traded anyway.
No. 11: Doug McDermott
Eek. Doug McDermott wins the coveted "Most Patterns That Don't Match in a Single Suit" award for tonight without much competition.
Striped shirt. Checkered suit. And tie with the same pattern as every single one of the clip-on ties that my parents bought for me as a six-year-old.
Possible explanations for the outfit:
1. McDermott lost his original suit and was forced to scramble to scrape something together from Goodwill with the $20 he had in his pocket.
2. McDermott asked three different stylists to pick out different pieces of his outfit, and none of them bothered to coordinate.
3. McDermott has absolutely no fashion sense.
Here's hoping the Creighton star's scoring ability translates to the NBA better than his cringeworthy sense of style.
No. 12: Dario Saric
Dario Saric's nice gray suit is pretty much ruined by the disturbingly strange color palate that he used for his shirt and his bowtie.
The blue shirt isn't a blue that is particularly pleasing on the eye, and the deep pink in the bow tie doesn't look like it would look good with anything, regardless of the rest of the outfit.
While it isn't as shockingly painful as the suits worn by Stauskas and McDermott, Saric is a long way from looking good. He earns a passing grade only because I don't think I'm going to have nightmares about this outfit.
No. 13: Zach LaVine
Zach LaVine looked wildly unexcited about having to move away from Los Angeles to join the Timberwolves in chilly Minneapolis.
I wasn't a whole lot more excited about LaVine's choice of wardrobe.
It's a nice suit, don't get me wrong. It fits great, it's classy, it's sharp.
It just looks like a suit that any old guy might throw on in the morning to wear to his job at the bank. This is your chance at the spotlight, Zach! This isn't the time to be dressing like an average Joe at an average job!
I expect a bit more personality in a truly great suit, but at least LaVine's looks good, which puts him leagues ahead of the two guys picked before him.
No. 14: T.J. Warren
The black collar is a little odd, but the more I look at this suit, the more I really consider it one of the best in the draft.
It's bold: The red stripes are unlike anything we've seen up to this point in the draft.
It's classy: The jacket is sharp, and it fits well.
It's subtle: There's nothing really over the top about this one. No flowery velvet jacket. No crazy checkered pattern.
T.J. Warren hits a home run with this one.
No. 15: Adreian Payne
I didn't grow up anywhere near a traditional old-fashioned candy store, but if I did, this is exactly what I imagine the candy man would wear to work every day.
The jacket looks like a rug that Willy Wonka might have in his office. The pants look they were made of licorice. And I'm 75 percent sure that the bow tie is actually made out of pieces of candy cane.
Payne's outfit, however, is actually one of the most carefully thought-out suits in the draft.
While it's startlingly bright and gaudy, it looks that way for a reason: The whole ensemble is a tribute to Lacey Holsworth, a young girl who was a huge Michigan State fan and recently lost her battle to cancer.
Payne developed a relationship with the girl in college, and he paid tribute at the draft.
Who would have thought that a tacky pink suit could be the most inspiring outfit of the entire night?
No. 16: Jusuf Nurkic
Jusuf Nurkic's suit doesn't look a whole lot more interesting than Adam Silver's suit, which is absolutely not a good sign.
The red tie has a lot going for it: It matches the Bulls logo in the background, which is a little fun, and the skinny-tie-on-a-big-guy thing is definitely intriguing.
Unfortunately, this suit is just boring. Plain black jacket, plain white shirt, solid-colored tie. He'd fit right in with a group of boring college professors who are resistant to change and haven't purchased a new suit in 25 years.
That's not going to cut it for the NBA draft.
No. 17: James Young
Man, these suits are starting to put me to sleep! I feel like I'm at a business convention for a paper company.
Maybe they all heard me ripping on Wiggins for his suit all the way back at the start of the draft and made sudden wardrobe changes? Talk about overcompensating.
James Young looks perfectly professional and he definitely cleans up well, but this suit is somehow even less exciting than the Jusuf Nurkic outfit that came a pick before.
I'm starting to miss that pink candy cane bow tie...
No. 18: Tyler Ennis
How about that orange pocket square matching the orange Suns hat? I'm telling you, this whole matching thing is getting eerie.
Anyway, let's give a shout-out to Tyler Ennis for snapping the boring streak and bringing us something with a little fun to it, going with a striped look on that jacket.
Unfortunately, this still isn't a suit that's standing out too much, and the six-button look just isn't working here.
It's a decent attempt at creativity, but altogether a pretty forgettable suit.
No. 19: Gary Harris
Gary Harris comes through in the clutch with the best suit since T.J. Warren at No. 14. This one is reminiscent of Dante Exum's, but without the vest and the stitching of the Australian flag inside the jacket, which were really the two best parts in the first place.
Still, the checkered shirt with the white collar is definitely cool.
Finally, another suit with a little personality that doesn't include a pair of pink pants. Thanks for that, Gary.
No. 23: Rodney Hood
Now there's a nice suit!
Rodney Hood swoops in with a big upset at the end of the first round with one of the sleekest suits of the whole night.
The Broncos always seem to look a little ridiculous when they wear blue and orange at the same time, but this guy finds a way to do it with style. The color of the suit is awesome, the color of the tie is even more awesome, he matches the Jazz colors perfectly—if draft-night style is any indicator of NBA success (don't worry, it's not), Hood will certainly be an All-Star.
No. 24: Shabazz Napier
It looks like these late-round picks are onto something. Shabazz Napier, who may end up being the steal of the draft, delivers another awesome suit.
The choice to go with a shiny gray everywhere except the shirt makes him look a little metallic, almost like a well-dressed version of Tin Man walking around on stage. Napier's suit isn't quite as awe-inspiring as some of the best that we've seen so far in the draft, but it falls toward the top of the second tier.
No. 25: Clint Capela
Clint Capela is a classy man.
While many of his fellow draftees went for eccentric bright colors and over-the-top patterns, Capela kept it simple with dark blue and deep burgundy, making him one of the best-dressed men in the house.
Though it succeeds in its simplicity, it's lacking the wow factor that defined the very best suits of the night. He falls just short of that top tier, but Capela should definitely keep the ensemble in his closet for future coat-and-tie occasions.
No. 27: Bogdan Bogdanovic
How cool is it that there is a man on earth named Bogdan Bogdanovic?
Bogdan Bogdanovic is immediately my new favorite player in the NBA, and it has nothing to do with Bogdan Bogdanovic's basketball skills or Bogdan Bogdanovic's suit; it's the fact that Bogdan Bogdanovic's name is Bogdan Bogdanovic.
If you haven't noticed, I'm going to make a concerted effort to always refer to Bogdan Bogdanovic by his full name. It's a name that deserves to be used in its entirety.
Since this piece is about suits, and this is the final suit of the first round, let me briefly discuss his attire: Boring suit. Ugly tie.
But seriously, how cool is that name?
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