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 107 different basketball shoes and consumed exactly 568 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.
Top-notch traction and well-balanced Micro-G cushioning
Perfect for quick point guards who want to be able to stop on a dime
The first Kobe model with the FastFit lacing system
Great shoe for quick, low-to-the-ground players who are into futuristic looks
The Lebron Soldier 13 provides awesome traction and no real weaknesses.
A great all-around performer that works very well for heavier players.
Traction works great outdoors or on dusty courts
Top performer that works best for quick guards
The herringbone traction grips on all courts - even outdoors
Great all-around performer at a very fair price!
Great all-around performer at a very fair price
Versatile shoe that works for all positions
Provides balanced cushioning, traction that works on all surfaces, and premium BattleKnit upper
Especially recommended for explosive and powerful wing players.
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
Amazing traction and great cushioning
Poor ventilation is problematic if your feet sweat a lot
Traction pattern provides great traction on all surfaces
Great bang for the buck and should work well for positions 1-4.
Best Traction Basketball Shoes:
The Top 10
- Phenomenal traction
- Well-balanced Micro G cushioning
- Unnecessary dead space in the toe box
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.
Best Deals for the Under Armour Anatomix Spawn Low:
- Amazing Traction
- Easy FastFit lacing system
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.
Best Deals for the Nike Kobe AD NXT FastFit:
- Awesome traction
- Very supportive
- Cushioning could be more comfortable
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.
Best Deals for the Nike Lebron Soldier 13:
- Amazing traction
- Works outdoors
The Adidas Crazylight Boost 2018 has amazing traction that works well on all surfaces - even on dusty courts or outdoors. The Boost cushioning is firmer and more responsive but less comfortable compared to the Adidas Crazy Explosive which works well for quick guards. A lot of reviewers complained about issues with the fit in the form of dead space in the toe box and problems with heel slippage - make sure to go down half a size to limit these issues.
Overall, the Crazylight Boost is an underestimated performance basketball shoe that offers great bang for the buck!
Best Deals for the Adidas Crazylight Boost 2018:
- Great traction
- Zoom Air & Phylon cuhioning
- Basic Mesh & Synthetic Materials
The most outstanding feature of the Jordan Jumpman Hustle is the thick and hard herringbone traction pattern that provides grip on all courts - even outdoors. The forefoot Zoom Air Unit feels bouncy and the Phylon midsole is soft and comfortable. The shroud on top of the lacing system gives the shoe a unique look but also feels very comfortable while staying low-to-the-ground. The only downside of the Jumpman Hustle is the slightly stretchy upper and narrow base that doesn't give as much lateral support as some players might need.
Overall, this is a great all-around performer at a very fair price!
Best Deals for the Jordan Jumpman Hustle:
- Great traction
- Very supportive shoe
- Materials feel cheap in-hand
- Long break-in period
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.
Best Deals for the Nike PG 3:
- Premium materials
- Traction works well even on dusty courts
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.
Best Deals for the Nike Lebron 16:
- Great herringbone traction
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.
Best Deals for the Nike Kobe 4 Protro:
- Very good traction
- Well-balanced cushioning
- Stiff suede upper material
- Break-in period
The narrow (and very squeaky) traction pattern of the Kobe AD Mid performs amazingly on clean courts but has slight issues on dust courts. Outdoor use is not recommended as the rubber is very soft and will wear off quickly. The full-length lunarlon cushioning setup with an Air Zoom unit in the heel is universally liked by reviewers. The colorways with synthetic suede upper have very poor ventilation and the material needs a little while to lose its initial stiffness. Overall, the Kobe AD Mid is a solid performer, but at $150, there are better performance options out there.
Best Deals for the Nike Kobe AD Mid:
- Amazing traction
- Well-balanced Bounce cushioning
- Materials feel a little cheap
The Pro Bounce is Adidas' new team model similar to Nike's Hyperdunk line. One of the highlights of this shoe is the traction pattern that offers great bite on clean courts but also works well on dusty courts or outdoors. Adidas uses its Bounce cushioning system which gives you a nice balance of responsiveness and impact protection. The upper material feels a little cheap but it is very sturdy with excellent containment and support.
Overall, the Pro Bounce Low is an awesome basketball shoe that offers great bang for the buck and should work well for positions 1-4.
Best Deals for the Adidas Pro Bounce Low:
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.
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 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:
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!