In this article, I will take a long, in-depth look at the best basketball shoes on the market and explain the traits that help them stand out from similar sneakers.

I am an avid basketball player who has spent over twenty years playing the game. In that time I’ve owned a lot of shoes. Taking that experience and matching it with additional research allowed me to properly break down each shoe detailed throughout the following guide.

Out of all the top basketball shoes, my personal favorite is the Kyrie 7 as a result of how well it furthers your flexibility, agility, and general performance.

It’s an extremely responsive sneaker equipped with a large forefront Air Zoom Turbo unit and excellent cushion to maximize comfort. The 360-degree traction pattern is unique and the general durability holds up over long periods of time. It’s reasonably light as well.

There are many other great basketball shoes out there too, depending on the position you play, your personal preferences, and your budget. Whether you want a closer look at the Kyrie 7 or another top model, I break down the best of the best throughout the following guide.

Quick Summary

Shoppers love to ask: what’s the best basketball shoe? But think about that for a moment. How could a one-size-fits-all sneaker be “best” for every baller? 

Here are Dunk or Three’s best basketball shoes, by category.

Best OverallKyrie 7Sleekest DesignMamba Focus
Best for IndoorPG 5Best LightweightZoom Freak 2
Best for JumpingKD 13Uniquest LookHarden Volume 5
Best for GuardsDame 7Best ValuePeak Streetball Master
Most BreathableHarden StepbackMost ResponsivePuma Clyde Hardwood
Best for Big MenEmbiid 1Best High TopLebron Witness V
Best LockdownLebron Soldier XIIIBest BudgetLockdown 5
Best TractionAdidas Crazy ExplosiveMost StylishCrazy BYM 2
Best SupportCurry 7Best Walk AroundAir Jordan 3 Retro
Best CushionAdidas MarqueeBest MobilityKyrie Flytrap IV
Most ComfortableAdidas N3xt L3v3lFastestAir Zoom BB NXT
Most DurableValsetz RTSBest StabilityWhy Not Zer0.4
Best OutdoorAdidas Coll3ctiv3

Who Should Get This?

Of course, you can’t properly play basketball without proper shoes. However, the exact one that works for your game and style depends on your personal preference. There are many, many different shoes on the market and each one is unique to a player or position.

The best for you will not necessarily be the best for someone else. That being said, all of the sneakers in this article are well-rounded, durable shoes for serious players. They can handle a lot of time on the court and are made to let you run, jump, and cut to your heart’s content.

All serious players, from those who like to just run pickup games a few times a week to those who need to spend hours and hours in practice, will love the shoes featured here. If you play a lot of basketball or often find yourself on the court, you’ll be happy with the below pairs.

Best Basketball Shoes in 2021: Detailed Reviews

This section looks at each shoe, its individual characteristics, as well as where it fits in the market.

1. Kyrie 7

  • Best for: Overall
  • Key Features: Tough rubber sole. 360-degree traction pattern. Extra cushion and Air Zoom Turbo unit. Responsive design. Stylish appearance.
  • Sole: Rubber
  • Fit: True to Size
  • Weight: 12 ounces

Outfitted with a slick, open design and some of the best cushions on the market, the Kyrie 7 is a great shoe perfect for both guards and big men alike. The unique design helps with agility and greatly furthers your on-court play thanks to the incredible energy retention and responsiveness.

Something else that pushes this footwear to the top of my list is the cushion. Not only does it have a strong zoom unit that runs throughout the entire model, but the padded collar gives extra support to your Achilles tendon. A great blend of both function and form. 

While the 360-degree traction definitely does its job, there’s no doubt that it could be better. You’ll see a lot of grip right off the bat, but it all tends to become a bit inconsistent over time. These should only be used inside as well. They wear down quickly when used on the blacktop.

2. PG 5

  • Best for: Gym Use
  • Key Features: Soft, flexible materials for added comfort. Powerful outsole and strong durability. Zoom Air Strobel. Multi-directional tractions. Supportive lace bands.
  • Upper: Mesh
  • Sole: Rubber
  • Weight: 15 ounces

If you’re someone who likes to play inside, the PG 5 is one of the best basketball shoes money can buy. The option is perfect for the hardwood thanks to how well it blends a top-tier cushioning system with a supportive base. They let you run hard and also limit any discomfort or pain.

Another reason to pick these shoes if you primarily play indoors is the multi-directional traction. They come with stellar grip that really enhances how hard you can cut, jump, or take off during a game. That is why every player at every position can directly benefit from the footwear.

The PG 5’s are true indoor shoes. While that’s great for a multitude of reasons, they aren’t super durable. You’ll be able to use them quite a bit, but be aware that they’re going to show wear earlier than other, differently made options. Certain people may also think they’re a bit boxy.

3. KD 13

  • Best for: Jumping
  • Key Features: Soft upper with comfortable construction. Lightweight and largely unintrusive. Dual zoom air unit. Midsole cutouts for weight reduction. 
  • Weight: 3.15 pounds
  • Cushioning: Air Zoom

Jumping is a critical part of basketball, which is why so many players turn to the KD 13 when they need extra air. The shoes go above and beyond thanks to the full-length Zoom cushion that provides comfort and responsiveness. You can generate a ton of energy with them on.

What makes these particularly useful for increasing your vertical is that they are light in all the right areas. Not only is the soft construction breathable and unintrusive, but the shoes have special cutouts in the midsole to further reduce weight. The high collar works for support too.

The only downside here is the look. The KD 13’s allow you to fly through the air, but their appearance isn’t as well put together as other popular shoes. If you’re only focused on performance, they’re great. If you want something that’s eye-catching, these aren’t great.

Read More: Best Basketball Shoes for Jumping

4. Dame 7

  • Best for: Guards
  • Key Features: Great court feel. Good balance and strong responsiveness. Attractive appearance with a sleek design. Extreme impact protection.
  • Weight: 15 ounces
  • Sole: Rubber
  • Upper: Textile

Guards or wings who want a shoe that directly enhances both agility and mobility will greatly enjoy the Dame 7’s. This pair offers excellent balance and energy return to help you run, cut, and dribble to the best of your abilities. There’s also a ton of cushion throughout the sole.

Where many lighter or agility-focused models lose a little bit on the support front, the Dame 7’s excel through their strong ankle support and extra security. The shoes completely lock in your foot to give you a better base to push off of as well as an added layer of protection.

These hit on a lot of fronts, but it’s important to note they don’t have the durability for outdoor courts. Those who play outside a lot, or who need strength on the blacktop, will want something better suited for that task. If you stick to the gym, they will give you good results for a long time.

Read More: Best Basketball Shoes for Guards

5. Harden Stepback

  • Best for: Ventilation
  • Key Features: Soft mesh-synthetic construction. Sturdy sole. Well-made. Great ventilation. Cushioned forefoot and excellent midsole flex. Wide color range.
  • Sole: Synthetic
  • Material: Mesh-Synthetic
  • Weight: 1.98 pounds

One of the biggest drawbacks of many basketball shoes is that they get too hot. If you overheat or sweat during play, the Harden Stepbacks are a great pick. The sneakers have a mesh construction that breathes well no matter how hard you push yourself. They’re light as well.

A big part of what makes these shoes special is their comfort. Part of that is the ventilation, and part of that is the cushioned midsole flex. The wider forefoot is also nice because it gives you more room in that area. If you like style, these also come in various color options.

These shoes, while extremely well-rounded, have a tighter fit than most people may be used to. That can strain on comfort, especially in players with wider feet. The arch is a bit narrow as well. Always get a half-size up when possible to avoid blisters or too much cramping.

6. Embiid 1

  • Best for: Big Men
  • Key Features: Ample support. TPU wing increases midfoot lockdown. Ankle support. Excellent traction. Die-cut EVA sockliner. Lightweight textile upper.
  • Sole: Rubber
  • Fit: True to Size
  • Weight:13.9 ounces

There are many shoes on the market, but only a few are specifically catered towards big guys. The Embiid 1’s, while good for all positions, have the support and strength needed down on the block. They have a tough rubber sole, strong construction, and ample support for posting up.

These are great for bigger players due to the way they cushion and protect your foot. Not only do they have a die-cut EVA sockliner, they also come with a special 5/8 ankle support construction as well as a TPU wing. On top of that, they are also surprisingly light and comfy.

As these are shoes primarily focused on lockdown, they aren’t the slimmest or sleekest pair you can buy. Though some people won’t mind it, the shoes are a bit on the bulky side. That’s especially true compared to guard options. Even so, if you need support they go a long way.

Read More: Best Basketball Shoes for Big Guys

7. Lebron Soldier XIII

  • Best for: Lockdown
  • Key Features: High-top silhouette style. Mesh upper allows for ventilation and breathability. Zoom air with foam. Comfortable.
  • Sole: Rubber
  • Upper: Mesh
  • Weight: 3.25 pounds

If you want or need a shoe that keeps your foot locked in place, the Lebron Soldier XIII is a fantastic pick. The stylish model comes with two dual Velcro straps that you can pull to get the fit you want. That generates a lot of snugness and ensures your foot won’t go anywhere.

In addition to the straps, the shoe itself comes with both Zoom Air cushion and a foam sole for added comfort when you run. The durable outsole utilizes a herringbone tread pattern for superior traction as well. These do a great job on a wide range of different surfaces.

The downside to these shoes is that, though they are comfortable, they are a bit on the small side. You’re likely going to want to go a half-size up when picking out your pair. It’s also important to note that those with wider feet may not want to pull or tighten the straps all the way.

8. Adidas Crazy Explosive

  • Best for: Traction
  • Key Features: Tough materials. Springy, responsive sole. Anatomical lace system. Comfortable design with prime knit upper. 
  • Style: Low top
  • Weight: 2.4 pounds
  • Sole: Rubber

If your main focus is grip or traction, then the Crazy Explosive is worth a long look. This shoe has an excellent pattern and a grippy outsole that holds onto just about any surface. You can run, dribble, or cut without losing any energy, slipping, or getting stuck. Guards will love it.

There’s a lot of support here too. Where many lighter shoes give up protection, the multi-layered shoe comes with both a TPU stability wrap and sock-like construction to keep your foot safe. That’s then backed up by the anatomical lace to improve lockdown and prevent any sliding.

Just be aware that, due to the sock-like construction, the shoes can run a little hot. You don’t get as much ventilation with these as you might be used to. That may be a turn-off for players who run warm. However, if you don’t sweat these come with great grip and top-tier support.

Read More: Best Traction Basketball Shoes

9. Curry 7

  • Best for: Support
  • Key Features: Ankle protection for added stability. Carbon fiber shank and lightweight design. Various colors and designs. Easy to put on and take off.
  • Sole: Rubber
  • Weight: 3 pounds
  • Fit: True to Size

Few players know the importance of ankle protection like Steph Curry. That is why his signature shoes offer so much extra support. The pair is perfect for guards who want traction and mobility without sacrificing their protection. You can shift quickly and not worry about rolling your foot.

These lightweight shoes are easy to throw on and take off, but still give you a powerful base through the knit construction and carbon fine shank. Add on the charged cushioning technology and you get a shoe that can take a pounding without slowing you down during a game.

The only drawback you’ll notice when using these is their initial comfort. Once they break in you get a comfortable shoe, but it takes a little while to get to that point. Note that you’re going to have to spend some time getting used to the feel before they begin to truly mold to your shape.

Also Read: Best Under Armour Basketball Shoes

10. Adidas Marquee

  • Best for: Cushion
  • Key Features: Soft midsole cushioning and PrimeKnit construction. Strong heel support backed by impact protection. Lightweight and breathable. Different color options.
  • Sole: Rubber
  • Fit: Regular
  • Weight: 15.4 ounces

The Adidas Marquee is a lightweight, breathable shoe that comes with tons of cushion. That gives you protection, support, and a comfortable feel you’ll notice time and time again. There are many attributes throughout the design, but the softness is undoubtedly at the forefront.

Beyond the incredible feel, these shoes make the list due to their premium traction, amazing support, and their rather subdued style. They don’t overheat and your heel remains protected as you move around. The shoes also come with a surprising amount of durability others lack.

When using this shoe be aware that, despite its amazing characteristics, it doesn’t have the best traction of slicker surfaces. You’ll be fine when you’re on a clean court, but you may slide around a bit when you’re on something with a lot of dirt or dust.

Read More: Best Cushioned Basketball Shoes

11. Adidas N3xt L3v3l

  • Best for: Comfort
  • Key Features: Synthetic construction. Strong shaft and laceless design. Soft, comfortable feel. Sock-like construction. Regular fit. Primeknit upper.
  • Sole: Synthetic
  • Construction: Knit-synthetic
  • Weight: 12.8 ounces

If comfort is your primary concern, it’s hard to do better than the Adidas N3xt L3v3l. These shoes ditch the laces for a truly unique, sock-like design. That works with the knit-synthetic construction and regular fit to create one of the most comfortable shoes on the current market.

However, these are more than their soft feel. They also offer a lot of agility, allowing you to quickly change directions, and their construction firmly locks your foot in place. Add on the special Primeknit upper as well as the flashy look and you get some truly well-rounded footwear.

The biggest downside to this pair is, despite their extreme comfort, they take a little bit of time to get there. Expect to work a bit to break them in. The sock-like design also makes them a bit warmer than other shoes. You should expect to sweat a bit more when running with them on.

12. Valsetz RTS

  • Best for: Durability
  • Key Features: Fused mesh upper and soft leather ankle collar. Charged cushioning sockliner. Power synthetic sole and sturdy materials. Webbed lacing.
  • Sole: Synthetic
  • Fit: True to Size
  • Weight: 1.1 pounds

Every player wants tough, well-made shoes. Though all of the models on my list come with solid construction, the Valsetz RTS from Under Armour takes that to the next level. The shoe is made to last, which makes it a perfect choice for hardcore players who play on different surfaces. 

That’s mainly due to the fused mesh upper and strong synthetic sole. However, it also comes with a great leather ankle collar on top of sturdy quarter panels. All of that is backed by the external TPU heel counter and webbed lacing system, both of which lock your foot in place.

While these shoes are undoubtedly comfortable and tough, they tend to run on the small side. When picking them up you typically want to go a half size up to get an ample amount of room. The sockliner is also snug, which can be an issue for players who tend to run hot.

13. Adidas Coll3ctiv3

  • Best for: Outdoor
  • Key Features: Durable sole. Quick to break in. Sharp look and comfortable construction. Clean design. Various colors. Solid base.
  • Sole: Rubber
  • Fit: True to Size
  • Weight: 3 pounds

If you’re searching for a true outdoor basketball shoe, the Adidas Coll3ctiv3 is worth a look. This model works well in a gym, but it has the power and durability needed for those who like to play hard on the blacktop. It also has one of the cleanest looks out there and comes in a range of colors.

The shoe is 100 percent synthetic, and has a construction that can take a beating without wearing down. All of the parts are well-made and work together in a way that ensures you never get too hot or blister. As an added bonus, the sneaker is quite easy to break in as well.

As this is an outdoor shoe, it doesn’t have the same premium cushioning you’ll see in more dedicated gym models. It’s comfortable, but you might feel shocks a bit more when playing outside. The fit can also be on the tight side, which you should note if you have wide feet.

Read More: Best Adidas Basketball Shoes

14. Mamba Focus

  • Best for: Low Top
  • Key Features: Lightweight heel cage. Air Zoom unit for better cushion. Mamba-inspired tread pattern. TPU eyelets. Molded framework and embossed upper material.
  • Ample colors and styles.
  • Sole: Rubber
  • Fit: Narrow
  • Weight: 16.6 ounces

The Mamba Focus is a great low top basketball shoe with one of the most attractive designs on the market. Not only is it a perfect tribute to a legend, but it’s a functional sneaker that’s great inside any gym. There are many excellent traits here, including good traction and a lightweight design.

This shoe utilizes a heel cage to support your foot without weighing you down. That, combined with the Air Zoom, enables you to jump and gives you a solid platform to land on when you jump on the court. The TPU eyelets are nice, and the embossed upper adds an extra level of control.

One issue some people might have with these shoes is that they don’t have a flexible bottom. That’s not a huge issue, but it can limit agility in certain situations. They are also stiff out of the box and need to be broken in. You should walk or practice in them before going into a game.

15. Zoom Freak 2

  • Best for: Lightweight
  • Key Features: Unique pattern and look. Excellent power and energy transfer Molded overlays. Strong support. Zoom Air Technology with lightweight construction.
  • Sole: Rubber
  • Fit: Narrow
  • Weight: 12.8 ounces

There are many advantages to being lighter out on the court, including the ability to jump higher and run faster. Many top sneakers are lightweight, but few lighter options have as many features as the Zoom Freak 2. This shoe takes away the weight without sacrificing any other aspects.

It comes with special Zoom Air Technology for better performance and cushion, as well as web lacing for extra lockdown and a molded overlay. There’s plenty of protection and support throughout the entire design. It even comes with a sturdy build that provides premium durability.

However, for all of its pros, the Freak 2 is not without its cons. Some may find the graphic design much too busy. In addition, it doesn’t have the best ventilation or impact protection on the market. Even so, it’s still the best choice for people who want a lightweight option.

16. Harden Volume 5

  • Best for: Unique look
  • Key Features: Tough rubber sole. Unique design and attractive look. Lightstrike technology. Merged for energy return and premium control.
  • Sole: Rubber
  • Fit: True to size
  • Weight: 2.31 pounds

Sometimes you want shoes that break the mold. There are several unique models on the market that push those boundaries, but none more than the Harden Volume 5. This sneaker has one of the craziest patterns out there, and it backs it up with a slew of premium attributes.

This shoe utilizes Adidas’ special Lightstrike technology to create a lightweight model that furthers your playing performance. The upper and midsole are also merged, which provides you with ample energy return and unmatched control. There’s also plenty of cushioning throughout.

These shoes have many upsides, but they lack a little bit in the durability department. You can run, jump, and sprint as hard as you want with them, but know they’ll likely have to be replaced sooner than other options. Still, if you care about style and function, it’s a worthwhile tradeoff.

17. Peak Streetball Master

  • Best for: Value
  • Key Features: Great stabilization. Honeycomb traction for ample grip. Wear-resistant rubber. Tough construction. Seamless integrated weaving increases comfort.
  • Sole: Ethylene Vinyl Acetate 
  • Fit: True to Size
  • Weight: 2 pounds

Though, as their name suggests, the Peak Streetball Masters are geared for outside play, they are truly a well-rounded sneaker that you can use just about anywhere. That versatility combines with extra traits and a reasonable price point to deliver what is a great value sneaker.

No matter where or how you like to play, these shoes deliver. The integrated weaving is excellent in terms of comfort and the wear-resistant rubber provides ample durability. They have a raised midsole and honeycomb traction pattern. Those give you better overall performance.

If there’s something people may not like about these sneakers it’s the rigidity in the midsole. Where many shoes are soft or flexible, the Streetball Masters are more rigid. That hurts shock absorption for those who like to jump. They can also get dusty and need to be wiped a lot.

18. Puma Clyde Hardwood

  • Best for: Responsiveness
  • Key Features: Old school look. ProFoam midsole for comfort and support. Excellent energy return. Knitted upper and forefoot webbing. Great stabilization. Comfortable.
  • Sole: Rubber
  • Upper: Knitted
  • Weight: 3 pounds

While they definitely break from the mold in terms of style, the Puma Clyde Hardwoods are an extremely responsive shoe that puts energy transfer and explosiveness above everything else. Their sleek, low design works with the forefoot webbing to give you control, agility, and style.

On top of that, they have amazing stabilization. You’re never going to lose your balance during a game, nor will you feel like you’re falling behind. These shoes do an excellent job of delivering high-quality performance and ensuring you get to play to the absolute best of your abilities.

If they have one polarizing feature, it’s the look. Rather than fall in line with modern sneakers, the Hardwoods have a distinct design from a bygone era. Some people might love it, and it might put others off. As they’re focused on energy return, the shoes also have a minimal cushion.

Read More: Best Puma Basketball Shoes

19. Lebron Witness V

  • Best for: High Top
  • Key Features: Momentum 2 Zoom Air units. Lightweight and breathable. Mesh construction. Forefoot lockdown system. Resilient foam midsole. Strong rigidity. 
  • Midsole: Foam
  • Fit: True to Size
  • Weight: 2.4 pounds

There are many high top style sneakers on the market, but few of them have the power, look, or style that comes with the Witness 5. These shoes have an excellent responsiveness thanks to the Momentum 2 Zoom Air units that sit under the ball of the foot as well as their rigid design.

In addition, these Lebrons offer a lot of protection for a high top. The rigid heel counter goes a long way towards anchoring your foot, as does the resilient foam midsole. They even come with special multi-directional traction to provide you with excellent grip on multiple surfaces.

The only drawback to these shoes is that, despite their breathable mesh construction, they are on the heavy side. That’s a necessary evil anytime you’re dealing with high top sneakers, but be aware you’re going to feel these more than you would many other similar basketball shoes. 

20. Lockdown 5

  • Best for: Budget
  • Key Features: Sturdy sole for extra support. Breathable mesh and lightweight design. TPU film toe cap for extra protection. Durable. Air mesh tongue.
  • Sole: Rubber
  • Fit: True to Size
  • Weight: 1.94 pounds

The Lockdown 5 is a great option for serious players who want a high quality model that won’t cost a fortune. You won’t pay an arm and a leg for this, but you still get plenty of excellent features. That includes a durable sole, TPU film toe cap, and a sockliner that adds comfort.

One of the biggest pluses of this model is that it has multiple levels to combat overheating. The mesh upper lets you breathe quite well, and it’s perfectly complemented by the unique air mesh tongue. There are even separate perforations for even more ventilation and comfort as you play.

The biggest bonus of the Lockdown 5 is that it comes in at a low price point. That’s its biggest drawback too. Players looking for a deep model outfitted with tons of different traits will not like the simplicity of the Lockdown 5. However, if you want a straightforward shoe it’s truly amazing.

21. Crazy BYM 2

  • Best for: Style
  • Key Features: Unique, eye-catching appearance. Breathable mesh upper and strong outsole. Midsole pods provide boost. Multiple fun color options. Affordable price point.
  • Upper: Mesh
  • Fit: Regular
  • Weight: 3 pounds

If you’re someone who wants to put an emphasis on style, Adidas has you covered. These shoes come with a crazy, as the name suggests, design that really pops. There are a wide range of colors and a variety of different designs that you can use to bring your style to life.

Of course, they are extremely functional as well. The shoes have a solid fit with a strong lace closure, boost zones throughout the midsole, as well as a sock-like upper. Those attributes provide ample amounts of support without ever getting too stuffy, tight, or uncomfortable.

The reason many players pick these shoes may also be the reason so many stay away from them. While they are certainly graphically daring, the busy look might put some people off. They are a bit on the heavy side too, but those are smaller drawbacks if you enjoy their appearance.

22. Air Jordan 3 Retro

  • Best for: Casual Wear
  • Key Features: Genuine leather upper. High quality construction. Stable and supportive. Snug, locked-in fit. Stylish look and retro design. Comfortable and plush.
  • Upper: Leather
  • Fit: True to Size
  • Weight: 1.21 pounds

Basketball shoes are great on the court, but many look good off it as well. That’s certainly true of the Air Jordan 3 Retro’s, a stylish pair with an incredible leather upper, slick midsole, and unique color scheme. Those come together to create one of the best casual basketball shoes around.

However, these are more than just their style. The shoes come with good heel-to-midfoot lockdown, a strong mid-top collar for extra ankle support, and a durable construction. Most people choose not to wear them on the court, but you absolutely can play in them if you wish.

That being said, the pair does come with a rather stiff midsole. That can make them a bit harder to break in. They also don’t have the top tier impact protection you would see in more dedicated gym shoes. Still, if you’re willing to put in the time they do get comfortable with a little work.

Also Read: Best Jordan Basketball Shoes

23. Kyrie Flytrap IV

  • Best for: Mobility
  • Key Features: Large, rectangular Zoom Air. Interior band and special laces to keep your foot in place. Excellent open design. Wavy, distorted outsole pattern. Lightweight and supportive.
  • Sole: Rubber
  • Fit: True to size
  • Weight: 1.9 pounds

Another excellent Kyrie model, the Flytrap IV is a great guard shoe for players who lean on agility or flexibility during their game. This model comes in at a more affordable price point, but still delivers on the performance front through the knit upper, air cushioning, and strong outsole.

All of the pieces fit together nicely, especially when backed by the pair’s interior band for extra protection on your cuts and landings. They are light and largely stay out of the way, which is critical for people who put an emphasis on speed. The energy return is also great.

The biggest mark against these shoes is that they aren’t the most durable. That’s to be expected with more dedicated gym shoes, but it’s important to note if you’re someone who plays outside. They also don’t have the best impact protection, which matters if you jump quite a bit.

24. Air Zoom BB NXT

  • Best for: Speed
  • Key Features: 3-layer Nike React design. Lightweight, responsive cushion. Circular outsole pattern. Padded collar and foam tongue. Ankle and Achilles heel support. Responsive.
  • Fit: True to Size
  • Upper: Mesh
  • Weight: 2.36 pounds

If you have a need for speed, the Air Zoom BB NXT is a fantastic option. This model is lightweight and locks you in a way that allows you to run as fast as you can. That’s furthered by the three layers of Nike React foam to give you light cushion for support as you go.

Another reason this works for speedsters is the zoom units that sit under the ball of your foot. Each one adds energy absorption and helps you really push off when you need to get going. There is also reinforced mesh that adds a certain amount of toughness to the entire shoe.

Be aware that, as it’s a lighter shoe, the Air Zoom BB NXT doesn’t have a lot of longevity. You’ll likely need a new pair every few months. In addition, they’re great when running straight but you do lose some stability on lateral cuts. Don’t be afraid to pair these with some good ankle guards.

25. Why Not Zer0.4

  • Best for: Stability
  • Key Features: Double stacked Air Zoom units. Responsive and soft. Heel and forefoot webbing for a secure feel. Tough rubber outsole. Responsive, generate good energy transfer.
  • Sole: Rubber
  • Fit: True to Size
  • Weight: 2.2 pounds

The Why Not Zer0.4 is a strong shoe that puts a large focus on stability. These sneakers are power-packed and come with double-stacked Air Zoom units in the forefront to greatly increase responsiveness. The light material is also breathable and offers good ventilation.

A big reason this makes my list is the way the laces actively engage with the special forefoot and heel webbing to truly lock in your feet as you move around. That creates a surprising amount of energy transfer to help take your game to the next level. Support is important.

The biggest knock against these shoes is the traction. The pattern works well enough, but it’s prone to dust and dirt build-up. You’ll wipe them quite a bit before and after you play. Though some players may enjoy the look, those who value a more simplistic style may find it a bit busy.

How to Choose Best Basketball Shoes in 2021: Buying Guides

When picking out a shoe you need to watch for the traits outlined in this section as they will help you get a strong, well-rounded model.

Traction

Basketball is a high-flying, explosive sport, but it all starts on the ground. That is why you need shoes that have plenty of traction. If you slip or slide around the court you’re going to run into issues. Not only will you not be able to stop on offense, but your defense will suffer as well.

The better your shoe’s grip, the more effectively you’ll be able to cut, accelerate, or take off. That then increases your general performance. Always look for models with unique traction patterns or extremely strong grips that are specially made to hold onto the gym floor.

Weight

Whenever you’re looking at new shoes it’s important to consider how heavy you want them to be. Overall, lighter tends to be better. You get to run and jump without anything holding you back. That adds a certain amount of speed and performance. However, it’s not so cut and dry. 

Heavier shoes are not without their pros. They are much more durable and tend to offer extra padding or protection (which is where the weight comes from). The style you pick for your own individual games is all about what traits you value the most and how you tend to play. 

Lockdown

When playing for any duration of time you want your feet to stay put inside your shoes. That’s where lockdown comes in. If you’re someone who’s prone to blisters or who sweats a lot, you should get shoes that keep your feet in place. A snug fit and straps are both key in that regard.

When picking models that best fit your feet, always pay attention to your size and shape. You don’t want something too tight, but you also don’t want a size too big as that will create friction. You want a middle ground that ties tight and provides support throughout your whole foot.

Ventilation

Every basketball player can benefit from shoes with extra breathability. It’s a hard sport, and the strain typically causes you to sweat quite a bit. Even if you’re not someone who runs hot, a shoe that wicks moisture and lets out air is much more comfortable to wear than something stuffy.

Mesh uppers or special lightweight designs are both keys when focusing on ventilation. You want something that helps you stay dry both when you’re out for casual practice and when you’re in the gym for hours grinding out a hard game. The more porous the material, the better.

Support

As fun as basketball can be, it’s also incredibly intense. That intensity is part of the fun, but it also creates a certain amount of injury risk to your body. A good shoe with ample support cuts down on such injuries and helps prevent any issues that might arise when running or jumping.

Look for shoes that come with heel, forefront, and ankle support. All three of those areas are vulnerable during play and they need to be protected. That’s especially true if you have a history of injuries. The more support you get, the better off you’ll be and the longer you’ll be able to play.

Durability

High-quality basketball shoes tend to be expensive. As such, you want to invest in a pair that’s going to be around for a long time. Durable shoes not only help save you money down the road, but they also protect your feet by not wearing down as fast as more shoddily-made options.

There are many nice-looking shoes out there. However, you never want to forget that your shoes protect your feet first and foremost. Always think about the brand and build quality before taking in things like color,  appearance, or even additional features.

Comfort

A big part of basketball is focus, and staying zoned in on the game is difficult to do if you’re dealing with hurt feet. That’s especially true if you’re trying to overcome hot spots or blisters. Comfortable shoes with good insoles and soft materials minimize those problems quite well.

Always ensure your footwear feels good when running or pushing your body up and down the court. Extra padding goes a long way in this regard, as does a soft upper that isn’t too restrictive. The less you notice your shoes when playing, the more they’re doing their job.

Budget

There are many shoes on the market. Most of them have different traits, and they all come in at different price points. While more expensive shoes tend to have more features, don’t assume that you can’t get a good, more affordable pair. Always pick what best fits your budget.

You don’t need to spend a lot of money to suit up before practice or a game. You can undoubtedly shell out a lot of cash for more premium shoes, and that can be worth it. However, you never want to overpay, especially if you’re someone who likes to play more casually.

Look and Style

Though it’s not as important as the other traits in this section, the look is important. Shoes are tools first and foremost, but they are also fashion accessories. You want them to look good. As such, you want to get a pair that fits your individual style, look, and color scheme.

Once you have all of the other necessary traits nailed down, don’t be afraid to choose a specific sneaker for its appearance. That includes the style (high-top vs low-top) as well as the general colors or patterns. As long as the shoe is comfortable and tough, it can look how you want.

Basketball Shoes FAQs

Once you’ve outlined the shoes you want on the court, you may have some additional questions. This section goes over some of the most popular ones to better explain basketball footwear.

Do Basketball Shoes Make a Difference?

Absolutely. Though you can play in regular shoes or even flat tops, you’re going to pay the price in terms of comfort. Non-basketball shoes are uncomfortable, lead to blisters, and won’t give you the traction you need for a gym floor. That then hurts your overall game.

What is a Good Price for Basketball Shoes?

The price depends entirely on the shoe. Some shoes you can get from $30 to $50, while others can cost anywhere between $100 and $200. In that way, it comes down to what traits you’re looking for as well as how much you’re willing to spend. There are many good shoes at different prices.

Do NBA Players Buy Their Own Shoes?

No. For the most part, all NBA players get shoes provided to them by the team or a big company if they have a deal. They go through a lot of shoes during the course of a season, and having premium gear is an essential part of their job.

Should I Buy Basketball Shoes a Half Size Bigger?

This entirely depends on the shoe you get, as well as your foot size. Those with wider feet or who need more room may want to go a half size bigger, while those with narrow feet or who enjoy a more snug fit will want shoes that are either a little bit smaller or more true to size.

Are Basketball Shoes Bad for your Feet?

No. In fact, well-fitting or well-made basketball shoes are some of the most comfortable and supportive sneakers money can buy. Not only are they great options for players out on the court, but they are also excellent walk-around options for everyday life too.

Why are Basketball Shoes so Heavy?

Not all basketball shoes are heavy. In fact, many popular models are quite light. If you do have a heavier model, it’s likely because they come with extra durability or padding to make them more comfortable or supportive out on the court. Get a weight that works best for you.

How Long Should You Wear Basketball Shoes?

A good shoe from one of the top brands will last a long time with the proper care. Just note that, even with heavy use, the best models will give you about six months before you need to replace them. If you only play once or twice a week (or less) you can have the same pair for a year.

Will Basketball Shoes Stretch?

Like any other type of sneaker, basketball shoes take a little while to break in. You always want them to be comfortable out of the box, but do note they will stretch out or mold to your foot shape as you wear them over longer periods of time.

Why Do Basketball Shoes Hurt My Feet?

If your shoes bother or hurt your feet it’s likely because they don’t fit right. They may be too small, too large, or too narrow. The soles may also not be right for your arch shape. Though some take a while to break in, if the discomfort continues you should get a new size.

Are Expensive Basketball Shoes Worth it?

If you can afford a more expensive shoe, go for it. High-end models with large price tags tend to come with plenty of premium traits or attributes that put them ahead of cheaper shoes. However, more affordable options work well too. It all depends on what you’re willing to pay.

Can You Wear Basketball Shoes for Walking?

Absolutely. There are plenty of basketball shoes that people only use as walk-around options rather than for playing on the court. Almost all models are comfortable and stylish, two traits that make them perfect for when you’re going out with friends or simply walking around town.

Additional Tips

Here are some helpful tips to help you select a shoe that fits you the best, along with advice on how to wear and care for it.

Sizing

Always understand how your shoes fit. Not just right out of the box, but before you buy them. Some brands, such as Adidas, have footwear that fits on the large side. In that case, you’d want to go smaller. Pay attention to fit when picking out your shoe and choose accordingly.

Buying Basketball Shoes as Women

As few basketball shoes are manufactured as “women’s shoes,” it can be frustrating when looking for a pair as a female. However, most shoes are actually gender-neutral. Feet are just feet, after all. As such, you can get any “men’s pair” as long as it translates to your size.

When getting a size for women, you simply need to do some quick math. Take whatever men size you see and subtract two. That’s it. An eight in men’s is a six for women, a ten is an eight, etc. As long as you stick to that you’ll get a pair that fits.

Break-in is a MUST

When you get a new pair of basketball shoes, regardless of brand or style, you must break them in. That makes them more comfortable and much easier to wear. While most high-performance shoes form around your foot to a certain extent, they will rarely be game-ready right away.

The best way to get your feet used to your shoes is by wearing them in a few light practices or taking them out on a few walks around town. Just be patient with this process. Some shoes can take a week or more to break in. That can be a hassle, but in the end, it will all be worth it.

The most important part of this process is that you shouldn’t take any shortcuts. It can be tempting to try and go hard right away, especially if it’s been days since you’ve bought your shoes, but you should go through the process slowly and let them form to you in time.

Playing in a high-end pair right out of the box can have some rough consequences. Not only will it hurt the shoe’s comfortability, but it may also affect the performance as well. If you want to play your best, take your time.

How to Clean Your Shoes

One of the most important things you can do to upkeep your shoes is to keep them clean. No matter where you play, they’re going to get dirty. Going over them helps fight some of that grime and ensures the materials last much longer than they normally would.

To properly clean your shoes you should first use a toothpick to go over the grooves and knock out any rocks or debris. From there, take a soft brush dipped in soapy water and gently scrub off any dirt on the sides or bottom. Next, wipe everything down with a wet cloth.

After the above steps, rinse down the shoes to get rid of leftover suds and take out the insoles/laces. Put those in the washing machine and set them out to air dry.

How to Store Basketball Shoes

When it comes to shoes, proper storage is also important. Always keep yours in a sealed bag when putting them away to keep out any dust or humidity. Silica gel packs are also good to place in the bags as they stop any molding.

When storing, you should keep the shoes somewhere that’s secure and doesn’t have a lot of moisture. A closet is best, but anywhere that meets those descriptions is fine. Look for cooler areas that are cool without being frozen.

My Verdict

Out of all the shoes in the above list, the Kyrie 7 gets my nod for the best of the best. That’s because, while many models excel in one or two areas, few are as well rounded as the Kyrie 7. It’s a complete shoe that does a fantastic job of blending durability, mobility, and cushion.

The shoe has a tough rubber sole and strong construction made to last quite a while. Backing those high-quality materials are a 360-degree traction pattern, top-tier responsiveness, and Air Zoom Turbo unit. It also looks great, which is always a welcome bonus.

The bottom line is, no matter how often you like to play or what position you are, you’re going to get plenty of value and time out of the shoe. It’s truly the complete package for everyone out on the court or blacktop.