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16 Best Basketball Shoes: The Favorites of Real Players

In the world of basketball, the importance of the right kicks is huge. It's like finding that perfect teammate who just gets your game. 

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From the iconic Air Jordans to the newest releases, there's a bunch of basketball shoes out there, each with its own cool tech and style. Figuring out what makes the perfect pair for your playing style and feet is key to stepping up your game on the court.

In the quest to find the perfect blend of comfort, style, and performance in basketball footwear, I've also gathered insights from founders and coaches, among other experts. They share their top picks, ranging from the affordable quality of Adidas Own The Game 2.0 to the flexibility of Nike Air Zoom GT Cut 2, in this comprehensive roundup of the sixteen best basketball shoes.

Best Basketball Shoes of All Time

Air jordan yellow basketball shoes

In my hoops journey, a few shoes stand out like champs. First up, the Air Jordan line by Nike is certainly a winner and this is why: The support and cushioning are next-level, giving high level comfort on court. Plus, they're iconic, dripping with style. But, they can be pricey and sometimes a bit tight at first, needing a break-in period. 

converse basketball shoes

Then there's the timeless classic, the Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars. Superb grip and flexibility, and a legend in the game. Yet, they lack the high-end tech you'd get in newer shoes, which might affect performance for some ballers. Each has its game, but these two are legends on the.

Best Basketball Shoes for Manoeuvring

Nike zoom

Nike Air Zoom GT Cut 2 

"The “best” is hard to say because it depends on how you play, the shape of your feet, and your personal tastes. Nike Air Zoom GT Cut 2: This shoe is very light, but it has great court feel and response thanks to its Zoom Air cushioning and articulated shank plate. It's great for quick cuts, sudden changes of direction, and huge hops.

Now, let me talk about my own preferences: I value flexibility and response. The Nike Kyrie Low 5 is my go-to shoe. It's very light, bendable, and has a great feel on the court. The Zoom Air unit in the front of my foot makes it easy for me to move quickly through defenses and create space. Still, there's always room for something better!

Shoes with features like movable arch supports or swappable cushioning units can be changed to fit different foot shapes and playing styles.

Sustainable materials are eco-friendly materials that work just as well as traditional materials. This makes shoe production less harmful to the Earth.

Smarter technology uses sensors and data analysis to keep track of your moves and give you personalized feedback on your game. This helps you improve and avoid injuries. In the end, the best basketball shoe is the one that helps you perform your best. You should try out different options, put your own needs first, and don't be afraid to push the limits of what's possible. Remember that on the court, style and ability go hand in hand, so pick shoes that make you feel confident and ready to win."

- Joseph Manktelow-Pimm, Editor, 7Gents

Best Affordable

Adidas Own The Game 2.0

Adidas Own The Game 2.0

"A game of pickup basketball is always a blast to me, but since I don't play often enough to warrant purchasing an expensive pair of court shoes, I decided that the Adidas Own The Game 2.0 shoes are the best quality for the best price.

These are just a standard pair of supportive basketball shoes for a reasonable price. However, just because they're inexpensive doesn't mean they aren't good shoes; they are Adidas, after all.

They have a rubber sole, which provides great grip on the court and concrete. The mesh material makes the shoe breathable and comfortable, but I particularly like how the top sets around my ankle without impeding my range of motion.

I would prefer a shoe with a more supportive cuff around my ankle just to ensure I am less prone to strains, but other than that, this is a great shoe for those who love basketball... just as a hobby."

- Brett Downes, Founder, Haro Helpers

Adidas dame 7 basketball shoes

When it's blacktop time, you need shoes that can handle the grind. My top pick for outdoor basketball shoes right now is the Adidas Dame 7. They give excellent traction, they have a durable outsole that can take a beating, and the Bounce cushioning—perfect for impact protection. Plus, they're pretty versatile style-wise. But, keep in mind, they might feel a tad snug for some folks, and the ventilation could use a boost for those scorching days. 

Nike LeBron 18

Nike LeBron 18 

"My personal favorite has to be the Nike LeBron 18s. It's a combination of comfort and game-enhancing features.

The cushioning on these kicks is next-level. It's like walking on clouds, but when you hit the court, it's as if those clouds turn into shock absorbers. The unique design caters to different aspects of your feet, providing support in all the right places. Plus, they've got this insane traction that grips the floor like glue—no slipping and sliding when you make those quick cuts or drive to the basket.

I'd love to see a bit more breathability. You know how intense the game can get, and no one wants sweaty feet. If Nike could amp up the ventilation without compromising the support, that would be a slam-dunk improvement."

- James Cunningham, Senior Coach, Total Shape

Nike LeBron Witness 6 basketball shoes

Nike LeBron Witness 6

Another solid choice is the Nike LeBron Witness 6. The traction is second to none, plus it has a very sturdy build, perfect for those rough outdoor courts. Having said that, they can be a bit on the heavier side, and some might find the cushioning lacking compared to other models. 

Best Basketball Shoes for Jumps

Nike Zoom Freak 3 basketball shoes

Nike Zoom Freak 3

When it comes to boosting your hops, the Nike Zoom Freak 3 is a top contender. What helps you fly high is that these shoes offer insane responsiveness and a bouncy Zoom Air unit, giving you that extra lift. The support is on point too, keeping your feet locked in when you're reaching for the sky. But, some players might find the fit a bit narrow initially, so breaking them in might be necessary. 

Nike Air Jordan XXXVII

Nike Air Jordan XXXVII 

"Every basketball player's personality is charmed by the shoes they choose, which speaks volumes about them. Perhaps NBA followers would understand the emotional connection with basketball shoes, with Nike Jordans topping this list. The Nike Air Jordan XXXVII Low Basketball Shoes are the ultimate epitome in this area and a safe bet! 

The best part about these shoes is the upper is lightweight and designed to mimic the upper-taped ankle. Besides, a perfect bounce is what turns any player's game into a winning act. Nike has carefully used the Formula 23 signature foam, stacked thick in the heel, for the right bounce. Its double-stacked air on the Strobel unit is great for triggering your reflexes, such as knowing when to start and stop. 

I feel this one takes care of every aspect that is essential in your play, leaving all your games uncompromised. Nike's Air Jordan typically has a cushion for better support and is favored by most players, for sure."

- Alex Mastin, CEO and Founder, Home Grounds

Adidas D Rose 11 basketball shoes

Another gem for elevating your game is the Adidas D Rose 11. These shoes are built for explosiveness, featuring light yet sturdy construction and Adidas' Lightstrike cushioning that's all about that energy return. However, the traction might need a bit more bite on certain courts, so watch out for that. When you're aiming for those rim-rattling dunks, these shoes could be your ticket to airborne glory.

nike basketball shoes

Nike KD 16

"I can confidently say the Nike KD 16 reigns supreme when it comes to comfortable and supportive performance footwear. These shoes have become my go-to choice, whether I'm running drills at home or shooting hoops with friends during my travels.

The KD 16's comfort is unparalleled. The cushioning system, a perfect blend of a plush midsole and a responsive Zoom unit in the forefoot, provides unparalleled impact absorption and energy return. This translates to smooth transitions, effortless jumps, and fatigue-free play, even after hours on the court.

At under $150, these shoes offer exceptional value for their quality and performance, making them an accessible choice for players of all skill levels.

Currently, the shoe's size range might not cater to all players. Expanding the size options would further enhance accessibility and allow more individuals to experience the comfort and performance benefits of the KD 16."

- Aiden Higgins, Senior Editor and Writer, The Broke Backpacker

Best Basketball Shoes for Speed

Nike Kyrie 8 basketball shoes

Nike Kyrie 8

When it's all about quick cuts and blazing speed, two pairs come to mind: the Nike Kyrie 8 and the Under Armour Curry 9. 

The Kyrie 8s are like rockets on your feet, offering insane agility and traction, perfect for those quick movements. The Zoom Air cushioning is responsive, giving you that extra burst. Yet, they might feel a bit snug initially, so breaking them in is key. 

Curry Flow 9 basketball shoes

Armour Curry Flow 9s

On the other hand, the Armour Curry Flow 9s are all about lightweight speed. Their traction is very good, providing excellent grip for quick direction changes. The cushioning is also top-notch, offering both support and responsiveness. Some might feel they lack a bit in ankle support, so keep that in mind if you need extra stability. Whether you're slashing to the hoop or darting across the court, these shoes have got the need for speed.

curry 2 flotro

Under Armour's Curry 2 Low FloTro

"Curry 2 Low FloTro shoes are the best basketball shoes. As a big fan of basketball and a person who loves running on the weekends, I find these shoes beneficial. Despite the dominance of Nike and Adidas in the basketball shoe business, Under Armour is gaining traction after signing Stephen Curry, one of the best shooting guards in the NBA. 

I love the Curry 2 Low FloTro because they are comfortable and light. During the weekends, I always enjoy going out with light and seamless shoes that allow me to run a couple of miles. Before the launch of the Curry 2 shoes, I always wore some Adidas sneakers, which always felt somewhat bulky and uncomfortable. 

The Curry 2 shoes are made using Under Armour's cushioning technology, making them super-light but still offering great grip while running or playing pick-up basketball. When I am wearing the Curry 2 Low FloTro, I always feel that I can run faster, providing me a better experience compared to other shoe brands out there."

- Martin Gasparian, Attorney and Owner, Maison Law

Best Basketball Shoes for Guards

Harden Vol. 5 basketball shoes

When it's about owning the court with speed, control, and agility, you need the kicks that match your game. Two shoes that scream 'guard game strong' are the Adidas Harden Vol. 5 and the Under Armour HOVR Havoc 4. Whether you're dishing dimes or blowing past defenders, these shoes have your back on the hardwood court covered.

The Harden Vol. 5 brings top-notch traction and insane court feel, perfect for those lightning-quick cuts and changes in direction. Plus, the Boost cushioning offers that responsive bounce you need for those explosive moves. However, they might feel a bit bulky for some guards. 

"In my experience, the most outstanding basketball shoes are the Adidas Harden Vol. 5. What sets them apart is the unique combination of responsive cushioning and exceptional grip. They provide superior comfort, especially for players like me with wider feet, and the lockdown fit is remarkable. 

However, a potential enhancement could be reducing the shoe's weight, as they can feel slightly heavy during long games. Overall, the Adidas Harden Vol. 5 stands out due to their comfort and grip, but a lighter version would make them even better."

- Michael Chen, Head of Growth, Notta

HOVR Havoc 4 basketball shoes

On the other hand, the HOVR Havoc 4s are all about that lightweight feel, offering great responsiveness and support. Their traction is solid too, ensuring you stick to those quick stops and starts. Yet, the fit might run a bit narrow for some, so breaking them in might be necessary. 

How to Choose the Right Shoes

Picking the perfect basketball shoes is crucial for your game and foot comfort. Here's how to find your sole-mate:

  • Know Your Play Style: Are you a speed demon, a high-flyer, or a strong, steady player? Understand your style—guards might prefer lightweight shoes, while big men might need more support and cushioning.
  • Consider Your Foot Type: Are you flat-footed or do you have a high arch? Different shoes offer various levels of arch support and stability to suit different foot shapes.
  • Fit is Key: Try the shoes on. And that means various brands and sizes. Ensure a snug fit without discomfort or pressure points. Leave some space (about a thumbnail's width) at the front to prevent toe jamming.
  • Support Matters: Look for good ankle support if you need it. Some shoes have high collars for extra stability, while others offer more freedom for agility.
  • Traction and Cushioning: Check the traction pattern for grip on the court. Cushioning varies—some offer more bounce, while others focus on responsiveness. Choose what feels right for your game.
  • Durability and Breathability: Outdoor or indoor player? Consider the shoe's durability on rough surfaces. Also, breathable materials help keep your feet cool and dry during intense games.
  • Budget: Great shoes come at different price points. Set a budget and find the best balance between quality and affordability.

Remember, what works for one player might not work for another. Your perfect pair is out there—just takes a bit of trial and error to find the ultimate basketball shoes that fit you and your game like a glove!

Final Thoughts

When it comes to basketball shoes, the search for the perfect pair is personal. Some swear by classic kicks like Air Jordans, while others love the latest tech. But it's all about finding that shoe that's more than just flashy—it's about finding your game-changer. Whether it's support, style, or performance, the right shoes can take your skills to the next level, making you feel like a true MVP on the court.


Born and raised in Austin, David is a dedicated writer and avid fragrance lover. When he's not trying out perfumes, he enjoys traveling and exploring new restaurants.