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 a wider variety of 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
- Best Basketball Shoes for Centers Overall
- Best Budget Basketball Shoes for Power Forwards
- Best Outdoor Basketball Shoes for Power Forwards
Best Basketball Shoes for Centers Overall
Best Basketball Shoe For Centers
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 very breathable and lightweight, but also extremely durable and supportive. Easily the best you can pick up for the center position. Read the full review. Price: $200
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
Nike KD 15 / Nike KD 14
Either of these models is a great pick. The Nike KD 15 has slightly better support features and the Nike KD 14 has slightly more plush cushion. Aside from that, they are very similar models. Both are amazing all-around performance basketball shoes.
If you want a shoe with excellent cushion, these models are great options. Cushlon is the primary foam carrier on top of which sits the full-length Nike Zoom Air Strobel unit to provide impact protection and bounce. These shoes are tremendously well-rounded and have everything you want from a hoop shoe. Read the full review for the KD 15. Read the full review for the KD 14. Price: $150
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 at the same time. 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 in conjunction with the carbon fiber torsion plate to offer some Grade A support. Read the full review. Price: $150
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
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
361º Zen 3
The 361° Zen 3 is a tremendously underrated performance basketball shoe. 361º used their proprietary Quikfoam Lite cushioning system on this model and it’s fantastic. Chris describes it as “cushlon on steroids.”
Plus, outdoor hoopers will love these because of all the impact protection and outsole durability. These may not come from a big brand but perform just as well. Read the full review. Price: $105
Nike LeBron 19
The Nike LeBron 19 is one of the most cushioned shoes available right now. It’s obvious even at a first glance. The Nike LeBron 19 features a full-length Cushlon foam midsole coupled with Max Air in the rear and Max Zoom Air in the forefoot. That’s a lot of cushioning.
Support is also a stand-out feature on the LeBron 19. The combination of the synthetic upper, the lockdown cables, and the containment features will keep your foot securely on top of the footbed. The biggest weak point of the LeBron 19 is the traction so it’s better if you play on clean courts. Read the full review. Price: $200
Nike Zoom GT Run
The Nike Zoom GT Run is all about cushioning. It was the go-to shoe for several NBA centers including JaVale McGee. The shoe feels like the follow-up to the Nike Zoom BB NXT, even though Nike won’t admit that.
The shoe features multiple layers of cushion: a React insole and midsole with double-stacked Zoom Air with a forefoot Zoom unit that seems to be a strobel version of Zoom Turbo. The upper is lightweight and breathable, but make sure you try these on and you like the fit because that is the shoe’s weak point. Read the full review. Price: $175
Best Budget Basketball Shoes for Power Forwards
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
Best Outdoor Basketball Shoes for Power Forwards
Nike LeBron Witness 7
The Nike LeBron Witness 7 is a great outdoor option, and it’s a great outdoor option for centers thanks to the combination of the full-length Air unit, beefy support features, and the very durable outsole which offers great traction. On top of that, you can get this whole package for just over $115. Read the full review. Price: $115