The Top 5 Best Basketball Shoes for Big Men

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.

Overall Rating: 9.0 (8 reviews)
  • Comfortable Boost cushioning, premium materials and great traction
  • Works for players of all positions
Overall Rating: 8.9 (5 reviews)
  • Very supportive leather upper, great traction, and responsive Zoom Air cushioning.
  • Perfect if you like old-school basketball sneakers
Overall Rating: 8.9 (6 reviews)
  • Very supportive high top with amazing traction and support
  • Perfect if you are looking for traditional high-top basketball shoes
Overall Rating: 8.8 (10 reviews)
  • The combination of Air Max and Zoom provides an insanely comfortable cushioning
  • Works extremely well for big guys that need a lot of impact protection.
Overall Rating: 8.8 (3 reviews)
  • Old school design with modern Boost technology
  • Works best for players of all positions who have narrow feet

Best Basketball Shoes for Centers

1. Adidas Crazy Explosive PrimeKnit 2017

Average Expert Rating: 9.0 (see all 8 reviews)
Succeeding the very successful and much beloved 2016 model is a difficult task, but the Crazy Explosive 2017 pulls it off! Reviewers love everything from the excellent (but slightly firmer) cushioning, to the premium materials, great fit and excellent support. The only slight negative is the stiffer upper that takes a while to break in but then becomes really comfortable. One of the best-reviewed shoes in 2017 so far!
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2. Nike Zoom Kobe 1 Protro

Average Expert Rating: 8.9 (see all 5 reviews)
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.
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3. Adidas D Rose 8

Average Expert Rating: 8.9 (see all 6 reviews)
The D Rose 8 is an amazing overall performer. It absolutely nails the two most important features of any basketball shoe: traction and support. The new "zipper" traction pattern provides beastly traction, even on dusty courts. Full-length Boost cushioning is perfectly balanced and provides a lot of impact protection while still being very responsive. The materials are rather basic and may look a little cheap, but they absolutely get the job done. If you are looking for a supportive high top with amazing traction and support then this is the shoe for you.
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4. Nike Lebron 15

Average Expert Rating: 8.8 (see all 10 reviews)
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.
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5. Adidas Crazy BYW X

Average Expert Rating: 8.8 (see all 3 reviews)
The Adidas Boost You Wear (BYW) X is a modern performance-basketball version of the old Adidas Feet You Wear line. The herringbone traction pattern performs very well out-of-the-box, but starts to fray and pick up dust quickly. Some reviewers didn't like the decoupled feeling of the forefoot and heel: The uncaged Boost cushioning in the heel is very soft and comfortable, but the forefoot is much firmer and responsive because the Boost is completely caged here. Materials are premium and comfortable and support is surprisingly solid. Overall, the opinions on the Adidas BYW X are split, some reviewers feel like they are Adidas' best performance basketball shoes, other feel they are flawed and overpriced.
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