This article goes over the best Nike Basketball shoes on the market and breaks down what makes each one unique.

I have owned tons of Nike basketball shoes in my 25 years playing the game. Backing up that firsthand knowledge with extra research and interviews allowed me to properly cover the following sneakers and their traits.

The Lebron 18’s are my top pick for Nike basketball shoes as a result of their ample traits, stylish appearance, and comfortable fit.

Where many shoes only succeed in one specific area, the 18’s hit on a range of different levels. They’re extremely supportive, lightweight, and comfortable due to the mesh construction and full-length Zoom Air unit. The rubber outsole and tough materials are quite sturdy too.

However, as great as they are, the Lebron 18’s are far from the only good Nike basketball shoes. If you want more information on other exceptional models, read the paragraphs below.

Quick Summary 

Who Should Get This

There are many big basketball shoe brands on the market, but none are bigger than Nike. The company is the giant of the industry, and for good reason. Their shoes are well made, have tons of different features, and are always at the forefront of sneaker technology. They look good too.

In short, if you play basketball at any level for any reason you can’t go wrong with getting a Nike shoe. That includes those who get out onto the court a lot, but, as Nike shoes are so attractive and eye-catching, it includes more casual players or general shoe lovers as well.

Top Nike Basketball Shoes: Our Picks

This section takes a long look at different Nike shoes and goes over why the best models are so useful out on the court.

1. Lebron 18

  • Best for: Overall
  • Key Features: Max Air for extra heel cushioning. Stable. Supportive. KnitPosite 2.0. Lightweight and breathable design. Multidirectional traction pattern. Ample tongue padding.
  • Sole: Rubber
  • Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Fit: True to Size 

Lebron has long made many good shoes with Nike, and the 18 is no exception. This model has you covered in a multitude of ways, including great cushioning, a comfortable feel, and plenty of responsiveness. The rubber sole is sturdy and the full-length Zoom Air unit helps you run.

One of the best features of this pair is the KnitPosite 2.0 construction. That makes the shoes lightweight, allowing you to play without being held back, and gives them great ventilation. Everything feels effortless with them on, making them good for guards and big men alike.

As exceptional as the shoes are, some people may not like the fact that they don’t have the best traction for extremely quick cuts. You also might see some issues if you’re someone who plays outside. However, those are minor drawbacks for an excellent game time option.

2. Zoom Freak 2

  • Best for: Lightweight
  • Key Features: Molded overlays. Excellent power transfer. Durable outsole and lightweight design. Zoom Air Technology. Flashy color pattern and design.
  • Sole: Rubber
  • Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Fit: Narrow

Coming from Giannis, the Zoom Freak 2’s are a top-of-the-line shoe made with strong materials that won’t weigh you down. Being able to run at full speed is essential in basketball, and these lighter options give you solid lockdown and a stable base without taking anything away.

The Zoom Air Technology is both soft and plushy, providing plenty of padding for your feet no matter how hard you push yourself. The shoe has a lot of support in many key areas, and the ankle protection is solid. With these strapped onto your feet, you can step with confidence.

That being said, it’s not all positives. The Freak 2 does have a busy graphic that might not be for everyone. Minimalists will especially be put off by it. Also, as comfortable as the Freak 2 is, it’s lacking a bit in the impact protection department. That’s especially true on hard jumps.

3. Kyrie 7

  • Best for: Support
  • Key Features: Stylish look. Responsive, rubber sole. 360-degree traction and durable base. Air Zoom Turbo unit. Tight knit construction.
  • Sole: Rubber
  • Weight: 12 ounces
  • Fit: True to Size

Support is critical out on the court, which is why the Kyrie 7s have a reinforced, high top design. The shoes go above and beyond in many ways, including their tough construction, stable lockdown, and snug fit. While they promote mobility, they do it in a safe, injury preventing way.

Backing up the safety is the 360 degree traction. Where most shoes overlook tread, the 7s have a unique pattern that’s made to grip all different surfaces. They also excel when it comes to comfort. The Air Zoom Turbo unit and padded collar go a long way to keeping you comfortable.

If these shoes have a setback it’s that they don’t have the longevity of other premium Nike products. They excel in terms of durability, but you’re likely going to see some noticeable wear and tear (especially in the sole) after a few months. Be ready to replace them after that.

4. KD Trey 5 VIII

  • Best for: Comfort
  • Key Features: 2-layer textile forefoot material. Mid-top design. Soft dual-density midsole. Mid high-collar. Flyknit padded tongue. Attractive appearance.
  • Sole: Rubber
  • Weight: 1.85 pounds
  • Fit: True to Size

If you’re a Nike fan who values comfort, the Trey 5 VIII’s excel. Many premium shoes offer cushion in one area. However, this pair delivers it everywhere through a padded tongue, dual-density midsole, cushioned collar, and 2-layer textile material in the forefoot.

The cushion feels incredible and they have a strong sole to match. The rubber is durable and gives you a lot of energy return when you’re making cuts or moving quickly. On top of that, there are perforated foam pods that keep the shoes locked around your ankles for extra support.

The one thing you want to be careful of when getting these shoes is their fit. Their comfort is almost completely unmatched, but they do run on the smaller side. That can lead to tightness, which then fights against the cushion. Get a half-size up whenever possible.

5. Adapt BB 2.0

  • Best for: Modern
  • Key Features: Cushioned foam midsole. Tongue and heel pull tab. Padded collar. Auto-lacing system. Mesh upper Customized fit.
  • Upper: Ballistic mesh
  • Weight: 19.6 ounces
  • Midsole: Foam

If you’re on the lookout for something different, it’s hard to beat the Adapt BB 2. This shoe utilizes a special auto-lacing system that creates a snug-but-comfortable customized fit. They are consistent and feel great due to how they mold directly to the specific shape of your foot.

However, these are more than just a gimmick. As with any Nike options, they come with good support, a powerful sole, and excellent traction. They also manage to be quite lightweight despite the lacing system, which is incredibly handy when it comes to on-court performance.

The biggest issue many will have with these shoes is their price. They are quite expensive, even compared to other high end Nikes. That will undoubtedly put some people off. Even so, if you’re willing to pay for a cutting edge and largely unmatched shoe, this is a 

6. Precision 4

  • Best for: Response
  • Key Features: Sturdy design and rubber outsole. Plushy foam midsole. Pivot circles. Reinforced toe and eyelets. Sleek, eye-catching design. Robust construction.
  • Sole: Rubber
  • Weight: 14.11 ounces
  • Midsole: Foam

The Precision 4 is a great shoe for people who have a hyper focus on performance. While all models in this guide enhance your game, few give you the spring or energy return of this one. Everything, from the foam midsole to the pivot circles, exists to add extra power to your step.

This shoe is incredibly lightweight as well. That’s a necessary aspect that furthers all the other parts of the design. The pair even manages to cut out those ounces without losing any long term durability. This will hold up to a lot of use in a range of different situations.

Just be aware that these don’t come with the best impact protection. You’ll get ample response from them, but landings from dunks or high rebounds can be a little rough. That’s a small complaint, however, for how much you’re going to get out of them when you’re on the court.

7. PG 5

  • Best for: Performance
  • Key Features: Open, versatile design. Flexible materials. Lace bands. Strong lockdown and comfortable interior. Multi-directional traction.
  • Sole: Rubber
  • Weight: 15 ounces
  • Upper: Mesh

If you’re a serious player who wants to get good results in the gym, the PG 5 is a Nike shoe worth looking at. This model has ample traits that increase all parts of your performance. That includes the multi-directional traction, full cushion system, and incredibly responsive sole.

With these on you’ll be able to jump, turn, or run with ease. They even come with an open design that promotes both agility and lateral movement, as well as strong lockdown so you don’t slide around too much.

These shoes go a long way, but you should be careful when taking them out of the gym. They don’t have the best longevity around and they will wear down quickly if you’re playing in the park, street, or yard.

8. Mamba Focus

  • Best for: Style
  • Key Features: Attractive dual-color design. Lightweight heel cage backed by an Air Zoom Unit. Ample cushion and response. Reliable grip. Molded framework.
  • Sole: Rubber
  • Weight: 16.6 ounces
  • Fit: Narrow

Basketball shoes need to first be functional, but that doesn’t mean they can’t look good. Nike is a style brand as much as anything else, and the Mamba Focus is an example of that style. This sharp-looking shoe has a bright dual-design. It comes in a wide variety of fun color options.

Beyond that, this comes with TPU eyelets and an Air Zoom unit. There’s also an embossed upper for extra sturdiness and support when you’re sprinting at full speed. The fit is comfortable and the base is solid, showing that these good-looking shoes are much more than a pretty face.

However, as great as it is, the Mamba Focus is a bit stiff when you first buy it. You’ll need to spend some time walking or breaking them in before they’re game ready. The sole is also on the stiff side, which can put off some players who put a lot of value on flexibility.

How to Choose The Best Nike Shoes for Basketball

Anytime you get a basketball shoe, from Nike or another top brand, you need to keep the following characteristics in mind.

Comfort

First and foremost, your shoes need to be comfortable. That’s incredibly important because any discomfort can distract you from the game. To avoid blisters or general pain, go for shoes that have soft construction, as well as models that come with roomy interiors and good padding.

You want a shoe that holds and cushions your foot in all of the essential areas. Reinforced heels are great for that, as are springy-but-supportive midsoles. It’s also important to make sure the shoes have a good fit and aren’t too tight or too loose. That alone can cause a lot of issues.

Durability

Do your best to get a durable shoe. Even though Nike creates premium products, certain ones are longer-lasting than others. Your goal is to find something that’s well made and has strong materials specifically crafted to withstand the constant rigors that come with basketball.

Support

Something else you want to be aware of when getting a shoe is how much support it offers. Basketball puts your feet through the ringer, and you need something that’s able to ensure you don’t get hurt. A good base goes a long way, as does tight lacing and strong ankle materials.

There are many ways shoes support your feet. Look for cushion, padding, as well as lockdown. All three of those come together to cut down on injuries. More importantly, they also provide extra peace of mind so you can drive, bump, or run without worrying about awkward landings.

Budget

Nike shoes, as with most large brands, vary wildly in many areas. That includes price. All Nike shoes come with a certain level of professionalism, but some are certainly more premium than others. Looking at your budget is a good way to determine which ones work best for you.

Never pay more than you have to when getting Nike shoes. Though some flashy models with more traits might be tempting, always stick to what you’re willing to pay. Also, don’t be afraid to look for deals. The company has a lot of sales both online and in their many stores.

Style

As most Nike fans know, style is one of the big aspects that sets the shoes apart from other brands. Most of Nike’s basketball sneakers come in a range of colors and styles. They also look great as casual wear. As such, there’s nothing wrong with buying a fun or vibrant pair.

Look should never be the first thing on your mind when getting shoes. However, once you have all of the necessary and important traits out of the way, you want to get something you’ll be proud to show off. Shoes are clothing accessories after all.

Additional Tips

There are many ways to enhance your game, but one of the simplest is by pairing your shoes up with a quality pair of socks. If you’re a brand loyalist who wants to stay in the Nike family, their Dry Cushion Crew Training socks are perfect for running around.

The socks can stand the test of a long day on the court and offer extra heel support through their dynamic design. They also pride themselves on being one of the longest-lasting socks on the market. 

My Verdict

The Lebron 18 is a great basketball shoe from the biggest brand on Earth. Nike has many exceptional hardwood and outdoor options, and the 18 stands above them all due to simply how well it supports and furthers your performance out on the court.

It comes with a full-length Zoom Air unit, KnitPosite 2.0 construction, as well as some of the best impact cushioning around. It’s soft and has a tough exterior that will stand the test of time. If you want a good shoe, no matter what brand you normally use, it’s hard to find anything better.