Finding a pair of the best basketball shoes for your own ball game can be tricky at times, especially if you don't quite know where to begin. Fortunately, our list of top picks is here to help.
Rather than focusing on style as we have in the past with our list of the best sneakers, we're prioritising function over fashion here. Technology, traction, comfort, and overall quality are what we've looked for in our search for shoes that can take your game to the next level.
The result, along with factoring in price and reviews, is a list of amazing basketball shoes from some of the best sneaker brands currently available. From standout signatures, including amazing Air Jordans and the LeBron XXI from The King himself, to stand-alone footwear, we've got everything you need to kick off your search right here. Let's get into it...
Best basketball sneakers
- Air Jordan 38 - best for indoor games
- Under Armour Lockdown 6 - a durable pair for outdoor courts
- Nike LeBron XXI - top pick for wide feet
- Jordan Luka 2 - an excellent option for flat feet
- adidas Dame 8 - best budget choice
- Nike Hyperdunk X - a great option to help your jump
- Under Armour Curry Flow 10 - a superb contender for guards
- Nike Giannis Freak 4 - best for forwards
- Nike G.T. Jump 2 - top pick for centres
- Nike Cosmic Unity 3 - best sustainably-made basketball sneakers
1. Air Jordan 38
Best indoor basketball shoes
Over the years, we've seen an incredible lineup of Jordan sneakers, each with its own unique appeal. However, when we focus on basketball performance, it's hard to overlook the latest addition to the Jordan family – the Air Jordan 38.
It's one of the most technologically advanced basketball shoes from Nike to date, with a new X-Plate added, drawing inspiration from Michael Jordan's legendary on-court footwork. This plate seamlessly integrates a radial herringbone traction pattern, a full-length Zoom Strobel unit, and Cushlon 3.0 foam to provide unparalleled comfort, support, and enhanced energy return precisely where it's needed on the court.
In its commitment to maintaining a lightweight design, Nike has also introduced a distinctive backless embroidery element, while the shoe itself is made from a minimum of 20% recycled materials by weight. This sustainable approach not only benefits the environment but also adds to the overall appeal of the shoe, ensuring that it not only elevates your performance on the court but also contributes positively to our planet.
Ultimately, the Air Jordan 38 represents the latest pinnacle of Air Jordan basketball shoes, considering all aspects. It would be unjust not to include this remarkable model here considering it's one of the best Jordans for basketball around.
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2. Under Armour Lockdown 6
Best outdoor basketball shoes
Weight: 13.8 oz.
Materials: Mesh / Synthetic
For extra support and protection when playing outside, the Under Armour Lockdown 6 looks like a great pick as it features a durable rubber outsole with a herringbone traction pattern for ultimate on-court movement and control.
On top of that, the shoe features a mesh tongue to improve breathability and comfort alongside mesh side panelling beneath the synthetic overlays, which add a little rigidity during lateral movements.
Interestingly, the Lockdown 6 also comes with anti-odour technology which has been added to discourage bacteria and odour-causing microbes from developing, much like some of the best shoe deodorizers on the market, thus forgoing the need to ever buy them.
The plush foam sockliner is also worth mentioning as you'll find it improves comfort, making the Lockdown 6 an exceptional sneaker to play in.
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3. Nike LeBron XXI
Best basketball shoes for wide feet
Materials: Lightweight mesh
LeBron James is one of the greatest basketball players to have ever stepped onto a court, so it may come as no surprise that Nike has applied the same level of greatest to his signature sneaker line.
The LeBron XXI, is a great example of this. What we like about this shoe, especially for wide feet, is that it's made from a lightweight mesh that has been reinforced by a 360-degree zonal cabling system for optimal containment. Not only will you feel locked-in but its upper will also conform to the shape of your foot to accommodate a wider shape.
Adding to Nike's commitment to comfort, the sneaker features Zoom Air units in the heel and forefoot to give greater energy returns for more propulsion each and every stride, and to also provide support and absorb shock during your landings.
The LeBron XXI also includes a carbon fibre midfoot plate to keep you steady and sturdy, plus they feature a low-cut collar to minimise restriction around the ankle - if these details don't scream performance on the court, we don't know what will.
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4. Jordan Luka 2
Best basketball shoes for flat feet
For flat feet though, we feel you won't find a better pair of basketball shoes than the Jordan Luka 2s. Why? Because the shoes are packed with cushioned foam and supports that make them ideal for providing energy returns during quick movements.
More specifically, they feature full-length Formula 23 foam that works in collaboration with the new medial Cushlon 3.0 wedge foam to help you effectively push off your forefoot thanks to the wedge maintaining a proper banking angle.
You also get a unique-to-Jordan Isoplate which raises the lateral sidewall against the carrier foam to help you maintain your balance during quick changes of direction.
To round everything off, you get a sturdy cage that wraps around the entire upper to ensure your feet are contained within its lightweight build. The long and short of it is this is an excellent basketball shoe, one that we believe is well-suited to those with flat feet.
- Read More: Best Jordan 1 Lows
5. adidas Dame 8
Best budget basketball shoes
Weight: 12.7 oz.
As Damian Lillard's 8th signature shoe, the adidas Dame 8 has been tailored towards providing speed and precision on the court.
To start, the Dual-density Bounce Pro cushioning from adidas offers a great balance of energy return, cushioning, and support. On the bottom, a unique 'waved' pattern on the rubber outsole offers superior traction when playing on a hardwood court.
It's also worth noting that these sneakers are created sustainably as well as 25% of the components used to make the upper contain a minimum of 50% recycled content.
Ultimately, Lillard's latest signature sneaker looks as though it has a lot to offer in terms of performance, all for a relatively inexpensive price that makes it one of the best budget basketball shoes we've come across.
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6. Nike Hyperdunk X
Best basketball shoes for jumping
Weight: 11.1 oz.
These Nike Hyperdunk Xs come with all the necessary tools to give you a little extra lift on your vertical jump as well as provide a soft landing once your feet return to the ground.
This is because the sneakers come with a huge amount of foam in the insoles and a wavy traction pattern across the outsoles that are designed to improve grip and enable a better take-off as you start your leap.
On top of that, the uppers are made from a lightweight, textile material with a 3/4 finish for a securer fit around your ankles.
On the whole, these sneakers look to be a great option to consider to help you score the perfect dunk in your best basketball hoop.
- Read More: Best high-top shoes
7. Under Armour Curry Flow 10
Best basketball shoes for guards
Weight: 12.5 oz.
It comes as no surprise that Curry's signature shoe was developed with speed, agility, and dribbling in mind given Steph's position on the court.
For instance, the sneakers feature Warp 2.0 technology, which is essentially strategically placed tapes across the uppers according to the areas of highest stress load to improve comfort and control during dynamic movements.
Moreover, Curry's signature sneakers come with TPE-blend sock liners with lower compression sets, which aim to improve your energy returns for more explosive power at the rim.
You also get Under Armour's Flow cushioning which is said to be super-light and bouncy, all whilst providing insane grip. With all this in mind, these Curry Flow 10s look as though they'd be great on the court, perhaps only beaten by the more recent Curry Flow 11s.
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8. Nike Giannis Freak 4
Best basketball shoes for forwards
Weight: 11 oz.
The Zoom Freak 4, now named Giannis Freak 4, is designed to suit the skillset of one of the best power forwards in the game right now - Giannis Antetokounmpo.
They feature hollowed-out midsoles around the forefoot area where two Zoom Air units are positioned to compress under the weight and then expand to deliver an improved energy return.
They're also slightly tilted as if they were worn by a 100-metre sprinter emerging for the starting blocks to help increase forward motion and, in turn, allow you to attack the rim at speed.
All in all, we feel these low-top sneakers are up there as one of the best basketball for power forwards around right now.
Read More: Best Jordan 1 Highs
9. Nike G.T. Jump 2
Best basketball shoes for centres
Worn by one of the best centres around right now in Nikola Jokić, the Nike G.T. Jump 2 is a sneaker designed to help you defy gravity and help you hold your own in the air thanks to innovative technology and an extremely lightweight build.
You get three rounds of Zoom Air in the midsole to give you a better bounce off the floor, and the comfort needed to break ankles all game long. These air pockets are combined with a jump plate wrapped in rubber for added support and durability alongside spring.
The shoe also features Nike React foam in the heel for additional cushioning, while the data-informed herringbone traction pattern underneath ensures optimal grip on the court.
You'd be hard-pressed to find many faults with the G.T. Jump 2. It's an excellent basketball shoe that is tailor-made for a centre's game.
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10. Nike Cosmic Unity 3
Best sustainably-made basketball shoes
Weight: 12.1 oz.
When it comes to sustainability, there is arguably no better basketball shoe out there right now than the Nike Cosmic Unity 3 as it's been designed utilising recycled materials from post-consumer and/or post-manufactured waste in a bid to Move to Zero.
In terms of performance, the shoe features a slender and robust outsole, with Nike using rubber to facilitate the necessary on-court grip. This ensures that you can move swiftly to create space and evade defenders.
Next, they feature Midfoot Flymesh, which has been designed to snugly wrap around the midfoot to improve the fit. The shoe also includes a Flyknit collar for a more comfortable and supportive feel, while also reducing the overall weight of the shoe to enhance agility.
Finally, the midsole has been fitted with foam to provide a well-balanced combination of cushioning and stability, allowing for comfortable play at speed. All in all, an excellent basketball shoe for the court.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
With so many different styles of basketball shoes on the market, you may have a number of questions about what makes each of them stand out, but don't worry because we're here to clear up a few of the most common queries.
What should you look for in basketball shoes?
There are a number of key features to consider when deciding on which basketball shoes will suit your needs.
One of the most important elements to look for though is what kind of support the shoes offer to improve comfort. Uncomfortable sneakers can seriously detriment your performance on the court by distracting your focus which, in turn, may lead to injury.
You'll also want to ensure the sneakers come with a ton of padding to absorb impact to protect your knees and joints and, once again, reduce the risk of injury.
Another feature to consider is the shoe's ankle support. You've probably heard of the term ankle-breaker before, used to describe when a defender falls over from a crossover dribble.
Therefore we believe it's important to give yourself the best support possible to minimise the risk of injury if and when then happens.
The grip is important, too, according to Dicks Sporting Goods, as you don't want to find yourself slipping at crucial moments in a game. Herringbone or hexagonal traction patterns tend to be best for basketball.
Finally, keep an eye on how heavy the basketball shoes you're interested in are. We'd recommend something lightweight to prevent any feelings of being restricted on the court.
However, make sure the shoes come with adequate protection as well to avoid any injuries occurring from people landing on your feet.
Are high-top shoes better for basketball?
The preference for high-top or low-top basketball shoes largely depends on personal preference and playing style. Both types of shoes have their own advantages and considerations.
High-top basketball shoes provide additional ankle support due to their extended collar that covers the ankle. This can be beneficial if you have a history of ankle injuries or you want to prioritise extra stability. High-tops can help prevent excessive ankle rolling and offer a sense of security on the court.
However, it's important to note that ankle injuries in basketball often occur due to factors beyond shoe height, such as improper landing technique, contact with other players, or playing on an uneven surface. High-top shoes may offer some protection, but they do not eliminate the risk of ankle injuries entirely.
On the other hand, low-top basketball shoes are lighter and generally allow for greater freedom of movement, particularly in terms of ankle mobility. They can offer a more natural range of motion and flexibility, which can be advantageous if you rely on quick cuts, agility, and speed.
Ultimately, the choice between high-top and low-top basketball shoes depends on individual preferences, playing style, and specific needs. It's important to prioritise factors such as comfort, fit, traction, cushioning, and overall support when selecting basketball shoes, regardless of their height. Additionally, ensuring proper warm-up, conditioning exercises, and practising correct landing techniques can also contribute to injury prevention on the basketball court.
Do basketball shoes fit true to size?
Generally speaking, basketball shoes fit true to size.
Ideally, basketball shoes fit tightly around your feet for security and control, with enough space on either side to keep you comfortable whilst also protected from other players and impact.
Clarks recommends you leave about one finger's width of space between your longest toe and the end of your everyday shoe, something which we feel can be used to determine what size basketball sneakers to go after.
Most manufacturers come with a handy size chart to compare to if you're really unsure. Check out our guide to measuring your shoe size right here to get you started.
Do you need to clean basketball shoes?
Cleaning basketball shoes can be a little tricky at times given the wide variety of materials typically used to construct them.
However, we mention in our guide to cleaning basketball shoes that a soft-bristled brush is perhaps the most effective way to remove loose dirt from the surfaces and soles of your shoes, regardless of the material.
From there, you'll want to then use a cloth, or stick with the brush, to apply some warm water and shoe cleaner to remove the remaining stains.
Gently scrub the surface in circular motions, paying particularly close attention to working with the grain if you're cleaning any suede areas.
Then leave your sneakers to dry naturally and away from any direct heat after because the high temperatures can warp rubber and melt any adhesives.
Make sure you check out our list of the best sneaker protectors as well if you're looking to keep your basketball shoes spotless for longer.
How do you lace basketball shoes?
While there are a few different approaches you could take to lace your basketball shoes, one of the most common techniques is one we've actually covered in our guide to lacing Jordan 1s.
Start by creating a straight bar with your shoelace between the first set of eyelets, then cross over the two lengths in the middle and thread through the next eyelets up on the opposite sides.
Repeat this step until you reach the top, making sure your laces stay flat as you go and that you're leaving enough length left at the top to tie the two ends together. Once you've done this with both of your sneakers, you should be ready to play basketball.
Do you need to break in basketball shoes?
While it may be tempting to step right onto the court in your new basketball shoes, they may not necessarily be ready for action, especially if they've been sitting in a factory for weeks beforehand.
Fortunately, breaking in new basketball shoes can be relatively easy once you know how. Simply wear your new shoes for around 10 to 15 minutes a day doing some kind of light activity and your shoes should be ready to wear on the court.
Make sure you wear the same high-top basketball socks that you'd wear during a game to help your feet become accustomed to your new sneakers.
When should you replace basketball shoes?
There's no set time frame on when exactly you should consider replacing your basketball shoes as the answer will vary depending on their build quality and how often you wear them.
That said, there are several recommendations as to when might be a good time to start looking. For instance, Dr. Michael Lowe, team podiatrist of the Utah Jazz, has previously said that shoes should be changed monthly during the season to greatly reduce the risk of injury.
However, this relates to the game at a professional level where players are constantly training or competing. As an amateur, you're unlikely going to need to switch out your shoes that often.
A general rule we'd recommend is if you begin to notice any significant damage or drop off in performance from your sneakers, then you might want to start searching for a set to replace them.
Can basketball shoes be used for everyday use?
Yes, basketball shoes can be used for everyday use, but it depends on the style and design of the shoe. Many basketball shoes today feature stylish designs and colours that make them fashionable for casual wear.
However, basketball shoes are designed with specific features to help players perform on the court, such as extra cushioning and support for jumping, cutting, and quick lateral movements.
This means that some basketball shoes may not be as comfortable for everyday use as regular sneakers, especially if you plan to wear them for extended periods or for activities that don't involve playing basketball. That said, the additional cushioning can help you stay comfortable at the same time.
So, we'd say basketball shoes are more than appropriate to wear every day. Just make sure you find a pair that suits your style.