Paolo Banchero lifted the right sleeve of his black hoodie to highlight the green tattoo ink on his forearm. His long arms make up most of the 7-foot-1 wingspan that positions him as one of the top prospects in the NBA draft on Thursday, but they also tell a story.
Her right arm is filled with tattoos that represent crucial parts of her upbringing and make statements about her style: the Space Needle and the rest of her hometown Seattle skyline sit on her right shoulder ; “19th and Spruce” is written on his inner bicep as a nod to the Boys and Girls Club where he started playing basketball; and on his inner forearm is the logo of his friend’s Seattle-based clothing brand Skyblue Collective, which he often sports and says is “a part of him”.
Banchero, 19, who led Duke’s men’s basketball team to the Final Four this year, uses his tattoos and outfits as a form of self-expression, a subtle way to send messages. At a pre-draft styling event at a Brooklyn barbershop on Tuesday, he wore an all-black, luxe designer outfit, which he said was tame compared to what he’d put on on the evening of the repechage.
On Thursday, he wore a bright purple suit as the Orlando Magic selected him with the No. 1 overall pick.
Banchero and many of the top players in the 2022 draft class already have a public persona, but it will be boosted significantly if an NBA team signs them. While playing well and winning championships are paramount in how an NBA player is perceived, style and image come second. After all, this is the league in which Los Angeles Lakers forward/center Anthony Davis made his unibrow a celebrity in his own right, and even trademarked the phrase “Fear The Brow” in 2012.
NBA athletes made it easy for fans to appreciate their fashion sense, turning their pregame entrances into their own version of the Met Gala. Fans on social media are quickly sharing photos and videos of players’ 30-second walks to locker rooms from cars or team buses in NBA arenas. GQ magazine crowned Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander the NBA’s Most Stylish Player of 2022, ahead of Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker, because “the guy cares about dressing “.
Jalen Williams, a forward from Santa Clara University and a potential first-round pick in the draft, is eagerly awaiting the pre-game podium. On his cell phone, he has several search tabs open for different clothing brands. He laughed and pointed to G League Ignite’s Jaden Hardy, another potential 2022 draft pick, when he saw they were wearing the same MNML-branded black track pants at the event. tuesday.
Williams said he tried to balance being aware of what he wore while having fun with his style because he knew he would be judged on his outfits and appearance. He incorporates clothes from less popular brands into his wardrobe to encourage those who might admire him to be “good about themselves”.
“I think that’s the biggest thing that’s misunderstood in fashion,” Williams, 21, said. “You feel like you have to please someone or look a certain way, but whatever you like is what you like.”
Williams said he also tried to support smaller brands and promote social justice issues through his clothes. He wore a jacket from Tattoo’d Cloth, which made custom embroidered jackets for some potential projects, and tagged the brand in an Instagram story. On June 19, he wore a shirt with Malcolm X, and he frequently wears different types of clothing supporting the Black Lives Matter movement. “I think as athletes, it’s important to inspire people and cause change and use our platform,” Williams said. “Sometimes not saying anything, but wearing the clothes is really important.”
Williams’ style also goes beyond her outfits. As a sophomore in high school, he decided to put on just one braid while keeping the rest of his hair unbraided, hanging the braid at eye level. It has become a popular style in the NBA
“I’m not going to say I started it, but I may have started it,” he joked.
Fashion has long played an important role in Williams’ life, from childhood when he started using the My Player mode in the NBA 2K video game, in which users create players and can style them to hang out in a virtual park. He is serious about his My Player mode choices.
“You can’t park at the park in brown and gray,” Williams said, mocking the generic outfit given to created players. “No brown shirts!”
For seven-foot center Chet Holmgren, who played Gonzaga and was expected to be a top-three pick on Thursday, being fashionable was a challenge growing up. He could never find clothes that matched his long, lanky figure, and he couldn’t afford the tailored outfits he adored. He ridiculed his most impressive childhood outfit: Nike socks, basic T-shirts, basketball shorts and basketball shoes. In high school, Holmgren said, his style skyrocketed when he turned to resale websites and brands that offered plus-size clothing. Now, he’s convinced he’s the hottest prospect in this draft class.
“In my opinion, I’m the swaggiest guy beyond what I wear,” Holmgren said. He further explained that fashion is not limited to the pieces that a person wears.
“You could spend $10,000 on an outfit, but you could have a trash outfit,” he said. “You might have the right pieces, but if you can’t put them together, the outfit won’t be great.”
Like Williams, Holmgren looks forward to the NBA pre-game trail, and he’s not apprehensive about his style choices.
“I feel like I don’t really miss when I put on adjustments,” Holmgren said. “So whatever I wear, I’ll be fine.”