NBA Draft

How the hottest pro basketball players are picked.

Well, the NBA just rolled out its All-Star weekend all over us, culminating in a splash of hardware for Damian Lillard, a lackluster game I turned off in the third quarter, and a surprise spotlight on Mac McClung, who my friend Jennifer said “looks like his name is Air Bud.” I’m from L.A.; I can respect the pageantry. But the weekend obscured what many of us appreciate most about NBA players: Many of them are very hot, and they deserve to be recognized for it. As such, I assembled a select committee to honor the year’s biggest smokeshows: the All-Hunk NBA teams.

The All-Hunk NBA team is a near-annual honor bestowed on the hunkiest players in the league during the NBA season. This is our fourth year honoring the hunks.

We use the structure of first, second, and third teams that the All-NBA teams use. (At the end of each NBA season, select journalists and broadcasters who cover the league honor the season’s best players with the All-NBA teams. Each All-NBA team features three frontcourt players (playing forward or center) and two backcourt players (guards); first, second, and third teams are selected, with first-team All-NBA honoring the best of the best.) Each of our hunk teams demands a center, two forwards, and two guards—like traditional NBA starting fives, only hotter.

Without further ado, here are this year’s winners:

The 2022–23 All-Hunk NBA Official Selections

First Team
G Ochai Agbaji
G Raul Neto
F Jimmy Butler
F Giannis Antetokounmpo
C Nic Claxton

Second Team
G Jalen Green
G Devin Booker
F Yuta Watanabe
F Kelly Oubre Jr.
C Steven Adams

Third Team
G Gabe Vincent
G Jordan Clarkson (tie)
G Jrue Holiday (tie)
F Rui Hachimura
F Jerami Grant
C Jalen Duren

If you’re not sure who any of these players are, we urge you to Google Image search each one immediately. If, even after checking them out like the dog you are, you still have questions about why we picked them, please return to this page and become enlightened as to how they got here.

What is a hunk?

Hunks are not really quantifiable. This makes voting difficult. They are definitely hot. One of the most commonly enforced standards is that a player can’t just be cute to make the team; they also have to be hot. But there are no particular criteria that have to be met. Sure, being built helps. Personality matters more than you’d think. But there are always outliers that can’t be explained. It comes down to how someone makes you feel.

Hunks get you out of your head and into your emotions, which is an institutionally dangerous, inexplicable place to be. A hunk makes you gulp, sweat, lose your train of thought, fall silent, and maybe even grow embarrassed. It’s a little bit unnerving. Engaging with discomfort is part of the process of determining hunkitude. It takes courage.

(One of the few technical rules for selecting the team is that a hunk must be in the league. Thus, three-time honoree Serge Ibaka was disqualified this year after he was waived by the Indiana Pacers. This left us scrambling for replacement centers.)

Who votes?

The voting is conducted by a national panel of shivery, degenerate NBA fans in the Basket Chat, a group text I innocently started in 2016 where you can “talk about basketball any time of day or night.” All-Hunk began one fateful afternoon when, after an All-NBA team was announced, someone in the chat said, “We should do an All-Hot team, haha.” We all laughed, then grew very serious, and then did it.

The chat currently has 19 members, 15 of whom voted this year. (The four abstaining members couldn’t get their act together in time to vote because they were “busy” (?) or did not deem themselves philosophically qualified enough to judge.)

The fan base representation in the chat is as follows:

●      3 Los Angeles Lakers fans

●      3 New York Knicks fans

●      1 Denver Nuggets fan

●      1 Nuggets/Knicks fan

●      1 Washington Wizards/L.A. Clippers fan

●      1 Golden State Warriors fan

●      1 Warriors/Sacramento Kings fan

●      1 Phoenix Suns fan

●      1 Detroit Pistons fan

●      1 Philadelphia 76ers fan

●      1 Cleveland Cavaliers fan

●      1 Chicago Bulls fan

●      1 Kawhi Leonard stan

●      1 teamless NBA enthusiast

●      1 person who knows nothing about basketball but still likes to hang out in the chat. (She didn’t vote).

Of note: Out of all 15 voters, only 4 are openly inclined to date men.

What is the process like?

We perform an elaborate, monthslong pre-voting ritual to try and gather every hunk in the NBA into our consciousness. It’s incredibly stressful.

In our first year of voting, I offered to sort through all 450 players in the NBA to try to eyeball whether anyone would consider them a hunk. There was no way to know how disturbing this would be, except if I had thought about it for more than 5 seconds. It took me hours, because it was impossible to just “power through” looking at 450 professional athletes.

Because I have integrity, I had to make an effort to emotionally connect with each man, something I’m not used to doing at all. I had to let each man’s presence affect me, to see if it rocked my world. I had to receive his energy in a pure and complete way to make the right call. I had to be completely in tune and in touch with my feelings. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to do that, but it’s extremely hard to do for more than 20 minutes. It was a slow and tedious process. “What am I doing?” I found myself muttering to nobody, many times, while clicking through the rosters. And who was I to judge? Was I a hunk? Did that matter? What was a hunk? It was terrible. By the time I scouted my last dude, I felt shaky, haggard, and lost. Men’s physiques hazily orbited my head in a twinkling halo as if I had sustained blunt-force trauma. I was seeing stars, all right. And if I looked at one more picture of a man, I would throw up.

The next year, to mitigate the physical, emotional, and spiritual damage I had done to myself by carefully examining 450 men, the teamless NBA enthusiast in the chat had the bright idea to delegate the process.

He suggested that each of us browse through one or two teams’ rosters, pick out the hunks, and announce the selections to the chat in the form of “Hunk Reports.” This meant that each of us would have to browse through only 15 to 30 photos or so.

This seemed like a great idea—until it was put into practice. People found that even this relatively easy, exciting-sounding exercise made them feel guilty, ashamed, perplexed, uncertain, and uncomfortable. Staring at men and asking ourselves if we wanted to break off a piece of that was humiliating, exciting, illicit, and perhaps even wrong. Yet on some level we knew it was the most normal and natural thing in the world. We felt confused, titillated, and canceled. We soldiered forth in a fugue-like state, gazing at man after man—separately at first, and then together.

After the emotional individual team-review process, members designed and presented their Hunk Reports, campaigning for the hunks they believed were most worthy of being crowned. Pictures were a must. These presentations, often accompanied by music and graphics, left the chat riled and ready, as well as nervous and overwhelmed, yet desperate for more hunks. And more hunks did come. At last, each and every team was presented.

Then began the infighting. A couple of hawk-eyed fans felt the Hunk Reports were too thin. Some hunks had been snubbed. What was the point of the Hunk Reports if crucial hunks were going to be ignored? Where was [redacted]? And, for God’s sake, [redacted]? I reminded everyone that no one had been snubbed, because we had not begun voting. We were the ones in power. I encouraged everyone to be proactive and go gather the hunks they felt had been overlooked, and trot them out. And so they did trot.

Hunk after hunk after hunk after hunk rained down upon our chat. At this point, I began to grow tired, forlorn, and even broken. I suspiciously took a COVID test, tested positive, sadly lay my head down on my pillow, and fell asleep for two weeks. In my nightmares, I traveled through the realms of Hades and argued with the dead, who were ungracious and mocking, and of whose numbers I would surely join shortly. I gave up, silent, bitter tears streaming down my cheeks, thoughts of hunks released for good. I passed on in peace, and all was still.

Then, a couple of days later, I opened my eyes, poked up my head from my pillow, and looked at my phone. Through the endless bad news of our current world, I saw the truth: It was time to vote.

What is the voting process like?

Polls open promptly at 6 p.m. on Friday and close at 6 p.m. on Monday. Everyone must enter their selections for the All-Hunk first, second, and third teams into a Google spreadsheet. To get their bearings, they may reference an official Basket Chat–endorsed list of hunk nominees by position.

The reason that hunks are sorted into guards, forwards, and centers is to bring the illusion of order to what is essentially a chaotic, orderless miasma, and of course, to echo All-NBA. Someone suggested we go positionless this year; I said we didn’t have the guts. And I believe that.

This year, in a change, we also didn’t make the voting process private, so that everyone could peek at what their neighbor was doing. I don’t know if this was a good idea or not, since confessing your heart’s desire is harder if you happen to be embarrassed by your own taste. But it’s extremely fun to see whom other people are voting for. So it’s a tough call; we may change it back again next year.

Three of us then tallied up the votes to be sure they were accurate. One of us tallied sober, one of us tallied stoned, and one of us used a computer algorithm to tally.

How are the hunks announced?

The hunks were released to the general public on Feb. 14 as a Valentine’s Day treat.

This year, there was drama: Moments before we went live, the algorithm discovered a tie between Jordan Clarkson and Jrue Holiday for third team.

We scrambled to set up a tiebreaker. JORDAN CLARKSON or JRUE HOLIDAY?

The runoff made us sick. For half of us, we were enraged at Devin Booker, the league’s most controversial hunk, making the second team at the end of voting. Booker had ideologically split us clean in half. Some of us surged forward with an emotional, pitchforked plot: impeach Devin Booker to grant both Clarkson and Holiday their due. A majority vote was reached to throw him out—but then we felt guilty, as there was no precedent or process for impeaching him like this. Plus, a bunch of people thought he was a hunk. He had made the second team fair and square. If we threw him out, we could no longer claim that our voting process had any integrity.

The mob withdrew from Booker, and we returned to the action we did not want to take: pitting beautiful Jordan Clarkson and beautiful Jrue Holiday against each other.

Photo illustration by Slate. Images via Alex Goodlett/Getty Images and Chorna Olena/iStock/Getty Images Plus.

One Knicks fan said he would abstain from voting because he loved them both equally. Everyone was distraught. It was a painful ending to a laborious experience. I felt upset and paced around the house. They both deserved this honor. I wanted to throw myself out of a window.

Then it happened: One of the Lakers fans discovered that you can have six people on an All-NBA team if there’s a tie. The precedent had occurred in 1952, when Bob Davies and Dolph Schayes tied for first team.

Personally, I was pleased with the precedent and thrilled to see a light at the end of the tunnel. I quickly slapped Holiday and Clarkson onto the third team and tweeted it as fast as I could. There was immediate blowback from the chat: “Tie sucks,” said a different Lakers fan. “I hate it.” “Cowardly,” some more people echoed. Maybe so; I didn’t care. I told them I would never run All-Hunk again and I didn’t like working so hard, as working hard went against my personal beliefs.

But then the general public began to post their thoughts on our selections. The attention warmed my heart, and I softened toward the process. I decided that this had been a transitory year, and next year we would be more regulated. I felt exactly like I imagine many players must feel when they win an NBA championship or an individual award: All the drama and hard work had been worth it.

Why did we do this?

I don’t know.

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