10 Best Basketball Shoes

The 20 Best Basketball Shoes – Top Expert Picks

Finding your next pair of performance basketball shoes is tough!

Just in the last few years, Converse, Puma, New Balance and a bunch of Chinese brands have entered an already crowded market dominated by Nike, Adidas, and Jordan Brand.

With so many brands to choose from, how do you decide what shoes to get?

On thehoopsgeek.com we collect and summarize professional sneaker reviews from Youtube channels and blogs to create an always up-to-date list of the most popular basketball shoes.

So far, we have watched or read 635 reviews of 123 different shoes to create the most comprehensive performance basketball shoe database on the web.

We are also automatically pulling prices from the most popular online shoe stores to help you find great deals!

Below you can see a quick overview of the top 20 sneakers, scroll down further to see a more detailed review of each shoe.

Overview of the 20 best basketball shoes currently on the market:


1. Air Jordan 34

  • 9.0 rating based on 8 expert reviews
  • The lightest Air Jordan ever is a great all-around performance basketball shoe
  • A great option if you are looking for a light & stylish shoe with no real weaknesses

2. Jordan Jumpman Diamond Mid

  • 8.9 rating based on 3 expert reviews
  • Unique-looking shoe with premium materials and very good traction
  • Perfect for players who like to stand out on the court

3. Nike PG 3

  • 8.9 rating based on 6 expert reviews
  • Great all-around performer at a very fair price
  • Versatile shoe that works for all positions

4. Nike Lebron 17

  • 8.9 rating based on 4 expert reviews
  • The huge Max Air unit in the heel and 2 Zoom Air units in the forefoot provide crazy cushioning
  • Top choice if you are looking for a comfortable, supportive shoe with a ton of impact protection

5. Nike KD 12

  • 8.8 rating based on 7 expert reviews
  • Great overall-performer with awesome full-length Zoom cushioning
  • A well-balanced shoe that works for a wide array of basketball players

6. Nike Zoom Rize

  • 8.8 rating based on 3 expert reviews
  • The "takedown" version of the Nike AlphaDunk is a very versatile performer
  • Suitable for all players, especially big guys looking for support and comfort

7. Adidas Harden Vol. 4

  • 8.8 rating based on 7 expert reviews
  • Good traction, soft Lightstrike cushioning, and a fast, low-to-the-ground silhouette
  • Best for guards looking for a fast, low-to-the-ground, and supportive shoe

8. Nike Kyrie 6

  • 8.8 rating based on 5 expert reviews
  • Kyrie's 6th signature shoe is an evolution of previous models and probably the best Kyrie so far
  • Great traction and support with a low-to-the-ground, responsive cushioning

9. Nike Lebron Soldier 13

  • 8.8 rating based on 4 expert reviews
  • The Lebron Soldier 13 provides awesome traction and no real weaknesses
  • A great all-around performer that works very well for heavier players

10. Adidas Dame 5

  • 8.8 rating based on 6 expert reviews
  • Dame's best shoe so far! A great all-around performer at a very affordable price
  • The Dame 5 works best for quick guards who prefer responsive cushioning

11. Under Armour HOVR Havoc 2

  • 8.7 rating based on 3 expert reviews
  • Comfortable fit and premium upper materials
  • Best for players looking for a supportive shoe with well-balanced cushioning

12. Under Armour Curry 6

  • 8.7 rating based on 9 expert reviews
  • One of the best Curry signature shoes so far
  • Perfect for quick guards looking for a supportive, lightweight shoe with great court feel

13. New Balance OMN1S

  • 8.7 rating based on 4 expert reviews
  • New Balance's first basketball sneaker in a long time really knocked it out of the park
  • A durable performer with comfortable cushioning, good materials, and great traction on clean courts

14. Jordan Why Not Zero.2

  • 8.6 rating based on 8 expert reviews
  • Great allrounder with well-balanced cushioning and a lot of support
  • Works best for explosive players looking for a supportive shoe

15. Nike Kobe 4 Protro

  • 8.6 rating based on 6 expert reviews
  • A solid performer that started the low-top trend in basketball shoes
  • A very versatile shoe that will be most appreciated by players who had the OG Kobe 4

16. Under Armour Anatomix Spawn Low

  • 8.6 rating based on 6 expert reviews
  • Top-notch traction and well-balanced Micro-G cushioning
  • Perfect for quick point guards who want to be able to stop on a dime

17. Nike Kyrie Low 2

  • 8.6 rating based on 5 expert reviews
  • Great bang-for-your-buck model from the Kyrie signature line
  • Works best for narrow-footers looking for a good allrounder with responsive cushioning

18. Jordan Jumpman 2020

  • 8.5 rating based on 3 expert reviews
  • The Jordan Jumpman 2020 feels like a cheaper version of the excellent Air Jordan 34
  • A great overall performer that comes at a very affordable retail price

19. Nike Kobe AD NXT FastFit

  • 8.5 rating based on 4 expert reviews
  • The first Kobe model with the FastFit lacing system
  • Great shoe for quick, low-to-the-ground players who are into futuristic looks

20. Puma Uproar

  • 8.4 rating based on 3 expert reviews
  • The second Puma basketball shoe of 2019 is a solid all-around performer
  • Worn by players of all positions in the NBA

Alright, let’s take a closer look at the shoes with the best average rating and see what shoe reviewers had to say about them:

The Top 20 Basketball Shoes:

1. Air Jordan 34

9.0 Overall rating based on 8 expert reviews
Pros:
Super bouncy cushioning
Herringbone traction stops on a dime
Cons:
Expensive retail price
Traction
9.3
Cushion
9.6
Materials
8.3
Support
8.8
Fit
9.0
Outdoor
25%
What do the experts think?
With the XXXIV, Jordan Brand decided to take less inspiration from their retros and instead focus on providing a lightweight, top-notch performer. Did they succeed? The traction of the AJ34 features a herringbone traction pattern that works well in all conditions. The cushioning isn't as plush as in previous models, but it's also much less clunky and provides a fun, well-balanced ride. The materials aren't super-premium, but they are flexible, lightweight and breathable. Even though the AJ34 is much lighter than other Air Jordans, support and stability don't suffer because of the wide and stable base and the Eclipse plate in the midfoot. Overall, the Air Jordan 34 is a great performer and by far the best Air Jordan since the AJ29!
Available at 6 shops:
Colorways of the Air Jordan 34:

2. Jordan Jumpman Diamond Mid

8.9 Overall rating based on 3 expert reviews
Pros:
Insane traction
Very supportive
Cons:
Ankle area can be irritating
Traction
9.3
Cushion
8.7
Materials
9.0
Support
9.3
Fit
8.3
Outdoor
0%
What do the experts think?
Tinker Hatfield's latest creation, the Jordan Jumpman Diamond Mid comes with unique style, but how does it perform? The traction is one of the best of 2019, especially on clean courts. But even on dusty courts, this shoe only requires minimal wiping. The cushioning feels pretty standard: the Zoom unit in the forefoot provides some solid bounce and the heel compresses nicely for impact protection. Materials feel premium, and in combination with the diamond cage in the heel, provide a ton of lockdown and support. Overall, the Jordan Jumpman Diamond is a sneaker that performs above-average in every category and is priced very fairly - highly recommended!
Available at 2 shops:
Colorways of the Jordan Jumpman Diamond Mid:

3. Nike PG 3

8.9 Overall rating based on 6 expert reviews
Pros:
Great traction
Very supportive shoe
Cons:
Materials feel cheap in-hand
Long break-in period
Traction
9.1
Cushion
9.0
Materials
8.2
Support
8.7
Fit
8.9
Outdoor
25%
What do the experts think?
Sneaker reviewers like almost everything about the PG3 - except its looks. The "moon crater" traction pattern works very well on all surfaces but might take a little while to break in. The Zoom Air cushioning in the forefoot is responsive and bouncy and the foam in the heel provides decent impact protection. Materials feel a little cheap in-hand, but are comfortable on-foot and absolutely get the job done. Overall, the PG3 is a great performer that will work for a wide array of players and comes at a very fair price of only $110.
Available at 5 shops:
Colorways of the Nike PG 3:

4. Nike Lebron 17

8.9 Overall rating based on 4 expert reviews
Pros:
Insanely comfortable cushioning
Premium upper materials
Cons:
Steep $200 retail price
Heavy
Traction
8.3
Cushion
9.5
Materials
9.4
Support
8.8
Fit
8.6
Outdoor
25%
What do the experts think?
The Lebron 17 is one of the most expensive basketball shoes on the market, does it justify it's $200 retail price? Reviewers' opinions on the traction were split: the Solebrother called it "god-levels" especially on a translucent rubber pair while Nightwing2303 didn't like the white solid rubber, even on clean courts. The cushioning, however, was loved by everyone. A huge Max Air unit in the heel is combined with Zoom in the forefoot and they provide a ton of impact protection and bounce. The new Knitposite upper material is thick, soft and comfortable - but it gets pretty hot after a while. Overall, the Lebron 17 is a great performer, especially you are a heavier player looking for a comfortable and supportive shoe.
Available at 5 shops:
Colorways of the Nike Lebron 17:

5. Nike KD 12

8.8 Overall rating based on 7 expert reviews
Pros:
Full-length Zoom cushioning
Much more stable than previous KD models
Cons:
Materials could feel more premium
Traction
9.0
Cushion
9.9
Materials
8.1
Support
8.4
Fit
8.4
Outdoor
20%
What do the experts think?
The KD12 is a huge step up from the disappointing predecessors. The full-length Zoom sits directly beneath the feet and provides a ton of response and bounce. The cushioning is a bit divisive, some reviewers are raving about it, others found it to be a bit too inconsistent on dusty courts. The look and feel of the materials aren't very premium, but the performance of the flywire upper is top-notch. The fit should work for most basketball players as it isn't as long and narrow as we are used too from the KD line. Overall, the KD12 is a great performer with outstanding cushioning and no real weaknesses!
Available at 5 shops:
Colorways of the Nike KD 12:

6. Nike Zoom Rize

8.8 Overall rating based on 3 expert reviews
Pros:
Super bouncy Zoom cushioning
Very well-fitting shoe
Cons:
Slight lateral support issues in the forefoot
Traction
8.8
Cushion
9.2
Materials
8.7
Support
8.3
Fit
9.0
Outdoor
50%
What do the experts think?
The Nike Zoom Rize is a new medium-priced Team model and a takedown version of the more expensive Nike AlphaDunk. The traction works very well on clean courts, but on dusty courts, you will need to wipe from time to time. The huge 10mm Nike Zoom unit in the forefoot is super bouncy and comfortable but doesn't give you a ton of court feel. The materials start off a little stiff, but they provide a lot of lockdown and loosen up quicky. The support is great in the heel and midfoot but multiple reviewers mentioned slight issues on quick lateral cuts. Overall, the Nike Zoom Rize is a very versatile basketball shoe that performs well in all categories.
Available at 4 shops:
Colorways of the Nike Zoom Rize:

7. Adidas Harden Vol. 4

8.8 Overall rating based on 7 expert reviews
Pros:
One of the lighter Adidas shoes
Great all-around performance
Cons:
No longer uses Boost cushioning
Traction
8.8
Cushion
8.6
Materials
8.9
Support
8.8
Fit
8.9
Outdoor
63%
What do the experts think?
The Vol. 4 is the first shoe in the James Harden signature line that comes without Boost cushioning. But that's not necessarily a bad thing as the Lightstrike cushioning provides a much lighter shoe that still feels very comfortable to play in. The traction works great on clean courts and requires only minimal wiping on dusty courts. Materials differ between colorways, you can choose between Primeknit or Mesh uppers - they all get the job done! If you are looking for a supportive, fast, and low-profile basketball shoe then the Harden Vol. 4 is a great choice!
Available at 5 shops:
Colorways of the Adidas Harden Vol. 4:

8. Nike Kyrie 6

8.8 Overall rating based on 5 expert reviews
Pros:
Amazing traction
Nike Zoom Turbo cushioning
Cons:
Runs smaller than other Kyries
Traction
9.0
Cushion
8.8
Materials
8.6
Support
9.0
Fit
8.6
Outdoor
13%
What do the experts think?
The traction of the Kyrie signature series is always great, and the Kyrie 6 is no different as you get amazing stopping power in every direction. The Phylon cushioning in the heel of the Kyrie 6 feels a lot softer than in previous models and the Zoom Turbo in the forefoot has a nice bounce to it. The materials are soft, comfortable, and provide a lot of support and lockdown for quick moves and crossovers. Overall, the Kyrie 6 feels like an evolution of the Kyrie 5 with a lot of small improvements that make up a great shoe - probably the best Kyrie so far!
Available at 6 shops:
Colorways of the Nike Kyrie 6:

9. Nike Lebron Soldier 13

8.8 Overall rating based on 4 expert reviews
Pros:
Awesome traction
Very supportive
Cons:
Cushioning could be more comfortable
Traction
9.4
Cushion
8.3
Materials
8.8
Support
9.0
Fit
8.7
Outdoor
83%
What do the experts think?
The laceless Lebron signature model is very well-received among sneaker testers. The upper material is comfortable, durable and provides a ton of lockdown, in part because the straps do a great job and never come undone. The simple solid-rubber herringbone traction pattern is deep, attracts very little dust and works well - even outdoors. The cushioning is a little bit divisive, some like the forefoot and heel Zoom units, others would have preferred a more comfortable setup. Overall, the Lebron Solider 13 is a great allrounder with outstanding traction and no real weaknesses.
Available at 5 shops:
Colorways of the Nike Lebron Soldier 13:

10. Adidas Dame 5

8.8 Overall rating based on 6 expert reviews
Pros:
Responsive Bounce cushioning
Very comfortable
Cons:
Slippery on dusty courts
A little dead space in the toe box
Traction
8.7
Cushion
8.8
Materials
8.2
Support
9.0
Fit
9.1
Outdoor
88%
What do the experts think?
The Dame 5 is Damian Lillard's latest signature shoe, and it's also his best! The traction works amazingly well on clean courts, but the translucent rubber versions are a little too slippery on dusty courts. The full-length Bounce cushioning provides a great balance of responsiveness and impact protection. The materials are super comfortable and very supportive, but the felt that is used on some colorways receives very little love from sneaker critics as it feels cheap and gets dirty easily. Overall, this is a great performer, especially at a very affordable retail price of only $115.
Available at 4 shops:
Colorways of the Adidas Dame 5:

11. Under Armour HOVR Havoc 2

8.7 Overall rating based on 3 expert reviews
Pros:
Premium materials
Comfortable fit
Cons:
Inconsistent traction
Traction
8.0
Cushion
8.7
Materials
9.0
Support
9.0
Fit
9.0
Outdoor
100%
What do the experts think?
The first Under Armour HOVR Havoc was a hit with reviewers, so how does the second version perform? Unfortunately, the traction has taken a step back and is inconsistent, even on clean courts. The HOVR cushioning is a nice mix of responsiveness and impact protection, not too firm but not too soft either. Materials feel surprisingly premium in-hand, comfortable on-foot and do a great job locking your feet down. The mid-foot shank, outrigger, and heel counter provide a lot of support and stability. Overall, the HOVR Havoc is a good performer that could have been great with more consistent traction.
Available at 4 shops:
Colorways of the Under Armour HOVR Havoc 2:

12. Under Armour Curry 6

8.7 Overall rating based on 9 expert reviews
Pros:
Extremely stable shoe
Very lightweight
Cons:
Durability issues of the outsole
Lace pressure
Traction
8.7
Cushion
8.7
Materials
8.8
Support
8.7
Fit
8.5
Outdoor
20%
What do the experts think?
The Curry 6 is much better received by sneaker reviewers than its predecessor. The traction performs very well but showed some durability issues early on. The full-length HOVR cushioning is on the firmer side and offers a nice balance of impact protection and court feel. The knitted materials look great and need very little break-in time. Stability and support are excellent like always in Curry models. Overall, reviewers are having a lot of fun with this shoe and rank it as one of the best Curry signature shoes so far!
Available at 1 shop:
Colorways of the Under Armour Curry 6:

13. New Balance OMN1S

8.7 Overall rating based on 4 expert reviews
Pros:
Comfortable Fuel Cell cushioning
High-quality and durable materials
Cons:
Rubber picks up dust quickly
Traction
9.0
Cushion
9.0
Materials
9.0
Support
7.8
Fit
8.5
Outdoor
100%
What do the experts think?
The first New Balance basketball sneaker in a long time gets a lot of love from sneaker critics: The herringbone traction pattern has you stopping on a dime on clean courts, but the translucent rubber picks up a lot of dust if you play on dirty courts. The Fuel-Cell foam cushioning is the highlight of the shoe and provides you a very well-balanced and comfortable ride. The upper materials are of high quality and should last for a long time, even if you play outdoors. Overall, the New Balance OMN1S comes highly recommended for players of all positions that look for a well-balanced performer.
Available at 4 shops:
Colorways of the New Balance OMN1S:

14. Jordan Why Not Zero.2

8.6 Overall rating based on 8 expert reviews
Pros:
Very supportive shoe
Great all-around shoe
Cons:
No outstanding features
Pretty bulky materials
Traction
8.8
Cushion
9.0
Materials
8.3
Support
8.4
Fit
8.3
Outdoor
30%
What do the experts think?
The design of the Why Not Zero.2 is almost as extravagant as Russell Westbrook's clothing style, but how does it perform? Most reviewers gave the traction good grades, but the majority of them liked the traction of the predecessor even better. The cushioning is no longer full-length Zoom, but that is not a big loss as the forefoot Zoom Air performs very well and the Phylon heel is super comfortable. Support and lockdown are strong features of this shoe -perfect for explosive players like Russell Westbrook! Overall, the Why Not Zero.2 is a great allrounder with flashy design and no glaring weaknesses.
Available at 1 shop:
Colorways of the Jordan Why Not Zero.2:

15. Nike Kobe 4 Protro

8.6 Overall rating based on 6 expert reviews
Pros:
Great herringbone traction
Cons:
No full-length Zoom
Traction
9.0
Cushion
8.0
Materials
8.2
Support
9.0
Fit
8.5
Outdoor
25%
What do the experts think?
The Kobe 4 started the low-top trend in basketball shoes and is the second shoe of the Kobe Bryant signature line that got the Protro treatment. Even though Nike promised full-length Zoom in this updated version, they disappointed by keeping it OG with Zoom in the heel and simple Phylon in the front. The old-school herringbone traction pattern still works like a charm and needs very little wiping - even on dusty courts. The synthetic leather and plastic overlays with Flywire cables perform well but feel a little cheap compared to modern knits materials. Overall, the Kobe 4 Protro is a very solid performer, but there are very few improvements compared to the original Kobe 4 and the retail price of $175 is very steep.
Available at 1 shop:
Colorways of the Nike Kobe 4 Protro:

16. Under Armour Anatomix Spawn Low

8.6 Overall rating based on 6 expert reviews
Pros:
Phenomenal traction
Well-balanced Micro G cushioning
Cons:
Unnecessary dead space in the toe box
Traction
9.7
Cushion
8.8
Materials
8.3
Support
8.7
Fit
7.7
Outdoor
0%
What do the experts think?
The outstanding feature of the Anatomix Spawn Low is the soft and pliable traction pattern that bites the floor like crazy - even on dusty courts. Another strong feature is the Micro-G cushioning that gives players a nice balance of impact protection and responsiveness. Less praise is given to the materials which don't feel great in-hand but still get the job done and the fit which gave some reviewers problems in the forefoot. Overall, the Under Armour Anatomix Spawn performs well in all categories and stands out with one of the best tractions in recent memory.
Available at 2 shops:
Colorways of the Under Armour Anatomix Spawn Low:

17. Nike Kyrie Low 2

8.6 Overall rating based on 5 expert reviews
Pros:
Very good traction
Great materials
Cons:
Stiff cushioning
Traction
9.2
Cushion
7.6
Materials
8.8
Support
8.8
Fit
8.6
Outdoor
30%
What do the experts think?
The Kyrie Low 2 offers amazing traction like we are used to from the Kyrie signature line. Cushioning also follows the trend of this signature line and is very stiff and responsive. If you need a lot of impact protection - keep looking. The materials are surprisingly premium for a retail price of only $110 and feel soft, flexible, and supportive. For a low-top, the Kyrie Low 2 offers a lot of support and stability which stems partially from the great fit. Overall, the Kyrie Low 2 is a great performer without any real weaknesses!
Available at 4 shops:
Colorways of the Nike Kyrie Low 2:

18. Jordan Jumpman 2020

8.5 Overall rating based on 3 expert reviews
Pros:
Very comfortable cushioning
Affordable retail price
Cons:
Slippery on dusty courts
Traction
8.3
Cushion
9.3
Materials
8.3
Support
8.3
Fit
8.3
Outdoor
25%
What do the experts think?
The Jordan Jumpman 2020 looks like a budget version of the Air Jordan 34, but is the performance comparable? The traction is really squeaky and performs great on clean courts, but tends to attract a lot of dust on dirty courts. The Phylon cushioning in the heel is soft and comfortable while the forefoot Zoom gives you nice bounce and responsiveness. Materials are what you would expect from a budget model - they don't feel premium in-hand, but they absolutely get the job done! Overall, the Jordan Jumpman 2020 is a performer without real weaknesses and a great deal at a retail price of only $110.
Available at 5 shops:
Colorways of the Jordan Jumpman 2020:

19. Nike Kobe AD NXT FastFit

8.5 Overall rating based on 4 expert reviews
Pros:
Amazing Traction
Easy FastFit lacing system
Cons:
Expensive retail price
Traction
9.4
Cushion
8.3
Materials
7.8
Support
8.0
Fit
8.8
Outdoor
33%
What do the experts think?
The Kobe AD NXT Fast Fit is one of the most futuristic-looking basketball shoes in a while, but how does it perform? The best feature of this shoe is the amazing nub traction pattern that really bites the floor and allows you to stop on a dime. The React drop-in midsole provides balanced cushioning but works best for players who are low-to-the-ground and prefer court feel over impact protection. The upper materials are super thin and comfortable but could feel a little more premium and provide more support. Overall, the Kobe AD NXT FF is a great performer, especially if you can get it at a discount from the whopping $200 retail price.
Available at 1 shop:
Colorways of the Nike Kobe AD NXT FastFit:

20. Puma Uproar

8.4 Overall rating based on 3 expert reviews
Pros:
Comfortable fit
Works outdoors
Cons:
Firm cushioning
Materials feel cheap in-hand
Traction
8.7
Cushion
7.0
Materials
8.3
Support
9.0
Fit
9.0
Outdoor
67%
What do the experts think?
The Uproar improves on the Puma's Clyde Court Disrupt solid comeback to basketball shoes. The traction isn't perfect but works on all surfaces - even outdoors. The fit is very comfortable and supportive, there is absolutely no side-to-side movement or heel slip! Materials differ from colorway to colorway and could be a little more premium considering the $130 retail price. The Puma Uproar's cushioning is firm and not very comfortable but provides a ton of court feel. Overall, this is a shoe that stands out from the crowd, provides solid all-around performance and can be worn by players of all positions.
Available at 3 shops:
Colorways of the Puma Uproar:

Picking your next pair of basketball shoes

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 Tops:

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:

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:

High Tops:

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:

Traction

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.

Traction pattern:

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

Herringbone Traction Pattern

Rubber Compound

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 if often performs much better especially on dusty courts.

Cushion

The cushioning of a basketball shoe becomes more the 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

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 fair much better with a more comfortable cushioning like full-length Zoom Air or Adidas Boost.

Support

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.

Lateral Outrigger

Lateral Outrigger

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.

Fit

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.

Material

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!

16 thoughts on “The 20 Best Basketball Shoes – Top Expert Picks”

  1. Thank you for this. It is nice to see a good comparrison that isn’t just “Nike” driven. I like good traction and this helps me ID which shoes provide that traction and support for ankle injury prevention.

  2. This is a amazing website. Thank you for taking your time to make this because this really helps me what my new pairs of shoes would be. I have a pair Kyrie 5’s right now and i hate the traction on them. i will for sure consider what my next pair of shoes will be it will most likely be the one with the most traction. Yes, i’m a traction freak.

  3. Javier Barron

    Hey Andy, I really want to say thank you for making this page. I am using it for a school project if that is okay with you

    1. You’re welcome! Of course, you can use it for your school project. I am intrigued: what is the project about?

  4. Hi Sir Andy! I’m a forward player who plays wingman and stretch 4 position. I like a shoe which is light for me because i always want to feel light whenever im playing but also i want a shoe with a great cushioning which will secure my landing. What can you recommend to me? Thanks a lot in advance.

  5. I’m torn. I’ve been through a lot of different sneaker types in 2 decades of playing ball. I’ve had ankle issues for years now due to playing in Nike Shox b-ball sneakers way back when. I switched to low top Kobes for a long time but after another ankle issue started going back to higher tops like the Kobe Elites and now the Hyperdunk 2017’s. Ankle and heel still and issue so was thinking about the Adapt BB but wasn’t sure if it was worth the $. Need to feel locked in and free to cut, jump, and hustle like I want to.

  6. First, I appreciate this site – the right shoes are critical to how you play, especially how long/often you can go. But I do think a couple of additions to the ratings would go a long way.

    I think weight is a key characteristic that is missing here. I expect there is a tradeoff between weight, materials & support. I tried and loved everything about the Harden V3, but it measured and PLAYED heavier than any shoe I’ve played in since the 90’s. I’d rather have super light shoes made with materials that some would consider cheap. The 2012 Hyperdisruptor is still the lightest and my favorite of all time – 35% lighter than Harden V3.

    I have similar take on cushion. This is inversely proportional to how high off the court the bottom of your foot is, which in turn is directly relatable to ankle stability. I love bouncy shoes, like 2019 Hyperdunk played awesome except in extreme lateral moves, the sole was too thick.

    You could increase usefulness of ratings dramatically if you added weight and total sole thickness under ball & heel of foot. Thickness may be complicated – would need fixture to measure this under some reference player weight.

    1. I agree that weight would be a useful addition but shoe brands don’t publish this information and I can’t weigh every shoe myself. On top of that weight differs from size to size, so it’s even harder to find comparable information. But on top of that, I don’t think shoe weight makes as much of a difference as many believe, a few grams more or less should be barely recognizable considering how much your legs weigh without shoes…

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *