Anyone tuning in to ESPN on Thursday night to watch the 2015 NBA draft might well have thought the new men’s fashion week -- set to unspool in New York City in a little more than two weeks -- had started early. As NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced the picks, draftees took to the stage clad in an eye-catching collection of statement suits heavy on the reds, the bow ties and the lapel flair.
The amped-up style quotient wasn’t totally unexpected, though, since GQ magazine had stepped in to style No. 1 draft pick Justise Winslow for the big day. (Following fellow Conde Nast title Vogue’s recent styling of attendees and presenters at the Tony Awards, the publishing company seems well on its way to becoming a de facto stylist to the world.)
We’ll have to wait for the 2015-16 season to kick off in October to see how the class of 2015 fares on the court, but based purely on what we saw Thursday night, we’ve compiled a little style draft of our own – and picked a few looks that we’d prefer to bench.
Justise Winslow (Kathy Willens / Associated Press)
No. 1: Justise Winslow
GQ creative director Jim Moore helped the NBA’s No. 1 draft pick become our top style pick by putting him in a two-button, notch lapel Suitsupply suit in a color Winslow dubbed “Duke blue” as an homage to Duke University, whose basketball team he helped lead to this year’s NCAA championship. The details – a dress shirt, knit necktie and tie bar in varying shades of blue and a sliver of gray pocket square – made Winslow’s ensemble a style slam-dunk. Now that he’s taking his talents to South Beach (he was drafted by the Miami Heat), we can’t wait to see how his GQ-jump-started sense of style evolves.
D’Angelo Russell (Elsa / Getty Images)
No. 2: D’Angelo Russell
The NBA’s No. 2 pick was drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers and, judging by Thursday night, wardrobe-wise he’s going to fit in just fine. Russell paid head-to-toe homage to his alma mater -- Ohio State University --– by wearing the school’s colors including a scarlet red jacket with a gray shawl collar lapel. The look was full-on endless L.A. summer thanks to a red-and-white gingham dress shirt and a pair of white trousers. Putting the look over the top (in the best possible way) were the dashes of red – a scarlet bow tie, a scarlet belt and a pair of what were most likely red velvet tux slippers.
Jahlil Okafor, right, and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. (Elsa / Getty Images)
No. 3: Jahlil Okafor
The No. 3 overall pick, drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers, was three for three on the night’s biggest trends sporting a maroon red shawl collar tuxedo jacket with black lapels and black contrast piping at the pockets, a bow tie (that looked just rakish enough that he could have tied it himself) with just a dash of lapel flair – in this case two five-pointed stars of slightly different sizes.
No. 4: Kristaps Porzingis
The Latvian forward -- selected fourth overall last night by the New York Knicks – had a lot of fans in attendance seeing red – only partly because his 7-foot frame was swathed in so much maroon that at first glance he looked like the front curtains in an opera house. We admit we have some mixed feelings about it. It wasn’t the distinctive color; not only was red on trend Thursday night but photos posted to Instagram show that thanks to a wide, white horizontal stripe sewn into the jacket lining, Porzingis was effectively draping himself in the Latvian flag). What we took issue with was the skinny shawl collar that appeared to be made out of black leather. A slightly more generous lapel (somewhere halfway between that one and the one on Russell’s jacket) would probably have looked a little better. But thanks to a flourish of pocket square, a necktie accessorized with a tie bar and a glint of cufflinks at the wrist, Porzingis came off as put-together, polished – and seriously patriotic.
Karl-Anthony Towns (Kathy Willens / Associated Press)
Benched: Karl-Anthony Towns
The first overall pick – snapped up by the Minnesota Timberwolves – made us howl with a black and white exploded herringbone jacket so bold and so dizzying we half expected hidden images to pop out like one of those Magic Eye pictures.
Stanley Johnson (Elsa / Getty Images)
Benched: Stanley Johnson
Based on what we saw on television last night, we were ready to put Johnson, drafted by the Detroit Pistons, on our list of style standouts. His blue chambray-like suit jacket with wide peak lapels had a certain dash of panache, with an eruption of dark blue pocket square in his breast pocket and a simple bit of hardware on the lapel striking the right balance against a red and blue plaid necktie. But, upon seeing a full-length photo – in which he appears to be wearing a pair of khaki-colored trousers -- we have to reconsider. If there was ever a situation to err on the side of a full suit, this was it.
Frank Kaminsky (Jason Szenes / EPA)
Sartorial Sixth Man: Frank Kaminsky
Former Wisconsin forward Frank Kaminsky deserves special mention here. He was drafted No. 9 overall – by the Charlotte Hornets – and when he stood up to head to the stage there was hardly anything about his gray Stafford suit (Stafford is a JCPenney big & tall private label) that warranted a second glance – until he opened his jacket and flashed the inside of his suit jacket to the cameras. On each side, about the size of an oven mitt, was the silhouette of an army tank in bright green. It was a nod to his nickname – “The Tank” and it’s the perfect example of how little things – even ones that might be hidden from view during regular wear – can help create a personal sense of style.
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