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 238 different basketball shoes and consumed exactly 1141 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.
As we've come to expect, the Flow traction is fantastic. It's some of the best traction available.
The cushioning is responsive and low to the ground. The shank also offers some additional bounce.
The materials feel similar to the Curry 9 from last year. It does feel a tad bit more comfortable, though.
Support and lockdown are better than last year because of a better heel counter and more supportive construction.
Overall, the Curry 10 improves on last year's model and remains a top performer because of the outstanding traction.
Like all shoes using a Flow midsole, the traction on the Curry 4 FloTro bites hard. It feels tackier than the Curry 9.
The cushioning is responsive and smooth. The shoe feels low to the ground but doesn't have the best impact protection.
The materials might be synthetic, but they feel premium.
The shoe's construction makes it fit well for many different foot shapes. It accommodates wide footers well.
The reviewer's only concern with the shoe is the slight sliding on the footbed caused by heavy cutting.
Overall, the Curry 4 FloTro is a fantastic performer. The shoe offers some of the best traction on the market and plays well for footwork-reliant play styles.
Just like the Curry Flow 8, the traction of the Under Armour Flow FUTR X is amazing. It bites regardless of whether the court is clean or dusty, and the Flow outsole is more durable than it appears.
The cushion leans towards the firm side of things, but it is low to the ground and provides excellent responsiveness.
Materials felt cheap to the touch but perform decently enough considering the price.
The fit is true to size and should be able to accommodate most foot shapes. This is due to the materials stretching out a bit over time.
Under Armour managed to implement a midfoot strap that's able to contribute to more than just aesthetics. It improved the lateral containment of the shoe, helping to keep you properly supported.
The Under Armour Flow FUTR X is a fantastic option at just $120. The traction is outstanding, the cushion provides a good court feel, and there weren't any issues with the support.
The traction is a standout feature on the Nike KD 15. It bites to every type of court, performing amazingly.
Reviewers agreed that the cushioning offers a unique combination of court feel, responsiveness, bounciness, and impact protection.
The materials conform to your feet nicely and are comfortable to play in.
The shoe also fits better than previous KD models and is more accommodating to different foot shapes.
If there is any downside, some reviewers experienced a bit of heel slippage. Others didn't feel completely secure around the heel.
The Nike KD 15 could be one of the best performance shoes available.
Reviewers agree that traction is the best feature of the shoe. It bites hard on just about every surface.
The cushioning is low to the ground and offers a good amount of court feel. The impact protection in the heel is adequate but could be better in the forefoot.
No issues were reported support-wise. It gets the job done.
The FitWeave Lite that New Balance uses for the upper is comfortable and conforms nicely to your feet during play.
With its hard-biting traction and no glaring weaknesses, the New Balance TWO WXY V2 might be New Balance's best basketball shoe.
Jordan Brand's low-top version of its mainline shoe has an identical traction pattern but uses a solid rubber compound. It performs pretty much the same, which is to say it's great.
The cushion also remains the same. It's bouncy and is potentially the best setup on the market.
Some reviewers feel that the Low fits slightly better than the regular 36 because of the materials.
The support is solid and hard to beat for a low-top, but some reviewers mentioned experiencing heel slippage.
Overall, the Jordan 36 Low is just as good a choice for a performance basketball shoe as the mid-top version.
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.
The traction of the Wade 808 2 is grippy and reminiscent of the Kobe 9 traction. The rubber is also hard enough to take outdoors.
Li-Ning's drop-in midsole is comfortable, and it feels bouncy. The only downside is the impact protection on hard landings.
Reviewers describe the materials on the shoe as minimal and breathable.
Despite not having an outrigger, the shoe has plenty of lateral containment and stability.
Overall, the Li-Ning Wade 808 2 is a versatile shoe with enough traction and cushioning for most players.
Luka Doncic's first signature shoe with Jordan Brand delivers an outstanding traction experience. It feels tacky and bites hard in all directions.
The use of Jordan Brand's new Formula 23 foam feels like an upgrade from React. Reviewers mention that the cushioning feels low-to-the-ground and responsive.
For support, the side pods and the unique shank plate implemented in the shoe keep you contained while also offering some bounce back.
Most reviewers agreed that the materials perform well and feel comfortable on your feet.
Overall, the Jordan Luka 1 is an admirable first entry into the signature shoe landscape for Luka Doncic.
Not much changed between the original Puma MB.01 and the low-top version. The traction is still reliable on all surfaces.
Puma's Nitro foam is a balanced cushioning setup offering both impact protection and responsiveness.
The fit can be narrow, but the materials are comfortable and get the job done performance-wise.
The shoe also has solid support features to keep your foot secure and contained.
Overall, the Puma MB.01 Low continues the trend of Puma releasing quality performance basketball shoes.
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.
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.
Which basketball shoes perform best on dusty courts?
If you are not a professional basketball player who gets to play on pristine, freshly waxed hardwood courts all the time you 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:
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!