Basketball shoes seem to be necessities for every basketball player out there. While you may still be able to perform well using your regular rubber sneakers, choosing a good pair of shoes to play with in your next game can make an entire difference when it comes to winning or losing.
But with so many different brands and styles to choose from in the market, it can be pretty difficult for you to actually weed out the ones that are not worth your money. A lot of different shoes are introduced into the market every year. This makes it even more difficult for you to know which shoes to get regardless of when they were introduced.
So, if you are looking for the best basketball shoes, you need to check out the ones we believe are worth every bit of penny you have.
If you want to get back to playing basketball, get our top pick for the best basketball shoes here.
Our Favorites for the Best Basketball Shoes (the best out of the bunch)
The Air Jordan XI is one of the top-selling shoes of all time. This shoe is the 11th shoes released from the Air Jordan line and was first introduced to the market back in 1995 when Michael Jordan, regarded as arguably the greatest and most popular player of all time, decided to return to the NBA after his first retirement from the game of basketball.
People often refer to these shoes as the “elevens”, and there is a good reason why it is as popular as it is even until today when it has already been more than two decades since they were first released. The Air Jordan XI was the first pair of shoes to feature the patent leather material, which gave it the durability and comfort that people still love until today. A good part of the elevens’ upper material is also made from ballistic nylon mesh, which makes it a bit lighter than most other sneakers made from leather.
The Air Jordan XI features a solid kind of traction that feels sticky the moment you step on the court. As long as the courts are maintained well and are as free from dust as possible, the traction works like a charm. Its cushioning, which is mostly lightweight Phylon and a full Air unit, is pretty good as well and is great at absorbing impact whether you are landing on your feet after jumping or are simply running the floor hard. You will also enjoy its overall fit and the way it supports your feet.
But what really makes the Air Jordan XI stand out even until today is that it looks like a beast. The entire look and the colorways it comes with are still straight-up great to make it one of the most beautiful NBA shoes of all time. That is why plenty of players still use the elevens today even when newer shoes with better materials and innovative features are introduced into the market every single year.
Overall, the Air Jordan XI is still the best basketball shoe in terms of its design and performance. Do not take us the wrong way. There are plenty of sneakers today that might perform and feel better than the elevens but the nostalgia and the iconic feel that comes with these shoes cannot be matched by any other pair in recent memory. This makes it pretty much difficult for anyone to grab a pair for a good price as most of these shoes may be sold at prices that may very well be more expensive than a lot of the other shoes on the market due to how rare and iconic it is.
What makes the Air Jordan XI unique:
- The first to feature the patent leather material.
- Traction still stands out even when compared to the newer shoes today.
- Unbeatable design and look that no other pair can stand up to.
Why choose the Air Jordan XI shoes:
- The nostalgia that comes with the pair is unmatched.
- Has that sense of swagger due to how iconic and popular it is.
- Gives you that raw throwback feel.
Back when the late great Kobe Bryant was the face of the Nike franchise when he was playing at the prime of his athletic capabilities and overall prowess, he suffered an ankle injury that made him ask the team behind his sneakers for low top sneakers. The Nike team delivered by introducing the innovator and still arguably the best of the low top sneaker revolution, the Zoom Kobe IV.
ESPN ranks the Zoom Kobe IV as the best Kobe shoes ever. That is saying a lot because Kobe sneakers have been some of the best in the modern era of basketball shoes. And the reason why the Kobe IV is considered the best is that it delivers well in all of the facets you look at when you are judging a good pair of low top basketball sneakers.
First off, the Zoom Kobe IV innovated because of how light it is. It might not be as light as plenty of the other shoes we see in the market today but never has the world seen a shoe that was as light as the Kobe IV. The materials are the key to making these shoes as light as they are. Synthetic leather is used to make up its upper and it also features Phylon and Flywire to make it light.
Next up, anyone would love the Kobe IV’s traction due to how good its pattern and material combination is. The outsole is made with soft rubber that tends to stick well on the floor to give you a nice experience. Meanwhile, its cushioning also performs well due to its Phylon midsole and to the Zoom Air unit you can find the heel area. It offers a good impact absorption in the heel area and is a pretty good choice for shifty and athletic guards.
You would also love the balance support that the Kobe IV offers you. The heel counter feels nice to give you good support. This allows the pair of sneakers to feel stable enough that your ankles would feel safe regardless of how intense your movements are on the court. The support was where the Kobe IV delivered the most when it was first released as Nike did indeed give Kobe Bryant what he wanted from a pair of low top sneakers.
Overall, there is a good reason why the Zoom Kobe IV is considered one of the greatest shoes of all time. It comes with a durable and lightweight build that comes in a good-looking low top design. On top of that, it is comfortable on your feet and also provides you with enough support. The Kobe IV eventually became the standard of success for future low top basketball shoes. And, in many ways, it acted as the prototype of future low top Kobe sneakers that perform just as well as this one. That is why this is widely considered as the best basketball shoes for a guard.
What makes the Zoom Kobe IV unique:
- Comes with a low top design that innovated the low top sneaker market.
- Traction is amazing and allows your feet to stick well on the court.
- Supports your feet and ankles really well to give you enough confidence on the court.
Why choose the Zoom Kobe IV shoes:
- They are considered the best and most iconic Kobe shoes of all time.
- Combines comfort and support really well.
- Gives you a relaxing ride that guards would really love.
The Runner-Ups for the Best Basketball Shoes (still good but a bit lacking)
Not a lot of people will regard basketball sneakers that do not come from a signature line as top options when it comes to the best in the business. But here we are saying that the Adidas Crazy Explosive is one of the best basketball shoes on the market even though it does not even come with a signature athlete’s name. And there are a lot of good reasons why we love this amazing shoe.
The Crazy Explosive comes in several variants but we love the 2017 Primeknit version above all of the other variants. Primeknit is Adidas’s version of the popular Nike Flyknit, a lightweight knitted material that first appeared in running shoes. The reason why we love the Primeknit material is that it does not only make the Crazy Explosive crazy light but it also adds to the shoe’s overall breathability since air can freely pass through the knitted material without sacrificing durability and comfort.
Another feature that we really like about the Crazy Explosive is that its lacing system gives you the comfort, security, and stability that all work together to alleviate any pressure on your feet so that you will stay comfortable and safe all game long while the shoes reduce fatigue on the heel area of your feet.
The Crazy Explosive comes with a full-length Boost unit that makes the entire ride feel comfortable due to how the shoes are able to cushion impact really well without reducing performance and responsiveness. We also like the lateral and heel support that it comes with as it minimizes slippage while also making sure that your feet rest well on the footbed.
Overall, the Adidas Performance Men’s Crazy Explosive is a beast when it comes to its features and performance. It is the type of shoe that goes well with any playing style because of its great all-around features. On top of that, since it does not come with a signature athlete’s name, you can expect it to be a bit more affordable than other shoe lines in the market.
What makes the Crazy Explosive unique:
- Has knitted variant called the Crazy Explosive Primeknit.
- Its lacing system is what provides a lot of the comfort and stability you feel.
- Offers one of the best cushioning you can ever have in a pair of basketball shoes.
Why choose the Crazy Explosive:
- Excellent breathability and overall comfort.
- Great for any kind of playing style.
- Feels light due to the lightweight Primeknit material used on its upper.
- boost's energy-returning properties keep every step charged with an endless supply of light, fast energy
- Lightweight synthetic and textile upper provides durability
- Mesh tongue and heel insert offer ventilation; Anatomical lace system wraps the entire foot and relieves pressure
The LeBron Soldier line by Nike might not be LeBron James’ main signature shoe line but it is arguably the more preferred line for a lot of different basketball players not only because it is more affordable but also because it is the type of shoe that actually fits a lot of people’s playing style as compared to the main LeBron line that has a more focused target market (i.e. powerful and explosive players).
Unlike the main LeBron signature line, the Soldier 13 does not come with a lot of gimmicks. It was designed to stay as simple as possible while making sure that it was also made to perform well despite not having the same kind of innovations as other signature shoes. Its traction does not come with anything special, and that is what makes us love it so much because it stays true to its roots and is just as effective as ever. Meanwhile, the materials are nothing special as well but work like a charm due to its lightweight build and breathability.
We especially loved the support that comes with the LeBron Soldier 13 because it comes with a laceless system that relies on a locking mechanism that gives you a snug and tight fit. The shoes will hug your feet well so long as you go true to size. Meanwhile, the cushioning works well because of how it comes with a Zoom Air unit at the forefoot and a loaded insole to alleviate as much pressure from your foot as possible. You are going to feel like you are running smoothly and effortlessly despite how thick the midsole might be.
From an overall aspect, the LeBron Soldier 13 does its job well but it does not really stand out in a lot of aspects. Nevertheless, it is a great option for those who feel like the main LeBron line does not work well for their style of play as the Soldier line is usually designed to be an all-around shoe that goes well with most players. There was even a season when LeBron preferred to use his Soldier shoes instead of his main LeBron shoes because of how he felt like the Soldier complemented his playing style better.
What makes the LeBron Soldier 13 unique:
- Comes with the LeBron James kind of appeal but is much more affordable than the main signature line.
- Simplicity is its key as it gets the job done with simple materials and a simple traction system.
- Locks you down well with its laceless design.
Why choose the LeBron Soldier 13:
- Much more affordable than the main LeBron line but performs up to par.
- Great for narrow-fitted players because of its snug laceless fit.
- Performs well regardless of your playing style.
- High-top silhouette with extended tongue for support and classic style.
- Dual straps with Velcro and pull-tab tightening for secure lockdown.
- Mesh upper breathes, flexes, and lets you trust your feet to stay centered.
The Value Picks for the Best Basketball Shoes (good and affordable)
Basketball shoes do not always have to be expensive. There are some that come at reasonable prices but still perform well enough for any type of player out on the court. The Adidas Performance Cloudfoam should be a pair of sneakers that come with an affordable price tag and an experience that makes it seem like it should be a bit more expensive.
Usually priced under a hundred dollars, the Cloudfoam’s major selling point is its comfort and support. It features a Cloudfoam memory foam cushioning that helps in reducing the impact you feel on your feet whenever you are running or landing. Meanwhile, the support that locks your feet well while also providing a good enough traction that sees to it that you feel secure on the court at any given time.
While the shoe is mostly made out of synthetic leather to add to its durability, its rear end is made out of engineered mesh to add to the breathability and comfort you feel while wearing the shoes as opposed to basketball sneakers that feel too warm due to their all-leather construction. This makes the Cloudfoam a good option for the outdoors if you are playing in the middle of a hot summer or if you are from a warm country.
Overall, the Adidas Cloudfoam does not have its own standout features but it was made to be a pair of basketball sneakers that cover all of the bases. It is comfortable, safe, effective, and breathable all while carrying an affordable price tag.
What makes the Adidas Performance Cloudfoam unique:
- Cheap and reliable.
- Comes with a comfortable memory foam footbed for added cushioning.
Why choose the Adidas Performance Cloudfoam:
- Good for those who need shoes for everyday casual gaming.
- Perfect pair of practice shoes due to how affordable it is.
- High-top basketball sneaker featuring 3-Stripes logo at sides and perforations for ventilation
- Air mesh tongue, collar and rear quarter
- CLOUDFOAM sockliner and midsole for lightweight cushioning
You do not always see signature sneaker lines that come with affordable prices especially if they come from Nike. But Paul George and the team behind the PG line of sneakers made it a point to provide you with a signature Nike shoe that actually comes with a good price tag that has a price that is usually a lot cheaper than most of the other signature shoe lines available in the market.
Other than how it comes with a unique and beautiful design that was patterned after some of Kobe’s low top shoes, the PG 4 comes with neat features that make it a good choice for those looking for affordable yet effective sneakers. Its traction system is superb and will always be effective regardless of the conditions of the court. The Air Strobel cushioning adds a lot of comfort and support on your foot and even gives you that extra bounce on your step while you are running.
In terms of its materials, the PG 4 comes with the classic zip-up design that was popular back in the 90s but has the construction and build that is similar to some of the Kobe sneakers you might be familiar with. And even though it comes with a zip-up design, it is ventilated quite well thanks to its knitted design.
It might have been better in terms of its fit and overall support since we did not feel like it performed at its best in those aspects but you will never get a pair of affordable signature sneakers that come is as good looking and as comfortable as the PG 4. No doubt it is one of the best sneakers Nike has to offer for those who are not willing to spend on the more expensive LeBron, Kobe, and KD signature lines. That is why the PG 4 is one of the best basketball shoes available right now.
What makes the PG 4 unique:
- It has a throwback zip-up design that will remind you of the 90s.
- Cushioning comes with the revolutionary Air Strobel.
Why choose the PG4:
- It is Nike’s most affordable signature sneaker line.
- Fantastic for guards and swingmen thanks to its lightweight build and amazing cushioning.
FAQs on the Best Basketball Shoes
What makes a good basketball shoe?
If you are wondering what factors into making a good basketball shoe, here are some of the things you might need to look at for you to know whether a shoe is good or not:
Everything starts from the materials because these make up the base of the shoe. It does not matter what materials are used so long as the shoes stay durable, breathable, and comfortable the entire time. Patent leather used to be the most popular material for shoes back in the 90s but we are now seeing the introduction of innovative materials such as knits and engineered mesh.
One of the reasons why you need to use basketball shoes when playing basketball is traction. Basketball is a sport that relies on a lot of quick and sharp movements but not all rubber-soled shoes have tractions that will allow your feet to stick well on the court for that added security. That is why you need to factor in traction when you are looking at a good pair of basketball shoes.
The feet of a basketball player are always under a lot of pressure from all the sprinting and jumping he does on the court. That is why a good pair of basketball shoes needs to have superb cushioning that reduces the impact and fatigue on your feet.
Of course, the best basketball shoes need to fit your feet well because of how the right kind of fit adds to the comfort and support you feel when you are playing.
A good pair of basketball shoes needs to support your feet well not only for that added security and comfort out on the court but also to make sure that your risk of suffering an injury is at a minimum.
How long do basketball shoes last?
The longevity of a pair of basketball shoes tends to be subjective. It really depends on how often you use them and on what kind of conditions you are using them under. Most basketball shoes that are used maybe four to five times a week can generally last for about nine months to a year before they show signs of wear and tear. But if you are only using the shoes once or twice a week, they may last for about a couple of years.
Meanwhile, conditions also play a role. Outdoor courts are usually rougher than indoor ones. Playing outdoors will wear your basketball shoes faster. So, generally speaking, your shoes will probably last for about six to nine months if you are using them frequently outdoors.
What are the most supportive basketball shoes?
In terms of support, we believe that the Kobe IV is one of the best at providing you the kind of support that your ankle needs to feel safe and secure for an entire game. These shoes combine fit and balance to make sure that your ankles are supported the right way. Meanwhile, we also love the support that the Adidas Crazy Explosive comes with as its lacing system locks your feet down well for you to feel secured and safe out on the court.
What shoes do NBA players wear?
The type of shoes that NBA players wear really depends on many factors such as endorsement deals, playing style, and personal preferences. Naturally, signature athletes such as LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Russell Westbrook, Paul George, Stephen Curry, and Damian Lillard all wear their own signature basketball shoes from their respective sneaker deals. Meanwhile, some players might not have signature shoes but they do have endorsement deals with brands such as Nike and Adidas.
But for those players that do not have endorsement deals, they are usually free to wear whatever kind of shoes they want so long as it fits their playing style and preference. PJ Tucker is known to have arguably the largest collection of sneakers in the NBA as he is often seen wearing different shoes every single game. But, in a recent observation from the 2018-19 season, the Nike Men’s Hyperdunk line was the most widely used shoe by NBA players followed by the Nike Kobe AD.
How often do NBA players replace their shoes?
NBA players are known to replace their shoes every two to three days to make sure that they decrease the chances of injury associated with the wear and tear of using shoes multiple times. However, there are players that only wear shoes once before replacing them or keeping them in their collection. These are usually the ones that have endorsement deals with companies that provide them with a fresh new pair every single game.
How to Choose the Best Basketball Shoes for You
When you are choosing the best basketball shoes for you, you have to look at the following considerations for you to know if the sneakers are right for you:
Your playing style should be the top priority when it comes to choosing the right basketball shoes for you. Different shoes were made for different styles of play. For example, the Kobe and Kyrie lines tend to be the best basketball shoes for guards while the LeBron line is reserved more for power players. You have to look at your own playing style first before choosing the shoes that fit your game.
The kind of fit that the basketball shoes have play a role in helping you decide if they are right for you. Some shoes are made for narrow footers while others fit wide footers better. Look at your feet first and try to make an assessment when fitting the right basketball shoes for you.
The decision to go for high, mid, or low shoes depends entirely on you. High tops are better for ankle support but tend to be heavier. Mid shoes give you a good amount of ankle support and are not as heavy as high tops. Meanwhile, low tops tend to be the lightest but are also less likely to provide you with the ankle support you need to feel safe.
Personal biases and preferences also play a role in choosing the right basketball shoes for you because of how you may prefer one brand over the other or one signature athlete over another. It is best to know your favorite athlete first or to go for the brand that you feel has provided you with the best quality.
Most often than not, we love choosing basketball shoes that provide you with the design and aesthetic appeal that really catches the eye. Basketball shoes are also a fashion statement for you because you do not only want to stand out with your game but also with your look. The design of the shoes as well as the colorways they come with all play a role in determining whether the sneakers are right for your own taste and sense of style.
Wrapping Things Up: The Best Basketball Shoes
To sum up, here are the best basketball shoes we looked at today:
All those considered, there are hundreds of different basketball shoes available in the market but only a few of those tend to stand out if you consider the factors that make a pair of sneakers the best out of the bunch.
For one, the greatest player of all time still has the best shoes of all time as the Air Jordan XI is still arguably the greatest basketball shoes on the market today because of how it blends nostalgia, performance, and iconic look and design all in one package.
The Kobe IV, however, is also just as good if you factor in how it innovated the low top design.
If the Air Jordan XI and the Kobe IV are a bit too difficult to find in the market today, you can also go for the Adidas Crazy Explosive with its superior comfort and support or with the Lebron Soldier 13 for its all-around performance. But if you are looking to go for budget shoes that you can use for everyday practices, the Adidas Cloudfoam and the PG 4 are solid entries you can rely on to provide you with the comfort and performance that surely will not break the bank.
That’s all we’ve got for this time. Hopefully you found this helpful in finding your next basketball shoe.
Enjoying this article? Check out other useful basketball gear reviews here.