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 752 reviews of 165 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 shops to compare prices and 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:

  • 9.2 rating based on 3 expert reviews
  • The Puma Clyde All-Pro is another outstanding release from Puma.
  • Great for any position or player who likes responsive cushion and a minimal feel.

  • 9.1 rating based on 4 expert reviews
  • An update to the Jordan 34 that performs just as well if not better.
  • The perfect shoe for players of every position who want a premium experience.

  • 9.0 rating based on 3 expert reviews
  • The Kyrie 7 is an upgrade over the 6 with aesthetics to match.
  • Great for quick players like guards who are shifty and make a lot of cuts.

  • 9.0 rating based on 3 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.

  • 8.9 rating based on 3 expert reviews
  • The Nike Cosmic Unity is made from 25% recycled trash but doesn't perform like trash at all.
  • Best for players who need a good mix of impact protection and court feel.

  • 8.9 rating based on 4 expert reviews
  • Steph Curry's first shoe under his new brand is a standout.
  • Great all around hoop shoe for guards and wings.

  • 8.8 rating based on 6 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

  • 8.7 rating based on 3 expert reviews
  • The KD14 is a great overall performer with no obvious weaknesses.
  • A versatile shoe that works for all type of players.

  • 8.7 rating based on 5 expert reviews
  • The KD 13 is a great all-around performer with one of the best cushioning setups available.
  • A great pick if you are looking for a comfortable shoe that will also work outdoors.

  • 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

  • 8.6 rating based on 3 expert reviews
  • Kawhi's first official signature shoe is a solid performer.
  • Best for bigger players who need a very supportive and rigid shoe.

  • 8.4 rating based on 4 expert reviews
  • Super comfortable shoe with soft React cushioning and great traction
  • Works best for big guys looking for a lot of impact protection

  • 8.4 rating based on 5 expert reviews
  • Russell Westbrook's third signature shoe is still very flashy but feels a lot less bulky than the predecessors
  • Works great for explosive players who like to stand out on the court

  • 8.4 rating based on 3 expert reviews
  • J. Cole's first signature sneaker is a solid performer and fun to play in.
  • Great for guards or big guys that need a supportive shoe.

  • 8.4 rating based on 4 expert reviews
  • LeBron's 18th signature shoe has one of the best cushion setups available.
  • Great for big guys who like soft and comfortable cushioning.

  • 8.3 rating based on 4 expert reviews
  • A solid budget shoe and an improvement over the D.O.N. Issue #1
  • Players looking for a very supportive shoe with good impact protection

  • 8.3 rating based on 6 expert reviews
  • Paul George's 4th signature sneaker is one of the most affordable signature sneakers
  • Super comfortable and well-cushioned basketball shoes

  • 8.3 rating based on 5 expert reviews
  • A minimal and very responsive low-top sneaker with great traction
  • Works best for quick guards who value court feel over impact protection

  • 8.2 rating based on 4 expert reviews
  • An affordable signature sneaker and all-around performer.
  • A great choice for guards who prefer court feel over impact protection.

  • 8.2 rating based on 4 expert reviews
  • Joel Embiid's first signature shoe is a solid all around performer.
  • Great for any position or player looking for a responsive shoe.

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. Puma Clyde All-Pro

Performance Rating:
9.2
The Puma Clyde All-Pro is another outstanding release from Puma.
Overall rating based on 3 reviews
Pros:
Top tier traction
Great materials
Cons:
Could have more impact protection
What do the experts think?
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!

2. Air Jordan 35

Performance Rating:
9.1
An update to the Jordan 34 that performs just as well if not better.
Overall rating based on 4 reviews
Pros:
Awesome cushion setup
Very supportive
Cons:
Rubbing around heel/arch
What do the experts think?
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!

3. Nike Kyrie 7

Performance Rating:
9.0
The Kyrie 7 is an upgrade over the 6 with aesthetics to match.
Overall rating based on 3 reviews
Pros:
Very supportive
Lightweight
Cons:
Inconsistent traction
What do the experts think?
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.

4. Nike PG 5

Performance Rating:
9.0
The PG 5 is a great all-around performer and a nice upgrade over the PG 4.
Overall rating based on 3 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.

5. Nike Cosmic Unity

Performance Rating:
8.9
The Nike Cosmic Unity is made from 25% recycled trash but doesn't perform like trash at all.
Overall rating based on 3 reviews
Pros:
Balanced cushion
Great support
Cons:
Inconsistent traction on dust
What do the experts think?
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.

6. Under Armour Curry 8

Performance Rating:
8.9
Steph Curry's first shoe under his new brand is a standout.
Overall rating based on 4 reviews
Pros:
Stop on a dime traction
Great cushioning
Cons:
Weird sizing
What do the experts think?
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!

7. Nike Kyrie 6

Performance Rating:
8.8
Kyrie's 6th signature shoe is an evolution of previous models and probably the best Kyrie so far
Overall rating based on 6 reviews
Pros:
Amazing traction
Nike Zoom Turbo cushioning
Cons:
Runs smaller than other Kyries
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!

8. Nike KD 14

Performance Rating:
8.7
The KD14 is a great overall performer with no obvious weaknesses.
Overall rating based on 3 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.

9. Nike KD 13

Performance Rating:
8.7
The KD 13 is a great all-around performer with one of the best cushioning setups available.
Overall rating based on 5 reviews
Pros:
Comfortable full-length cushioning
Great traction indoors and outdoors
Cons:
Materials could be more premium
What do the experts think?
The nicest part of the KD 13 is the full-length Zoom Strobel which provides one of the best cushioning setups in basketball. The traction pattern does a good job in all directions and is tough and thick enough to last outdoors. The materials are thin, lightweight, and perform well but the quality doesn't feel premium in-hand. Support comes from the wide base and good fit however the minimal upper doesn't provide as much lockdown as previous KD models. As for most KD models, the fit of the KD13 is very comfortable if you have regular or narrow feet, wide-footers should go up half a size or look elsewhere. Overall, the KD 13 is a great basketball shoe with outstanding cushioning.

10. New Balance OMN1S

Performance Rating:
8.7
New Balance's first basketball sneaker in a long time really knocked it out of the park
Overall rating based on 4 reviews
Pros:
Comfortable Fuel Cell cushioning
High-quality and durable materials
Cons:
Rubber picks up dust quickly
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.

11. New Balance Kawhi 1

Performance Rating:
8.6
Kawhi's first official signature shoe is a solid performer.
Overall rating based on 3 reviews
Pros:
Very supportive
Durable outsole
Cons:
Heavy
Could have more premium materials
What do the experts think?
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.

12. Nike Air Zoom BB NXT

Performance Rating:
8.4
Super comfortable shoe with soft React cushioning and great traction
Overall rating based on 4 reviews
Pros:
Great traction even on dusty courts
Crazy-comfortable cushioning
Cons:
Lacks stability on lateral cuts
Expensive retail price
What do the experts think?
With the Air Zoom BB NXT, Nike included a lot of new technology focused on providing the most responsive basketball shoe ever. The traction is insane and the multi-directional pattern works well on clean and dusty courts. The cushioning setup is the highlight of the shoe with full-length double-stacked React and Zoom Air in the forefoot creating a super comfortable ride. The materials give good support and breathability but could be a little more premium considering the price point. The lockdown is nice, but the support suffers at times because of the high ride and plush cushioning setup. Overall, the Nike Air Zoom BB NXT provides great cushioning and traction with next-gen technology.

13. Jordan Why Not Zero.3

Performance Rating:
8.4
Russell Westbrook's third signature shoe is still very flashy but feels a lot less bulky than the predecessors
Overall rating based on 5 reviews
Pros:
Big Zoom Air unit in the forefoot
Less bulky than previous models
Cons:
Lateral sliding on dusty courts
Materials don't feel very premium in-hand
What do the experts think?
Russell Westbrook's third signature sneaker is still as flashy as his playing style, but how does it perform? The traction gets mixed reviews: critics liked it on clean courts, but lateral cuts can be problematic on dusty courts. The forefoot Zoom Air unit gives you a smooth and responsive ride and the foam in the heel provides solid impact protection. Materials don't feel or look anything close to premium but they get the job done performance-wise and are less bulky than in the previous models. The support & lockdown are really good thanks to the traditional lacing system, midfoot strap, and huge Achilles pillows. Overall, the Why Not Zer0.3 is an evolution of Russell's signature series and will work especially well for explosive players looking for a nicely-balanced sneaker.

14. Puma RS Dreamer

Performance Rating:
8.4
J. Cole's first signature sneaker is a solid performer and fun to play in.
Overall rating based on 3 reviews
Pros:
Great traction indoors and outdoors
Very supportive
Cons:
Minimal impact protection
Pretty heavy
What do the experts think?
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.

15. Nike Lebron 18

Performance Rating:
8.4
LeBron's 18th signature shoe has one of the best cushion setups available.
Overall rating based on 4 reviews
Pros:
Outstanding cushion
Premium materials
Cons:
Poor lateral stability and containment
Uncomfortable tongue
What do the experts think?
The traction of the Lebron 18 is good on clean courts, but inconsistent on dusty courts. The rubber of the outsole is durable enough for outdoor use. The cushion is one of the best setups you can buy today! The combination of full-length Zoom Air, Cushlon, and Max Air offers top of the line comfort with solid responsiveness. The $200 retail price is justified by materials that feel premium and durable, but some reviewers had issues with the tongue rubbing at the top of the foot. The Lebron 18 fits true to size, but the Batleknit materials take a little to break-in. The support is the low point of the shoe as reviewers had issues with lateral stability and containment due to the soft and high-off-the ground outsole. Overall the LeBron 18 is a comfortable shoe that is more suitable for big guys who can take advantage of the cushioning and don't make a lot of hard cuts.

16. Adidas D.O.N Issue #2

Performance Rating:
8.3
A solid budget shoe and an improvement over the D.O.N. Issue #1
Overall rating based on 4 reviews
Pros:
Very supportive
Solid cushioning
Cons:
Inconsistent traction
Bulky and heavy
What do the experts think?
Reviewers found that the traction is somewhat inconsistent and doesn't bite well on all surfaces. The outsole isn't very durable either. The cushion setup is bouncy and responsive with good impact protection. The court feel isn't great though. The materials are durable and thick, but kind of bulky. Overall, they are comfortable with good padding but don't conform to your feet very well. The support is great and the highlight of the shoe. You will feel very locked in with these! Overall the Don Issue #2 is a solid budget performer with great support and good traction.

17. Nike PG 4

Performance Rating:
8.3
Paul George's 4th signature sneaker is one of the most affordable signature sneakers
Overall rating based on 6 reviews
Pros:
Super comfortable cushioning
Affordable signature sneaker
Cons:
Lateral support could be better
Sizing is tricky
What do the experts think?
The 4th edition of Paul George's signature sneaker changes things up a little. A Nike Air strobel board that sits directly under your feet replaces the Nike Zoom Air cushioning. This setup gives you a softer and super comfortable, cloud-like feeling. The circular traction pattern works well in all directions and keeps performing solidly even on dusty courts. The biggest weaknesses of the PG4 are the support and lockdown: most critics reported sliding out off the footbed on sharp lateral cuts and some experienced mild heel slippage. Overall, the PG4 is a solid performer that works best for lighter players who don't rely on explosive lateral cuts.

18. Under Armour Curry 7

Performance Rating:
8.3
A minimal and very responsive low-top sneaker with great traction
Overall rating based on 5 reviews
Pros:
Traction is great and doesn't pick up dust
Very supportive low-top
Cons:
Materials are a little underwhelming
What do the experts think?
Like with most Under Armour sneakers, the traction of the Curry 7 is outstanding and works on all courts. The combination of Micro-G and HOVR cushioning is slightly disappointing as it is very firm and provides little impact protection - only recommended if you are looking for court feel and responsiveness. The support features are pretty standard but their performance is top-notch, especially for a low-top sneaker. Unfortunately, the materials used in the Curry 7 feel cheap and plasticky and not worthy for an expensive signature model, but they do get the job done. Overall, the Curry 7 is a solid performer that works best for players looking for a responsive low-top with great traction.

19. Nike Zoom Freak 2

Performance Rating:
8.2
An affordable signature sneaker and all-around performer.
Overall rating based on 4 reviews
Pros:
Overall improvement from the previous model
Great fit and support
Cons:
Minimal impact protection
Poor ventilation
What do the experts think?
The traction of the Zoom Freak 2 is improved and works great on clean courts. Some wiping will be necessary if you play on dusty courts and the outsole is also durable enough to play outdoors. The cushioning is minimal with full length foam and Zoom Air in the forefoot, but provides great court feel for players. The upper materials are nothing to write home about, but they provide a comfortable fit and the TPU on the outer front of the shoe helps with support as well. Overall, the Zoom Freak 2 is a clear improvement over the Zoom Freak 1 and is an affordable shoe with no glaring weaknesses.

20. Under Armour Embiid 1

Performance Rating:
8.2
Joel Embiid's first signature shoe is a solid all around performer.
Overall rating based on 4 reviews
Pros:
Great ventilation
Balanced cushion setup
Cons:
Slightly heavy shoe
Materials could be more premium
What do the experts think?
Usually, signature sneakers are reserved for flashy guards or forwards. Very rarely does a huge 7-foot center like Joel Embiid get his own shoe. Did Under Armour make the right decision? The traction on the Embiid 1 performs well on clean courts, but some reviewers had issues on dusty courts. The outsole isn't too durable for outdoor use. The cushion setup is responsive and comfortable. It also offers good court feel for players who are quick on their feet. The materials aren't the nicest, but they perform very well on court and are very breathable. As you would expect from a shoe for a 280 lbs center, the support is great and none of the reviewers had any issues there. Overall, Joel Embiid's first signature shoe is solid all around and doesn't have any big weaknesses.

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 it often performs much better especially on dusty courts.

Cushion

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

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.

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…

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