Best Basketball Shoes: 2018 Buyer’s Guide
Basketball is a strenuous sport that requires a lot of different body motions. As well as sudden bursts of speed, and the twisting and turning of the player’s body, the average player will jump dozens or even hundreds of times. With all these movements and various motions, there is nothing more important than finding the best basketball shoes for your time on court.
While there are many factors to consider when buying basketball trainers or basketball boots, you need to consider your style of play, while ensuring that you get footwear that matches that style. You also need to ensure comfort and cushioning, grip and traction, and whether you need for boots for playing indoors or if you require outdoor basketball shoes.
Even style is important – if you buy shoes that you don’t like the look of, you will find yourself buying a new pair a lot sooner than anticipated. Finally, while cost wouldn’t be an issue in the ideal world, we can’t all command the same salary as LeBron James or Al Horford. Budget matters, and it will also play a big part in the pairs of shoes that are available for you to purchase.
Top 10 Basketball Shoes – Comparison Chart
Scan through our comparison table to quickly see the pros and cons of each pair of shoes that made it in the Top 10. If you’re not in a hurry, scroll further down to see our reviews.
|Nike Kevin Durant 9||Buy Now at Amazon.com|
|Under Armour Curry 3||Buy Now at Amazon.com|
|Adidas Derrick Rose 7||Buy Now at Amazon.com|
|Nike Lebron Soldier 11||Buy Now at Amazon.com|
|Adidas Crazy Explosive Low Primeknit||Buy Now at Amazon.com|
|Adidas CrazyLight Boost||Buy Now at Amazon.com|
|Air Jordan XXXI||Buy Now at Amazon.com|
|Nike Lebron XIII||Buy Now at Amazon.com|
|Nike LeBron XIV||Buy Now at Amazon.com|
|Nike Hyper Dunk||Buy Now at Amazon.com|
Basketball Shoes Reviews
There isn’t a great deal of difference between these, the standard Nike Kevin Durant 9, and the premium Kevin Durant 9 Elite. These are the cheaper option and they are really good quality shoes which means that they will get the nod over the more expensive shoes, with a lot of people. Probably the greatest feature of the KD 9 shoes is the traction. The rubber is tacky, and this offers improved traction over other, similarly soled shoes.
The KD9 make for some excellent all-round shoes. They offer exceptional impact protection, and the shoes combine the benefits of Nylon and Flyknit, which means they’re hard wearing and tough while also being flexible and breathable – a difficult combination to pull off.
In terms of fit, some wearers move down half a size, and these basketball sneakers can be difficult to actually get on the foot. Once they are on, though, they will sit firmly in position without slipping and sliding over the foot.
Overall, the Nike Kevin Durant 9 basketball shoes are our pick as the best basketball shoes for 2017. They have a great fit, they are cheaper than some other signature lines, and their tractions is excellent too. There isn’t much that lets these down, although if you have a wide or tall foot, you may have to look elsewhere for your next shoes.
The Curry range has really helped put Under Armour basketball shoes on review lists. Both the former models were popular and high quality, and the Curry 3 has made improvements in a lot of areas. If you’re looking for cheap basketball shoes that don’t compromise on quality too much, then these are an ideal choice.
Traction is an area of basketball shoe design that so many manufacturers do not seem to be able master. This is not the case with Under Armour Curry 3. They have exceptional traction, and are probably best in class in this regard. The herringbone traction has been present since the first Curry model, and for good reason. The rubber is tackier than on the Curry 2 and this means that the most recent incarnation has the best grip of this line.
A hard cushion may be the area that divides buyers. Some will love it. Many won’t. They do give you great court feel, but not even the Ortholite insole is enough that these would be considered comfortable shoes once you’re on the court.
Under Armour Curry 3 basketball shoes are made from Threadborne, and it is combined with anaFoam that will make you feel like they were custom made for your feet.
Curry 3 shoes fit a little small but not by much, and some swear that they fit true to size. The lacing and shoe form shape mean that they not only fit well around the shoe but they won’t feel as though they’re coming loose when you’re playing.
Adidas has three major lines of basketball shoes out at a time, with the Derrick Rose signature boots being the pair to feature full length boost. This means that, as well as having arguably the best traction we’ve seen on any pair of basketball shoes, wearers also receive foot protection and excellent court feel.
In fact, it’s difficult to find anything negative to really say about the Derrick Rose 7 basketball shoes, and they are among our pick for the best basketball shoe. Their traction is perfect for indoor use, and the rubber is durable enough that they are even suitable for outdoor use because you won’t suffer undue levels of wear from the soles.
The shoes are made from an engineered mesh, and they combine this with a nylon backing. This combination means that you enjoy some of the benefits of both materials. The mesh offers breathability while the nylon offers strength and support. The material could, at a push, be a little soft, and this might be enough to put some buyers off, albeit not too many.
Another area that might deter buyers is in the size. Although the Derrick Rose 7 fit true to size, they are quite narrow. If you have wide feet, then you will probably need to steer clear and look for something else.
One of the major complaints with the Nike LeBron signature line is its price point, but they still receive the plaudits compared to the Soldier range. But, this all changed with the introduction of the Soldier 10 basketball shoes from Nike. And, in the Nike LeBron Soldier 11, there are further improvements.
Traction on the Soldier 11 comes in some way between the Jordan XXXI, which have really poor traction, and the Adidas Crazy Explosive, which have excellent traction. They aren’t that bad, but they could have been better.
The shoes obviously benefit from Nike’s Zoom Air pockets, and they have been implemented brilliantly. They measure up to 14mm in parts, so they are big cushions.
There are two versions of the LeBron Soldier 11 shoe. One, which is cheaper and our pick as the best of the two, is made from a mesh build with a ballistic nylon bodyguard. The premium version features a Nubuck mudguard. In truth, there isn’t that much difference in price and many will consider the $10 trade for a slightly heavier and more robust feel to be a fair trade off.
Soldier 11 basketball shoes fit true to size. They can be difficult to get on, because of their one piece build, but they’re comfy once they’re in for most foot sizes.
The platform is much wider than in the Soldier 10. In fact, fans of the Soldier 10 should find this to be the ideal shoe. The 11s have improved on the 10s in almost every possible way, and they were already a good shoe.
Approximately a year after Adidas launched the original Crazy Explosive sneakers, which have proven popular with professionals like Andrew Wiggins, they have launched a low top sneaker version of the shoe. The result is the Adidas Crazy Explosive Low Primeknit basketball shoe. It might not be the shortest name, but players have been crying out for a low top version of the shoe that doesn’t mean they have to sacrifice their ankles in the meantime.
The Adidas low top sneaker has retained the same traction as the high top originals. Unfortunately, the rubber is a little soft so you will wear them down on outdoor courts, so while they aren’t the best outdoor basketball shoes, they are exceptional for indoor use in this respect.
The cushion hasn’t changed since the high top version either, and this means that you get the same boost thanks to the full-length cushion and a slightly thinner cushion in the forefoot area.
Although there is a basic version available, which is made with a micro mesh upper, we believe the Primeknit version is better. They do cost more and, realistically, the Primeknit material won’t improve your performance on court, but they look more premium and they do feel a lot more comfortable. If you have the extra budget, go for the Primeknit.
The Crazy Explosive fits true to size and it has excellent support, especially for a low top sneaker.
Adidas has been releasing some of the best basketball sneakers on the market, including the CrazyLight Boost range. Dual density rubber gives excellent traction underfoot, which is an area that a lot of companies simply don’t seem to be able to get the balance right. You will stick to the court, almost regardless of how you move and the plays you make.
The CrazyLight Boost are going to be popular because of their full length Boost feature. The shoes will absorb impact so it will feel like you’re hardly moving. This is great to protect the feet, although some wearers would rather sacrifice a little protection in order to enjoy increased court feel.
The PrimeKnit version of these shoes uses a neoprene section, rather than having a tongue. This makes it difficult to customize the fit according to the actual contours of your feet, but it also ensures that the shoes stay on your feet once they’re on. It’s another trade off that some wearers will appreciate and others won’t.
If you’ve got a wide foot you may need to move up half a size, otherwise these shoes are reported to fit true to size.
Air Jordan XXXI basketball shoes are the latest incantation of the now iconic branded sneakers. They aren’t the cheapest basketball shoes available, but they do combine modern sneaker technology with the retro styling that a lot of players are looking for.
The shoes benefit from Jordan’s Flightspeed technology and the Zoom unit, which give an excellent cushioned feeling and impact protection. They are also considered among the best basketball shoes when it comes to materials; The Flyweave performance upper combines with synthetic leather heel, and while this initially felt like a means of combining both the old and the new, it actually works really well.
The shoe is considered a little bit wide and its fit is only slightly larger than expected, so it is generally recommended that buyers should buy true to size. The materials do not stretch or give, and the accurate fit means that the shoe offers excellent support.
Unfortunately, it isn’t all great news. A number of wearers have reported that the traction has room for improvement, especially on dusty floor. Not all buyers agree, but it is worth noting if the court you play on isn’t regularly cleaned.
The LeBron XIV shoes are excellent shoes. Their popularity, and the fact that the XIIIs have obviously been replaced means that you can pick up the slightly older pair at a lower price, and considering they are still a great quality pair of shoes, this represents a viable way of buying some signature basketball boots without the paying the cost of a brand new line.
The Zoom pockets on the base are 13mm thick, and they support the whole foot in whatever direction you burst. They also enable you to feel the court and they actually have a really high level of responsiveness that makes them a great shoe to wear when playing.
The LeBron 13 fit true to size, and they are comprised of a series of material layers that combine to give a comfortable and surprisingly supportive fit. They also have a wide base which gives them even greater stability and you will feel the benefit of this when landing. Traction is also really good, even though they don’t use Herringbone, which tends to give the best traction possible.
The LeBron XIII feel like all rounders. They are very good at almost everything, but they don’t necessarily have any stand out features like other shoes do. With that said, they are available at a discount when compared to the price of the latest LeBron signature line, and combined with the very good all round features, this makes them contenders as some of the best basketball boots available at the minute.
LeBron isn’t just popular on the court, his signature shoes have become hugely successful too, and they are unique in that most new pairs improve on those that they replace. With the 14th model, then, we should be in for a major treat, and that’s exactly what we found with these Nike basketball shoes.
Traction is the area where a lot of basketball shoes fall over, so to speak. While it is probably the weakest point of these shoes, the traction of the Nike LeBron 14 is still really quite good, and a lot better than other shoes, especially the latest Jordan signature sneakers. The pattern is designed to improve traction, but dust does gather quickly, so make sure you give the treads a wipe every now and again for improved performance.
The 14mm Zoom Air cushions offer exceptional levels of comfort and very good levels of reactiveness. The Zoom pockets are especially useful for quick cuts, and because they are thin it means that the foot is closer to the floor, improving feel. The fit of these shoes is considered true to size, so there’s no need to just use your shoe size as a guide.
The support may not feel that great because of the open design, but it is there and these are actually really supportive shoes. However, it is a question of whether you will feel that you can trust the support when you’re wearing them. If you can convince your brain that the support is there, which it is, then you will enjoy wearing the Nike LeBron XIV basketball shoes.
10. Nike Hyper Dunk
Nike Hyper Dunk 2017 have excellent traction that will withstand use on virtually any court type, court condition, and court material. They have very resilient foam cushioning, but these don’t offer much in the way of comfort. Some players enjoy the court feel that they offer, but if you want a soft and comfortable cushion in your shoes, then you will need to look elsewhere in our list – Nike React simply do not offer it.
Although the Hyper Dunk are made from a mesh material, they do not offer the same level of breathability that this material gives. However, it is more durable than mesh usually is. If you are used to wearing engineered mesh, then these will feel recognizable. A flyknit version of the Nike Hyper Dunk shoe is available. They cost more but flyknit is a better quality material overall.
The React cushion is a hard cushion. It does allow you to feel the court, but there are more comfortable options. Nike seem to be sticking with React for now, but they will only be popular with those that like a hard cushion while on the court.
Hyper Dunk fit true to size, and they will feel secure once you are playing. If you have wide feet you may need to go up half a size, but this shouldn’t be a deal breaker if you like the hard cushion.
Choosing The Best Basketball Shoe
Basketball was established in 1891 in Springfield. Canadian physical education teacher James Naismith developed the game as an alternative to football, that would attract fewer injuries. The game was first played as a college sport, but the National Basketball Association (NBA) was formed in 1946, although the first professional league was introduced back in 1898.
Throughout the 20th Century, the professional game became one of the most popular sports in the US, and it is now a multi-billion-dollar sporting phenomenon. Although it is primarily enjoyed in the here in the United States, other countries do have their own leagues and their own teams.
Unusually, women’s basketball started in tandem with the men’s game. There are very few differences between the men’s and women’s games, except that the ball used in women’s basketball has 1 inch less diameter. The three-point line is also slightly closer than on the men’s court.
Basketball really is a physically challenging and demanding game. The average college player runs the 40m dash in just under 5 seconds and a mile in 5 minutes 40 seconds. A typical player will run between 2 and 3 miles in a standard game.
The Importance Of A Good Shoe
Because players have to cover so much ground, and perform so many actions, a good pair of shoes is essential. Although they are primarily now worn as fashion shoes, Chuck Taylor All Start Converse basketball shoes were the first shoe designed specifically for use on the court. Nike and Adidas tend to dominate the shelves, and Converse basketball shoes are typically reserved as retro styled casual footwear.
It wasn’t until 1972 that the first pair of Nike basketball shoes was introduced. The Nike Bruin shoes were made from leather and suede, rather than the canvas that previous court shoes had been made from. Current Nike basketball shoes look and perform very differently to these originals.
Nike didn’t have everything its own way in the sale of basketball boots. Clyde Puma basketball shoes were launched the year after, in 1973. These are considered particularly significant, because the shoes are named after Clyde Frazier, which arguably makes them the first pair of signature shoes.
In 1976, the launch of the Dr J Pro Leather basketball shoe led to the modern design of basketball sneaker.
Today, you can still buy Jordan basketball shoes, as well as a variety of pairs from Nike and Adidas, while Converse basketball shoes are also found on shelves, although only usually worn as casual shoes away from the basketball court. The popularity of the game also means that, as well as men’s basketball shoes, it is possible to buy pairs made especially for women, and even kid’s basketball shoes.
Factors To Consider When Choosing The Best Basketball Shoes
With such a wide selection of shoes available, the selection can seem daunting, and the choice can be baffling. However, there are factors that you need to consider when picking shoes. If you consider your own specific requirements, you should be able to whittle the selection down significantly, so that you are left with a handful of choices – at this point, you can choose the pair with your favorite design, a signature line from your favorite player, or a pair of cheap basketball shoes that best meets your budgetary as well as playing requirements.
The following factors should all be taken into consideration when choosing basketball sneakers:
Unless you are just starting out, you should already have a good understanding of your style of play. This will have a significant impact on the choice of which are the best basketball shoes for you.
- If your game is all about distribution, you will be running all over the court for the entire period of the game. Cushion and comfort are two of the most significant factors when choosing your shoe style.
- The all-rounder requires a shoe that lets them complete all of the moves that are used on the court – this means that they should help give traction and launch, and they should facilitate speed and encourage higher jumps.
- The power player needs shoes that fit perfectly. This will prevent the sneaker from coming loose while playing, The power player is usually a big player, like LeBron James, so the shoes need to be very sturdy and durable in order to prevent them from becoming damaged or broken.
By style, we’re talking about the style of basketball shoe that you wear. Some people prefer high top shoes, while others would rather step on court in low top basketball shoes. The design is another element of shoe style, and because there are so many different models of shoe from a range of manufacturers, it means that you will be able to select a shoe design that you really like.
Design is arguably the last factor you should consider. This is especially true if you are looking for specialist shoes. When you have eliminated the wrong types of shoe, those that don’t fit, and shoes that are not relevant for your style of play, then you can choose from the different designs that are left on the screen.
Durability matters. It isn’t just something that you need to factor into your buying decision when choosing a car. If you buy flimsy shoes, they will become damaged after just a few games. Damaged shoes are more likely to lead to injury, because they will not offer the kind of support you need. Shoes with poor durability will also need replacing more often. Even if you are buying cheap basketball shoes, you need to make sure that they will last for a number of games before they need replacing.
You are going to be covering a lot of ground, jumping, turning, twisting, and making other movements over the course of a game. Basketball can place a lot of pressure on the feet, so comfort is an important facet in shoe selection. As well as fit, which we will cover below, comfort is ultimately determined by the materials used in the construction of the shoe.
The material of the shoe will determine its durability and strength, but also its comfort. Plastic based synthetic materials will be more likely to remain undamaged, but they don’t allow a full range of movement and can be uncomfortable because they lack cushion and support. Natural materials, on the other hand, are more comfortable and may offer greater shock absorption too.
Whenever you buy any pair of shoes, regardless of their purpose, you must ensure that they fit your feet. Even if they are the best type of basketball shoes for your game and they fall within your budget, if they don’t properly, they are more likely to cause injury, more prone to damage, and they will not enable you to perform to your highest level when you are out on the court.
In our list of the best basketball shoes for 2017, we have tried to highlight those shoes that have a small fit, those with a narrow toe box, and those that are designed for people with wide feet. Use an accurate and recent measurement of your foot, and do remember that fit not only includes the size of shoe that you buy, but the width and even height of your foot.
As well as wide basketball shoes, you can buy narrow sneakers, and pairs of shoes that have been designed for and worn by the likes of LeBron James so are tailored to meet the exacting requirements of some of the most powerful players.
The best outdoor basketball shoes need to provide traction on concrete and other hard surfaces. They need to be durable, because they will take more of a beating and they may also be worn in wet conditions. It isn’t just outdoor basketball shoes for which the outsole material matters though.
The modern basketball trainer is not suitable for use on all court surfaces, unlikely those of 20 years ago. They tend to be designed for use either on an indoor or outdoor court instead. Choose the shoes that have an appropriate outsole for the conditions you are going to play.
Most modern basketball shoes are designed with comfort in mind. They have foam cushions or air-based cushions. The primary benefit of air soles is that they return to their original position almost immediately after wearing them. Although foam cushions have become more responsive, if you don’t want to have to buy new shoes for basketball every few months, then air-cushioned soles are likely to be your best bet.
When it comes to foam, different brands have different names for the material they use. Nike has Lunarlon, Adidas has Cloudfoam, and Reebok has Floatride. However, while they all have different names, the basic aim of the foam is to provide cushioning to the foot while also improving the responsiveness of the foam cushion.
Finally, you may also want to consider a signature line. These are undoubtedly manufactured to make shoe companies more money, and they give NBA players more money in their pocket.
However, they also serve a genuine purpose. Pick the kind of NBA player that you are, and it should be a reasonable assumption that their signature line will match your style of play. If you’re 6 and half foot and a power player, then Kobe baseball boots will be made to withstand the rigors that you place on them.
Signature lines also tend to be highly stylized, so if you want to stand out when you’re standing on court, then a pair of Kobe or the latest pair of Jordan basketball shoes should be in your basket.
Finally, we look at price. There is a massive difference in price between a pair of Reebok basketball shoes and the latest Nike Air boots. Cheap basketball shoes do exist, but unless you are sure that they are decent quality, you could end up having to part with more hard-earned money in a few months’ time, when they become damaged or broken.
If you need to spend a few more dollars to ensure that you get a top quality pair that will last for years, it will save you money in the long run. Cheap basketball shoes do not necessarily represent the best value, unless they have been tried and reviewed by others before you.