WearTesters is reader-supported. When you make purchases using links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Why trust us?

Puma MB 03: The Best LaMelo Shoe to Date

Puma MB 03 English Review

Puma MB 03 Spanish Review

Puma MB 03

The Puma MB 03 is LaMelo Ball’s 3rd signature shoe, and it might just be the best one yet, which is saying a lot since the MB 01 is an all time great.

Colorway: La France

Release Date: 2023

Price: $125

Total Score
Buy Puma MB 03

The Puma MB 01 was an all-time great performance model and perhaps the best first signature basketball shoe ever. The Puma MB 02 was a slight step back in the MB line in terms of on-court capabilities, but it was still a solid performance basketball shoe. One thing these two shoes did have in common, however, is that they are proper signature shoes: They stand out, and whether or not you like them visually, they demand attention.  

The Puma MB 03 takes all the best performance features of both of these models and jams them into the best aesthetic design yet. The performance review is provided by Weartester’s own Jackson Bayer:

Puma MB 03 Traction Performance

The MB.03 has an aggressive multidirectional traction pattern, and on my pair, uses both translucent and solid rubber. Before taking the MB.03 on court, I was a bit worried about potential dust pickup on poorly maintained courts – the MB.02 wasn’t the best with dust in the mix, and while I had a good experience with the MB.01 traction, it wasn’t exceptional.

I found the MB.03’s traction to be elite – no matter the court, I never slipped or lost my footing due to the traction not performing. It’s not as squeaky as the two previous shoes in LaMelo’s line, but they perform. The pattern also wraps up the forefoot both on the medial and lateral sides, which is a must on a shoe with a rounded outsole like this one.

Outdoors, you’ll get good performance but not great durability, which is about par for the course for basketball shoes today that don’t come from a Chinese brand like Li-Ning or Anta. The rubber on the MB.03 is more durable than what was on the previous two LaMelo shoes, though I still don’t outright recommend the MB.03 for outdoor use.

Puma MB 03 Cushion Perfromance

The MB.03 features the same cushion setup as the MB.02, so if you played in those, you already know what to expect here. You’re getting Nitro foam pucks in the heel and forefoot, which are encased in compression-molded EVA. Like the MB.02, there’s a lot of foam here, so impact protection was never an issue, and because it’s a dense midsole, it’s going to be among the most durable foam setups you can get.

You’re also higher off the ground than in most guard-oriented shoes, so if you like feeling as low as possible, you’re not going to find it here.

The carrier foam used here is firm, so because of that, the cushion as a whole feels firm. I’ve played in a lot of shoes that feature Nitro foam, and I honestly don’t know what it’s supposed to feel like, because it feels like nothing on every shoe it’s featured in, at least in the basketball line. The positive of this type of foam setup is that it’s relatively stable underfoot, even with the lack of court feel.

One thing to note is that I’m not a big guy, so if you’re putting some more weight on the foam, you’ll likely get slightly different results than me. Even when taking that into consideration, when comparing to most other foam cushions on the market today, this is on the firm side.

The insole used here is the same thick, fluffy one that comes in every Puma basketball shoe. Initial step-in comfort is great, but goes away quickly once you bottom out the foam. I’ve been using my Move Game Day insoles in these and it hasn’t caused any issues.

Puma MB 03 Materials Performance

The MB.03 has a multi-layered textile upper, with a top layer of engineered mesh and a more basic mesh underneath and some fuse in high-wear areas to increase durability. It’s a soft, flexible upper that requires basically zero break-in time and doesn’t cause any hotspots or weird flex points, which was an issue I had with the MB.02.

The cutouts in the engineered mesh provide some airflow, though it’s not among the best-ventilated shoes on the market. The collar area is nicely padded and the material is soft, so no matter how you lace your shoes, you’re not going to feel any pinching or discomfort in the collar area.

The tongue is a basic mesh with some leather overlays, which block ventilation through most of the tongue but do a good job of preventing lace pressure.

Overall, the material setup here is a big upgrade over the MB.02, and feels very similar on-foot to the MB.01, which I personally loved.

Puma MB 03 Fit Performance

The MB.03’s fit is another strong point – I got my true size and the fit is excellent, both length and width-wise. There’s zero dead space within the shoe, which is a nice upgrade over the MB.02, which I found to be a little long with too much room over the top of my toes. The MB.03’s lacing system is a standout feature.

The laces are more wide-set than on a traditional setup, and there are nylon cables in place of traditional eyelets that are stitched even further down on the upper making the fit easily adjustable.

The MB.03 runs a bit narrow, but the material and lacing setup allow for a more accommodating fit for those with regular or even slightly wide feet. Of course, the best course of action would be to try these on in-store to make sure they fit appropriately, but I’d recommend going with whatever size you normally get in basketball shoes.

Puma MB 03 Support Performance

The support begins and ends with the one-to-one fit. My foot was never shifting inside of the shoe while playing, and lockdown was excellent from heel to toe. The rubber side walls along the lateral side of the shoe help with stability, and there’s a solid TPU heel counter in place, along with ample collar padding, to keep your heel locked down.

The thick, dense midsole, along with a midfoot shank plate, keeps the shoe from twisting or bending in the wrong direction, but it also makes the shoe less flexible in the forefoot area than most guard-oriented shoes. This is mostly a matter of personal preference, though when a shoe is too stiff through the tooling, it can actually make you more prone to ankle sprains because of the limited mobility. Ultimately, I never felt the MB.03 limited my freedom of movement, but it’s definitely less flexible than what I typically prefer.

Puma MB 03 Overall Performance

The MB.03 is LaMelo Ball’s best signature shoe with Puma to date. The fit, materials, and traction are all top-notch, and while the thick, dense midsole that has become commonplace with Puma basketball isn’t my personal preference, it doesn’t hold the MB.03 back from being a solid performer.

If you’re a player who needs impact protection without completely sacrificing mobility, this is a shoe worth checking out. If you’re a fan of the MB.01, you’ll love the MB.03 as it feels nearly identical on court, with improved traction and impact protection. In the future, I’d like to see Puma provide more court feel in its flagship basketball models, but I can’t knock the MB.03 too much when I thoroughly enjoyed them on court.

Puma MB 03 Tech Breakdown

Puma MB 03 English Tech Breakdown

Puma MB 03 Spanish Tech Breakdown

Puma MB 03 Specs:

Puma MB 03 Traction

Traction on the Puma MB 03 should work very well on clean indoor surfaces. The sole combines translucent and solid rubber and a coral-patterned traction system that is very reminiscent of another hall-of-fame on-court performance shoe, the adidas Crazy Explosive. If the MB 03’s traction performs anything like that shoe on court, this might just be one of the best-tractioned basketball shoes of the year.

In terms of outdoor performance, the rubber is rather tough and there is a good amount of it, but we still wouldn’t recommend these as a good outdoor option. It might be robust enough to handle a couple of outdoor excursions but don’t make these your go-to outdoor shoe.

Puma MB 03 Cushion

As far as the cushioning goes, we have almost the exact same setup as in the previous 2 MB models, which is good news. The midsole of the Puma MB 03 is compression molded EVA which is a slightly more dense and durable implementation of EVA, with heel and forefoot Nitro infused pucks.

You should expect a very similar on-court experience to the previous 2 models, that is to say, a very well-balanced cushioning setup that feels plush and comfortable underfoot, but does not sacrifice reactiveness or explosiveness on court. Even though this is more of a guard-specific setup, bigger players should enjoy it as well.

Puma MB 03 Materials

This is perhaps the best build we have seen to date in LaMelo Ball’s signature line, and maybe even the shoe’s best feature. 
The material selection is nothing special. We have a layered textile upper with some fuse overlays in the high-wear areas. The main textile is soft and sits on top of a base layer of mesh and feels nice in hand. Performance-wise, this will provide everything you need on court while keeping the shoe light and breathable.

But what makes this setup special is the implementation and depth of design it allows. There is no denying this is a wild-looking basketball shoe and the design team at Puma was able to incorporate many design cues seamlessly in this model. It might be a polarizing design but that’s what you want if you’re pushing the envelope. It will offer excellent performance on court. 

Puma MB 03 Support

Support is solid, and a big reason for that is the fit (more on that later). The shoe is built in a similar way to a Nike Kyrie shoe: a rounded medial side, and a flat lateral side. This will provide mobility on more exaggerated movements like crossovers but at the same time provide a stable base.

There’s also a midfoot shank plate, which combines with the thick midsole to give you torsional rigidity and then we have a really nice lacing system. This lacing configuration will allow you to personalize the shoe’s lockdown to get the best feeling and most secure ride for you (and your foot shape). Lastly, we have a nicely padded heel collar and a very substantial heel counter as well. This setup is comfortable and secure feeling, which is exactly what you want.

Puma MB 03 Fit

The MB 03 fits true to size, but it is that really great 1 to 1 performance fit that is ideal for lockdown and support. If this type of fit is too much for you, you can try going up half a size, but, as always, the best option would be to go in-store and try them on.

Puma MB 03 Overall

The Puma MB 03 might just be the best LaMelo signature shoe to date, which is saying something. In terms of on-court performance, the Puma MB 01 is hard to beat, but the MB 03 features better materials, and, in our opinion, a more refined and unique design, which might just clinch the W.

Buy Puma MB 03
1 comment

Add a Comment

Related Posts