As NBA teams make vibrant choices, so do the players — fashion-wise

Former Kansas star Andrew Wiggins is headed to Cleveland after the Cavaliers made him the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft.
(Kathy Willens / Associated Press)

The Cleveland Cavaliers were late in making the first pick of the NBA draft, their dillydallying apparently not related to whom they would select but how they would explain the outfit Andrew Wiggins wore.

“I almost changed my mind when I saw it,” Cavaliers General Manager David Griffin quipped on the ESPN broadcast Thursday night. “I told him that too.”

Wiggins sashayed across a stage inside the Barclays Center in New York dressed in a black tuxedo jacket with a white flowery pattern that looked as if it had been stenciled by a 3-year-old.

Ultimately, the Cavaliers cared only about Wiggins’ style of play, which they felt exceeded that of the more polished but lower-ceilinged Jabari Parker. Parker went second to the Milwaukee Bucks, a given once Wiggins was taken out of play.

That left the Philadelphia 76ers with the No. 3 pick … and perhaps the best player in the draft in Joel Embiid, the 7-footer whose stock dipped last week after he was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his right foot.


Watching from home, Embiid was initially shown with a disappointed expression after the pick was announced. Broadcasters quickly realized they had been victimized by the vagaries of tape delay and replayed his immediate, smiling reaction.

There were tears inside and outside the draft room when Commissioner Adam Silver announced Baylor’s Isaiah Austin as an honorary pick midway through the first round. Austin, a highly touted center who recently learned his career was over because he suffers from Marfan syndrome, walked across the stage and hugged Silver before using a handkerchief to dab his eyes.

That was easily the best use of fabric on a night seemingly every player unveiled custom haberdashery. Point guard Dante Exum pulled back one side of his suit jacket to reveal a map of his native Australia; point guard Marcus Smart flashed an Oklahoma State logo in the same spot inside his jacket.

Some wardrobe issues were unavoidable, such as point guard Elfrid Payton’s struggling to pull his 76ers hat over his thick mop of hair. Maybe it was a sign; Payton was traded to the Orlando Magic shortly thereafter.

The Lakers made news simply by having a first-round selection for the first time since 2007, when they chose the largely forgettable Javaris Crittenton. They used the No. 7 pick on Kentucky power forward Julius Randle, who was widely touted as a young Zach Randolph.

Of course, Randolph didn’t become a double-double machine overnight. Lakers fans may want to skip the rest of this sentence considering Randolph averaged 2.8 points and 1.7 rebounds per game as a rookie.

In what could be a precursor to other moves, the Clippers used the No. 28 pick on Washington shooting guard C.J. Wilcox, giving them a glut of wing players … for the moment.

The local team with the most to celebrate was UCLA, which had three players taken in the first round for the first time since 1979. Point guard Zach LaVine went 13th to the Minnesota Timberwolves, shooting guard Jordan Adams went 22nd to the Memphis Grizzlies and point guard Kyle Anderson went 30th to the San Antonio Spurs.

Former Compton Dominguez and L.A. Price high school star Norvel Pelle went undrafted, though he is expected to receive an invitation to play in the summer league after spending last season with the Delaware 87ers of the Development League.

LeBron James’ presence was felt when the Miami Heat completed a trade with the Charlotte Hornets to acquire point guard Shabazz Napier, the first of several upgrades the Heat intends to make in an effort to retain James.

Silver was a hit in his first year presiding over the first round, the boos that had traditionally greeted predecessor David Stern replaced by gracious applause.

Silver didn’t announce the first pick until more than a minute after Cleveland’s allotted time had expired, triggering speculation about a possible trade. The Cavaliers kept the pick, their fourth No. 1 selection since they chose James in 2003.

“Welcome to the Cleveland @22wiggins!” tweeted owner Dan Gilbert. “The sky is the limit for you, this franchise and this city … Let’s go!”

Giorgio Armani might make a good first stop.