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 113 different basketball shoes and consumed exactly 595 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.

Traction Rating 9.7
  • 9.7 traction 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
Deals from $65.99
Traction Rating 9.4
  • 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.
Deals from $109.99
Traction Rating 9.4
  • 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
Deals from $159.99
Traction Rating 9.3
  • 9.3 traction rating based on 7 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
Deals from $180.00
Traction Rating 9.3
  • 9.3 traction rating based on 4 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.
Deals from $139.99
Traction Rating 9.2
  • 9.2 traction 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
Deals from $85.00
Traction Rating 9.1
  • 9.1 traction rating based on 6 expert reviews
  • Great all-around performer at a very fair price
  • Versatile shoe that works for all positions
Deals from $79.99
Traction Rating 9.1
  • 9.1 traction rating based on 8 expert reviews
  • Provides balanced cushioning, traction that works on all surfaces, and premium BattleKnit upper
  • Especially recommended for explosive and powerful wing players.
Deals from $100.00
Traction Rating 9.0
  • 9.0 traction 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
Deals from $174.99
Traction Rating 9.0
  • 9.0 traction 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
Deals from $119.99

Best Traction Basketball Shoes:
The Top 10

1. 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%
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.

2. 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%
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.

3. 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%
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.

4. Air Jordan 34

9.0 Overall rating based on 7 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%
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!

5. Under Armour Curry 7

8.3 Overall rating based on 4 expert reviews
PROS:
  • Traction is great and doesn't pick up dust
  • Very supportive low-top
CONS:
  • Materials are a little underwhelming
Traction
9.3
Cushion
7.0
Materials
7.8
Support
9.1
Fit
8.5
Outdoor
50%
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.

6. 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%
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!

7. 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%
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.

8. Nike Lebron 16

8.9 Overall rating based on 8 expert reviews
PROS:
  • Premium materials
  • Traction works well even on dusty courts
CONS:
  • Expensive retail price
Traction
9.1
Cushion
9.0
Materials
9.0
Support
8.7
Fit
8.4
Outdoor
83%
All sneaker critics agree: The Lebron 16 is a huge improvement over the XV and one of the best shoes of Lebron's signature line in a long time. The traction works on all surfaces, the cushioning is a little more versatile but still very comfortable, and stability is much-improved thanks to the use of tiny lateral outriggers on the outsole. The Battleknit 2.0 looks and feels very premium and provides great lockdown and containment. Overall, the Lebron 16 is an outstanding performance hoops shoe that is especially recommended for explosive and powerful wing players.

9. 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%
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 little improvements compared to the original Kobe 4 and the retail price of $175 is very steep.

10. 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%
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!

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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