We’ve already listed the best basketball shoes for point guards, the best basketball shoes for shooting guards, the best basketball shoes for small forwards, and the best basketball shoes for power forwards Now we’re going to dive into the best basketball shoes for centers.
The center position has always been reserved for the biggest and toughest players on the court. The center anchors the defense and is the main rebounding and shot-blocking option on the floor. Even nowadays with “mold-breaking” lighter and more versatile centers out there like Nikola Jokic or Joel Embiid, it’s rare to see a center under 6’9″ and lighter than 250 lbs.
For this reason, NBA centers, and centers in general, should reach for shoes with great impact protection and support. Heavier players put a lot of stress on their joints as they jump, cut or change directions, which also means a lot of stress on the shoes they are wearing. This is even more important for skilled bigs that make various moves.
We thoroughly test a ton of different hoop shoes every year and try to determine the best models for a variety of different categories. So let’s jump into our top picks for the best basketball shoes for centers.
Best Basketball Shoes For Centers Show
- Best Basketball Shoes for Centers Overall 2023
- Best Outdoor Basketball Shoes for Centers 2023
- Best Budget Basketball Shoes for Centers 2023
Best Basketball Shoes for Centers Overall 2023
Best Basketball Shoe For Centers 2023
Nike GT Jump 2
It’s nice to see the changes Nike made in this shoe. They have taken everything that was great in the first model and tweaked it to make the GT Jump 2 that much better as a performance basketball shoe. But this shoe is still one of the best-cushioned shoes we have ever seen, which, combined with the upgraded materials and fit make it the best basketball shoe for centers you can pick up right now. Read the full review.
Nike Air Zoom GT Jump
The Nike GT Jump might be the ultimate “center shoe”. It excels in everything a center might need on the court which is probably why it was Nikola Jokic’s go-to model during the 2021-22 season.
The GT Jump packs an insane amount of cushion into a sleekly designed shoe. The shoe is equipped with 2 large volume Zoom Air units in the heel and forefoot, a cushlon midsole, and a full-length Zoom Air strobel on top of it all. On top of that, the GT Jump features a synthetic upper that requires no break-in time and is breathable and lightweight, but also highly durable and supportive. Easily one of the best you can pick up for the center position. Read the full review.
Nike KD 15
The Nike KD 15 is a great performer, just like its predecessor. The same tech specs that we came to love are back, as well as a few minor improvements, that take this shoe to the next level.
The foam midsole is Cushlon, which is soft and plush, and on top of that foam is the full-length Nike Zoom Air Strobel that feels like springs under your feet. The materials have changed slightly, though they’re still breathable and flexible. The best basketball shoes on the market right now. See the full review. Price:
Nike Kyrie 8 (Infinity)
The Nike Kyrie 8 is a great all-around performance model. The reason why it made it on our best basketball shoes for centers list, is because it excels in support and cushioning, even though it’s a shoe designed for a guard.
The Kyrie 8 is the best shoe in Kyrie’s signature line alongside the Kyrie 6. The shoe features Nike’s Dynamic Strap System which offers elite support and lockdown. On top of that, you get a large volume forefoot Zoom Strobel unit and another standard unit in the heel. And on top of that, the Kyrie 8 features excellent traction and some premium materials along the upper. The traction does take some time to break in, so keep that in mind. Read the full review. Price: $140
Anta KT 7
The Anta KT 7 is 2022 NBA Champion Klay Thompson’s signature shoe. Another shoe that will work well for centers, even though it’s designed for a different position. The Anta KT7 excels in both cushion and support. The cushion is the highlight of this tech-heavy model.
Anta describes the KT 7 cushion set-up as a nitrogen-infused foam, which is bouncy yet stable simultaneously. The midsole is wrapped on the lateral side and exposed on the medial side, similar to Adidas’ previous setups with Boost. The shoe also features Anta’s 3D Hug system that works with the carbon fiber torsion plate to offer some Grade A support. Read the full review. Price: $150
New Balance Kawhi 2
Yes, our second pick is a shoe designed for a small forward, Kawhi Leonard, but these shoes are built like tanks. The New Balance Kawhi 2 is a very good all-around shoe, no one feature stands out (except the support perhaps) but everything on the shoe works very well.
The Kawhi 2 also features a New Balance textile called FitWeave along the upper. This material helps keep the shoe lightweight and comfortable but tough and supportive at the same time. As with the previous Kawhi model, stability is this model’s best asset. The shoe features a beefy torsional plate and excellent heel lockdown, which is great for taller heavier players. The cushion is dense and responsive, with more than decent impact protection. Read the full review. Price: $160
New Balance TWO WXY V2
Another excellent offering from New Balance. The New Balance TWO WXY V2 might be the brand’s best all-around shoe, but it’s also a great pick for bigger players. The TWO WXY was already a great shoe, but the TWO WXY V2 is even better.
With the New Balance TXO WXY V2 you get elite-level traction, New Balance’s FuelCell and Abzorb DRS, and the FitWeave upper like in the Kawhi 2. The cushioning system is a dual-density foam set up and it works extremely well. The upper is comfortable and supportive and moves well with your foot. One thing to keep in mind with the NB TWO WXY V2 is that the torsional support is good but not great. With the TWO WXY V2 you are slightly prioritizing cushion over support. Read the full review. Price: $130
Air Jordan 36
The Air Jordan 36 is one of those shoes that shows up on most of our lists, and the fact is that it’s a well-rounded, top-notch performance basketball shoe. The shoe is versatile enough to work well for several positions, including centers.
The Jordan 36 features a full-length Zoom Air Strobel unit and the extra forefoot unit, which is more than enough cushion to keep up with any center. The Eclipse Plate that has been featured on previous models like the Jordan 35 and the Jordan 34 makes a return for maximum energy return and torsional support for bigger players. The Jordan 36 also boasts a leno weave upper which keeps things as lightweight and supportive as possible. Read the full review. Price: $185
Wade Shadow 4
The Wade Shadow 4 makes an appearance in our Wade All City 11 review. The midsole is composed of two technologies. The main foam you’re going to feel is Cloud, an EVA-based foam. The forefoot features a BOOM puck which is Pebax-based. Don’t worry if they feel stiff to start. We promise the break-in will be worth it. This will provide enough impact protection for our big men and women down low. Price:
Best Outdoor Basketball Shoes for Centers 2023
Nike KD 15
The Nike KD 15 is one of our best picks overall, but it also takes our top outdoor option for centers as well. The combination of the resilient traction and the great cushioning system makes these a great outdoor option. Read the full review. Price: $150
Best Budget Basketball Shoes for Centers 2023
Nike Air Max Impact 4
The Nike Air Max Impact 4 is the best budget basketball shoe currently on the market. Fortunately for centers, the shoe excels in impact protection and support.
The shoe features a surprisingly soft foam and a heel Air Max unit that pack a ton of impact protection. On top of that, the shoe features great support and containment features. Everything on the shoe feels like a steal for a shoe under $100. Read the full review. Price: $90