Best Basketball Shoes for Guards

The 5 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 69 most popular basketball shoe releases since the end of 2016, read (or watched) all 408 reviews I could find and summed up the expert findings here.

The following list shows all low- or mid-tops (as of Dec 04, 2018) that received great scores for their traction and feature responsive cushioning:

Overall Rating: 9.1 (7 reviews)
  • Amazing performer with outstanding cushioning and top-notch traction
  • Perfect for players of all positions who value court feel and freedom of movement
Overall Rating: 9.0 (7 reviews)
  • Provides balanced cushioning, traction that works on all surfaces, and premium BattleKnit upper
  • Especially recommended for explosive and powerful wing players.
Overall Rating: 9.0 (4 reviews)
  • Amazing traction, well-balanced cushioning, and very good fit
  • Perfect if you are looking for an affordable all-around performer with no weaknesses
Overall Rating: 8.9 (4 reviews)
  • Affordable low-top with excellent traction, great support, and solid cushioning.
  • Works best for quick guards in need of excellent traction
Overall Rating: 8.8 (3 reviews)
  • Improves the already great performance of the PG2 by adding an additional forefoot strap for more lockdown
  • Perfect if you are looking for an affordable all-around performer without any weaknesses.
Overall Rating: 8.8 (6 reviews)
  • Well-rounded performer with great traction, fun cushioning, and excellent fit
  • Works best for quick guards
Overall Rating: 8.8 (3 reviews)
  • Outstanding herringbone traction pattern picks up very little dust.
  • Good all-around performance basketball shoe at a fair price
Overall Rating: 8.8 (3 reviews)
  • Traction pattern provides great traction on all surfaces
  • Great bang for the buck and should work well for positions 1-4.
Overall Rating: 8.7 (4 reviews)
  • The herringbone traction grips on all courts - even outdoors
  • Great all-around performer at a very fair price!
Overall Rating: 8.7 (2 reviews)
  • This shoe focuses on the basics and gets them right
  • Affordable low-top that works best for guards

The Best Basketball Shoes for Guards

Let’s take a closer look at these shoes:

1. Adidas Harden Vol. 3

Average Expert Rating: 9.1 (see all 7 reviews)
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 of 2018 in general!
Best Deals for the Adidas Harden Vol. 3:
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2. Nike Lebron 16

Average Expert Rating: 9.0 (see all 7 reviews)
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.
Best Deals for the Nike Lebron 16:
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3. Jordan CP3 XI

Average Expert Rating: 9.0 (see all 4 reviews)
Chris Paul's 11th signature sneaker is very well-liked by sneaker reviewers. The traction has amazing bite and works well even on dusty courts. The low-to-the-ground cushioning setup provides a nice combination of impact protection and responsiveness. The forefoot strap helps to lock down your feet tightly, and the lacing system makes sure that there is zero heel slippage. Materials aren't premium but they do their job (even though ventilation could be better). Overall, the CP3.XI is a great all-around performer that should work well for positions 1-5 and comes at a very affordable price!
Best Deals for the Jordan CP3 XI:
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4. Under Armour HOVR Havoc Low

Average Expert Rating: 8.9 (see all 4 reviews)
The HOVR Havoc Low is the first basketball shoe that comes with Under Armour's new HOVR cushioning technology. The HOVR foam in the outsole is heavily caged and starts off very firm but gets more comfortable after the (considerable) break-in time. The outsole is made from a hard and durable rubber and sports a traditional herringbone traction pattern that impresses on all surfaces. Materials are standard Mesh and synthetics that provide a ton of support and lockdown. Overall, the Under Armour HOVR Havoc Low is a great performer for quick guards looking for an affordable low-top with excellent traction, great support, and solid cushioning.
Best Deals for the Under Armour HOVR Havoc Low:
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5. Nike PG 2.5

Average Expert Rating: 8.8 (see all 3 reviews)
The Nike PG2.5 is almost identical to the PG2 but comes with an additional forefoot strap we know from the PG1. This addition improves the fit and support a little bit as it gives you the ability to customize the forefoot to work with your feet. Other than that, materials, cushioning and traction remained unchanged and provide the same great performance that the previous model did! At only $110 retail, you can't go wrong with these!
Best Deals for the Nike PG 2.5:
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6. Nike Kobe AD NXT

Average Expert Rating: 8.8 (see all 6 reviews)
The Kobe AD NXT is a big upgrade over the disappointing Kobe AD. The biggest change is the completely new lacing system. Critics are split on whether it works or not. Some love it, some hate it. Overall, the Kobe AD NXT is a very good overall performer for quick guards. The only downside is the very expensive retail price of $200.
Best Deals for the Nike Kobe AD NXT:
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7. Jordan Fly Lockdown

Average Expert Rating: 8.8 (see all 3 reviews)
The Jordan Fly Lockdown is one of the pleasant surprises of 2018. At a list price of only $110, it's a very affordable shoe that provides top-notch performance. The herringbone traction picks up very little dust and works exceptionally well in all directions. The mix of Phylon and Zoom cushioning feels low and quick without sacrificing impact protection. The budget materials don't look great but work very well and provide very good lockdown. Overall, if you are looking for a good performance basketball shoe at a fair price, then you can't go wrong with Jordan Fly Lockdown!
Best Deals for the Jordan Fly Lockdown:
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8. Adidas Pro Bounce Low

Average Expert Rating: 8.8 (see all 3 reviews)
The Pro Bounce is Adidas' new team model similar to Nike's Hyperdunk line. One of the highlights of this shoe is the traction pattern that offers great bite on clean courts but also works well on dusty courts or outdoors. Adidas uses its Bounce cushioning system which gives you a nice balance of responsiveness and impact protection. The upper material feels a little cheap but it is very sturdy with excellent containment and support. Overall, the Pro Bounce Low is an awesome basketball shoe that offers great bang for the buck and should work well for positions 1-4.
Best Deals for the Adidas Pro Bounce Low:
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9. Jordan Jumpman Hustle

Average Expert Rating: 8.7 (see all 4 reviews)
The most outstanding feature of the Jordan Jumpman Hustle is the thick and hard herringbone traction pattern that provides grip on all courts - even outdoors. The forefoot Zoom Air Unit feels bouncy and the Phylon midsole is soft and comfortable. The shroud on top of the lacing system gives the shoe a unique look but also feels very comfortable while staying low-to-the-ground. The only downside of the Jumpman Hustle is the slightly stretchy upper and narrow base that doesn't give as much lateral support as some players might need. Overall, this is a great all-around performer at a very fair price!
Best Deals for the Jordan Jumpman Hustle:
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10. Nike Zoom Live 2017

Average Expert Rating: 8.7 (see all 2 reviews)
The Nike Zoom Live is the successor to the Nike Hyperlive and, at a retail price of only $100, it is one of Nike's most affordable shoes. Even though the price is really cheap, the Nike Zoom Live outperforms a lot of the more expensive signature models. This shoe concentrates on the basics and gets them right: Good traction that works even on dusty courts, comfortable Zoom Air cushioning in the forefoot, combined with a well-fitting and supportive upper. If you are looking for an affordable low-top for guards, then you can't go wrong with this shoe!
Best Deals for the Nike Zoom Live 2017:
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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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