10 Best Basketball Shoes

The 20 Best Basketball Shoes – Top Expert Picks

Finding your next pair of performance basketball shoes is tough!

Just in the last few years, Converse, Puma, New Balance and a bunch of Chinese brands have entered an already crowded market dominated by Nike, Adidas, and Jordan Brand.

With so many brands to choose from, how do you decide what shoes to get?

On thehoopsgeek.com we collect and summarize professional sneaker reviews from Youtube channels and blogs to create an always up-to-date list of the most popular basketball shoes.

So far, we have watched or read 680 reviews of 138 different shoes to create the most comprehensive performance basketball shoe database on the web.

We are also automatically pulling prices from the most popular online shoe stores to help you find great deals!

The Top 20 Basketball Shoes:

1. Air Jordan 34

9.0
Overall rating based on 8 reviews
Pros:
Super bouncy cushioning
Herringbone traction stops on a dime
Cons:
Expensive retail price
What do the experts think?
With the XXXIV, Jordan Brand decided to take less inspiration from their retros and instead focus on providing a lightweight, top-notch performer. Did they succeed? The traction of the AJ34 features a herringbone traction pattern that works well in all conditions. The cushioning isn't as plush as in previous models, but it's also much less clunky and provides a fun, well-balanced ride. The materials aren't super-premium, but they are flexible, lightweight and breathable. Even though the AJ34 is much lighter than other Air Jordans, support and stability don't suffer because of the wide and stable base and the Eclipse plate in the midfoot. Overall, the Air Jordan 34 is a great performer and by far the best Air Jordan since the AJ29!
Colorways of the Air Jordan 34:

2. Adidas Harden Vol. 3

9.0
Overall rating based on 8 reviews
Pros:
Amazing traction
Well-balanced Boost cushioning
Cons:
Break-in required to get rid of heel slip
What do the experts think?
The Harden Vol.3 is by far James Harden's best signature sneaker. The traditional herringbone traction pattern performs extremely well - even on dusty courts. The Boost cushioning is low-to-the-ground, comfortable, responsive, and definitely the best implementation of Boost in a basketball shoe. Materials feel premium and comfortable and support is much improved compared to previous Harden models. All sneaker reviewers agree: the Harden 3 is a huge improvement in all areas and one of the best basketball shoes currently on the market.
Colorways of the Adidas Harden Vol. 3:

3. Nike PG 3

8.9
Overall rating based on 6 reviews
Pros:
Great traction
Very supportive shoe
Cons:
Materials feel cheap in-hand
Long break-in period
What do the experts think?
Sneaker reviewers like almost everything about the PG3 - except its looks. The "moon crater" traction pattern works very well on all surfaces but might take a little while to break in. The Zoom Air cushioning in the forefoot is responsive and bouncy and the foam in the heel provides decent impact protection. Materials feel a little cheap in-hand, but are comfortable on-foot and absolutely get the job done. Overall, the PG3 is a great performer that will work for a wide array of players and comes at a very fair price of only $110.
Colorways of the Nike PG 3:

4. Nike Lebron 16

8.9
Overall rating based on 8 reviews
Pros:
Premium materials
Traction works well even on dusty courts
Cons:
Expensive retail price
What do the experts think?
All sneaker critics agree: The Lebron 16 is a huge improvement over the XV and one of the best shoes of Lebron's signature line in a long time. The traction works on all surfaces, the cushioning is a little more versatile but still very comfortable, and stability is much-improved thanks to the use of tiny lateral outriggers on the outsole. The Battleknit 2.0 looks and feels very premium and provides great lockdown and containment. Overall, the Lebron 16 is an outstanding performance hoops shoe that is especially recommended for explosive and powerful wing players.
Colorways of the Nike Lebron 16:

5. Nike KD 12

8.8
Overall rating based on 7 reviews
Pros:
Full-length Zoom cushioning
Much more stable than previous KD models
Cons:
Materials could feel more premium
What do the experts think?
The KD12 is a huge step up from the disappointing predecessors. The full-length Zoom sits directly beneath the feet and provides a ton of response and bounce. The cushioning is a bit divisive, some reviewers are raving about it, others found it to be a bit too inconsistent on dusty courts. The look and feel of the materials aren't very premium, but the performance of the flywire upper is top-notch. The fit should work for most basketball players as it isn't as long and narrow as we are used too from the KD line. Overall, the KD12 is a great performer with outstanding cushioning and no real weaknesses!
Colorways of the Nike KD 12:

6. Nike Lebron 15

8.8
Overall rating based on 10 reviews
Pros:
Extremely comfortable cushioning
Premium materials
Cons:
Stability suffers due to high cushioning
What do the experts think?
Shoe reviewers almost unanimously call the Lebron 15 the best Lebron signature shoe yet. The combination of Air Max and Zoom provides an insanely comfortable cushioning that works extremely well for big guys that need a lot of impact protection. The new premium Battleknit upper is very comfortable and provides excellent fit and containment. The only slight downside is the traction which needs a while to break in and has slight problems with lateral cuts. Overall, this is the perfect shoe for heavy and powerful guys looking for maximum cushioning and comfort.
Colorways of the Nike Lebron 15:

7. Adidas Harden Vol. 4

8.8
Overall rating based on 7 reviews
Pros:
One of the lighter Adidas shoes
Great all-around performance
Cons:
No longer uses Boost cushioning
What do the experts think?
The Vol. 4 is the first shoe in the James Harden signature line that comes without Boost cushioning. But that's not necessarily a bad thing as the Lightstrike cushioning provides a much lighter shoe that still feels very comfortable to play in. The traction works great on clean courts and requires only minimal wiping on dusty courts. Materials differ between colorways, you can choose between Primeknit or Mesh uppers - they all get the job done! If you are looking for a supportive, fast, and low-profile basketball shoe then the Harden Vol. 4 is a great choice!
Colorways of the Adidas Harden Vol. 4:

8. Adidas Dame 5

8.8
Overall rating based on 7 reviews
Pros:
Responsive Bounce cushioning
Very comfortable
Cons:
Slippery on dusty courts
A little dead space in the toe box
What do the experts think?
The Dame 5 is Damian Lillard's latest signature shoe, and it's also his best! The traction works amazingly well on clean courts, but the translucent rubber versions are a little too slippery on dusty courts. The full-length Bounce cushioning provides a great balance of responsiveness and impact protection. The materials are super comfortable and very supportive, but the felt that is used on some colorways receives very little love from sneaker critics as it feels cheap and gets dirty easily. Overall, this is a great performer, especially at a very affordable retail price of only $115.
Colorways of the Adidas Dame 5:

9. Nike Zoom Rize

8.8
Overall rating based on 3 reviews
Pros:
Super bouncy Zoom cushioning
Very well-fitting shoe
Cons:
Slight lateral support issues in the forefoot
What do the experts think?
The Nike Zoom Rize is a new medium-priced Team model and a takedown version of the more expensive Nike AlphaDunk. The traction works very well on clean courts, but on dusty courts, you will need to wipe from time to time. The huge 10mm Nike Zoom unit in the forefoot is super bouncy and comfortable but doesn't give you a ton of court feel. The materials start off a little stiff, but they provide a lot of lockdown and loosen up quicky. The support is great in the heel and midfoot but multiple reviewers mentioned slight issues on quick lateral cuts. Overall, the Nike Zoom Rize is a very versatile basketball shoe that performs well in all categories.
Colorways of the Nike Zoom Rize:

10. Nike Kyrie 6

8.8
Overall rating based on 6 reviews
Pros:
Amazing traction
Nike Zoom Turbo cushioning
Cons:
Runs smaller than other Kyries
What do the experts think?
The traction of the Kyrie signature series is always great, and the Kyrie 6 is no different as you get amazing stopping power in every direction. The Phylon cushioning in the heel of the Kyrie 6 feels a lot softer than in previous models and the Zoom Turbo in the forefoot has a nice bounce to it. The materials are soft, comfortable, and provide a lot of support and lockdown for quick moves and crossovers. Overall, the Kyrie 6 feels like an evolution of the Kyrie 5 with a lot of small improvements that make up a great shoe - probably the best Kyrie so far!
Colorways of the Nike Kyrie 6:

11. Nike Lebron Soldier 13

8.8
Overall rating based on 4 reviews
Pros:
Awesome traction
Very supportive
Cons:
Cushioning could be more comfortable
What do the experts think?
The laceless Lebron signature model is very well-received among sneaker testers. The upper material is comfortable, durable and provides a ton of lockdown, in part because the straps do a great job and never come undone. The simple solid-rubber herringbone traction pattern is deep, attracts very little dust and works well - even outdoors. The cushioning is a little bit divisive, some like the forefoot and heel Zoom units, others would have preferred a more comfortable setup. Overall, the Lebron Solider 13 is a great allrounder with outstanding traction and no real weaknesses.
Colorways of the Nike Lebron Soldier 13:

12. Nike KD 13

8.7
Overall rating based on 5 reviews
Pros:
Comfortable full-length cushioning
Great traction indoors and outdoors
Cons:
Materials could be more premium
What do the experts think?
The nicest part of the KD 13 is the full-length Zoom Strobel which provides one of the best cushioning setups in basketball. The traction pattern does a good job in all directions and is tough and thick enough to last outdoors. The materials are thin, lightweight, and perform well but the quality doesn't feel premium in-hand. Support comes from the wide base and good fit however the minimal upper doesn't provide as much lockdown as previous KD models. As for most KD models, the fit of the KD13 is very comfortable if you have regular or narrow feet, wide-footers should go up half a size or look elsewhere. Overall, the KD 13 is a great basketball shoe with outstanding cushioning.
Colorways of the Nike KD 13:

13. Under Armour HOVR Havoc 2

8.7
Overall rating based on 3 reviews
Pros:
Premium materials
Comfortable fit
Cons:
Inconsistent traction
What do the experts think?
The first Under Armour HOVR Havoc was a hit with reviewers, so how does the second version perform? Unfortunately, the traction has taken a step back and is inconsistent, even on clean courts. The HOVR cushioning is a nice mix of responsiveness and impact protection, not too firm but not too soft either. Materials feel surprisingly premium in-hand, comfortable on-foot and do a great job locking your feet down. The mid-foot shank, outrigger, and heel counter provide a lot of support and stability. Overall, the HOVR Havoc is a good performer that could have been great with more consistent traction.
Colorways of the Under Armour HOVR Havoc 2:

14. Nike Kyrie 4

8.7
Overall rating based on 10 reviews
Pros:
Improved cushion
Fair price
Cons:
Less traction than previous Kyrie models
What do the experts think?
The Kyrie 4 is the best overall performer of the Kyrie signature line and works well across all categories. The cushioning is much more comfortable than in previous models and provides great impact protection while still offering responsive court feel. The engineered mesh upper and suede feel comfortable and supportive and provide a great 1:1 fit - there is no heel slippage or lateral movement. The traction doesn't quite live up to the levels of the Kyrie 3 or 2 but is still decent and requires minimal wiping. At $120 retail, this is a great pick for everybody that is looking for a well-rounded basketball shoe.
Colorways of the Nike Kyrie 4:

15. Nike Lebron 15 Low

8.7
Overall rating based on 3 reviews
Pros:
Comfortable cushioning
Awesome materials
Cons:
Inconsistent traction
What do the experts think?
The Low version of the Lebron 15 comes with a slightly altered cushioning setup that is still very comfortable but a little more responsive than the high top version. The traction pattern of the Low is very similar and works great for linear movements but not as great for lateral cuts. The Battleknit upper looks awesome and is very durable and supportive. Overall, this is a great shoe for explosive and heavier players who need a lot of support and cushioning but like the look and feel of a low-top sneaker.
Colorways of the Nike Lebron 15 Low:

16. Adidas Marquee Boost

8.7
Overall rating based on 6 reviews
Pros:
Well-balanced Boost cushioning
Very supportive
Cons:
Traction on dusty courts is problematic
What do the experts think?
The Adidas Marquee Boost is a modern performance basketball shoe with a bit of retro flair. The traction sticks like glue on clean courts but can be problematic on dusty courts, especially in the beginning. The Boost cushioning provides a lot of impact protection in the heel and responsiveness in the forefoot. If you are looking for a shoe with a lot of ankle support then the high version has you covered with a firm and supportive ankle collar. The materials are rather basic but they look and feel nice and get the job done. Overall, the Marquee Boost is a very good all-around performer that should work for basketball players of all positions.
Colorways of the Adidas Marquee Boost:

17. New Balance OMN1S

8.7
Overall rating based on 4 reviews
Pros:
Comfortable Fuel Cell cushioning
High-quality and durable materials
Cons:
Rubber picks up dust quickly
What do the experts think?
The first New Balance basketball sneaker in a long time gets a lot of love from sneaker critics: The herringbone traction pattern has you stopping on a dime on clean courts, but the translucent rubber picks up a lot of dust if you play on dirty courts. The Fuel-Cell foam cushioning is the highlight of the shoe and provides you a very well-balanced and comfortable ride. The upper materials are of high quality and should last for a long time, even if you play outdoors. Overall, the New Balance OMN1S comes highly recommended for players of all positions that look for a well-balanced performer.
Colorways of the New Balance OMN1S:

18. Jordan Why Not Zero.2

8.6
Overall rating based on 8 reviews
Pros:
Very supportive shoe
Great all-around shoe
Cons:
No outstanding features
Pretty bulky materials
What do the experts think?
The design of the Why Not Zero.2 is almost as extravagant as Russell Westbrook's clothing style, but how does it perform? Most reviewers gave the traction good grades, but the majority of them liked the traction of the predecessor even better. The cushioning is no longer full-length Zoom, but that is not a big loss as the forefoot Zoom Air performs very well and the Phylon heel is super comfortable. Support and lockdown are strong features of this shoe -perfect for explosive players like Russell Westbrook! Overall, the Why Not Zero.2 is a great allrounder with flashy design and no glaring weaknesses.
Colorways of the Jordan Why Not Zero.2:

19. Nike Lebron 17

8.6
Overall rating based on 5 reviews
Pros:
Insanely comfortable cushioning
Premium upper materials
Cons:
Steep $200 retail price
Heavy
What do the experts think?
The Lebron 17 is one of the most expensive basketball shoes on the market, does it justify it's $200 retail price? Reviewers' opinions on the traction were split: the Solebrother called it "god-levels" especially on a translucent rubber pair while Nightwing2303 didn't like the white solid rubber, even on clean courts. The cushioning, however, was loved by everyone. A huge Max Air unit in the heel is combined with Zoom in the forefoot and they provide a ton of impact protection and bounce. The new Knitposite upper material is thick, soft and comfortable - but it gets pretty hot after a while. Overall, the Lebron 17 is a great performer, especially you are a heavier player looking for a comfortable and supportive shoe.
Colorways of the Nike Lebron 17:

20. Nike PG 2

8.6
Overall rating based on 10 reviews
Pros:
Great price
Improved cushioning
Cons:
Impact protection in the heel
What do the experts think?
The second signature sneaker of Paul George improves on all aspects compared to the PG1. The bigger Zoom air unit in the forefoot provides more cushioning and the traction works better on dusty courts. Lockdown and lateral containment have been improved by the use of sturdier materials and the introduction of forefoot wing-straps. Overall, the Nike PG2 is a great allrounder without any weaknesses. At $110 retail it is one of the most affordable signature sneakers on the market but performs just as well as much more expensive models.
Colorways of the Nike PG 2:

Picking your next pair of basketball shoes

Picking your next pair of basketball shoes can be difficult. Finding out about the latest releases, reading reviews, checking prices and getting the right size – it often takes me days or even weeks to settle on a new pair.

Now, maybe I am just really picky when it comes to basketball sneakers, but there is a reason why!

Good basketball shoes are important because:
  • They grip the floor and allow quick cuts and crossovers
  • They provide impact protection and reduce the stress on your knees and feet
  • They fit comfortably and lock down your feet tightly
  • They provide support and protect your ankles from rolling

In short: Good basketball shoes will help you to get the most out of your game!

 

How to find basketball shoes that fit your playing style

The list above is a great way to find basketball shoes that perform well overall, but not every basketball shoe will work the same for different types of players. Quick guards will need different shoes than big and heavy centers.

But how do you know what kind of shoe you need? In the following paragraphs, I want to go into more detail and tell you what to look for to find your perfect fit!

Let’s talk about the most important characteristics of basketball kicks and what you want to look for when you are in the market for a new pair:

Style of the silhouette

There are three different styles of basketball shoes out there: Low tops, mid tops, and high tops. Traditionally, basketball players used to play in high tops that completely covered the ankle of players, but nowadays, more and more players are wearing low-tops that look more like regular training shoes. Let’s take a closer look at each style and their pros and cons:

Low Tops:

Low-cut shoes provide maximum flexibility and are often very lightweight. They are perfect for guards who want to feel light and quick on their feet and don’t want to add unnecessary bulk. Bigger and slower guys don’t profit as much from low tops and might look for the protection of higher cut shoes. Low-cuts were made most popular by the Kobe signature line:

Mid Tops:

Mid Tops are a hybrid between low- and high tops and provide a little bit of both worlds: Good flexibility and mobility, but also a decent amount of ankle protection and more stability. Perfect for forwards or wings who don’t need all the flexibility of a low top, but also don’t like the bulkiness of true high tops. An example of a mid top basketball shoes is the Kyrie 3:

High Tops:

This is the way basketball shoes used to look like for decades. High Tops provide a lot of ankle protection, support and are often nicely cushioned. Perfect for big guys who are looking for maximum protection when they are fighting below the rim and don’t mind losing a little bit of flexibility in exchange for more safety. A popular example is the Lebron signature line:

Traction

If you plan to do explosive crossovers and quick cuts you need a shoe that provides excellent traction. Nothing is more annoying than slipping every time you try to change directions.

The amount of traction provided by a shoe relies on two factors: the traction pattern and the rubber compound used for the outsole.

Traction pattern:

A very popular traction pattern that is often used in basketball shoes is the “herringbone” pattern. Zig-zag lines of rubber provide grip in every direction and the empty space in between the rubber makes sure that dust doesn’t stick to the surface of the sole.

Herringbone traction almost always works; unfortunately, other traction patterns are often hit or miss. Sometimes designers try to get too innovative or focus on storytelling, and you end up with a shoe that needs endless wiping or feels like playing on skates.

Herringbone Traction

Herringbone Traction Pattern

Rubber Compound

The quality of the rubber compound is much harder to judge than the traction pattern. Softer rubber will often work better indoors but attract a lot of dust, hard rubber is a lot more durable but doesn’t provide the same grip on pristine hardwood courts. As a rule of thumb, if you have the option between colorways with translucent and solid outer soles, always go with the solid option. A solid rubber outer sole might not look as nice, but if often performs much better especially on dusty courts.

Cushion

The cushioning of a basketball shoe becomes more the important the heavier you are. If you are a 5’6″ guard who weighs 140 lbs, you won’t need a lot of cushioning, and you will probably prefer the responsiveness and court feel of a firmer setup. But bigger and heavier guys put a lot of pressure on their joints and profit immensely from a softer and more forgiving cushioning.

There are countless cushioning technologies on the market, and every company has different styles for different use cases or budgets. The most popular tech is probably Nike Zoom Air cushioning which is made of tightly stretched tensile fibers in a pressurized “Air” unit embedded in the midsole. Other cushioning setups like Adidas Bounce, Nike Lunarlon or UnderArmour MicroG are foam-based and provide impact protection by distributing impact forces more evenly.
Nike Zoom Air

Nike Zoom Air

Other than traction, cushioning really comes down to personal preference. If you are a quick and light guard, you want to look for a firm cushioning setup like Nike Lunarlon or Adidas Bounce. Cushioning that is too soft will only make you lose court feel and responsiveness.

However, if you are a bigger player or you have a history of knee problems, you will fair much better with a more comfortable cushioning like full-length Zoom Air or Adidas Boost.

Support

If you think of supportive basketball shoes, you probably imagine a bulky high top with a lot of straps and laces. Fortunately, modern basketball shoes have found other ways to provides athletes with the necessary safety and stability. Just look at the shoes which are worn in the NBA today – a lot of players wear low tops that were unimaginable only 20 years ago.

A common support feature used in almost every modern basketball shoe is the outrigger. Usually placed on the lateral side of the shoe, this extension of the outer sole makes the base of the shoe wider and provides a stable platform that protects your feet from rolling.

Other often-used support features are midfoot shanks that provide torsional support and heel counters that lock you into the shoe. But one of the most significant support factors is the fit and lockdown of a shoe. All the support features in the world will not help you if you are sliding side-to-side on every cut because your sneakers are just too wide.

Lateral Outrigger

Lateral Outrigger

If you are recovering from an ankle injury and need even more support around the ankle, you should look into getting an additional ankle brace.

Fit

The fit is one of the most important things to consider when buying new shoes. You want to be firmly locked in and not sliding left-to-right or front-to-back at all. If you can, it’s always a good idea to try on shoes in a store. If that’s not an option, I like to get shoes in two different sizes, keep the better fitting pair and use the return policy for the other one.

If shoes are a little tight in the beginning that’s okay, they usually widen and become more comfortable as you break them in. If you are unsure which size to get, or you have unusually wide or narrow feet and you are looking for a particular fit, then check out this list of shoes. You can filter shoes to only include narrow-, or wide-fitting shoes, and find out which model runs large or small by reading the more detailed review.

Material

There is a wide variety of upper materials used in basketball shoes these days ranging from traditional nubuck leather to synthetic mesh or high-tech textile materials like Adidas PrimeKnit or Nike Flyknit.

Cheaper materials like Mesh or other synthetic uppers often start out rather stiff and need a little time to break-in. High-tech materials are often reserved for more expensive signature lines like Air Jordan’s or Kobes and are really soft and comfortable from the beginning.

Aside from aesthetics and comfort, modern materials used in basketball shoes all do a very nice job and don’t differ too much when it comes to performance. Just pick whatever material you personally prefer and can afford.

Take a quiz to find your perfect pair of basketball shoes

If you are a little overwhelmed by all the things you need to consider, then you might be interested in a simple quiz I developed. You answer a set of simple questions about which type of player you are, whether you plan to play outdoors etc. and the quiz will automatically recommend the best-rated shoe that fits all your criteria. This way you can find a good basketball shoe within minutes instead of browsing the web for hours!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *