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Here Are Our Extremely Iconic All-NBA Fit Awards

Selecting the First Team of NBA outfits, Rookie of the Year, basically anything else you could want

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Vanni Bassetti / Getty Images

This year, NBA fits went mainstream. We've spent the last year itemizing the best looks, month-to-month, and as the season went on the competition seemed to heighten. Fashion-forward players like Kelly Oubre and Nick Young have become fashion stars in their own right—it seems possible that industry insiders could have no idea that they are professional basketball players. The stakes have never been higher.

 

Just as Toronto closed the door on the 2018-2019 basketball season, we're here to make a few final statements about the hottest fit year on record. This is a conversation that's still happening—but today we're calling out the five best dressed, the Rookie of the Year, the most improved and also the best dressed team. Let's get down to it.

First Team (We Picked More Than Five, Sue Us)

Kelly Oubre

PJ Tucker

Dennis Schroder

Nick Young

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

Iman Shumpert

D'Angelo Russell

 

We left some of the heavyweights off this list (Russ, Harden, Bron) because in 2019 we realized the more personal the ensemble, the more impactful. Hoodies with four-digit price tags aren’t automatic rouses like they used to be. 

 

We’re more impressed by thoughtful nuances worn effortlessly—like PJ evolving his pre-game beverage and then matching it to his shoes, or Shump repping his wife on his chest—than we are by something more extravagant, but clearly curated. It just hits different when we know the person walking the tunnel put their own sweat into it. Everyone on this list has something unique about their style—something that they now own: PJ’s heat-in-hand dominance, Oubre’s hype/goth fusion, Schroder’s beanies with attitude, Shump’s risk-taking and personality, and Shai’s flannels that hover above his shoulders.—Jacob Forchheimer

Rookie of the Year

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

 

Like all rookies, LA Clippers PG Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had some growing pains on the floor. But off the floor, whew. Shai quickly delivered a veterans' feel for the tunnel, mixing textures and keeping versatile pieces (like his black-and-white flannel) in the rotation. He knows what fits, how to wear it, and how to keep us intrigued throughout the full season. He never hit the so-called "rookie wall", at least when it came to drip. We can't wait for year two of the SGA experience.—CG

Team of the Year

This is the most interesting category imo. What’s most intriguing is that the final four teams’ roster DNA all took shape in their team drip. Phoenix, the fourth youngest team in the NBA brought trendiness and energy. The Bucks roster, stacked with long limbs to disrupt passing lanes and block shots also doubles as a lineup of 6-foot-6 and above runway models. And the Rockets, OKC’s runner-up, have the oldest roster in the NBA and therefore some of the deepest pockets. Little bit easier to stunt when you’ve got a team of stylists looking after your fits.

 

Ultimately, OKC’s biggest on-court criticism—their key players’ stubbornness to conform–is an asset when it comes to getting dressed. Russ and Schroder are loud and unique, PG is smooth, and Andre Roberson and Hami Diallo play their roles. Congratulations.

Closing Thoughts

A line I think about a lot comes from GQ writer Cam Woolf's write-up of last fall's streetwear con, Hypefest. In it, Woolf singles in on a pack of young men, and writes:

 

What struck me about the group was that a decade earlier, they might have been circled around a television rooting on the Yankees, who were playing that night. They’d be dissecting every at-bat, slinging around advanced metrics with inscrutable acronyms like ERA+, BABIP, or OPS+, and griping about Giancarlo Stanton’s deficiency against righties. Instead, they spend their days pouring that energy into clothes: tracking prices, posting in forums and Facebook groups, and trying their mightiest to compile an impressive collection of clothes and sneakers—the same way their fathers might have done with baseball cards. Style is now the lingua franca of a generation trying to prove their cool. And so Hypefest wasn’t so much an opportunity to walk around a carefully curated mall as a chance to be around other people who’d be interested in doing exactly that.

 

That passage underlines the tension of how NBA fits—a category that contains both sports and fashion—became one of American pop culture's most important mirrors. In an age where personalities drive the biggest and fastest growing sports, these style extensions gave more depth to athletes we already tracked closely. Following a given athlete's ongoing commentary via his style choices provided important shading, small details we could cling to. Sometimes, outfits carried more dramatic tension than the games themselves. There's a reason so many brands want to bottle the influence of the most wave-making players. 

 

As tracking the NBA increasingly becomes a year-round concern, something as surface-y as outfit choices (and the resulting news cycle) serves as an intriguing proof of concept. In previous eras, the NBA focused on marketing the basketball. Now, they're marketing a 360-degree lifestyle.

 

Check out our roundup of the best fits from 2018

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