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.
The traction on the Puma Clyde All-Pro is outstanding and was compared to the Kobe 9 by reviewers. The durability is solid and should be fine for occasional outdoor use.
The cushion setup features the improved ProFoam+ which is softer and has more compression. This cushioning is still more on the responsive side though.
Another highlight of this shoe is the upper material which is super minimal, lightweight, and very comfortable after breaking in.
Going true to size will give you a snug fit that wraps around your foot really well.
Reviewers had no issues with the support as it comes with all the standard features we've come to expect from basketball shoes: a wide base, outrigger, and a solid internal heel counter.
Overall the Puma Clyde All-Pro is a fantastic all-around performer and a steal at $130!
The traction on the Jordan 35 is similar to the 34 and performs just as well. You will get consistently great grip and stopping power - just don't ruin them playing outdoors.
The addition of a large volume Zoom Air unit in the heel makes the cushion of this shoe even more comfortable and responsive.
The materials are premium and have a good mix of old school and new textile materials. They are breathable and don't need breaking in.
The support is even better than the 34 and has nice lateral containment, stability, and ankle support.
Overall the Jordan 35 is an awesome performer that lives up to the hype and the expensive retail price!
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.
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.
The Curry "Flow" 8 is the first signature shoe released under the new "Curry" brand and they get off to a good start!
The traction is the best aspect of the shoe and features an all-foam outsole that is crazy grippy.
The cushion is also nice and comfortable while providing great court feel and responsiveness. Reviewers considered it the best cushion of the Curry lineup.
The materials consist of a flexible knit upper that is comfortable with synthetic overlays for structure.
These fit short and a little wide - going up half a size should work for most people.
The support and lockdown are what you come to expect from a Curry and will give you no issues.
Overall the Curry 8 is a great hoop shoe that most players will enjoy. These are definitely worth the $20 increase to $160!
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.
A majority of reviewers agree that the traction for the Air Zoom G.T Cut performed very well on clean courts and only needs occasional wiping on dusty courts.
The combination of the drop-in React midsole and the Zoom Air Strobel underfoot helps to create a very responsive ride that still manages to be bouncy. However, one reviewer did note that their React midsole felt a little bit firm.
Materials on the shoe are breathable and feel comfortable on foot.
The fit is snug and slightly narrow in the forefoot area. One reviewer recommended sizing up half a size if you have wide feet.
Most reviewers agree that the Nike Air Zoom G.T. Cut is an excellent performer loaded with tech that justifies the price tag.
The Nike Cosmic Unity is part of Nike's sustainability push and made from at least 25% trash. Is the performance on the court trash as well?
The traction features a traditional herringbone pattern that performs well on clean courts but struggles a little on dusty surfaces.
The cushion setup uses the same Zoom Air Strobel as the KD 12 and 13 and provides nice impact protection and responsiveness. The midsole is very low to the ground and gives your great court feel.
The knit materials are nice to the touch and very durable. Performance-wise you'll have no issues!
The support provides everything you've come to expect from performance basketball shoes with solid lateral stability and containment.
Overall the Nike Cosmic Unity is a solid performer in every category. Just watch out if you play on dusty courts often.
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.
The traction works well on clean courts but on dusty courts, you will need to wipe from time to time. Overall, the traction performance is a slight downgrade from the Kyrie 6.
The Zoom Turbo unit in the forefoot feels responsive, bouncy, and provides some nice court feel and the cushioning in the heel feels much better than in the Kyrie 5 and 6.
The materials are much more minimal than the Kyrie 6 with no forefoot strap and perform really well overall.
The support is very good for lateral containment and stability. The Kyrie 7 also provides decent ankle support.
Overall the Kyrie 7 is a great overall performer with some upgrades over the Kyrie 6.
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.
The traction on the LeBron 18 Low is basically inherited from the regular Lebron 18 but performs slightly better. It provides a consistent and hard stop but could do a little better on dust.
The cushion setup features React foam and an Air Max unit in the heel that makes for a very bouncy setup with nice impact protection but lacks responsiveness or court feel.
The Mesh materials are an upgrade over the regular Lebron 18 and perform well.
The fit is true to size and but slightly narrow, so wide footers should maybe go up half a size.
The support and lockdown are solid and do a great job but some reviewers had issues with lateral stability due to the high and soft cushioning.
Overall the LeBron 18 Low is a solid performer, especially for big guys who need a lot of impact protection!
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.
Kawhi Leonard's first real signature shoe provides good traction on indoor and outdoor courts, but you will need to wipe regularly on dusty courts.
The FuelCell cushion setup is very similar to the OMN1S, but with caging in the heel. Overall this setup is very responsive and bouncy with a lot of court feel, but the heel is a little firm.
The materials are decent, but considering the premium price, they could have been better. Reviewers found them to be stiff even after breaking them in.
The support is the highlight of the shoe - it's top tier! You won't be sliding on the footbed or experience any lateral instabilities thanks to the sturdy materials and good fit.
Overall, the Kawhi is a solid first signature shoe that works especially well for bigger players who value stability and durability.
Nike's latest entry in the Paul George signature shoe lineup continues to deliver on performance despite the cushioning changeup.
Similar to previous models, the traction bites hard. It grips like glue on clean courts and still performs on dustier courts.
The switch to a React foam midsole is the biggest change compared to last year's model. Reviewers agree that the cushion provides responsiveness and impact protection.
The materials on the shoe are breathable and comfortable.
Support is also not an issue due to the lacing setup and outsole construction.
Most reviewers had no issues recommending the Nike PG 6 because it suits many different playstyles.
The Adidas Harden Vol. 6 is a much-needed improvement compared to Vol. 5.
Reviewers agree that the traction performs very well, and is minimally affected by dusty conditions.
Adidas's Boost foam makes a return on this year's iteration, and the shoe feels responsive. The court feel on the shoe is also fantastic.
The materials start out stiff, but they quickly become foot-conforming and comfortable.
The fit is also much more forgiving than previous Harden models. Most reviewers had no issues with the sizing.
When it comes to the support and lockdown, the materials and fit combine to keep your feet secure no matter what movements you're making.
Adidas returns to their roots with the full-length Boost, similar to the Harden Vol. 1, and they've revitalized the Harden lineup with the release of the Harden Vol. 6.
The Jordan Zoom Separate is the latest budget-friendly model in the Jordan brand lineup.
It has grippy traction that plays well on most court surfaces.
Cushioning is the aspect of the shoe that stands out the most. The air unit in the forefoot makes this shoe great for forefoot-heavy players looking for impact protection.
Materials aren't the most durable, but they get the job done.
These are supportive and stable underfoot. The wide base of the shoe and outrigger helps, and the lacing setup allows for extra customization.
As a whole, the Jordan Zoom Separate is a strong option to consider for anyone on a budget. It'll be a favourite for players that move a lot on the front of their feet since the cushioning caters to that type of playstyle.
How does the first collaboration between Puma and hip hop legend J.Cole perform on the hardwood?
The traction on this shoe was one of the highlights and it worked well indoors and outdoors. The rubber should be durable enough for outdoor use.
The cushion lacked impact protection and wasn't super comfortable, but provided a responsive setup with a nice court feel.
The materials performed well and are pretty nice considering the affordable price tag.
The fit was good and provided a locked-in feeling without being uncomfortable. They ran a little long in the toe area.
Another strong point of the shoe is the support. Reviewers had no issues with lateral containment or stability.
For $120 the RS Dreamer is a really good performer and fun to play in.
Reviewers agree that the traction on the LeBron 19 Lows still isn't the best; it's better on the lows than on the regular 19s.
The React foam used in the cushion setup works well when paired with the Air unit in the shoe.
This shoe also uses improved materials. Reviewers mentioned that the shoe feels much more comfortable around the heel and ankle area.
When it comes to the support and stability, the cushion setup used makes the shoe not have any issues.
The Nike LeBron 19 Low may just be more consistent of a performer than the LeBron 19s if you don't need the exact same cushion setup.
Picking your next pair of basketball shoes can be difficult. Finding out about the latest releases, reading reviews, checking prices, and getting the right size – it often takes me days or even weeks to settle on a new pair.
Now, maybe I am just really picky when it comes to basketball sneakers, but there is a reason why!
Good basketball shoes are important because:
They grip the floor and allow quick cuts and crossovers
They provide impact protection and reduce the stress on your knees and feet
They fit comfortably and lock down your feet tightly
They provide support and protect your ankles from rolling
In short: Good basketball shoes will help you to get the most out of your game!
How to find basketball shoes that fit your playing style
The list above is a great way to find basketball shoes that perform well overall, but not every basketball shoe will work the same for different types of players. Quick guards will need different shoes than big and heavy centers.
But how do you know what kind of shoe you need? In the following paragraphs, I want to go into more detail and tell you what to look for to find your perfect fit!
Let’s talk about the most important characteristics of basketball kicks and what you want to look for when you are in the market for a new pair:
Style of the silhouette
There are three different styles of basketball shoes out there: Low tops, mid tops, and high tops. Traditionally, basketball players used to play in high tops that completely covered the ankle of players, but nowadays, more and more players are wearing low-tops that look more like regular training shoes. Let’s take a closer look at each style and their pros and cons:
Low-cut shoes provide maximum flexibility and are often very lightweight. They are perfect for guards who want to feel light and quick on their feet and don’t want to add unnecessary bulk. Bigger and slower guys don’t profit as much from low tops and might look for the protection of higher cut shoes. Low-cuts were made most popular by the Kobe signature line:
Mid Tops are a hybrid between low- and high tops and provide a little bit of both worlds: Good flexibility and mobility, but also a decent amount of ankle protection and more stability. Perfect for forwards or wings who don’t need all the flexibility of a low top, but also don’t like the bulkiness of true high tops. An example of a mid top basketball shoes is the Kyrie 3:
This is the way basketball shoes used to look like for decades. High Tops provide a lot of ankle protection, support and are often nicely cushioned. Perfect for big guys who are looking for maximum protection when they are fighting below the rim and don’t mind losing a little bit of flexibility in exchange for more safety. A popular example is the Lebron signature line:
If you plan to do explosive crossovers and quick cuts you need a shoe that provides excellent traction. Nothing is more annoying than slipping every time you try to change directions.
The amount of traction provided by a shoe relies on two factors: the traction pattern and the rubber compound used for the outsole.
A very popular traction pattern that is often used in basketball shoes is the “herringbone” pattern. Zig-zag lines of rubber provide grip in every direction and the empty space in between the rubber makes sure that dust doesn’t stick to the surface of the sole.
Herringbone traction almost always works; unfortunately, other traction patterns are often hit or miss. Sometimes designers try to get too innovative or focus on storytelling, and you end up with a shoe that needs endless wiping or feels like playing on skates.
Herringbone Traction Pattern
The quality of the rubber compound is much harder to judge than the traction pattern. Softer rubber will often work better indoors but attract a lot of dust, hard rubber is a lot more durable but doesn’t provide the same grip on pristine hardwood courts. As a rule of thumb, if you have the option between colorways with translucent and solid outer soles, always go with the solid option. A solid rubber outer sole might not look as nice, but it often performs much better especially on dusty courts.
The cushioning of a basketball shoe becomes more important the heavier you are. If you are a 5’6″ guard who weighs 140 lbs, you won’t need a lot of cushioning, and you will probably prefer the responsiveness and court feel of a firmer setup. But bigger and heavier guys put a lot of pressure on their joints and profit immensely from a softer and more forgiving cushioning.
There are countless cushioning technologies on the market, and every company has different styles for different use cases or budgets. The most popular tech is probably Nike Zoom Air cushioning which is made of tightly stretched tensile fibers in a pressurized “Air” unit embedded in the midsole. Other cushioning setups like Adidas Bounce, Nike Lunarlon, or UnderArmour MicroG are foam-based and provide impact protection by distributing impact forces more evenly.
Nike Zoom Air
Other than traction, cushioning really comes down to personal preference. If you are a quick and light guard, you want to look for a firm cushioning setup like Nike Lunarlon or Adidas Bounce. Cushioning that is too soft will only make you lose court feel and responsiveness.
However, if you are a bigger player or you have a history of knee problems, you will fare much better with a more comfortable cushioning like full-length Zoom Air or Adidas Boost.
If you think of supportive basketball shoes, you probably imagine a bulky high top with a lot of straps and laces. Fortunately, modern basketball shoes have found other ways to provides athletes with the necessary safety and stability. Just look at the shoes which are worn in the NBA today – a lot of players wear low tops that were unimaginable only 20 years ago.
A common support feature used in almost every modern basketball shoe is the outrigger. Usually placed on the lateral side of the shoe, this extension of the outer sole makes the base of the shoe wider and provides a stable platform that protects your feet from rolling.
Other often-used support features are midfoot shanks that provide torsional support and heel counters that lock you into the shoe. But one of the most significant support factors is the fit and lockdown of a shoe. All the support features in the world will not help you if you are sliding side-to-side on every cut because your sneakers are just too wide.
If you are recovering from an ankle injury and need even more support around the ankle, you should look into getting an additional ankle brace.
The fit is one of the most important things to consider when buying new shoes. You want to be firmly locked in and not sliding left-to-right or front-to-back at all. If you can, it’s always a good idea to try on shoes in a store. If that’s not an option, I like to get shoes in two different sizes, keep the better fitting pair and use the return policy for the other one.
If shoes are a little tight in the beginning that’s okay, they usually widen and become more comfortable as you break them in. If you are unsure which size to get, or you have unusually wide or narrow feet and you are looking for a particular fit, then check out this list of shoes. You can filter shoes to only include narrow-, or wide-fitting shoes, and find out which model runs large or small by reading the more detailed review.
There is a wide variety of upper materials used in basketball shoes these days ranging from traditional nubuck leather to synthetic mesh or high-tech textile materials like Adidas PrimeKnit or Nike Flyknit.
Cheaper materials like Mesh or other synthetic uppers often start out rather stiff and need a little time to break-in. High-tech materials are often reserved for more expensive signature lines like Air Jordan’s or Kobes and are really soft and comfortable from the beginning.
Aside from aesthetics and comfort, modern materials used in basketball shoes all do a very nice job and don’t differ too much when it comes to performance. Just pick whatever material you personally prefer and can afford.
Take a quiz to find your perfect pair of basketball shoes
If you are a little overwhelmed by all the things you need to consider, then you might be interested in a simple quiz I developed. You answer a set of simple questions about which type of player you are, whether you plan to play outdoors etc. and the quiz will automatically recommend the best-rated shoe that fits all your criteria. This way you can find a good basketball shoe within minutes instead of browsing the web for hours!