Struggling to get enough air when you dunk? Struggling to leave your opponents dead on their feet while you power towards the basket for a layup? Looking for that extra spring in your step to take your game to the next level?
Whatever the case may be, a new pair of basketball shoes could be the missing link that you are looking for. We aren’t promising that you will become the next Jordan, Kobe or James if you purchase a new pair of sneakers, not at all; but let us tell you from experience – a good pair of basketball shoes can help elevate your game to a whole new level.
The table below shows a quick overview of our top 10 picks. Whatever your budget, whatever your style, we are sure that there is a pair here that is perfect for your needs.
Soft Boost Cushion
Zoom Air Foam
Full Length Zoom Air Unit
Zoom Air Foam
Nike Zoom Air
This is our top pick – the Men’s Lebron Soldier IX from Nike. It’s simply the best hi-top basketball shoe that we recommend to all of those who require a well-rounded basketball shoe – it’s perfect for both indoor and outdoor courts. If you are a fan of Nike’s ‘Soldier’ series, you are probably already familiar with this release, but if you aren’t then strap up and let’s dive straight into our review.
In terms of the technology used in these shoes, there are a couple that you have come to expect from a pair of Nike basketball shoes. These are the Zoom Air cushioning and the Fly Wire cable structure, both of which are alive and kicking in these Soldiers. What makes this particular version of Zoom Air so impressive is the fact that there are two units in both the forefoot and the heel, resulting in a level of comfort that no other shoes can provide. It’s simply a class above the rest. Being a high-top shoe, the stability is incredibly important. We aren’t usually great fans of the Fly Wire technology. It seems a little bit gimmicky in our opinion, but with these shoes it works very well, so I guess we had better eat our words and apologize… Sorry Nike!
Before we dive into the technicalities such as the traction, fit and support, let’s take a look at the materials used to create these beasts. The upper is made from a mesh which is definitely breathable, but quite heavy at the same time. If you are a fan of lighter shoes, then maybe these aren’t the best choice for you, but for a heavy shoe, they sure do breathe well. Not only does the mesh provide a sturdy base of support for your ankles, it also ventilates extremely well, so that’s a 10/10 from us.
The traction on these shoes is great. Sure, there are shoes with better traction, but you would typically have to sacrifice some level of support for that luxury. Luckily, the Soldier IX’s are more than sufficient for both indoor play and even outdoor play if that’s what you are into. The small rubber knobs on the bottom of the shoe will provide a level of traction on outdoor courts that most other sneakers won’t provide.
The level of cushion is perfect, in our opinion. Not only do these shoes hug your feet very well, the 4 units of Air Zoom foam do an excellent job providing an adequate level of shock absorbency and bounce that you would expect from such a quality shoe. The cushion isn’t restrictive or heavy. They are great for all positions – not something you can say about many shoes!
The Lebron Soldier IX basketball shoes are our top pick for a good reason. Well, several good reasons. They look awesome, they fit extremely well, they provide support where you need it the most and the comfort is a class above the competition. If you are looking for an all-rounder, then don’t look any further than these, and cop them right now.
Bear with us. We know these shoes are expensive! Are they worth it? If you ask us, these are an awesome pair of shoes that are perfect for the serious baller who wants to take their game to the next level. For the casual pick-up game with your buddies at the local court? Not so much!
For its asking price, you would expect the traction to be significantly better than a cheaper pair of shoes. Is that the case? It depends. Based on our own use experience, yes, the traction is better than other most shoes out there. Not much has changed when compared to the original Kobe X shoes, but nothing needed changing. The originals are well-known for their superior traction, and the Elite version are exactly the same. If you are looking for the best indoor basketball shoes, these could easily be a top contender. We wouldn’t recommend using them outside, though. They are an indoor shoe, through and through.
If nothing has changed in the traction department, what does make these different from the original Kobe X’s? The biggest difference is in the materials and the technologies used during its manufacturing process. The originals utilized Nike’s fuse system, which was OK, but didn’t provide enough flexibility or durability for our liking. The new Elites have swapped to a Flyknit technology, which Nike promises will fix the low flexibility issue – and it definitely has. The upper is practically seamless, and feels extremely light, yet supportive at the same time.
The cushioning, fit and support of the shoe, again, hasn’t changed much from the original Kobe X’s. The TPU cage does a great job of securing everything nice and tight at the heel, and the toes are free to move without restriction or discomfort. The sole is incredibly comfortable and works well with your feet to create a level of ‘bounce’ that you need to stay agile. Combined with the superior level of traction that these shoes offer, you will have no problem side stepping your opponents or accelerating out of the blocks without any issues.
Overall, the Kobe X Elite are a slight step up from the original Kobe X’s and are the perfect choice for indoor players who compete at a competitive level. Again, these are not outdoor shoes, and we wouldn’t recommend them to new players (but if you can afford them, then be our guest, you will love them). Amazing traction, incredibly comfortable and a solid, sturdy fit that supports your feet in all of the places they need supporting. Great pair of shoes!
Now I know that you are thinking…
The Curry 2.5 has a bold design with strong accents, making it stand out from the rest. While looks are entirely subjective, we unanimously came to a decision to hail the Curry 2.5’s as the best-looking basketball shoe.
First of all, we love how they look. They are sleek, they are modern and they feature a huge Under Armour logo on the side – the new ‘cool kids on the block’. Secondly, these sneakers are available in a huge variety of colors, and a few different variations of fabric (There is a suede version). The large selection range allows the consumer to pick and choose a color scheme that represents them the best, so by that logic, so there’s always a color that can suit you
Anyway, enough debating, let’s get down to the details.
When comparing these to their predecessors, the Curry 2, nothing much has changed in terms of their traction. You know the saying; if it’s not broke, then don’t fix it. The outsole is still made from the same high quality rubber, and the midsole still utilizes the same charged foam. The only major difference between the 2.5 and the 2 is the insole, which has been upgraded from a ‘Speedform’ insole to the superior Micro G insole. This change of insoles seems to give the Curry 2.5 more cushioning and shock absorbency, which is great for jump shots and dunking.
The materials used for the upper are a little bit confusing. The inner shell is comprised of a rubber/plastic cage, and surrounded by a mesh lining for breathability. The only issue is that the outer upper part is covered in a plastic material that completely eliminates the shoes ability to vent. The plastic material does help with support though, as it’s relatively solid and rigid. If you are looking for a pair of hi-tops with solid support, then these are for you.
If you choose to get these, you are getting a stunning pair of basketball shoes with a great level of comfort and cushioning, wrapped in a shell that supports your ankles extremely well. If this sounds like the perfect addition to your gym bag, then make sure you cop these as soon as possible. They are extremely popular and sell out relatively quickly.
It wouldn’t be a fair effort on our part to not include at least one pair of Adidas in our list of the best one for men. The Isolation 2 performance shoes from Adidas actually kill two birds with one stone; they are a solid pair of basketball shoes, and they come in at less than $100. If you are looking for a killer pair of sneaks on a budget, these will get your money’s worth.
In terms of their looks, they aren’t really much to write home about. They are far from ugly, but if you enjoy sneakers that are a little bit more in-your-face and eccentric, you won’t find that with these. They are available in three main colors: Navy blue/white, navy blue/metallic/white and grey/white. Adidas describes the look of these shoes as ‘classic’, and we found ourselves concurring.
Featuring a non-marking rubber outsole and the trademarked ‘Torsion System’, these shoes are perfect for those who require a shoe with a good level of traction and grip, while still feeling comfortable and light. The Torsion System is designed to increase the stability and mobility of your mid foot, allowing you to pivot with control and comfort, leaving your opponents dead in the sand.
For all of the centers and dunking fanatics out there, Adidas have got you covered when it comes to the cushioning department. The Isolation 2 feature an EVA midsole which is built to withstand constant pressure without losing its stability. Combined with the cushioned inner textile lining, these shoes are the perfect addition to a jumper’s wardrobe – if your coach doesn’t thank you for the new-found spring in your step, at least your feet will.
These shoes are designed as a high-top basketball shoe, but in our opinion, they aren’t necessarily the highest tops we have seen. Some may even call these a mid-top shoe, but that completely depends on your own personal perspective. What we do know for certain is that these are a steal considering their solid support and its asking price. The upper is made from a mix of synthetic material and leather. They aren’t the lightest of shoes or are the most breathable, but they are comfortable, they fit very well and they cost less than a hundred bucks. What more could you ask for?
Read also: Best Basketball Sports Goggles
Next up, we have got a solid pair of low-top basketball shoes from Nike: The KD 8’s. These bad boys are relatively cheap for what you get and they are still a very popular choice, considering they are already a couple of years old.
The KD 8’s feature a few of Nike’s signature shoe technologies, which we will take a look at in more detail. First of all, the upper part of the shoe is made using Flyweave material, known for being super soft and light. These shoes also feature Nike’s Flywire technology, which is basically a set of cables which run underneath the laces to help support them and increase its rigidity. Does the Flywire help with rigidity? Not necessarily. It works brilliantly on high-tops, but the material on these shoes is too soft and light to really make a difference. It doesn’t take anything away from the shoes, however, so it’s not really a complaint.
In terms of the cushioning, there isn’t really much to complain about, or brag about for that matter. The KD 8’s feature the ZoomAir technology, which is famous for its superior comfort, and not much else. They feel great, but if you are looking for a pair of shoes that will accommodate your jumps with a bit of bounce or responsiveness, then these probably aren’t for you. If you are looking for straight up comfort, then these will knock your socks off.
Being a low-top shoe, these sneaks are primarily designed with guards in mind, and the number one factor a guard needs in a pair of basketball shoes is good traction. These shoes deliver on that front, without a doubt. The design of the rubber outsole does a great job of gripping the floor regardless of the type of court you are playing on. However, it’s worth mentioning that these are 100 percent created for indoor basketball. We are sure they will do just fine on outdoor courts, but we can’t see the rubber holding up for long if you do take em’ outside.
In terms of support and fit, we would give these shoes an 9 out of 10. With a broad sole base, TPU counter, ZoomAir cushioning and the Flywire technology, they provide the perfect fit and level of support that a guard or point guard needs. They are still a low-top shoe though, so don’t expect them to protect your ankles too much. If you need solid traction, a good fit and plenty of support, then these are the shoes for you.
Point guards – The Usain Bolts of basketball.
It’s obvious that different positions in basketball require a different style of shoe to bring out the qualities that make each position unique, and with the point guards, these qualities are without a doubt speed and agility. We will cover the styles of shoes in our buyer’s guide at the end of this article, but in short; Point guards require a lower cut shoe that has amazing traction to allow them to move fast, change positions quickly and not be too heavy or restrictive to weight them down. The best point guard basketball shoes that we can recommend are the D Rose 6 Boost Primeknit from Adidas.
Pretty much everything on the D Rose 6 Boost Primeknits are the same as the same as the original D Rose 6 Boosts, with the exception of one feature – The Primeknit upper. What exactly is Primeknit? It’s Adidas’ answer to Nike’s Flyknit and other soft, flexible uppers.
As a guard, one of the most important components of your game is the ability to move freely and with agility. Primeknit will allow you to do that better than you have ever done before, with other shoes. The material that Adidas use is unbelievably soft and freeing. It literally feels like you are wearing nothing on your ankles, but at the same time, they feel supported. It’s definitely weird, but an amazing feature for ballers who need to move with speed and agility.
Adidas is not restrictive at all when it comes to the choice of colors and materials to choose from. The D Rose 6 Boost Primeknits are available in a variety of different colors, and even a choice of different materials including synthetic leather, mesh and synthetic suede. If you have a preference of material, then the choice is there for you.
In terms of comfort, as we have already mentioned, the Primeknit upper is practically non-existent when you put them on, so you can move around with absolute comfort. The cushioning is quality, and the shoes are very breathable. Overall, they are a comfortable pair of shoes that are perfect for speedy players and those who need that extra mobility in their ankles.
The only downside is that these shoes can start to wear and split after prolonged periods of use. However, that is pretty common with most guard specific shoes, as the constant change in direction can cause the materials to fade and crack over time. Other than that, they are a top pair of shoes and we would highly recommend them.
For the budget-conscious ballers, we have got another pair of top class basketball shoes that come in at around $100 or less. The price can fluctuate, so take a look and see what they are currently selling for. Don’t let the term ‘budget’ dissuade you from checking these out. You get a lot of shoe for your money!
Let’s start with the technology that these shoes carry. Being a product of Nike, you know they are going to be up to date with the latest sporting technology, regardless of their price. Maybe not the best, admittedly, but definitely more than enough. First of all, these Hyperlive shoes are equipped with Flywire, just like all of Nike’s basketball shoes. For those that are unfamiliar with Flywire, it’s basically the cabled support system that lives underneath the lacing of the shoe whose function is to provide additional support and sturdiness. With some shoes, the upper material is so soft that the Flywire makes no difference at all, but with the Hyperlives, the sturdiness of the upper is amplified by the Flywire, so it’s a thumbs up from us.
These budget basketball shoes also feature ‘Breath Tech’ on the upper, to improve the ventilation and breathability of the mesh material they are built from. Last but not least, these shoes are also covered in HyperFuse in some of the more damage-prone areas, to improve the durability.
In terms of fit and comfort, you can’t go wrong with the Hyperlives. We would recommend staying true to your original shoe size when ordering, as they are an extremely snug fit, and anything smaller will be far too tight. If you prefer a little extra wiggle room, or if you have wider feet, then a half-size up would probably suit you better.
For cushioning, we would give these shoes a 7/10. They could be better. However, these shoes are not built to withstand high levels of pressure from jumps, they are designed for speed and court-feel, which they are perfect for. The midsole is a drop-in Phylon midsole, which are thick enough to be relatively comfortable, but thin enough to feel every inch of the floor beneath your feet. Perfect for guards.
Since these shoes are built for guards, you can expect the traction to be top notch. The shoes are extremely grippy, thanks to the rubber knobs that make up the outer sole. We would recommend these for indoor use, but they will do just fine on a concrete court as well.
The Nike Men’s Hyperlive are definitely worthy of our ‘best budget basketball shoes’ award. If you need something comfortable, explosive and full of traction then grab yourself a pair. You won’t be disappointed.
Read more abut: Best Basketball Knee Sleevs
Hyperdunk. Nike’s signature basketball shoe, Does it live up to the hype?
First of all, let’s look at the traction. As an indoor shoe, you would expect the traction to be a major focus of the Hyperdunk. Well, in our experience, the traction is decent but it could be better. Compared to a higher end basketball shoe like the Kobe X, the Hyperdunk is certainly inferior. However, the Hyperdunk is over 4 times cheaper than the Kobe X, so for the price you pay, the traction is actually pretty impressive. The outer soles are relatively soft and the ridges are pretty deep, so if you are playing on a dusty court, you can expect them to fill up with dust pretty quickly. You might have to give them a wipe every not and then, but it’s a small price to pay, as the stop times and acceleration are pretty darn good on these.
Just like the Hyperlive that we previously reviewed, the Hyperdunk utilizes a Phylon midsole which gives a decent base level of comfort and support to these shoes. However, the Hyperdunks are made for dunking, as the name suggests, so Nike have gone one step further with these and added a Zoom Air unit to both the heel and the forefoot, giving them a little bit more bounce and shock absorbency compared to the Hyperlives.
The materials used in the Hyperdunk are primarily mesh to improve the mobility and flexibility of the shoes, but with the addition of the Flywire makes them feel a bit more stable around the laces and ankles. That’s not a bad thing. – those are the places where you need the most support. In terms of the fit, we would recommend sticking with your true size or even dropping down half a size. These shoes, although comfortable around the toes, do run a little bit long. The fit around the laces and ankles are tight, but snug. Combined with the Zoom Air units, the snug fit makes the perfect environment for some serious air time.
All in all, if you love to dunk, then these are the shoes for you (Thanks, Captain obvious!). Really, the support, combined with the superior level of cushioning is what makes these shoes stand out from other ‘jumping’ shoes, if there was ever such a category. You know what we mean!
Next up on our list of the best shoes for men is a pair from Reebok: The Zig Energy Ref’s. Not only are these the only shoe by Reebok on our list, they are also the most unusual looking. If you are familiar with Reebok’s ‘Zig’ design, you will know what we mean when we say ‘unusual’.
The reason we have these shoes listed as the best outdoor shoes is purely because of the thick zig-zag rubber soles that these shoes utilize. Not only are they extremely hard wearing, they are also designed to help accommodate your legs while moving around by reducing some of the workload, making your movements less stressful on your joints and bones. Outdoor courts are not as consistent as a smooth indoor court, so if you play outdoors a lot and need a comfortable pair of sneaks to impress your opponents with, then we would certainly recommend these.
One feature of the Zig Energy Ref’s that differentiates them from most other basketball shoes is the padded tongue and collar. Most basketball shoes are too light and flexible to feature such a luxury, but these manage to make it work. They are perfect for everyday wearing, too. The traction, as you can probably expect, is incredibly good. The rubber zig-zag sole really helps to ‘hug’ the ground with every step, drastically improving the grip.
Overall, the Zig Energy Ref’s are a good looking, well-rounded basketball shoe that is perfect for the casual player who needs a shoe for both indoor and outdoor. Do we recommend them for serious ballers and players on a more competitive level? Probably not. However, if you need something comfortable that you can wear to the court, on the court and back from the court, then definitely check these out.
How could we talk about basketball shoes and not mention at least one pair of the iconic Air Jordan? The final pair of shoes in our list are a little different to the rest. Are they inferior? In a way, yes, but they are insanely cool. Are you willing to sacrifice a little bit of performance for a little bit of extra cool factor? If so, the Spike Forty is probably the shoe for you.
We will be completely honest – we threw these into the list simply to mix things up a little bit. We both know that these shoes are designed as a fashionable pair of street sneakers as opposed to a quality pair of on-court basketball shoes, but just look at how cool these things are! We would be doing you a disservice if we didn’t at least mention them!
The materials used on these tight sneakers are predominantly mesh, which is woven incredibly tight, using the best quality mesh we have seen in a while. You will be surprised at how breathable and lightweight these things are. The upper is covered in a synthetic leather which isn’t breathable at all, but provides a decent amount of support. The outer sole is made of a high-quality rubber and is covered in small ridges which contribute to the overall traction that these provide, which is pretty decent considering they aren’t necessarily made for the courts.
You aren’t going to be playing at a competitive level with these babies, but you will certainly pick up some street cred when bumping them on the local court. If you need a cool, comfortable pair of sneaks for everyday wearing, then these are the ones you need.
Buying basketball shoes is not like buying ordinary shoes. There are very specific things you need to know and in this guide, we are going to break them down for you.
The comfort of your shoe is the most important thing to consider. Although it’s easy to get drawn by the way the shoe looks and the kind of class it appears to have, you can’t buy it until you have worn it and felt how comfortable it is.
Part of the reason why your shoe will be comfortable is if it indeed fits right. The shoe shouldn’t be too big or very small. The right fit is not just comfortable but it’s also safe to play with it. Besides, a fitting shoe also allows you to play more vigorously if you want.
Basketball shoes have evolved over the years and you will find that there are many materials used these days to make these shoes. You will find that some shoes are made using genuine leather while some may come with synthetic leather or are made of canvas. The materials should be durable and also comfortable. Many of the modern shoes are made using synthetic leather combined with canvas in order to offer both strength and comfort.
You also need to make sure that the shoes you are buying for basketball are affordable. The prices are going to vary based on the design of each shoe but you can always find something that fits your pocket
“It’s great to know the Top 10 shoes for men on the market, but what exactly am I supposed to be looking for? Will any of these shoes make me a better player?”
To answer your question, we have some good news, and we have some bad news. Unfortunately, no pair of shoes are going to elevate your game to NBA All-Star level overnight, so don’t set your expectations too high. You have still got to train like there’s no tomorrow if you are serious about your game. However, a solid pair of basketball shoes are essential if you want to perform at the best of your ability. Give a builder the best bricks and he will give you a mansion. Give a wanna be baller the best shoe and he will give you championship rings. OK, maybe not, but you get the idea!
Let us break down the benefits of playing with a good pair of basketball shoes, just in case you need that little bit more persuading.
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Basketball shoes have come a long way since the days of Chuck Taylor’s and their flat-bottomed soles. Chucks are an amazing pair of shoes, but I think we would all agree that they have no place on a basketball court anymore. Thanks to the development of sports science and the choice of materials that manufacturers have to work with, modern day basketball shoes are not only extremely comfortable, they are also built with safety in mind. They support your feet in all the right places, to minimize the risk of injury. You could be the Jordan of our generation, but what use is your 720-degree front-flip dunk if you are constantly injured?
Basketball is a team sport, and as with most team sports, each player has a specific position which requires different skills and abilities. Let’s take a center and a point guard, for example. Centers are notorious jumpers. They spend the entire game jumping and landing on the solid ground, so they require a higher topped shoe, and more cushioning to provide them with the ankle stability and support they need to perform their role without causing too much damage to their joints. A point guard, on the other hand, needs to be fast and agile. High-tops will feel too restrictive for a point guard, so they should opt for a low-top shoe which is light, and breathable. For players who are somewhere in between and more well-rounded, we would recommend a mid-top shoe that is also light and breathable. These will provide the best of both worlds.
Basketball is a game of agility. It’s a game of speed. The best shoes are created with this in mind, and the focus on traction and court grip are paramount. You certainly won’t be breaking any ankles in slippy shoes, will you?
The increased traction force of modern day basketball shoes gives players the ability to change positions instantly, allowing you to leave your opponents stood wondering where you disappeared to… Or laid on the floor nursing their broken ankle. Whatever floats your boat! We aren’t here to judge.
Have you ever tried to ball in shoes that don’t fit? We have, and let us tell you, it sucks! You can’t accelerate as quickly as you want to, you can’t jump as high as you need to, and you are constantly distracted by the feeling of your heels slipping out of the back. The same goes for uncomfortable shoes. The slightest discomfort can distract you, and stress you out to the point of wanting to chop off your feet and call it a day. You certainly won’t be winning no games under conditions like that!
All are designed to offer peak levels of comfort, and the perfect fit. The materials and technologies that modern-day basketball shoes feature are mind boggling. You just need to try a pair for yourself and see what we mean. It’s like playing on a court made of clouds, seriously. Most modern basketball shoes are breathable too, to prevent your feet from sweating and feeling all heavy and ugh!
One last point…
Basketball shoes make you look cool. Surely that can’t be a bad thing, can it?