The Top 10 Best Basketball Shoes for Centers

Finding a great pair of basketball shoes as a big man is not as easy as it used to be. The NBA game is shifting away from slow and heavy big guys, towards smaller and more versatile players, and the same is happening to basketball sneakers.

Signature shoes these days are almost exclusively reserved for guards like Kyrie Irving, Paul George, or James Harden. The only big guy that has a signature sneaker with one of the big brands is Joel Embiid.

But fortunately, there are still some sneakers that work well for traditional centers, and in this article, I am going to show you how to find them!

How to find your perfect pair of basketball shoes as a center:

  • Most centers prefer high-top sneakers
  • The cushioning should provide a lot of impact protection
  • The shoe should be very supportive

Let’s see why that is:

Why most Centers chose High-Tops​

Traditionally, basketball sneakers were cut higher than regular sneakers, ending above the ankles. While that is no longer the case, with light and flexible low-tops becoming more and more popular, most big guys still prefer high-tops.

These shoes provide additional support and a sense of security which is important for the battle under the basket. ​The ankle collar also helps to protect against other players stepping on your feet, and the additional weight doesn’t matter for most big men because they don’t rely on their quickness anyways.

Why Cushioning is so important

Guards like Steph Curry or Kyrie Irving don’t need a lot of cushioning, and this shows in their signature sneakers which come with very firm and low mid-soles. Obviously, that won’t work for heavier basketball players!

The additional pounds of centers put a lot more stress on the joints and which means they need softer and more comfortable shoes to reduce the amount of pressure they put on their feet. Cushioning systems like Nike’s Zoom or Adidas’s Boost, which offer a lot of impact protection and comfort, are a great choice for centers.

The following list includes 10 shoes that work well for centers and heavy forwards.

They all fulfill following criteria:

  • They are High Tops
  • Cushioning was rated better than 8.0/10 on average
  • Support was rated better than 8.0/10 on average
  • 8.8 rating based on 8 expert reviews
  • The tech-loaded Nike GT Jump's performance is outstanding.
  • Best for players with an explosive play style looking for good cushioning.
  • 9.1 rating based on 8 expert reviews
  • The latest Air Jordan mainline signature model is, once again, a top-performing shoe.
  • Great for players that are looking for a top-tier performance basketball shoe.
  • 8.3 rating based on 8 expert reviews
  • The Nike LeBron 19 is better in almost every way compared to last year's model.
  • Perfect if you enjoy extra cushion and impact protection.
  • 8.5 rating based on 7 expert reviews
  • The Nike Kyrie 8 is a welcome improvement in the Kyrie lineup.
  • Best for players looking for a shoe with no real weaknesses.
  • 8.4 rating based on 6 expert reviews
  • The Air Jordan 37 is a top performer with bouncy forefoot cushioning and strong materials.
  • Recommended for forefoot-heavy players looking for a bouncy setup
  • 8.7 rating based on 3 expert reviews
  • The Curry 4 FloTro continues the trend of outstanding traction and responsiveness in shoes that use a Flow midsole.
  • The perfect shoe for players who rely on footwork and quick movements
  • 7.7 rating based on 3 expert reviews
  • The Air Deldon has a comfortable cushioning setup but inconsistent overall performance.
  • A great pick for players who play on clean courts and enjoy full-length Air.
  • 8.5 rating based on 3 expert reviews
  • The Li-Ning Way of Wade 9 Infinity provides plenty of traction and plays very springy.
  • Players that like to take advantage of their straight-line speed.
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Best Basketball Shoes for Centers

1. Nike Air Zoom GT Jump

Performance Rating:
8.8
The tech-loaded Nike GT Jump's performance is outstanding.
Overall rating based on 8 reviews
Pros:
The tech works well together for performance
Jump frame is as good as advertised
Cons:
A bit on the heavier side
What do the experts think?
The final release in Nike's GT series, the GT Jump, manages to find a way to make all of the tech Nike threw in it work well together. The traction gripped all the different surfaces that reviewers tested it on while still keeping up with the cushioning. When it comes to cushioning, if you're a fan of Nike Zoom, you're going to love these. It's bouncy, provides ample impact protection, and is very fast to play in. Nike uses Jumpwire combined with synthetics and meshes to keep the shoe breathable without compromising performance. Most reviewers also agree that the Jumpframe is a standout aspect of the shoe. It helps secure the foot so that the player doesn't feel unstable on top of the cushioning. Although the wait was long, the Nike Air Zoom GT Jump delivers, and it's one of the best shoes to come out this year.

2. Air Jordan 36

Performance Rating:
9.1
The latest Air Jordan mainline signature model is, once again, a top-performing shoe.
Overall rating based on 8 reviews
Pros:
Absolutely no issues at all with the traction
Cushion feels amazing
Cons:
The outsole can be a tiny bit unsteady
They fit narrow and snug
What do the experts think?
The Air Jordan 36 continues the recent trend from Jordan brand and picks up right where the last two models left off. The traction is phenomenal. It performs well on both clean and dusty courts. All reviewers agree that the cushioning used in the 36 performs amazingly, but they also agree that the Air unit protruding from the outsole is unnecessary. The fit is snug and narrow, so if that's not your cup of tea, consider sizing up. Materials are slimmed way down this year. They make the shoe lightweight without sacrificing much in terms of comfort and durability. The surprisingly strong upper and the outsole materials wrapping upward towards the midsole make the support in this shoe solid. Being the latest signature shoe in the lineup, the Air Jordan 36 delivers and is yet another high-quality performance basketball shoe.

3. Nike Lebron 19

Performance Rating:
8.3
The Nike LeBron 19 is better in almost every way compared to last year's model.
Overall rating based on 8 reviews
Pros:
They provide good support and stability
The cushion feels incredible
Cons:
Traction can be inconsistent at times
They fit a bit snug
What do the experts think?
The latest entry in LeBron's signature shoe line gets off to a shaky start with reviewers mentioning that the traction performs inconsistently. As always with the LeBron line, the cushioning is the standout performance aspect. The shoe has ample impact protection while still finding a way to feel bouncy due to the forefoot Zoom Air. The fit can be snug. However, the materials do loosen up once broken in. Speaking of materials, they are much improved this year. The upper feels light and is comfortable straight out of the box. There are no issues with support and lockdown. In fact, the lateral containment is even a highlight for the LeBron 19. Overall, the Nike LeBron 19 is a fun shoe to play in with its crazy cushion setup, improved materials, and solid support. The only downside is the traction.

4. Nike Kyrie 8

Performance Rating:
8.5
The Nike Kyrie 8 is a welcome improvement in the Kyrie lineup.
Overall rating based on 7 reviews
Pros:
Consistent traction
Amazing forefoot Zoom Strobel
Cons:
Materials could feel more premium
What do the experts think?
As controversial as Kyrie Irving is, his signature basketball shoe continues to be a quality performer. The traction is what you come to expect from the Kyrie lineup. It performs well, similarly to the previous models. For the Kyrie 8, Nike implemented a forefoot Zoom Strobel that adds a new dimension of bounce while still remaining low to the ground. The materials used feel comfortable while providing quality performance. They're also thin and breathable. The lacing system helps to provide a fit that won't cause issues for most people. Reviewers also agree that the lateral containment and lockdown provided are excellent. When it comes down to it, the Nike Kyrie 8 is an excellent shoe that caters to many different playstyles.

5. Air Jordan 37

Performance Rating:
8.4
The Air Jordan 37 is a top performer with bouncy forefoot cushioning and strong materials.
Overall rating based on 6 reviews
Pros:
Bouncy forefoot cushioning
Materials are strong for performance
Cons:
Materials are not premium
Heel cushioning could be better
What do the experts think?
Jordan Brand switches up the traction to look more like the traction on the Zion 1, but the performance is still there. The double-stacked Zoom Strobel and Zoom Air unit in the forefoot provide plenty of bounce and responsiveness. Meanwhile, the heel cushioning is Formula 23, and it feels caged. All reviewers agree that the materials are not premium but excel in all performance aspects. The fit is improved compared to last year's Air Jordan 36. It accommodates slightly wide feet better. The support features are all there too. The materials work well to keep the foot contained during play. The latest mainline Jordan, the Air Jordan 37, offers innovative performance and has plenty of features to love.

6. Under Armour Curry 4 FloTro

Performance Rating:
8.7
The Curry 4 FloTro continues the trend of outstanding traction and responsiveness in shoes that use a Flow midsole.
Overall rating based on 3 reviews
Pros:
Tacky traction
Materials feel high quality
Cons:
Lack of impact protection
Not very explosive
What do the experts think?
Like all shoes using a Flow midsole, the traction on the Curry 4 FloTro bites hard. It feels tackier than the Curry 9. The cushioning is responsive and smooth. The shoe feels low to the ground but doesn't have the best impact protection. The materials might be synthetic, but they feel premium. The shoe's construction makes it fit well for many different foot shapes. It accommodates wide footers well. The reviewer's only concern with the shoe is the slight sliding on the footbed caused by heavy cutting. Overall, the Curry 4 FloTro is a fantastic performer. The shoe offers some of the best traction on the market and plays well for footwork-reliant play styles.

7. Nike Air Deldon

Performance Rating:
7.7
The Air Deldon has a comfortable cushioning setup but inconsistent overall performance.
Overall rating based on 3 reviews
Pros:
Comfortable cushion setup
Supportive fit
Cons:
Inconsistent traction
Poor quality materials
What do the experts think?
Elena Delle Donne's debut sneaker features a traction pattern reviewers said was inconsistent. It performs on clean courts but is poor whenever dust is present. The cushioning is a full-length Air Strobel and a forefoot Zoom unit. The setup is comfortable while still providing some bounce. Reviewers have divided opinions on the materials. Some say the materials are poor quality, and others say it's plush and comfortable. The support and lockdown are surprisingly stable despite not having a traditional heel counter. Overall, the Nike Air Deldon is a mixed bag performance-wise. The traction has a lot of room for improvement, but the cushioning and support perform well.

8. Li-Ning Way of Wade 9 Infinity

Performance Rating:
8.5
The Li-Ning Way of Wade 9 Infinity provides plenty of traction and plays very springy.
Overall rating based on 3 reviews
Pros:
Strong, grippy traction
Boa system helps keep you secure
Cons:
The price is expensive
Feels high off the ground
What do the experts think?
Reviewers agree that the grippy traction is the best part of the Li-Ning Way of Wade 9 Infinity. The cushioning setup feels springy, but the impact protection could be better. It's great at propelling players forward. The materials are thin and breathable, and the lacing system is well done. None of the reviewers mentioned any glaring issues with support, which is a positive sign for a shoe that's so high off the ground. With excellent traction, and a strong, durable outsole, the Way of Wade 9 Infinity offers the tech and performance to warrant its high price tag.

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