Best Traction Basketball Shoes

The Top 10 Basketball Shoes with the Best Traction

Finding the basketball shoe with the best traction is not an easy task. There are so many different models to pick from and shoes often perform differently depending on the quality of the court, your playing style and even the rubber compound used on a specific colorway.

Fortunately, the web is full of shoe reviewers that can provide you with different opinions and give you a good overall idea of the performance of a basketball sneaker. To save you the time reading and watching all of these reviews I am continuously checking out all significant shoe releases and read or watch all shoe reviews I can find.

So far I have collected ratings of 138 different basketball shoes and consumed exactly 680 reviews in doing so! New reviews are added all the time to create a basketball shoe database that is complete and always up to date.

The following overview shows the ten basketball shoes with the best traction ranked by the average grade they received for it. Scroll down further to read a more detailed summary of each shoe.


1. Nike Air Zoom BB NXT

  • 9.6 traction 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

2. Nike Kyrie Flytrap 2

  • 9.5 traction rating based on 2 expert reviews
  • An insanely affordable basketball shoe with awesome traction
  • Perfect for light and quick players who don't need a lot of impact protection

3. Under Armour Curry 3Zero 3

  • 9.5 traction rating based on 2 expert reviews
  • Outstanding traction, comfortable fit and very supportive upper
  • Great budget option for players who prefer lightweight and minimal shoes

4. Nike KD Trey 5 VII

  • 9.5 traction rating based on 2 expert reviews
  • Kevin Durant's latest budget model has top-tier traction and comfortable cushioning
  • Great shoe if you like soft cushioning and don't need a lot of support

5. Under Armour Curry 7

  • 9.4 traction 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

6. Nike Kobe AD NXT FastFit

  • 9.4 traction 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

7. Nike Lebron Soldier 13

  • 9.4 traction 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

8. Adidas T-Mac Millenium

  • 9.3 traction rating based on 3 expert reviews
  • A very durable shoe with great traction and comfortable Boost cushioning
  • Perfect for T-Mac fans looking for a good all-around performer

9. Puma Clyde Hardwood

  • 9.3 traction rating based on 2 expert reviews
  • A nice blend of old-school leather and new-school performance textiles and synthetics
  • Great shoe if you are looking for beastly traction and minimal, responsive cushioning

10. Air Jordan 34

  • 9.3 traction 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

Best Traction Basketball Shoes:
The Top 10

1. Nike Air Zoom BB NXT

8.4 Overall rating based on 4 expert reviews
Pros:
Great traction even on dusty courts
Crazy-comfortable cushioning
Cons:
Lacks stability on lateral cuts
Expensive retail price
Traction
9.6
Cushion
9.3
Materials
8.3
Support
6.8
Fit
8.8
Outdoor
50%
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.
Available at 6 shops:
Colorways of the Nike Air Zoom BB NXT:

2. Nike Kyrie Flytrap 2

7.8 Overall rating based on 2 expert reviews
Pros:
Very affordable
Awesome traction
Cons:
Cushioning is super hard
Traction
9.5
Cushion
4.5
Materials
9.0
Support
8.5
Fit
7.0
Outdoor
100%
What do the experts think?
At only $80, the Kyrie Flytrap 2 is one of the most affordable basketball shoes on the market, but how does it perform? The traction is top-notch and works on all surfaces - even outdoors. The materials are surprisingly good considering the price point and the support is solid for a low-top. The biggest disappointment is the cushioning system which is hard as a rock and only recommended for light and young players without any foot or knee problems. Overall, this is a great shoe if you are looking for an affordable performer with a lot of court feel that you can also use outdoors.
Available at 2 shops:
Colorways of the Nike Kyrie Flytrap 2:

3. Under Armour Curry 3Zero 3

8.9 Overall rating based on 2 expert reviews
Pros:
Really good traction
Super lightweight
Cons:
Very firm cushioning
Traction
9.5
Cushion
7.5
Materials
9.0
Support
9.0
Fit
9.5
Outdoor
100%
What do the experts think?
At only $90 retail price, the Curry 3 Zero 3 is a surprisingly good performer! The traction is absolutely top-notch on clean courts and doesn't require any wiping on dusty courts either. The synthetic leather breaks in very nicely and provides a comfortable and supportive 1:1 fit. The only downside of this shoe is the very firm Micro-G cushioning. This setup works well for lighter players who prefer responsiveness and court feel over impact protection, but heavier players looking for impact protection should probably look elsewhere.
Available at 3 shops:
Colorways of the Under Armour Curry 3Zero 3:

4. Nike KD Trey 5 VII

7.4 Overall rating based on 2 expert reviews
Pros:
Top-tier traction
Soft & comfortable cushioning
Cons:
Very cheap materials
Not very stable or supportive
Traction
9.5
Cushion
9.0
Materials
5.5
Support
6.5
Fit
6.5
Outdoor
75%
What do the experts think?
Kevin Durant's latest signature model has top-tier traction with a lot of stopping power and very little dust collection. The cushioning is soft and comfortable, maybe even too soft for quick and shifty guards. The KD Trey 5 VII is a budget model, and it really shows in the upper materials which look and feel super cheap in-hand but perform decently. A major downside of this shoe is the lacking support and stability that comes from an imperfect fit, narrow base and upper materials that don't provide a ton of containment. Overall, the KD Trey 5 is a decent performer for lighter players who don't rely on explosive lateral movements.
Available at 2 shops:
Colorways of the Nike KD Trey 5 VII:

5. Under Armour Curry 7

8.3 Overall rating based on 5 expert reviews
Pros:
Traction is great and doesn't pick up dust
Very supportive low-top
Cons:
Materials are a little underwhelming
Traction
9.4
Cushion
7.2
Materials
7.8
Support
8.9
Fit
8.4
Outdoor
67%
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.
Available at 5 shops:
Colorways of the Under Armour Curry 7:

6. 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:

7. 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 4 shops:
Colorways of the Nike Lebron Soldier 13:

8. Adidas T-Mac Millenium

8.5 Overall rating based on 3 expert reviews
Pros:
Sticky herringbone traction
Balanced Boost cushioning
Cons:
Synthetic materials take time to break in
Traction
9.3
Cushion
8.8
Materials
7.8
Support
8.3
Fit
8.0
Outdoor
0%
What do the experts think?
The T-Mac Millenium is much-improved version of the original Adidas T-Mac. The herringbone traction works well on all kinds of surfaces. The Boost cushioning is a bit on the firmer side but very well-balanced with good impact protection in the heel and responsive feel in the forefoot. The synthetic upper materials don't feel great out of the box but break in nicely after a while. Support is great thanks to the slightly higher ankle collar and sturdy materials. Overall, this is a great all-around performer that should also work well for big guys looking for support and cushioning.
Available at 1 shop:
Colorways of the Adidas T-Mac Millenium:

9. Puma Clyde Hardwood

8.8 Overall rating based on 2 expert reviews
Pros:
Premium leather and knit materials
Beastly traction
Cons:
Slightly heavy
Basic foam cushioning
Traction
9.3
Cushion
7.5
Materials
9.3
Support
9.0
Fit
9.0
Outdoor
100%
What do the experts think?
Waiting for 3 expert reviews to post summary.
Available at 1 shop:
Colorways of the Puma Clyde Hardwood:

10. 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 3 shops:
Colorways of the Air Jordan 34:

Frequently asked questions about traction:

How can I improve the traction of my basketball shoes?

There is no magic formula that makes old basketball shoes stick to the floor like glue, but there are a few things you can do to improve traction:

Wipe – a lot!

This one is self-explanatory. The grooves of the traction pattern become more and more shallow with time, which means you will need to wipe a lot more to get the dust off the surface of the rubber.

Get a courtside traction mat

If you don’t want to get your hands dusty and dirty from all the wiping then this is a great alternative.
A courtside traction mat is usually placed close to the bench and you just step on it when you get subbed in or if you want to refresh your grip during timeouts.
A lot of basketball teams use these traction mats to get an advantage over their opponents, especially on dusty and slippery courts.
Courtside Traction Mat

Get a pair of “Court Grabbers”

The Court Grabbers work similarly to a traction mat but instead of placing a mat on the side of the court you attach a pair of traction pads to the laces of your shoes. Before the game you apply a small amount of traction gel to these pads.
Now, if you want to improve the grip of your shoes, you just slide the bottom of your shoes across the pad to restore the traction. If your traction is really bad and you need to wipe after every other possession then the Court Grabbers are much more practical because you don’t need a break in play.
Court Grabbers

Which basketball shoes perform best on dusty courts?

If you are not a professional basketball player who gets to play on pristine, freshly waxed hardowood courts all the time your are probably familiar with basketball courts that could easily be used as skating rinks. No sneaker will grip the floor well if your court is covered with a thick layer of dust. But some sneakers work better than others:

Get solid rubber colorways

While it is not true for every shoe and every brand, in general, translucent colorways seem to attract a lot more dust than solid ones.

Look for a traction pattern with deep and wide grooves

If the grooves of the traction pattern are too narrow and shallow they will be clogged with dust quickly. As soon as this happens you will be sliding like crazy because the rubber of your shoe is no longer able to make contact with the floor.
Another problem of narrow grooves: Wiping dust becomes so much harder!

What’s the best traction pattern for basketball shoes?

There are so many different traction patterns – it’s impossible to keep track. But there are a few things you can look out for:

The pattern should be multidirectional

A multidirectional pattern has grooves in every direction which allows for grip not only when you accelerate straight ahead, but also when you do lateral moves like crossovers or defensive slides.

A very popular example of a multidirectional pattern is the herringbone traction:

On the other hand, the Lebron 15 is an example of a shoe that doesn’t provide you with a lot of lateral traction because of the way the traction pattern is set up:

Lebron 15 traction

Don’t fall for crazy storytelling

Sometimes signature sneakers go crazy with elaborate little details and storytelling that look nice but actually hurt the performance. Don’t fall for flashy design if you want a basketball sneaker that performs well on the court – functionality should always come first!

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