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NBA Draft fashion through the years.
Craig Jones/Allsport/Getty Images (left), Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images (right)

The NBA Draft is a first impression. Maybe not to teams who have done their due diligence before selecting a potentially franchise-changing player, but to the fans at home wondering who it is they’ll be cheering for.

In recent years, NBA hopefuls Cade Cunningham, Evan Mobley, Jonathan Kuminga, Jalen Suggs, Scottie Barnes have set the tone for their NBA careers by making sure they look fresh to death on draft night. After all, this isn’t the same NBA that Jalen Rose, Kobe Bryant or even LeBron James and his white suit (more on that later) would impress. The NBA Draft suit game has changed, much like basketball itself.

That’s why a player’s NBA Draft outfit is EVERYTHING in immediately determining if your newly selected star will become an MVP or become a big fat bust. If Jabari Smith, who is a lock to be a first-round pick, comes out in a Christmas-themed suit, that’s gonna tell us something about how he sees himself in the NBA.

Like the NFL Draft, the NBA Draft’s fashion choices have evolved quite a bit over the years. Tailors have become modern-day superheroes (you’ll see what I mean in a minute) and players have made their looks more and more personal.

One thing is for sure: simple is always safe in a suit. Venture too far from that and, well, you might end up on this list for the wrong reasons. It will never get as bad as the 2003 draft class (oh, just you wait), however. Let’s get into the best, the worst and the oh-my-god-my-eyes-hurt NBA fashion choices in draft history from someone who knows nothing about fashion but everything about judging people.

The Good

Jalen Green Draft Suit
Photo by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images

Jalen Green’s draft night suit is a bop and I don’t care who knows it. Yes, it’s giving “Waterloo is my favorite ABBA song,” but that’s not wrong. And if that is wrong, then I do not want to be right. This is a vibe.

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Terrence Williams poses during the 2009 NBA Draft.
Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

OK, Terrence Williams. We are starting off strong. This is just a sleek, suave look done right. There’s not much else to say about it.

Bradley Beal poses during the 2012 NBA Draft
Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Bradley Beal looks like he’s dressing to get that big corporate promotion, and I’m here for it. Like the well-dressed salesman you just can’t say no to. Everything about this look just screams hard work. And that’s what his NBA career has become.

Devin Booker poses during the 2015 NBA Draft.
Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

I’m a sucker for a blue suit, and Devin Booker must know that. His accouterments — I had no idea what that meant either until I just Googled it — are on point, too. The watch, the pocket bling. Yes to it all. It’s not beginning to become clearer as to what Kendall Jenner sees in him.

Michael Carter-Williams poses during the 2013 NBA Draft.
Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Michael Carter-Williams also hit the nail on the head with the simple suit. The only difference is he added some of his own flair with the patterned tie. The result is a passing grade for me.

Marvin Bagley poses during the 2018 NBA Draft.
Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

I mean, c’mon! Marvin Bagley III put his own face inside his suit. It doesn’t even come off cocky. This is more like a “I’m betting on myself” situation. Who else has the balls to do this?

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Unfortunately for Bagley III, the Kings passed on Luka Doncic to select him. So while he was certainly betting on himself, he might have forgotten to bet on Luka blowing up.

Wendell Carter Jr. poses during the 2018 NBA Draft.
Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Wendell Carter Jr. gave a nod to “Black Panther” with this look, and it was everything. The Gucci cloth with the tiger feels…elevated. Like he belongs on an actual fashion show runway. Even cooler was that his parents wore matching outfits.

Ante Zizic poses during the 2016 NBA Draft.
Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

When in doubt, go with the all black look. Ante Zizic did that in 2016 and looked sharp as hell. Adam Silver looks pretty spiffy himself.

The Bad

Maurice Taylor poses during the 1997 NBA Draft.
Craig Jones/Allsport/Getty Images

I’m not sure if Maurice Taylor thought the Charlotte Hornets were going to draft him, but they ended up trading their picks that year. Or perhaps, he’s color blind (nothing wrong with that, though). Either way, the result was a mess of an outfit that belongs in the back of Party City. I mean, is this some kind of reverse pinstripe? It’s giving Batman Villain, but not in a good way. This color is perfect for a 1990s Starter jacket, but not for the biggest night of your life.

Chris McCullough shakes hands during the 2015 NBA Draft.
Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Who told Chris McCullough in 2015 that this color combo was the move? I get what he was going for, but he almost looks like some vanilla-caramel ice cream situation gone wrong. I love ice cream. I hate the fit.

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Caris Levert shakes hands at the 2016 NBA Draft.
Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

This one from Caris Levert honestly isn’t even that bad. The Michigan Wolverines-inspired suit jacket is a great idea, but I just don’t think the end result was where it should’ve been. Hopefully, he gave this one to Jim Harbaugh. Maybe he could pull it off.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander during the 2018 NBA Draft.
Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

I pulled this picture of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in 2018 because he looks like a bunch of middle school bullies are roasting him and he’s just standing there taking it. Which he should, because this fit stinks on ice. It was a bold choice and it just didn’t pay off.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson shakes hands during the 2015 NBA Draft.
Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

You know the famous “WHAT ARE THOOOOOSE?” meme? That’s instantly what I said when my eyes panned down from Rondae Hollis-Jefferson’s (actually pretty nice) jacket to his pants. Should have never cut up the picnic blanket.

Darius Garland during the 2019 NBA Draft.
Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

I gotta give props to Darius Garland for having the most IDGAF outfit on this list. Like, it looks like he rolled out of bed and into the NBA Draft. All he needs is a cup of coffee and the Sunday newspaper. I’m kind of down for how bad this is.

Kai Jones poses during the 2021 NBA Draft.
Photo by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images

Well, I know who I’m not accidentally running over with my car late at night. Kai Jones’ outfit from 2021 looks like someone is holding a massive magnifying glass over him and blasting the sun’s UV rays all over him. He’s even squinting a little bit because of it.

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The U-G-L-Y

The 2003 NBA Draft Class.
Photo by Manny Millan/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images

The 2003 NBA Draft Class is legendary for a multitude of reasons. The Detroit Pistons missed out on creating a dynasty by drafting Darko Milicic second overall. Not ideal. But this NBA Draft day is more well-known as the day that the Cleveland Cavaliers, Denver Nuggets and Miami Heat all got franchise-defining players with their first-round picks in LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade. But, that came with a cost.

Unfortunately, the 2003 NBA Draft class is also well-known for the oversized looks that I had to include a generic picture of most of them. Jarvis Hayes (third from left) looks like Daymond John from “Shark Tank” ate a magic bean from “Jack and the Beanstalk.” What’s funny about this class is that every player just forgot what a tailor is.

Chris Bosh during the 2003 NBA Draft.
Photo by Manny Millan/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images

We’ll start with Chris Bosh from the ’03 draft. Everything is just so comically big. It’s like he walked into the Big and Tall store and couldn’t find what he was looking for, so he went next door to the Biggest and Tallest store. I get that it must be hard finding clothes when you’re a 7-footer, but man this is brutal.

LeBron James poses during the 2003 NBA Draft.
Photo by Manny Millan/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images

RELATED: LeBillionaire: How LeBron James Built His 10-Figure Fortune Faster Than Michael Jordan

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LeBron James’ 2003 look was equally horrifying. The all-white bagginess gives me sleepwear vibes, and the black-and-white bowling alley shoes just confuse the hell out of me. The King looked more like The Jester on this day. Come on, LeBron. You’re the first overall draft pick.

Carmelo Anthony poses during the 2003 NBA Draft.
Photo by Manny Millan/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images

Carmelo Anthony, dude. What is going on at the bottom of those pants? Considering you’re already pretty darn tall yourself, who are these extra-long slacks made for? Whatever. At least he’s smiling I guess.

Bonzi Wells shakes hands during the 1998 NBA Draft.
Jed Jacobsohn / Staff / Getty Images

I’m not even going to take the time to look up Bonzi Wells. All I know is his 1998 look is most definitely two people under that suit. Like if two kids were trying to get into an R-rated movie and did the ole shoulder stacking move with the oversized jacket. You can’t convince me otherwise.

Raef LaFrentz shakes hands during the 1998 NBA Draft.
Jed Jacobsohn / Staff / Getty Images

Raef LaFrentz (again, who?) also gave us a legendarily horrible look in 1998. The only thing that saves him a little bit is that he looks more like the NBA commissioner than David Stern does. This look is far from a triple-double and more like a triple-single.

Bol Bol poses at the 2019 NBA Draft.
Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images

Why?

MORE: The Most NBA Draft Lottery Picks By NCAA Conference Since 2000, Ranked

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Patrick covered the Florida Gators during the forgettable Will Muschamp and Jim McElwain eras before spending two seasons writing for Major League Baseball. He's an SEC homer and a baseball junkie who spends his days defending the Miami Marlins. When he's not glued to a TV, you can find him ...Read more
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