At WearTesters, our team of expert reviewers tests hundreds of basketball shoes each year. After testing, we collect the Best Basketball Shoes available and include them here for easy reference.
We regularly update this page to feature the highest-performing, currently available basketball shoes. The shoes listed are in no particular order. Check back any time you buy new basketball shoes.
We’ve also reviewed many other basketball shoes that didn’t make this page. Every foot is different, so read the reviews carefully to find the best shoes for you. For details on the methodology, see the detailed description at the bottom of the page.
Also, if you enjoy our content, you should know that we have a great community where we discuss sneakers, reviews, and all sorts of other topics. Community members also enjoy behind-the-scenes footage, invitations to WearTesters events, early access to merchandise, and automatic entry into shoe giveaways.
Best Basketball Shoes 2023 Show
- Best Basketball Shoes 2023 Overall
- The Best Basketball Shoe Overall in 2023
- Best Outdoor Basketball Shoes 2023
- Best Budget Basketball Shoes 2023
- Best Basketball Shoes for Wide Feet 2023
- Best Traction Basketball Shoes 2023
- Best Basketball Shoes for Flat Feet 2023
- Best Basketball Shoes for Ankle Support 2023
- Best Low Top Basketball Shoes 2023
- Best High Top Basketball Shoes 2023
- Most Comfortable Basketball Shoes 2023
- Best Basketball Shoes for Jumping 2023
- Best Value Basketball Shoes 2023
- Best Basketball Shoes by Brand 2023
- Best Basketball Shoes By Position 2023
- Most Hyped Basketball Shoe
- Best Basketball Shoe Insoles
- How do we choose the best basketball shoes?
- What are the best basketball shoes?
- What is the best basketball shoe of all time?
- What are the best basketball shoe brands?
- How do I find a basketball shoe that fits my playing style?
- Finding the best fit for your basketball shoes
- How to break in a basketball shoe
Best Basketball Shoes 2023 Overall
In this article, we will go over the best basketball shoes in several different categories, but to start everything off, we will go over the top 10 best basketball shoes overall. Whether you are playing indoors or outdoors, whether you are a shifty guard or an explosive forward, these basketball shoes will serve you well.
We have chosen these shoes because out of the hundreds of shoes we have tested this year, these offer a great blend of performance features that will accommodate most playing styles. Check it out.
The Best Basketball Shoe Overall in 2023
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 LeBron 20
The Nike LeBron 20 was one of the most hyped LeBron James basketball shoes ever, and it really did live up to the expectations. The LeBron 20 offers elite-level traction and some of the year’s best cushioning (and maybe even all-time). The midsole is full-length Cushlon with a forefoot Zoom Turbo unit and an additional standard heel Zoom Air unit in the heel. The upper is also lightweight and comfortable, and if all this weren’t enough, it is the best-fitting shoe of the year. Read the full review. Price: $200
Nike Kyrie 8 (Infinity)
The Nike Kyrie 8 is amazing, and the best shoe in Kyrie’s signature line, alongside the Kyrie 6. The shoe offers a perfect blend of cushioning and low-profile performance, which makes you wonder why Nike doesn’t use the same setup in every Kyrie shoe.
The shoe features a large volume forefoot Zoom stroble unit and another standard unit in the heel. On top of that, you get excellent lockdown and some really great premium materials along the upper. The shoe is like a less clunky version of the Jordan 13, which is high praise. The traction does take some time to break in, so keep that in mind. We should also mention that the Kyrie 5 Low is a very similar shoe if you prefer low tops. Read the full review. Price:
Way of Wade 10
The Li-Ning Way of Wade 10 is as tech-heavy as it gets in a signature shoe from any brand. And what’s great is that Li-Ning provides you with a breakdown of everything in the package. For support, they have a full-length carbon fiber torsional plate that also acts as a spring plate. The cushion is also beefed up with the brand’s BOOM cushion. These are one heck of a shoe to play in. If you’re a fan of DWade or want to try non-mainstream shoes, this sneaker is for you. See the full review. Price: $225-240
Way of Wade All City 10 V2
The Way of Wade All City 10 V2 made several upgrades from the regular Way of Wade All City 10. It’s not that that model was a bad one. Wade just wanted to make it better. One of the best features is the functional midfoot strap. Most straps on performance basketball sneakers don’t work and are there for the placebo effect. However, this one locks you down to the footbed for better containment. The heel is also well-sculpted and padded. See the full review. Price: $149
adidas Harden Vol 7
The adidas Harden Vol 7 looks weird but feels great on foot. It is one of those shoes that definitely has that “wow” factor from the first time you lace them up.
With the Harden Vol 7 you get some really nice plush cushioning that combines Lightstrike in the forefoot and Boost in the heel. And it is the boost we all know and love. The Harden Vol 7 has great traction that combines solid and translucent rubber and herringbone and radial traction patterns. Finally! a plush adidas basketball shoe. Read full review. Price: $180
Jordan Luka 1
The Jordan Luka 1 was highly rated by our team, and that’s saying a lot. Luka Doncic and the Jordan design team did well on this one. Jordan Brand used the Luka 1 to introduce its newest foam: Formula 23. Right off the bat, you’ll feel how comfortable it is underfoot. Support is an obvious priority with the IsoPlate system acting as torsional support while really beefing up lateral support for extra support on stepbacks and defensive slides. And at $110 ($120 for the special editions), you get a lot of performance for the money. Read the full review. Price: $110
Li-Ning Wade 808 2
The Li-Ning Wade 808 2 brings back a technology we all loved: drop-in midsoles. They were most popular on various Nike Kobe models, the Nike LeBron 11, and the Harden Vol 5. The drop-in for this pair is pure Cloud foam which is plush and comfortable. You can also exchange it for the BOOM drop-in from the Li-Ning Wade 808 2 Ultra. The upper is lightweight and extremely breathable. It’s awesome when you can customize the cushion to your preferences. One of the best Li-Ning Basketball Shoes. See the full review. Price:
Nike Zoom GT Cut 2
The Nike Air Zoom GT Cut 2 follows one of the most hyped basketball shoes in recent memory, the Nike Zoom GT Cut. The GT Cut features a low-profile, lightweight setup that compares to last year’s mode. The React, full-length Air Zoom Strobel, and heel Zoom unit work well together and provide solid cushioning despite how low this shoe sits to the ground. It’s a quick guard’s dream shoe but big guys may want to look elsewhere. Read the full review. Price: $150
New Balance TWO WXY V3
The New Balance TWO WXY V3 is an upgrade from the last version and is even better than their flagship model for the Klaw. The traction is fantastic for as long as it lasts. Right off the bat, we know you’ll stop on a dime in these. The cushion with FuelCell works well for most positions. The FitWeave upper is comfortable and moves well with your feet. A very solid offering from New Balance. Read the full review. Price: $120
Under Armour Curry 10
The Under Armour Curry 10 is an improved version of an already great shoe, the Curry 9. The shoe features Under Armour’s Flow cushioning/ traction system. Flow offers great impact protection, a seamless ride from heel to toe, and incredible traction. It’s perfect for guards as it’s almost like a running shoe beefed up for basketball. The Curry 10 also features an upgraded Warp 2.0 upper that’s super comfortable. Read full review. Price: $160
Jordan Zion 2
The Jordan Zion 2 is a very solid performance basketball shoe. It comes after a not-so-stellar performance from the Jordan Zion 1. This time around, with a different cushioning setup and upgraded traction, the performance is way better.
The traction in particular shines in the Jordan Zion 2 as it grips the floor like nobody’s business after just a short break-in period. It’s best felt when going aggressively from side to side. The materials aren’t anything excellent, but at least the strap works to lock down your forefoot. Heel support is beefy and keeps you locked in at all times. Read the full review. Price: $120
Best Outdoor Basketball Shoes 2023
If you play outdoors often, these shoes have the durability and cushioning to keep you going during long hours on the concrete or asphalt. If you want to know how to pick the best basketball shoes for outdoors, we also have an article that can help you out, and you can also check out our full list of the best outdoor basketball shoes, or watch our video breakdown of the best outdoor basketball shoes.
Under Armour Curry 10
The Nike KD 15 is not just one of the best overall basketball shoes of the year, but it is also a great outdoor option, especially if you get the EP version (usually available only in Asian markets) that comes equipped with extra-durable rubber (XDR).
Another reason why the KD 15 excels outdoors is the cushioning system. Cushlon is used as the primary foam carrier and on top of that is the full-length Nike Zoom Air Strobel unit to provide impact protection and bounce under your feet. It’s a combo that makes hours of outdoor hooping a breeze. See the full review. Price: $150
Best Budget Basketball Shoes 2023
When we are talking about the best budget basketball shoes, we are talking about shoes that the brands have marketed as their cheaper option. There are usually some hidden gems among those models that will give you a ton of bang for your buck. You can check out the full list here, as well as our list of the top basketball shoe deals currently available.
Nike Air Max Impact 4
The Nike Air Max Impact 4 was a big surprise. Easily the best budget model on the market today. The cushion setup is the shoe’s best feature. They are incredibly soft and comfortable and feature an upper that needs no break-in time. The shoe’s support is also a stand-out feature with two outriggers that make sure your foot is secure during play. There’s really no other shoe under $100 that performs this well, this consistently. Read the full review. Price: $90
Best Basketball Shoes for Wide Feet 2023
There are not a ton of great options for wide-footers out there. With the explosion in popularity of online shopping wide footers might not get the chance, to try on sneakers in-store. But, have no fear, Weartesters is here to help you find the best shoe for you. Here you will find our top choice for the best basketball shoe for wide footers, and you can also check out our full list of wide-foot-friendly options here.
Under Armour Curry 10
The Under Armour Curry 10 is an improved version of an already great shoe, the Curry 9. Steph Curry’s signature line has been one of the most consistently great signature lines on the market, and the Curry 10 is another gem, especially for wide-footers.
The shoe features Under Armour’s Flow cushioning/ traction system (as does the Curry 9). Flow offers great impact protection and a seamless ride from heel to toe. It feels almost like a running shoe that has been beefed up to be able to play basketball in them. The Curry 10 also features an improved and updated upper with Warp 2.0. Read full review. Price: $160
Best Traction Basketball Shoes 2023
Traction is one of the most important features of a performance basketball shoe. It’s the foundation on which everything else is built. If excellent traction is your number 1 priority above any other feature, this is our top pick in regard to traction. Here you can see our full list of the best traction basketball shoes.
Nike LeBron 20
The Nike LeBron 20 is probably the most hyped LeBron James basketball shoe ever.
The Nike LeBron 19, was an enormous flop, end LeBron himself demanded a re-design for the LeBron 20. That shoe’s main deficiency was the traction, and we are happy to report that Nike upped their game for the latest model. So much so that it is currently the best basketball shoe on the market when it comes to traction. The pattern is multidirectional, covering you on all movements on both defense and offense. One of our testers, Bryan, said it could be on par with the Nike Kobe 9 – or maybe even better. Read the full review. Price: $200
Best Basketball Shoes for Flat Feet 2023
It is a big hassle to find good basketball shoes for people with flat feet. Close to 30% of the population is flat-footed, and finding proper footwear for flat-footed basketball players can be difficult. With this in mind, and after hundreds of hours and models tested, we have chosen the top basketball shoe for flat feet, and we have curated a full list of flat-foot-friendly options as well.
The Air Jordan 36 looks to be an improvement from its predecessor, the Air Jordan 35. The Eclipse Plate on the Jordan 35 rides so high that it’s probably one of the worst shoes for flat-footers. But this time around Jordan brand nailed the implementation of this torsional plate and made the Jordan 36 the best basketball shoe for flat footers out there.
These offer arch support that you can feel, more like the Air Jordan 34. It feels good and you definitely know that it’s doing its job. Plus, who doesn’t like full-length Zoom Air? Read the full review. Price: $185
Best Basketball Shoes for Ankle Support 2023
The main source of ankle support while playing basketball is provided by your ankle itself, and not necessarily from your shoes. If you are looking for a shoe to boost your confidence and get a little extra support, here is our top pick, and you can check our full list of the best basketball shoes for ankle support as well.
The Air Jordan 36 makes another appearance on on our best basketball shoe list, and that’s because its a great performance basketball shoe. One of the aspect in which the Jordan 36 excels is in ankle support.
Again, ankle support is almost entirely provided by your own ankle, but the Jordan 36 does as good a job as any at adding a bit of support to your ankle on the court. Read full review. Price: $185
Best Low Top Basketball Shoes 2023
Low-cut basketball shoes are some of the most popular styles of basketball shoes on the market. They feel sleeker and more agile than other styles and after Kobe Bryant re-popularized them back in 2008, hoopers can’t get enough of low-top basketball shoes. You can check our full list of the best low-top basketball shoes if you would like to as well.
Nike KD 15
The Nike KD 15 has one key difference from the Nike KD 14: the collar height. It won’t alter the great performance the KD line delivers, but now we can include it on this list. The Cushlon foam midsole combined with the full-length Zoom Air Strobel are as comfortable, bouncy, and springy as you’ve come to expect from shoes in the KD line. This shoe kept what worked in previous models and brought back the low collar cut that KD fans enjoy. See the full review. Price: $150
Best High Top Basketball Shoes 2023
Some people like low-top basketball shoes, some people like high-top basketball shoes, it all depends on your personal taste while on the court. If you are in the market for the best high-top basketball shoe currently on the market, this is our top pick and you can check out our full list of the best high-top basketball shoes available as well, for extra info and context.
Nike Air Zoom GT Jump
The Nike GT Jump is just a really solid basketball shoe that happens to be a high-top, and actually one of the highest high-tops out there. As we have mentioned, the Nike GT Jump has the best cushioning set up in 2022, herringbone traction that works well, all encased in a sturdy high-top package, that somehow remains lightweight. If you like to play in high-tops, you will love these, especially if you are a bigger player that needs a little extra impact protection. It is also the best basketball shoe for centers. Read the full review. Price: $200
Most Comfortable Basketball Shoes 2023
Our choices for the most comfortable basketball shoes on the market will always have to excel in two key features: materials, and most importantly, cushion. This is our current top choice, but you can check out our full list here.
Nike LeBron 20
The Nike LeBron 20 is one of the most hyped LeBron James basketball shoes. It strays away from previous releases like the Nike LeBron 19. The traction is multidirectional, covering you on all movements. The midsole is full-length Cushlon with a forefoot Zoom Turbo unit and an additional standard heel Zoom Air unit in the heel. Compared to previous LeBrons and max-cushioned shoes, it has a more balanced feel. The upper is lightweight and comfortable as well. Read the full review. Price: $200
Best Basketball Shoes for Jumping 2023
First off, no basketball shoe will help you jump higher. Any publication or company that alleges the opposite is lying. As simple as that. A basketball shoe can, however, help you jump faster and cushion the impact when you come back down. So, with that in mind, here is our top pick of the best basketball shoe for jumping, and you can also check out our full list here.
Puma TRC Blaze Court
The Puma TRC Blaze Court has already shown up on our overall best basketball shoes list at the top of the page. The TRC Blaze Court is a great performance shoe, and offers an excellent mix of impact protection and springy reactiveness, which makes it the best basketball shoe for jumping currently. See the full review. Price: $120
Best Value Basketball Shoes 2023
Here is our top pick for the best “bang for your buck” option currently available on the market. You can check out the full list here.
Nike KD 14
The Nike KD 14 provides great traction, great cushion, decent materials, solid fit, and decent support. It’s a well-rounded, all-around performer, perfect for any type of player, and one of the best basketball shoes out there. The fit is tricky so going up a half size or trying them on in-store is recommended. If you get the fit right, your body will enjoy the cushioning combo of a full-length Zoom Air strobel and Cushlon midsole. One of the best basketball shoes of 2021 and now one of the best deals you can find now that they have been discounted. Read the full review. Price:
Best Basketball Shoes by Brand 2023
If you have a favorite brand, here you can check out our top picks from the top brands. We also have a list of the best basketball shoes by every brand that we have reviewed in the last year.
Kyrie 8 Infinity
The Kyrie 8 (Infinity) is Nike’s best basketball shoe in 2022, and the second-best Kyrie shoe ever. Read the full review. Price: $140
Air Jordan 36 is a very high-tech performance basketball shoe and Jordan’s best basketball shoes available in 2022. Read full review. Price: $185
Puma TRC Blaze Court
The Puma TRC Blaze Court continues Puma’s comeback into basketball. It also brought back Trinomic cushioning, Puma’s former technology. It’s been updated, though, so you’re always comfortable. Read the full review. Price:
UA Curry 10
The Curry 10 is a great on-court performer, with a great cushion and traction set-up. Another great option for shifty guards and UA’s best basketball shoes right now. Read full review. Price: $160
Anta KT 7
The Anta KT 7 is Klay Thompson’s signature shoe and it is a well-rounded and supportive hoop shoe. Read the full review. Price: $160
Use promo code WEARTESTERS for a discount.
Way Of Wade
Way of Wade 808 V2
The Li-Ning 808 2 brings drop-in midsoles back to the scene with a regular and an Ultra version. Read the full review. Price: $149
adidas Harden Vol 7
The adidas Harden Vol 7 brings back the post you know and love and looks like it will make our list of the best basketball shoes overall. Price: $160
Li-Ning Speed 8 Premium
The Li-Ning Speed 8 is Fred Van Vleet’s signature shoe with Li-Ning, and a great, guard-specific basketball shoe. Read full review. Price: $135
Best Basketball Shoes By Position 2023
A good place to start when searching for the best basketball shoes for you is checking out shoes that were designed to cater to players who play the same position as you, or that cater to your playing style. Shoes designed for smaller quicker players will tend to put more emphasis on traction and court feel, whereas sneakers for bigger more powerful players will include as much cushion and support as possible.
With this in mind, here are our top picks by position. You can also check out our full lists for each to dive deeper:
- Best basketball shoes for point guards
- Best basketball shoes for shooting guards
- Best basketball shoes for small forwards
- Best basketball shoes for power forwards
- Best basketball shoes for centers
Best Basketball Shoes for Point Guards 2023
Nike Kyrie Low 5
The Nike Kyrie Low 5 is an excellent shoe, especially if you’re looking for a model with great traction, support, and court feel. The Kyrie Low 5 is a remix of sorts of the Nike Kyrie Infinity. It takes many design cues from the flagship, and even some performance features. But, where the Kyrie Infinity offers exceptional cushion, the Kyrie Low 5 has practically none, but that’s not a bad thing.
The shoe features a Zoom Air unit in the forefoot and a foam midsole, which is very responsive and allows for tons of court feel, which smaller guards will appreciate immensely. Traction and support are excellent as well, and you just feel more agile on the court. Probably the best basketball shoes for point guards right now. Read full review. Price: $110
Best Basketball Shoes for Shooting Guards 2023
Way of Wade 808 V2
The Li-Ning Wade 808 2 brings back a technology we all loved: drop-in midsoles. They were most popular on various Nike Kobe models, the Nike LeBron 11, and the adidas Harden Vol 5. The drop-in for this pair is pure Cloud foam which is plush and comfortable. You can exchange it for the BOOM drop-in from the Li-Ning Wade 808 2 Ultra. It’s awesome when you can customize the cushion to your preferences. The upper is basic, but it will get the job done because it’s both lightweight and adequately supportive. See the full review.Price:
Best Basketball Shoes for Small Forwards 2023
Nike KD 15
Is it any surprise to see one of the best small forwards in the history of the game’s shoe in this slot? The Nike KD 15 is an excellent and versatile performance model, probably the best in the KD signature line and is shaping up to be the best basketball shoes of the year.
The cushioning system is the shoe’s best feature. The shoe feels very low profile but features cushlon as the primary foam carrier, on top of which sits a full-length Nike Zoom Air Strobel unit that provides great impact protection. The shoe also features excellent traction that’s reminiscent of the pattern featured on the Kobe 9, aka some of the best traction of all time. See the full review. Price: $150
Best Basketball Shoes for Power Forwards 2023
Nike LeBron 20
The Nike LeBron 20 makes another appearance on our list, and the fact of the matter is that it is flat-out one of the best basketball shoes of the year.
The midsole is full-length Cushlon with a forefoot Zoom Turbo unit and an additional standard heel Zoom Air unit in the heel. For bigger forwards, this is the dream. You can combine nimbleness for intricate footwork and much-impact protection. The upper is lightweight and comfortable as well. Read the full review. Price: $200
Best Basketball Shoes for Centers 2023
Nike Air Zoom GT Jump
The Nike GT Jump was the weapon of choice of the reigning NBA MVP Nikola Jokic in 2022 and with good reason. The Nike GT Jump offers a wide array of features perfect for bigger hoopers while remaining lightweight and agile.
The GT Jump features 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, so it has enough impact protection to keep up with any player. But the shoe also features a lightweight synthetic upper that requires no break-in time while also including some really great traction as well. Read the full review. Price: $200
Best Retro Basketball Shoe
adidas Forum 84
The adidas Forum 84 was almost Michel Jordan’s first signature shoe. The shoes feature awesome materials on the upper that has been expertly aged to give the shoe a vintage look. The shoe also boasts a radial traction pattern, a cup sole, and a full-length EVA wedge as cushioning. One of the best basketball shoes when it comes to it’s build and materials. Read full review. Price: $100.
Most Hyped Basketball Shoe
adidas Yeezy QNTM BSKTBL
After spending years teasing it, Kanye West finally released his own basketball shoe. The years of build-up made the Yeezy BSKTBL highly anticipated. And it ended up being a solid performer by including a full-length Boost midsole and a herringbone outsole. One of the best basketball shoes you can play in if you are all about the hype. Read full review. Price: $200.
Best Basketball Shoe Insoles
Move Insoles come with the backing of the likes of Damian Lillard, Chris Paul, and Jamaal Crawford. If that weren’t enough they come packed with performance features including Shock-Free foam for step-in comfort, DS37 foam as the main cushion booster, a forefoot grip layer, a EVA torsion plate, and a Nylon-based torsion plate on Game Day Pro. They are easily one of the best basketball insoles on the market. There are two models to choose from. The Game Day and the Game Day Pro, check them out!. Price: $39.99 or $59.99.
How do we choose the best basketball shoes?
Our goal is to offer the best and most unbiased information at all times to help our audience find the best basketball shoes for their particular needs and playing style,
What are the best basketball shoes?
The best basketball shoes will always be the ones that allow you to perform at your highest, but finding that pair of hoop shoes isn’t as easy as it may seem. Even if you’re a seasoned basketball player, you may not be sure what features are best suited for your playing style, and which of the many basketball shoes you could pick up actually have the features you need.
You might prefer just to pick up the best basketball shoes from your favorite brand, but a shoe that caters to your playing style, physique, and foot shape really can enhance your performance on court and help prevent injuries.
A great basketball shoe should be able to:
- Grip the playing surface in a way that allows you to cut, change directions and stop on a dime.
- Provide a level of cushioning that protects your joints from the multiple impacts you will suffer while playing. Every time you land after a jump, you’re putting stress on your joints. On average a player jumps 50 times during a basketball game. Without the proper impact protection, your joints will feel it later.
- The shoe’s upper should be comfortable but at the same time lock down your foot. If the materials are too soft, your foot will likely slide over the top of the midsole. Too tight and the shoe might be too painful to play in.
- The shoe should also provide support and give you confidence in more explosive movements. A shoe’s support will come from a mix of several features, but the main source of support is your own ankle.
- Lastly, you will want a shoe with durable materials worth the hefty price tag of many shoes nowadays, and that are ready to handle the court you play on, whether it be indoors or outdoors.
What is the best basketball shoe of all time?
That’s a very difficult question to answer. The truth is that there isn’t just one “best basketball shoe” of all time, especially when we’re talking about performance basketball shoes. If we’re talking most iconic, you could probably argue it’s the Jordan 1 or maybe the Converse All-Star, but when we go into on-court performance, the conversation gets more nuanced.
To give as concise an answer as possible, we’ll go over some of the top performers of all time, keeping in mind that personal preference and playing style are huge variables to keep in mind:
Air Jordan 12
To start things off, let’s go with a retro Jordan. The Air Jordan 12 is one of the greatest performance models of all time, and a shoe that was way ahead of its time. The Air Jordan 12 was originally released in 1997 and featured tech that, even by today’s standards, makes it a great on-court shoe. The Air Jordan 12 features herringbone traction, full-length Zoom Air, and a super supportive leather upper (the OG’s feature full-grain leather). An all-around awesome performer. Read full review. Current Retail Price: $200
Air Jordan 29
A more modern Jordan model, the Jordan 29 was released back in 2014. Its predecessor, the Jordan 28, was an amazing performance model and the Jordan 29 improved on the blueprint established by the 28. With the Jordan 29 you will get great traction, one of the best Air Zoom setups in the forefoot for cushion, one of the best uppers on a basketball shoe of all time, and all the lightweight support you can handle. Another all-time great from Jordan Brand. Read full review. Original Price: $225
Nike Kobe 9
First off, the Nike Kobe 9 features the best traction of all time. Period. The Nike Kobe 9 was a very technologically advanced shoe at the time. The traction pattern was thermally mapped and engineered to adapt perfectly to the foot’s anatomy. On top of that, the shoe featured a Lunarlon drop-in midsole (a very innovative set-up at the time) and an engineered mesh upper. All these features allowed the shoe to remain extremely lightweight and supportive. Probably the best performance Kobe you can buy. Read full review. Original Price: $160
Under Armour Curry 4
The Curry signature line is one of the most consistently great signature lines out there. The Under Armour Curry 4 is one of the best guard shoes ever produced. The shoe offers great traction, responsive low-profile cushioning, and hall-of-fame level support and fit. The shoe was meant to conform to your foot like a sock, so finding your correct size is crucial. Once you do, you’ll have one of the most agile and responsive shoes ever created. Read full review. Original Price: $130
adidas Harden Vol 3
One of adidas’ greatest contributions to performance footwear is Boost cushioning. Boost is one of the greatest cushion setups of all time and the Harden Vol 3 features one of the best iterations of it on a basketball shoe. Aside from flawless cushioning, James Harden’s 3rd signature shoe also features great traction, a highly supportive and Hall-of-fame-level fitting woven upper. The fit and support of the shoe are generated primarily by the upper itself, keeping everything lightweight. James Harden shoes can be a bit hit or miss, but the adidas Harden Vol 3 is definitely the line’s greatest hit to date. Read full review. Original Price: $160
Which sole materials are the best for basketball?
Outside of the different rubber compounds shoe brands use, which might too technical a differentiation, there are two main types of rubber used on basketball shoes: translucent and solid rubber.
As a general rule of thumb, solid rubber is a safer bet when it comes to traction, but that is not to say that there aren’t some really great translucent rubber options out there (ie: Jordan Luka 1). Solid rubber tends to bite the court better and offers the best performance.
Then there is the question of the hardness and durability of the rubber. This is especially important when you are trying to find a good basketball shoe for outdoor play. In this case, what you are looking for is a harder rubber compound with a deep and aggressive traction pattern. To this end, Nike’s XDR rubber is always a safe bet.
What’s a good weight for a basketball shoe?
To give a short easy answer: any weight is good for a basketball shoe.
It just depends on your preferences on the court. Heavier shoes are just slightly heavier, and don’t really affect performance in any way. Lighter shoes do not make you any faster or explosive on court. Weight differences between basketball shoes are miniscule and really give you any edge either way, its just a preference.
How many types of basketball shoes are there?
There are many different ways to categorize basketball shoes: by brand, by surface, by position, etc. But one differentiation that is common to any type of hoop shoe is the cut. Basketball shoes can be high cut, mid cut or low cut.
The differences between the three don’t really have any effect on the performance of the shoe, it is more of an aesthetic difference. Check out the full breakdown on Highs, Mids and Lows here.
What are the best basketball shoe brands?
It is very difficult, or maybe even impossible to pick one brand and designate it as the best for basketball. First off, that depends 100% on you and your needs on court. If you are a small shifty point guard, you would of course need a shoe that fits your needs regardless of the brand.
Then there is the issue of the time period we are talking about. In recent years, Puma has emerged as one of the most consistent producers of high quality performance basketball shoes. But they just re-entered the market in 2018. Historically, Nike might have the longest list of all-time performers, but maybe also the longest list of on-court duds.
So with this in mind, here is a list of the current top brands for basketball shoes (in no particular order:
How do I find a basketball shoe that fits my playing style?
No two basketball players are the same. Everything from a player’s height to their weight, to their build, their skill level, etc. are factors that will determine their playing style. And even players that seem very similar, can have different tastes in what they like from their footwear. Damian Lillard and Kyrie Irving for example have vastly different signature shoes, but somewhat comparable styles on court.
Smaller, more agile players will usually favor shoes that can accommodate their shiftier style of play. This means that they will need great traction, great support features, and reactive cushioning. The Curry line and the Kyrie line are good examples of this type of setup.
For bigger, more powerful players, on the other hand, the main focus will probably be a plush cushioning system that will absorb a lot of impacts and a very supportive build. In this case, LeBron’s signature line is the best example available.
This of course is a general rule of thumb, and each player will have their individual tastes, but this is a good starting point to find the best basketball shoes for you.
Indoor Basketball vs Outdoor Basketball
This is the question of where you’ll use your shoes. If you play primarily indoors, durability won’t be a huge issue. But if you’re an outdoor hooper, that’s a different story.
The best basketball shoes for outdoor basketball will need more durable materials along the upper, harder rubber on the outsole, more cushion to protect against the hard blacktop, and an appropriate traction pattern. We have a full guide on how to choose outdoor basketball shoes that you can check out.
High-tops, Mid-tops, and Low-tops
Lastly, there is the question of the cut of the shoe. The issue of the cut of a basketball shoe is a bit of a myth. High tops and mids are perceived as offering more support for your ankles and will supposedly help you avoid ankle injuries.
This is not true, however. Low-tops are as supportive as high-tops because the main source of support when playing basketball is actually your ankle itself. NBA players have been playing in low-top basketball shoes for decades, but Kobe Bryant was actually the player who most notoriously debunked this myth.
But there is something to say about the placebo effect that mid-tops and high-tops can provide. Especially people who have already injured their ankles feel safer in mids and highs, and confidence is essential when stepping on the court. So, in this case, stick with what works for you.
Finding the best fit for your basketball shoes
With the boom of online shopping, going into your local sneaker shop and trying on a pair of shoes is practically a thing of the past. If you aren’t going in and trying on your shoes, fit can be more of an issue than you might think.
For starters, different brands fit differently. In particular, adidas is notoriously inconsistent with its sizing and is the most different fitting of any of the major brands. But even within more traditionally fitting brands, different lines within each brand might fit wider or more narrowly.
Fortunately, at WearTesters we break down the fit of every shoe we review. And we actually wear and test every shoe we review. That’s not something a lot of other shoe review websites do.
How much should a basketball shoe cost?
As much as you are willing to pay. You can find basketball shoes from under $50 all the way up to around $300 for retail. And there are good basketball shoes at any price point, and if you start sifting through basketball shoe deals, even more so. It is more a matter of what you are looking to spend.
But $100 is a good average price point where you will find a lot of really good basketball shoes. In that rage of $90 to $110, there are a lot of really good basketball shoes that are worth the money.
Also, at that price, you aren’t shelling out too much cash just for the marketing or hype around the shoe either. Making basketball shoes, believe it or not, is quite expensive, and $100 is a fair amount to spend on a pair.
How much room should be at the end of a basketball shoe?
This is another aspect of a basketball shoe that depends greatly on your personal taste in shoes. Performance-wise, a 1-to-1 fit is the best way to go. You want your hoop shoes to fit like a glove, this will give you the best support and lockdown on the court.
As far as how much room should be at the end of a basketball shoe, at most you want to leave a thumbs width of space at the end of your shoe. Any more, and you are giving your foot too much space to slide within your shoe.
How to break in a basketball shoe
Nowadays, performance basketball shoes are usually made using synthetic textile materials along the upper, which cuts down on break-in time dramatically. However, there are a few quick tips to break in your basketball shoes even quicker.
Wear your hoop shoes casually
Before taking your basketball shoes out on the court, you can wear them casually or around the house for a couple of days to get them formed to your foot. You can also wear them to the weight room for light exercise. After 2 or 3 days, you should be ready to take them to court.
Wear your basketball shoes to practice
Before you break out your new kicks during an official game, take them for a test drive in a more controlled environment. Use them for a shootaround. Or get a few practices in before game day.
If you follow the above recommendations, your shoes should be nicely broken in and ready for action.