• NBA Draft Style Projection: How the Top Fashion Picks Compare to the Vets
  • Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports
  • NBA draft experts have been using player comparisons for years, likening draft prospects to successful NBA players to illustrate how the draftee might one day play in the league. That’s been a laughable science. More than a few players have been billed as the next Michael Jordan (DeShawn Stevenson, obviously) based on not much more than being kinda pigeon-toed and of similar height.

    You can get a draft night recap elsewhere. But in a much more effectual data-driven projection, we’re bringing you style player comps so you can see how your team’s swagged out new star compares to players who are currently dressing successfully in the league. If you’re still playing the drinking game at home, just substitute ‘wingspan’ with ‘bowtie.’ 


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    Style Projection: RUSSELL WESTBROOK

    On draft night, Wiggins looked like a man that was not afraid to fail (Perfect for Cleveland!). A dresser that can wear one terrible outfit and come out the next day unfazed in an equally terrible one. 

    Strength: Confidence

    This is just a completely fearless outfit to kick off Wiggins’ NBA career. It’s a terrible one, but Wiggins wore it with total confidence.  

    Weaknesses: Good at Many Things, Great At None

    Wow, a shawl lapel jacket! Wow, a lapel pin! Wow, oversized nerdcore glasses! Yep, slippers. All right, a patterned suit. OK, and a floppy bowtie, phew that’s a lot of manccessories. Next time, just pick and ride with one trend.


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    It’s all about what’s on the inside, and no, we’re not talking toughness and heart. Smart repped his team in epic fashion by stitching an Oklahoma State patch, among others, on the inside of his jacket. With the right coaching, Marcus Smart has the potential to become as fashionable as Drizzy Drake. Plus, they both spend a good amount of time in the stands.

    Strengths: Suit lining, suit lining, suit lining.

    Weaknesses: Bowtie, bowtie, bowtie (drink).


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    Projection: ROBIN LOPEZ

    By far the best hair game in last night’s draft. How far that will take him in the NBA remains to be seen, but NBA fans have always appreciated a good ‘do, and the obvious matchup for Payton is Robin Lopez. If Payton can keep his hair game on point, we project he’ll be flopping around like the greats. Anderson Varejao also comes to mind, but Payton can aim higher and stash it under a newspaper boy hat.  

    Strengths: Composure

    On his way up to the podium, Payton fumbled getting his hat over his hair, but he kept his cool and eventually pulled it off. Bodes well for his future of putting hats on his head during future emotionally charged moments, like, when Philly trades him and a bunch of other assets.

    Weaknesses: Lacks An All-Around Game

    Payton can sometimes rely on the strength of his hair, causing the rest of his outfit to come off as lackluster.


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    Projection: STEVE NASH

    Find Nik Stauskas getting confused for the guy that does your taxes off the court. He’s from Canada, but he dresses like he went to a small school just outside of Boston… no, not Tufts. With time, Stauskas could take his nerdy dad-dressing to Canadian hero, game MVP like Steve Nash levels. 

    Strengths: Versatility

    With this outfit, Nik could be attending draft night, a day on his father’s boat, a competitive finance internship downtown, or a Young Republican’s convention.

    Weaknesses: Flashback 

    Kings’ fans are now forced to relive the Jimmer Freddete experience.


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    Projection: CHRIS BOSH

    Chris Bosh is best at dressing well without stealing the spotlight from his two superstar teammates on the Heat. Much of the chatter before the draft on Vonleh was about him not getting the ball enough from his guards and not being a big enough part of the offense, so, good start!

    Bosh’s tonal suits and floppy bowties are as far as he will really go sartorially. Hopefully, Vonleh can grow into his role of rolling over and letting others shine in the NBA as much as Bosh has.

    Strengths: Matches Up Well

    They threw the iconic Hornets’ Starters jacket on Vonleh right after he was drafted and it matched perfectly.

    Weaknesses: Hand Size

    Vonleh’s huge 11.75-inch mitts may prevent him from wearing flossy rings, bracelets, and watches. Going to be hard to be a NBA superstar dresser without some accessories. Also: they’re terrifying.


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    Projection: DIKEMBE MUTOMBO

    Dikembe Mutombo had an incredible career, and he will still never live down the garish tie that he wore on draft night. This picture of Mutombo with his brightly colored tie must have been on McDermott’s wall right next to a poster of his real idol, Wally Szczerbiak. If McDermott replicates Szrzerbiak’s career on the court, we’ll surely remember this tie as his brightest, and sole Mutombo-caliber moment. 

    Strength: Locker Room Guy

    McDermott managed to pull these three totally different patterns together well, so meshing with all the personalities in the NBA should be easy.

    Weakness: Low standard

    Get used to a lot of: McDermott has “more swag than people think!”

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    Projection: CHRIS PAUL

    It must be hard to be Dante Exum. He will spend his entire NBA career in the shadow of his father’s flattop, but Chris Paul is a fine comp in a vacuum. Both these guy get the details right and don’t go too far overboard. Exum wore a white pocket square, a simple grey suit, and he saved the flashiness for his suit lining. Paul and Exum both do a good job buttoning up and can really wear a three-piece suit. 

    Strength: Intangibles

    Exum’s Australian accent sounds really cool.

    Weakness: Communication

    Exum’s Australian accent can sometimes be hard to understand.

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    Projection: DAMIAN LILLARD

    Randle’s suit game is most reminiscent of an all-time great suit that Damian Lillard wore to the 2012 draft. Although Randle went a bit too far with some of the details, like his enormous lapel pin, others he got just right. Randle and Lillard’s grey suit with a contrasting black collar is a cool look that differentiates their suits from the field just enough without being obnoxious. Lillard’s minimalist outfits were on-trend all season, so hopefully Randle can learn to pare down and live up to his potential.

    Strength: Focus

    Randle skipped his workout with the owners of the No. 6 pick, the Boston Celtics, for a GQ shoot. That’s the type of determination the Lakers need.

    Weakness: Needs A Mentor

    Randle said recently that the best-dressed guy in the NBA is Nick Young, who just opted out of his contract with the Lakers. Hopefully, Swaggy P can return and provide this youngster with information crucial to his Laker success: where the Supreme store in L.A. is, where to meet potential celebrity girlfriends and which Instagram filters look best for outfit selfies.

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    Projection: J.R. Smith

    Jabari Parker instantly became a street style gawd when he rocked a Jordan brand tie bar to celebrate his signing with the sneaker brand on the day of the draft. J.R. Smith is a noted sneakerhead, constantly posting new kicks on his Twitter. Smith also spent this very successful season off the court mixing formal and streetwear, like Parker pulls off with great success here.

    Strength: Very Rare accessories

    Weakness: None

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    Projection: MAURICE TAYLOR

    In 1997, Maurice Taylor made a huge gamble. Teal was in its prime and Taylor was surely hopeful his suit would look great paired with a Charlotte Hornets hat. Unfortunately, Taylor was drafted to the Clippers, but his unique-shade-of-blue suit is still influencing prospects today. Aaron Gordon showed up at Barclays in an equally obscure Pantone shade, but he ended up looking like a genius. Gordon was drafted to the Magic and it looked like he knew the outcome the whole time.

    Strength: Foresight

    Aaron Gordon’s suit was completely a color that only really matched one team, and he nailed it. 

    Weakness: Cocky

    One day Gordon’s going to show up at the Amway Center in his blue suit, only to find out he’s been traded to the Denver Nuggets. Never mind, Aaron Gordon is a warlock – call it.

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