The 10 Best Basketball Shoes for Guards

If you are a quick guard and you like to beat your opponent off the dribble with deadly crossovers and smooth pull-up jumpers you need shoes that can keep up with your style of play.

But what does the perfect guard shoe look like?

  • It features great traction that will grip the floor and allow you to change directions very quickly
  • The cushioning is responsive and doesn’t lag
  • It is a low- (or mid-cut) shoe that doesn’t unneccessarily restrict your range of motion

So how do you find a shoe that fulfils these three criteria?

Easy! You check all shoe releases of the last year, pick all low- or mid-tops, read all the reviews and choose the one with amazing traction and responsive cushioning!

Sounds like a lot of work? Luckily I did it for you! I have checked out the 238 most popular basketball shoe releases since the end of 2016, read (or watched) all 1141 reviews I could find and summed up the expert findings here.

The following list shows all low- or mid-tops (as of Jan 31, 2023) that received great scores for their traction and feature responsive cushioning:

  • 9.0 rating based on 9 expert reviews
  • The Nike KD 15 is a shoe that has something for every type of player.
  • Best for players looking for a shoe that covers all the bases.
  • 8.9 rating based on 5 expert reviews
  • The Curry 10 makes slight improvements and continues to be a top-tier performer.
  • Anyone that utilizes traction to maximize footwork
  • 8.9 rating based on 4 expert reviews
  • Following the footsteps of the original Puma MB.01, the low-top remains one of the top performance options on the market.
  • Players who want an all-around performer with no weaknesses.
  • 8.9 rating based on 7 expert reviews
  • The Curry Flow 9 manages to improve on its impressive predecessor.
  • Great shoe if you rely on traction and court feel.
  • 8.9 rating based on 8 expert reviews
  • The KD14 is a great overall performer with no obvious weaknesses.
  • A versatile shoe that works for all type of players.
  • 8.9 rating based on 2 expert reviews
  • The New Balance TWO WXY is a very good all-around performer.
  • Great for players of any position who look for court feel and ankle support.
  • 8.8 rating based on 4 expert reviews
  • The Wade 808 2 offers fantastic traction and a versatile drop-in midsole.
  • Players who are fans of the Kobe 9 traction and cushioning setup
  • 8.8 rating based on 4 expert reviews
  • The Li-Ning Way of Wade 10 features an outstanding cushioning setup alongside its grippy traction.
  • This shoe is an excellent pick for quick, explosive players who enjoy a bouncy feeling in their shoes.
  • 8.8 rating based on 6 expert reviews
  • The PG 5 is a great all-around performer and a nice upgrade over the PG 4.
  • Works best for players that prefer a minimal, lightweight, and responsive shoe no matter what position they play.
  • 8.7 rating based on 8 expert reviews
  • The Nike LeBron 20 excels with its bouncy cushion and solid traction, but it has something to offer every player.
  • Quick and explosive players will enjoy this shoe the most.
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The Best Basketball Shoes for Guards

Let’s take a closer look at some great PG shoes:

1. Nike KD 15

Performance Rating:
9.0
The Nike KD 15 is a shoe that has something for every type of player.
Overall rating based on 9 reviews
Pros:
Amazing traction
Bouncy cushion
Cons:
Some heel slippage
What do the experts think?
The traction is a standout feature on the Nike KD 15. It bites to every type of court, performing amazingly. Reviewers agreed that the cushioning offers a unique combination of court feel, responsiveness, bounciness, and impact protection. The materials conform to your feet nicely and are comfortable to play in. The shoe also fits better than previous KD models and is more accommodating to different foot shapes. If there is any downside, some reviewers experienced a bit of heel slippage. Others didn't feel completely secure around the heel. The Nike KD 15 could be one of the best performance shoes available.

2. Under Armour Curry 10

Performance Rating:
8.9
The Curry 10 makes slight improvements and continues to be a top-tier performer.
Overall rating based on 5 reviews
Pros:
Top-tier traction
Comfortable materials
Cons:
Impact protection isn't the best
What do the experts think?
As we've come to expect, the Flow traction is fantastic. It's some of the best traction available. The cushioning is responsive and low to the ground. The shank also offers some additional bounce. The materials feel similar to the Curry 9 from last year. It does feel a tad bit more comfortable, though. Support and lockdown are better than last year because of a better heel counter and more supportive construction. Overall, the Curry 10 improves on last year's model and remains a top performer because of the outstanding traction.

3. Puma MB.01 Lo

Performance Rating:
8.9
Following the footsteps of the original Puma MB.01, the low-top remains one of the top performance options on the market.
Overall rating based on 4 reviews
Pros:
Aggressive, grippy traction
Balanced cushioning setup
Cons:
Cheap feeling materials
What do the experts think?
Not much changed between the original Puma MB.01 and the low-top version. The traction is still reliable on all surfaces. Puma's Nitro foam is a balanced cushioning setup offering both impact protection and responsiveness. The fit can be narrow, but the materials are comfortable and get the job done performance-wise. The shoe also has solid support features to keep your foot secure and contained. Overall, the Puma MB.01 Low continues the trend of Puma releasing quality performance basketball shoes.

4. Under Armour Curry 9

Performance Rating:
8.9
The Curry Flow 9 manages to improve on its impressive predecessor.
Overall rating based on 7 reviews
Pros:
Traction is phenomenal
Improved materials
Cons:
Not the greatest for impact protection
What do the experts think?
The Curry Flow 9 continues to build on the performance that the 8 provided last year. The traction pattern and material are identical, but that's not a bad thing. Reviewers agree that the performance is phenomenal in this regard. For cushioning, the responsive and court feel are fantastic. The only thing the cushion lacks is impact protection which is just adequate. The materials are much improved from last year and feel premium for performance. It's lightweight, thin, and comfortable. The fit starts out snug and narrow, but the materials conform to your foot over time. Support and lockdown continue to be fantastic just like the rest of the Curry line. Reviewers agree that the Curry Flow 9 is one of the best shoes available on the market right now, and the shoe is a pleasure to play in.

5. Nike KD 14

Performance Rating:
8.9
The KD14 is a great overall performer with no obvious weaknesses.
Overall rating based on 8 reviews
Pros:
Soft & comfortable cushioning
Doesn't have any weaknesses
Cons:
A little bulky
What do the experts think?
For some reviewers, the traction of the KD14 took a little to break-in, but they all agreed that it provides a ton of grip on clean courts and doesn't have much trouble with dusty courts either. The Zoom Strobel and Cushlon midsole provide a perfect mix of comfort, impact protection, and responsiveness. One reviewer coined it the softest KD to date. Materials are a little cheap to the touch but they are comfortable on foot and combined with the wide base and plastic enforcement on the sides provide a lot of lockdown and support. The fit is less narrow than previous KD's and should work for most players unless you have super wide feet. Overall, reviewers agree that the KD14 is a slight improvement over the KD13 and a great overall performer that is absolutely worth the $150 price tag.

6. New Balance TWO WXY

Performance Rating:
8.9
The New Balance TWO WXY is a very good all-around performer.
Overall rating based on 2 reviews
Pros:
Great traction
Very responsive cushion
Cons:
Impact protection could be better
Weird fit
What do the experts think?
The traction on the New Balance TWO WXY is one of the best aspects of the shoe and has an awesome bite. The durability is okay for outdoor use. The cushion setup features Fuel Cell foam and is very low to the ground here. You get good court feel and responsiveness with okay impact protection. The materials are mostly thin knits and textiles that are comfortable and perform well. These fit a little long and pretty narrow, so it is recommended to try them on before buying. They do come in wide sizes. The support and lockdown are great and have you covered on explosive moves and crossovers. Overall the New Balance TWO WXY is a great performer in pretty much every area and comes in at a fair $140 price tag.

7. Li-Ning Wade 808 2

Performance Rating:
8.8
The Wade 808 2 offers fantastic traction and a versatile drop-in midsole.
Overall rating based on 4 reviews
Pros:
Traction grips courts hard
Comfortable drop-in midsole
Cons:
Cushioning on hard impact can be better
The fit is slightly long
What do the experts think?
The traction of the Wade 808 2 is grippy and reminiscent of the Kobe 9 traction. The rubber is also hard enough to take outdoors. Li-Ning's drop-in midsole is comfortable, and it feels bouncy. The only downside is the impact protection on hard landings. Reviewers describe the materials on the shoe as minimal and breathable. Despite not having an outrigger, the shoe has plenty of lateral containment and stability. Overall, the Li-Ning Wade 808 2 is a versatile shoe with enough traction and cushioning for most players.

8. Li-Ning Way of Wade 10

Performance Rating:
8.8
The Li-Ning Way of Wade 10 features an outstanding cushioning setup alongside its grippy traction.
Overall rating based on 4 reviews
Pros:
Incredibly bouncy cushioning
Amazing traction
Cons:
High price tag
Soft rubber isn't suitable for outdoors
What do the experts think?
Reviewers describe the cushioning on the Way of Wade 10 as incredibly bouncy. It's easily the most raved-about feature of the shoe. Its outsole traction is soft and grippy, perfect for indoor play. The materials are lightweight and perform well, but reviewers mention they could be more premium based on the shoe's price. Support and lockdown aren't an issue. There were no reported problems from any reviewers. Li-Ning and Dwyane Wade's latest signature model, the Way of Wade 10, is an excellent basketball shoe that can contend for performance shoe of the year.

9. Nike PG 5

Performance Rating:
8.8
The PG 5 is a great all-around performer and a nice upgrade over the PG 4.
Overall rating based on 6 reviews
Pros:
Phenomenal traction
Responsive cushioning
Cons:
Cheap materials
What do the experts think?
The traction pattern of the PG 5 is very similar to the Kobe 9 pattern and provides top-tier traction indoors. Unfortunately, the outsole isn't durable enough for outdoor use. The cushion tech is similar to last year but feels pretty different. The PG 5 isn't as plush but provides a better court feel and more responsiveness. The materials are what you've come to expect from the PG line: They feel pretty cheap but they perform well and are comfortable on foot. The PG 5 fits like most PG models slightly narrow and snug. True to size works well. The support and lockdown are very good thanks to a wide base and large outrigger - reviewers had no issues here. Overall the PG 5 is a great all-around performer and a real bargain at a list price of only $110.

10. Nike Lebron 20

Performance Rating:
8.7
The Nike LeBron 20 excels with its bouncy cushion and solid traction, but it has something to offer every player.
Overall rating based on 8 reviews
Pros:
Bouncy cushion setup
Tacky traction compound
Cons:
Not much court feel
High price tag
What do the experts think?
The traction on the LeBron 20 is tacky, and it grips most court surfaces. The occasional wipe is needed, but it doesn't hinder performance. Nike toned the cushioning down from previous models, but it's still insanely bouncy. The materials are comfortable, thin, and breathable on foot. It also helps to keep you contained during play. On fit, some reviewers praised the LeBron 20 for its snug, 1-to-1 fit. Other reviewers had split opinions on how the shoe accommodates wide footers. The lacing and materials work together to keep your foot contained on the footbed. Reviewers didn't have any complaints when it came to the support of the shoe. Overall, the Nike LeBron 20 is an impressive all-around performer. The traction, cushioning, and support are versatile enough to offer something to most players.

What makes a great shoe for point guards and shooting guards?

Traction

As a quick guard, traction is by far the most important aspect of a shoe’s performance. Sticky traction will allow you to blow by your defender with an explosive first step, help you to stop on a dime when attacking the basket, and give you the necessary grip to pester your opponent on defense. Shoes with bad traction will rob you of all your quickness, negate all your strengths and might even make you slip on an opponent’s crossover – nobody wants that!

So, the most important thing as a guard is to get shoes with amazing traction.

Herringbone Pattern

Herringbone pattern

Cushion

Shoes with comfortable cushioning that make you feel like you’re walking on clouds are great for heavy big guys, but not for shifty guards. As a guard, you probably weigh a lot less than the Shaqs of this world, and therefore you need a lot less impact protection. In fact, mushy and soft cushioning often has a negative effect on your speed and quickness as it takes away from your court feel and makes cuts and first steps a split second slower.

As a guard, you want to have a responsive cushioning setup with excellent court feel that doesn’t take away from your quickness.

Style of Silhouette

In today’s game, most guards are playing in low or mid-top basketball shoes. These shoes are cut a lot lower around the ankles compared to traditional basketball “boots”. This style reduces the weight and allows a greater amount of flexibility and freedom of movement. The lost ankle support is made up for with other support features like extended outriggers and sturdy heel counters. If you still don’t feel comfortable playing in low-tops, or you are recovering from an ankle sprain take a look at ankle braces. Steph Curry is wearing an ankle brace every game, and he’s doing okay! Low or mid-tops are the way to go for guards.

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