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 205 different basketball shoes and consumed exactly 973 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.
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 Curry "Flow" 8 is the first signature shoe released under the new "Curry" brand and they get off to a good start!
The traction is the best aspect of the shoe and features an all-foam outsole that is crazy grippy.
The cushion is also nice and comfortable while providing great court feel and responsiveness. Reviewers considered it the best cushion of the Curry lineup.
The materials consist of a flexible knit upper that is comfortable with synthetic overlays for structure.
These fit short and a little wide - going up half a size should work for most people.
The support and lockdown are what you come to expect from a Curry and will give you no issues.
Overall the Curry 8 is a great hoop shoe that most players will enjoy. These are definitely worth the $20 increase to $160!
The 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 on the New Balance TWO WXY is one of the best aspects of the shoe and has an awesome bite. The durability is okay for outdoor use.
The cushion setup features Fuel Cell foam and is very low to the ground here. You get good court feel and responsiveness with okay impact protection.
The materials are mostly thin knits and textiles that are comfortable and perform well.
These fit a little long and pretty narrow, so it is recommended to try them on before buying. They do come in wide sizes.
The support and lockdown are great and have you covered on explosive moves and crossovers.
Overall the New Balance TWO WXY is a great performer in pretty much every area and comes in at a fair $140 price tag.
The traction of the UA Anatomix Spawn 3 is great on clean and dusty courts and the outsole is durable enough for occasional outdoor use.
The cushion setup is one of the highlights of the shoe and features full-length Micro-G with a great mix of court feel, bounce, and impact protection.
Considering the budget price, the materials are pretty good and get the job done just fine performance-wise.
These fit true to size and provide a slightly loose fit. The materials stretch out a little over time.
The support is solid and has you covered with good lateral containment. Lateral stability is good overall but the heel curvature causes a little instability.
Overall the UA Anatomix Spawn 3 is an outstanding performer for the price.
The traction pattern of the PG 5 is very similar to the Kobe 9 pattern and provides top-tier traction indoors. Unfortunately, the outsole isn't durable enough for outdoor use.
The cushion tech is similar to last year but feels pretty different. The PG 5 isn't as plush but provides a better court feel and more responsiveness.
The materials are what you've come to expect from the PG line: They feel pretty cheap but they perform well and are comfortable on foot.
The PG 5 fits like most PG models slightly narrow and snug. True to size works well.
The support and lockdown are very good thanks to a wide base and large outrigger - reviewers had no issues here.
Overall the PG 5 is a great all-around performer and a real bargain at a list price of only $110.
The traction 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!
For some reviewers, the traction of the KD14 took a little to break-in, but they all agreed that it provides a ton of grip on clean courts and doesn't have much trouble with dusty courts either.
The Zoom Strobel and Cushlon midsole provide a perfect mix of comfort, impact protection, and responsiveness. One reviewer coined it the softest KD to date.
Materials are a little cheap to the touch but they are comfortable on foot and combined with the wide base and plastic enforcement on the sides provide a lot of lockdown and support.
The fit is less narrow than previous KD's and should work for most players unless you have super wide feet.
Overall, reviewers agree that the KD14 is a slight improvement over the KD13 and a great overall performer that is absolutely worth the $150 price tag.
The Nike Kyrie Low 5's traction is the best performance feature of the shoe. It sticks to all types of court conditions.
Nike uses a full-length Phylon and a forefoot Zoom unit to provide a balanced feeling cushion.
The materials are similar to the Kyrie Infinity, but they feel less premium.
Reviewers agree that the shoe fits narrow, but it doesn't hinder performance.
The narrow fit helps contribute to the support of the shoe. It keeps your foot locked in and secure.
Overall, the Kyrie Low 5 is an improvement from the previous Kyrie Lows and is a solid performer for the price.
The Nike Air Max Impact 3 provides great traction at a budget price, and reviewers agree that it bites hard on all surfaces.
The cushioning is firm, but the Air Max unit feels more stable than similar setups in Nike's lineup.
Like other budget shoes, the materials aren't the best quality, but they don't hinder performance.
For support and lockdown, the shoe provides solid lateral stability and containment. The firm cushioning helps to keep your foot secure.
Overall, the Nike Air Max Impact 3 is a decent offering at an affordable price point.
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!