Whether you’re a gym rat or just a massive NBA fan, everybody loves a good pair of basketball shoes, and it’s even better if the name of your favorite baller is associated with the brand. There is, after all, no better way to show your support than decking yourself out head to toe in your team’s gear — and that includes the shoes.
But maybe you’re more than a fan — maybe you play basketball and want to take your own game to the next level. We hear you, when it comes to basketball shoes, there are a lot of options out there — and none of them are cheap! So we did the hard work for you.
We’ll tell you why you need basketball shoes, why they’re important, which shoes have the best cushioning, and even whether or not they are good for everyday use.
We know you’d rather be in the gym working on your “J,” or planning your NBA fantasy team for next season. Coming up next is our ranking of the 10 best basketball shoes.
No matter what, these shoes have a complete game: in the lane, in the paint, and beyond the three-point line.
The Basketball Shoes We RAVE About
Maybe up until this point you’ve been playing basketball in any old pair of sneakers. Cue your dad telling you, “In my day, we didn’t have those fancy, expensive, shoes — we just balled!”
So you might be asking, why do I need basketball shoes?
Basketball shoes help prevent injuries
Playing hoops puts your body at an increased risk of injury. Here’s what basketball shoes do to help keep you on the court:
- Ankle support
You don’t want a rolled ankle, one of basketball’s most common injuries. Regular running or tennis shoes just don’t have the same kind of ankle support compared to basketball shoes.
- Foot comfort
Basketball shoes are specially designed to help protect your feet from everything the game of basketball puts them through, supporting them where they need it most, and providing stability when it counts.
- Impact absorption
The kind of running, jumping, and leaping involved in playing basketball puts a lot of stress on your knees, ankles, and back. Brands like Adidas and Nike have invested a lot of research in ways to relieve some of that pressure — solving the problem, with like, actual science.
Basketball shoes help your game
Okay, so no pair of basketball shoes will make you an all-star player, but every player needs a quality pair of basketball shoes.
Each position in basketball has its own set of signature moves, all of which take a toll on your feet, ankles, knees, and back. Basketball shoes support these areas of your body while you play.
But why are basketball shoes so expensive?
We get it — basketball shoes are pretty expensive. But look at it this way, basketball shoes for playing basketball and running shoes are designed for running.
If you’re both a runner and a basketball player, maybe you figure you can save some money and wear your running shoes on the court.
But that’s just going to wear your running shoes out faster. Get a good pair of running shoes and a good pair of basketball shoes and you’ll save a lot of money down the line.
Have we convinced you how much you need a good pair of basketball shoes? The next question is how do you find the right pair for you?
How to choose a basketball shoe
There are three basic parts of any basketball shoe:
Upper height comes in high, mid, and low. High provides the most ankle support, and low uppers are all about agility. Mid is a happy medium, providing some ankle support while also allowing for some flexibility.
The midsole is where all the cushioning happens. Most midsoles are made from the following:
- Ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) foam
- Compressed EVA foam
…or sometimes a combination of all of the above.
If you’re looking for a light midsole, go with EVA or compressed EVA foam. Polyurethane midsoles are more durable, but also more dense.
Some shoes use proprietary technology to add extra cushioning at the heel and forefoot, and basketball shoes reinforce the medial portion of the shoe for extra stability.
The outsole of the shoe, where the traction comes from, is usually made from rubber or some kind of other synthetic material. For peak balance, go with a flat and wide outsole. For grip, look for an outsole in a herringbone or hexagonal pattern.
If you play a lot of outdoor ball, look for a thicker outsole.
And while this part of the basketball shoe buying process may be the least important, it certainly is the most fun: No matter what, you should like the way the shoes look, and how they make you feel.
Now that we’ve covered the different parts of a basketball shoe, let’s move on to how the shoe should fit.
How to find the right size basketball shoes
Getting a good fit is perhaps the most important part of buying a new pair of basketball shoes. Here are a few pointers:
- Make sure your toes have enough room in the toe box
- Always stand up when you try on basketball shoes
- There should be about a thumbnail length’s space between the tip of your longest toe and the shoe
- Check for any heel rubbing or slipping
That’s about all you need to know about the basics of basketball shoes. The only thing left to do is to buy a new pair from our ranking of the 10 best basketball shoes.
Methodology of Ranking the Best Basketball Shoes
People are into basketball shoes. Like, really into them. There are websites, blogs, and Youtube channels full of reviews and comments just about basketball shoes. Some people buy basketball shoes just to keep them in the box!
As we prepared this ranking, we looked at the opinions basketball shoe lovers, industry professionals, and basketball players of all skill levels. We didn’t limit this ranking to just men’s shoes, including a 50/50 mix of both men’s and women’s basketball shoes.
We also consulted similar rankings from trusted and reputable sources all over the internet.
We ranked each shoe on the following criteria:
- Additional features
We also took into consideration:
- Aesthetics of the shoe
- For which style of play the shoes are best suited
No, we didn’t try on these shoes ourselves, but if you’ve ever seen any of us try to play basketball, you’d know that wouldn’t have helped much anyway. But we haven’t included any shoes we wouldn’t wear ourselves.
So trust us, this is only the good stuff. Coming up next is our ranking of the 10 best basketball shoes.
The Best Basketball Shoes
Adidas Performance Men’s Crazy Explosive Basketball Shoe
The Adidas Performance Crazy Explosive Men’s Basketball Shoe takes the top spot in our ranking of the best basketball shoes.
These shoes, available in four color options, are made from 100% textile and synthetic material with a rubber sole and a shaft measuring about 5.18 inches from the arch.
There’s also a Xeno upper, with an updated lacing system to reduce pressure. But what really sets these shoes apart is the responsive cushioning, taking your energy and giving it back to you in explosive performance.
In addition, there’s a highly comfortable textile lining, and a tinted, TPU wrap-over boost midsole. Players who’ve tried these shoes comment on the comfort. At such a reasonable price point — much less than other name brands on the market — these are without a doubt the best basketball shoes around.
- Xeno upper
- Updated lacing system
- Textile lining
- Lace holder breaking issues
AND1 Women’s Overdrive Basketball Shoe
Up next in our ranking of the 10 best basketball shoes is the women’s Overdrive Basketball Shoe from AND1, our pick for the best basketball shoes for women.
These shoes are breathable, with textile and synthetic construction and a rubber sole. What really sets them apart is the radial herringbone pattern, helping to maintain controlled pivots, as well as thin-ribbed treads, for improved grip on both hardwood and blacktop.
The shaft measures approximately 5 inches from the arch. In addition, there are pronounced outrigger aids in sharp lateral cuts, an internal bootie for improved fit and feel, and a design and color scheme that will add a lot of personal style to the court.
However, some consumers report that they tend to come about a half-size too small, so keep that in mind.
- Radial herringbone pattern
- Thin ribbed treads
- Outrigger aids
- Run small
- Bright colors only
Nike Men’s Lebron Soldier XII – No Longer Available
Unfortunately, this product is no longer offered through Nike and would need to be purchased by a third-party seller or collector.
The next shoe in our ranking comes from Nike. Available in 22 color and design options, the Lebron Soldier XII is a shoe for anyone who likes to add some style to the court. But for all the fashion, there’s still plenty of function.
With mesh construction and a suede sole, these shoes have an engineered upper, designed to deliver targeted breathability and support. We also love the dynamic straps crisscrossing the midfoot and ankle to provide extra lockdown, while Zoom Air units create impact cushioning with each step.
Choose these shoes and you’ll pay a bit more, especially compared to the first two shoes in our ranking. Some users also report issues with the strap holder breaking. But others love the fit, claiming these are the best shoes they’ve ever worn on the basketball court.
- Zoom air units
- Engineered upper
- Lots of color options
- Strap holder durability
- Too snug for some
Fourth in our ranking of the best basketball shoes are the Nike Hyperdunks, also our pick for best unisex basketball shoe.
The Zoom Air units in the heel and forefoot particularly caught our attention, offering responsive cushioning. The wavy traction pattern provides excellent grip on the court, and the midfoot TPU wing offers support and stabilization.
In addition, these shoes are available in a wide selection of color combinations. On the downside, these shoes are expensive, some reviewers report Achilles pain, and they do run small.
- Midfoot TPU wing
- Zoom air units
- Pretty expensive
- Achilles pain reported
- Run small
Adidas Performance Men’s Cloudfoam
Next up are the Adidas Performance Men’s Cloudfoam basketball shoes, available in five color options.
What’s nice about these shoes is that they’re made from 100% leather and fabric, with a rubber sole, and a shaft measuring to about mid-top from the arch.
If you’re looking for breathability, these shoes feature ventilation perforations on the sides, near the iconic Adidas three-stripe logo.
There’s also a grippy rubber outsole; an air mesh tongue, collar, and rear quarter; and a Cloudfoam sockliner and midsole for lightweight cushioning.
However, these shoes run large, and some reviewers point out that the soles peel over time.
- Air mesh tongue
- Cloudfoam sockliner
- Fit large
- Sole peeling issues
- Cushion compacts over time
Nike Women’s Hyperdunk 2017 TB
Sixth in our ranking is the Nike Women’s Hyperdunk. Available in two color options, these shoes feature a mesh and half-bootie construction.
We really love how snugly these shoes fit, with flywire cables for dynamic lockdown. And we also appreciate the Lunar cushioning, as well as the engineered, woven jacquard upper, which is lightweight and breathable. The rubber outsole pattern is designed for enhanced, multidirectional traction.
These shoes are also affordable for the quality, though consumers do report they’re a little snug at first. Many who’ve tried the shoes recommend going with a half size bigger than your usual size.
- Half-bootie construction
- Flywire cables
- Lunar cushioning
- Too snug for some
- Issues with shipping wrong size
- Only one color option
Under Armour Men’s Curry 2.5
Under Armour’s Curry 2.5 men’s basketball shoe comes in seventh in our ranking.
We love this shoe’s high-top cut, designed to protect and support your ankle while you play basketball. There’s also an asymmetrical entry, burrito tongue, and a laced closure for a comfortable, snug fit.
We also appreciate the molded synthetic upper wraps and the PU shell for structural support, as well as the thin comfort tongue and padded collar. And, don’t miss the ETC anti-friction top cloth to reduce heat.
In addition, these shoes have a smooth fabric lining, a die-cut, anti-microbial OrthoLite sockliner, and a full-length charged cushioning midsole to absorb impact.
The external shank and heel counter allow optimum stability and slide reduction through the heel, arch, and forefoot. There’s also a multi-directional, organic herringbone outsole for maximum floor control and grip.
However, these shoes are expensive, and the wrap-around tongue made the shoes too tight for some users.
- Multi-directional herringbone
- Lots of color options
- OrthoLite sockliner
- Wrap-around tongue issues
- Too tight for some
Adidas Women’s Pro Model Zero W Basketball Shoe
Turning to the eighth spot in our ranking, we want to tell you about the Adidas Women’s Pro Model Zero W Basketball Shoe.
These shoes are 100% synthetic, with a cushioned midsole, a non-scuffing rubber outsole for optimal traction and grip, and a shaft measuring approximately 2.8 inches from the arch.
What we like in particular about this shoe is the Kurim shell toe, as well as the PU insole, Torsion System, and molded EVA midsole cushions. We also love the classic Adidas look, available in multiple color options.
However, many reviewers report tightness in the toe box, and issues with the ankle being too loose.
- Kurim shell toe
- Classic Adidas look
- Molded EVA midsole
- Tight toe box
- Loose ankle
- Pain in ball of foot reported
Under Armour Men’s Jet Mid Basketball Shoe
Up next in our ranking of the best basketball shoes is the men’s Jet Mid Basketball Shoe from Under Armour. With textile and synthetic construction, these shoes have a rubber sole and a shaft measuring approximately mid-top from the arch.
The unique traction on the rubber outsole particularly caught our attention: It is perfect for lateral movement and provides maximum grip.
In addition, there’s a ventilated mesh midfoot panel, as well as a molded heel for locked-in support and fit.
Lastly, the die-cut EVA sockliner provides underfoot cushioning and support, while the compression-molded EVA midsole makes the shoes lightweight and responsive.
Reviewers love the fit and ankle support, while others comment on durability issues.
The shoes are only available in two uninspiring color options: white and black, ranking them a bit lower on our list.
- Mesh midfoot panel
- Die-cut EVA sockliner
- EVA midsole
- Durability issues
- Insufficient grip for some
- Only two color options
Adidas Women’s VS Hoops Mid 2.0 Basketball Shoes
The last shoes in our ranking are the Adidas Women’s VS Hoops Mid 2.0 Basketball Shoes.
Available in only two color options (black and white), these shoes are 100% textile and synthetic, with a rubber sole.
There’s also a traditional lace-up closure, padded tongue and collar, and breathable fabric lining, as well as a comfortable, cushioned foam insole.
However, there are reports that these shoes run narrow and lack adequate arch support.
- Padded tongue and collar
- Cushioned foam insole
- Breathable fabric lining
- Run narrow
- Lack arch support
- Limited color options
FAQ and Related Rankings
- Best Running Shoes for Flat Feet
- Best Running Shoes For Men
- Best Women’s Running Shoes
- Best Walking Shoe for Women
Got some unusual feet? Flat, wide, or webbed? Okay, maybe not that last one. We’ll answer some of your most common questions to help you find your best basketball shoes, no matter what kind of feet you have.
1) What are the best basketball shoes for wide feet?
You’ve always been tall, that’s why you play basketball in the first place. But along with height often come wide feet. Nevertheless, many basketball shoes seem to be made for narrow feet.
The good news is that more and more shoe manufacturers are taking steps to address this issue. Here’s what to look for when you shop for basketball shoes for wide feet:
- Arch support
- Ankle support
- Stability control
- Anti-slip soles
- Wider toe box
And here are some additional tips for shopping for the best basketball shoes for wide feet:
- Look for shoes made from stretchable material
Knitted and woven material can overstretch, but if you have wide feet, you want shoes with some capacity to expand.
- Check the outer soles
If the shoes have an especially wide traction pattern, chances are they were designed with wider feet in mind.
Best basketball shoe for wide feet: Adidas NEO Cloudfoam Ilation.
Available in wide sizes, the Adidas NEO Cloudfoam Ilation has a rubber sole, a shaft measuring approximately mid-top from the arch, and an air mesh tongue, collar, and rear quarter. It’s the perfect shoe for a basketball player with wide feet.
2) What are the best basketball shoes for flat feet?
If you have flat feet, you know they can cause a lot of pain, even when you’re just standing for prolonged periods of time.
Flat feet, also known as fallen arches, can be caused by a variety of reasons. Sometimes it’s genetic, sometimes it’s due to spending too much time in ill-fitting shoes.
So finding a good pair of shoes is important, particularly if you’re passionate about playing basketball.
Too much physical exertion in poorly fitting shoes can result in pain and swelling in the bottom of the foot. In addition, fallen arches tend to turn your ankles inward when you’re physically active, putting extra pressure on the joints.
If you have flat feet, or fallen arches, here’s what to look for in a new pair of basketball shoes:
- Enhanced arch support
- Stability control
- Integrated shock-absorbing cushions
Best basketball shoes for flat feet: NIKE Air Jordan XXXII.
What sets these shoes apart for players with flat feet is superb arch support and lockdown, as well as the kind of amazing cushioning and excellent traction expected from any Nike product.
3) And which basketball shoes are best for plantar fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of heel pain. This condition happens when the thick band of tissue stretching across the bottom of your foot, connecting your heel bone to your toes, becomes inflamed.
No matter the reason why plantar fasciitis occurs, it is very painful, and it can cause a lot of issues for basketball players.
But many basketball shoe manufacturers have taken up the cause, producing shoes made especially for players suffering from plantar fasciitis.
Here’s our pick for the best basketball shoes for plantar fasciitis: Adidas Harden Vol 2.
If you suffer from plantar fasciitis, you’ll love the Harden Vol 2’s extra foam boost in the midsole, minimizing joint pain and maximizing impact protection.
You’ll also appreciate the adjustable lacing system and strong rear panel, which help create the perfect fit and add extra protection to the midfoot.