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 and the only taller guy that has a signature sneaker with one of the big brands is Kevin Durant – not exactly a traditional center!
But fortunately, there are still some sneakers that work well for traditional big guys, 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 Big Men chose High-Tops
Traditionally, basketball sneakers were cut higher than regular sneakers, ending above the ankles. While that is no longer a 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 guys 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 big guys 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 are a great choice for centers.
The following shoes have been selected from the list of all popular basketball sneakers as of March 8, 2018. 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
You can check out all shoe reviews and apply your filters as you like here.
Very supportive leather upper, great traction, and responsive Zoom Air cushioning.
Perfect if you like old-school basketball sneakers
No lacing system - no problem. Adidas' most futuristic basketball shoe so far
Works well for explosive players looking for a light shoe with a well-balanced, responsive cushioning setup
Great court-feel, lockdown, and stability.
Works best for quick guards who prefer court feel over impact protection
The innovative laceless FastFit lacing system works surprisingly well
Perfect if you are into innovative tech and can afford the steep price
Solid performer at a fair price
Works best on clean courts
Best Basketball Shoes for Centers
- Nice leather materials
- Very durable
- Very heavy
- Fit can be problematic
The performance retro of the original Kobe 1 Protro turns out to be very divisive. Some reviewers love the retro materials and sturdy feel of an old-school basketball sneaker, while others complain that these are too heavy and bulky compared to current performance sneakers.
Traction and cushioning perform very well and the support is absolutely amazing because of the solid materials used. The fit is more problematic as the leather doesn't conform to your feet as well as modern textile materials do.
If you like old-school basketball sneakers then you will love the Kobe 1 Protro, but if you are looking for a minimal and fast shoe then this isn't for you.
Best Deals for the Nike Zoom Kobe 1 Protro:
- Very comfortable Primeknit upper
- Well-balanced Lightstrike cushioning
- Traction is problematic on dusty courts
The Adidas Next Level is probably the most futuristic performance basketball shoe currently on the market. Even though it comes without any lacing system, the support works surprisingly well. Reviewers experienced absolutely no heel slippage, side-to-side movement or other support issues. The traction works well on clean courts, but the rubber compound has problems on dusty courts - be prepared to wipe a lot! The new Lightstrike cushioning offers a lot of court feel and responsiveness without ever compromising impact protection.
Overall, the Adidas N3XT L3V3l is a great performer that will definitely get you noticed on the basketball court.
Best Deals for the Adidas N3XT L3V3L:
- Great ankle support
- A lot of court feel
- Traction takes a while to break-in
The latest shoe in the Kyrie signature series is very similar to previous shoes in the series. It focuses on support and court-feel and gives you the ability for quick crossovers and creative attacks of the basket. The new Nike Zoom Air Turbo cushioning remains firm and is clearly optimized for court feel - if you are looking for comfortable shoes with a lot of impact protection, then you won't be happy with the Kyrie 5. Overall, this is a very supportive shoe that works best for guards looking to imitate Kyrie's playing style.
Best Deals for the Nike Kyrie 5:
- Innovative lacing system
- Very supportive and stable shoe
The Air Jordan 33 is probably the first performance basketball shoe without laces. The innovative FastFit lacing system works surprisingly well and provides great lockdown but is less customizable than traditional lacing systems. The traction works very well on lateral cuts, but some reviewers experienced slipping on straight-line movements. Cushioning starts off very stiff and less comfortable than in previous Jordan models but gives you a nice balance of court feel and impact protection.
Overall, the Air Jordan 33 is a very divisive shoe - some reviewers loved it, some hated it. If you are into innovative tech and can afford the steep price - then give it a try!
Best Deals for the Air Jordan 33:
- Very supportive shoe
- Fits like a glove
- Traction doesn't hold up on dusty courts
- Basic materials
The tenth model of Nike's popular Hyperdunk series doesn't generate as much excitement with sneaker reviewers as previous models. The traction works very well on clean courts, but some reviewers had problems on dusty courts. A large Zoom unit in the heel and a smaller unit in the forefoot provide well-balanced cushioning with decent impact protection and solid bounce. The materials are not flashy or premium, but they perform well, fit like a glove, and provide a lot of ventilation.
Overall, the Hyperdunk X is a very solid performance basketball shoe at a fair price.
Best Deals for the Nike Hyperdunk X: