The 13 Best Basketball Shoes of 2017

basketball shoes

Do you want to maximize your potential as a basketball player? Picking the best basketball shoes for your position on the court is a great place to start.  If you are going to master the multifaceted game of basketball you are going to need to get your gear together. Choosing the best pair of basketball shoes for you is a major key to improving your basketball skills.

Every shoe comes with a unique set of pros and cons, as well as different fitting options. Colorways and the aesthetic of the shoe are very important as it will help you feel comfortable.  Like they always say, “look good, feel good.” This guide will help you sort through the enormous catalog of shoes on the market to find which are the best basketball shoes for you.  Be sure to read right to the end of this post to find out about the shoe that is proven in a scientific lab to make you jump 3.5 inches higher!  NO JOKE!

When reading the guide make sure you list what the most important priorities are to you, for example,  traction, comfort, breathability, high top/low top, durability, and much more. This guide should help you find the best combination of these things, as well as the best price.

In this article, we’ll begin by detailing some of the biggest names and releases out there in the world of performance basketball shoes. Then, we’ll rank the shoes by different factors to help you get a better sense of which shoes are best fit for you. Then, there will be a bonus section on how to jump higher with your shoe purchase, as well as a secret shoe not made by NIKE or any other popular brand that may be the key to helping you jump higher. We want you to maximize your knowledge about basketball shoes and make the best decision for the best basketball shoes for you!  Let’s get into it now!

 

Nike Lebron XI

 

“Cushion” is the word to describe this shoe more than any other feature!   The Lebron XI has what some would say is an excessive amount of bounce, which can be a good thing for wear and tear prevention on sore knees, but as with any great advantage, there’s usually an equal and opposite disadvantage.  In this case, court “feel” or responsiveness is sacrificed when the sole is soft and “bouncy”.   The good news is that given a bit of time (approximately 5-10 good, hard practice sessions or scrimmages) they do “break in” to give you a better court responsiveness.

Another cool feature is the full-length zoom along the bottom of the shoe which absorbs a whole lot of the impact of landing and running (works as advertised)!

I’d go out on a limb and say these are one of the very best and most balanced cushions Nike has created to date!  If you decide to grab a pair of these, you’re in the ballpark of one of the best shoes on the market, but as you’d expect, the price tag is no bargain.

The materials are also a notable feature.  The iconic foamposite (material that supports and surrounds much of the exterior of the shoe) has received some new chemistry, and now a newer material called Hyperposite (merging of Nike’s foamposite and Hyperfuse) takes centre stage on this shoe.  That brings us to the next feature;  Ventilation.  The ventilation is decent, but the Hyperposite needs heat and moisture to help it mold to your foot’s specific structural features.  Too much ventilation means a longer break-in time, and the Lebron XI has (in my opinion) just the right amount of ventilation.

The shoe’s support score is pretty high given that it’s designed to support a big player.  In this particular case, the designers got it right when they allowed for excellent support AND great mobility range.  Kudos to Nike designers here (or maybe it was just dumb luck!).  The best part about this is that while it supports a big centre, this shoe is just as good for a point guard.  You won’t feel like your feet are laced into concrete slabs since they are delightfully ….. well, light!  They look good and perform well on every count.  I’d say you can’t go wrong!  Top marks from us!

 

Nike Lebron Soldier 10

The shoes made for the best player in the world are built for a player with extreme power that needs to move fast and play explosively. The high top style is equipped with a velcro strap that will fasten the foot and prevent ankle sprains as you take off for dunks and contact layups. The shoe is revolutionary because of its shocking lightweight in contrast to its bulky experience. The Lebron 10 is the obvious choice for bigger players that like to run and play fast. If you are a shooter, this may not be the shoe for you, but if you attack the basket and like to run up and down the court, this is the shoe for you. Inspired by the greatness of Lebron James, this shoe is one of the greatest performance basketball shoes ever produced.  Is it one of the best basketball shoes on the market today?  Ummm…. well, just maybe!

This shoe is one of the premium high top shoes on the market. If you are looking for a sterling level of ankle support, this is the shoe to buy. In addition to the high top structure, the shoe has a very solid velcro strap that will further fasten your ankle. Having increased ankle mobility like this will help you spin and turn quickly. However, at the cost of this ankle support is a slightly heavier shoe. Although the Lebron Soldier 10 is amongst the lightest high top shoes ever created, by NIKE or anyone else.

The consensus is that the shoe has a very nice design and style. The Lebron 10 is known for great traction, it is comfortable, and is very breathable. It is very important that the shoe is breathable because this makes sure your feet don’t sweat too much in the shoe. Some people complain that the colors on this shoe bleed. Some have reported that the color bled onto the white after only wearing them a few times. It’s possible for sure, but we’re looking at the bigger picture here.  Hopefully, that won’t be a deal killer issue!

Not everyone is a fan of the aesthetic and prefer basketball shoes to avoid using a velcro strap. Personally, I think that the velcro is optimized to tighten the grip of the shoe on your ankle, however, everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

 

 

Nike Kyrie 2

The hottest name on the streetball courts has debuted an incredibly lightweight shoe from NIKE. Inspired by the craftiness and speed of superstar guard and NBA Champion Kyrie Irving, these shoes are designed to help players plant and change direction quickly. In order to execute deadly crossovers and spin moves that leave your defender looking mesmerized, you will need a lightweight shoe with enough support to keep you from tearing your ankle apart. Look no further than the Kyrie 2s if you are after a lightweight shoe and quick changes of direction.

Some users of the Kyrie 2 recommend altering the laces. The laces are very tight by default and cut off circulation. Because of this, some people complain about the breathability of the shoe which is very important when you are going to be playing for a long time and want to avoid fatigue in your feet or want to let your foot breathe in the shoe so you don’t have a nasty odor in the shoe. The Kyrie 2 are also by default very narrow. The Kyrie 2 is a great shoe for playing outside as well. The traction is versatile and will work just as well on the pavement as it does on the hardwood.

 

 

Nike KD 9

The shoes designed for the best scorer on planet earth have not been widely praised for their aesthetic design. However, these shoes are surprisingly lightweight and have a very firm framework. The KD 9s can be a tough transition for players not used to wearing low top basketball shoes. The KD shoes have a very hit or miss review community. Some people praise the KD 9s as the best shoes they have ever owned while others could not hate them more. I think if you are considering this shoe it is very important to try it on and get a feel for it before purchasing. Some have complained about the poor insoles. If you want better performance it would be smart to get a custom orthotic or a high-quality insole to replace the pre-existing KD 9 model. However, the KD 9s are very light and comfortable. The Flyknit technology offers great protection and movement.

It is also very important to know that the KD 9 is one of the proudest models from NIKE’s shoe technology crew. The KD 9 offers the best combination of Nike’s Flyknit technology and Zoom Air technology ever made. The Zoom Air is designed to help the player feel a little taller, which is not only very advantageous for the game of basketball but can double as a great perk for the purposes of a lifestyle shoe. Nike also debuted its Air Bag technology with this shoe.

WARNING: The foot opening has no tongue release and the KD 9s are designed for people with skinnier feet. If you have wide feet think twice before purchasing.  They may not be the best basketball shoes for you!

The KD 9 was released on June 20th, 2016.

 

Jordan AJ XXXI

 

Air Jordan XXXI

The shoes worn by the most explosive player in the world couldn’t be a more perfect fit. Anytime Jordan releases an AJ model, it is likely to be one of the best basketball shoes on the market (or even THE best shoe in the market) for jumping high and playing very explosively. The shoe is very compact, lightweight, and flexible. The only drawback to this shoe is it’s slightly hefty price and difficulty to order online or find in stores. The shoe is in high demand for a reason, however. If you are looking to jump a little higher to get that windmill dunk you have always dreamed of, this is the best shoe to get. The Jordan AJ XXXI also featured a very cool design blending the Nike swoosh with the Jordan Jumpman.

Under Armour Curry 3

The shoes created for the reigning MVP are centered around comfort. These are going to be amongst the most comfortable and best basketball shoes on the market. The style of Steph Curry requires him to be comfortable doing all sorts of things. Because he is not the most explosive player these shoes are not really suited for explosive jumping and if you are a very strong player, you may rip these shoes after a couple months of ownership. The design of this shoe is also a little questionable looking like it was designed by the warriors next door neighbors down in silicon valley.

The Under Armour Curry 3 featured Under Armour’s unique shoe technology called the Threadborne. The Threadborne is a lightweight and robust material that helps with breathability in the shoe. The shoe is composed of lightweight and supportive material that is designed to adapt to your foot. Under Armour is an up and coming basketball shoe brand and these shoes may just be what sets Under Armour off into elite status as a basketball shoe company. Many reviewers and my friends who play basketball are worried about the durability of the Under Armour Curry 3. They must not have read about the purpose of the Threadborne technology from Under Armour!

 

Nike Kobe XI Low

 

The Kobe XI Low continue the legacy of one the greatest players of all time. The first thing that is important to note about this shoe is that it is super low cut. If you have traditionally played in high top basketball shoes, these may not be the best basketball shoes for you.  Actually, it looks a lot more like a tennis shoe than any other basketball shoe we’ve seen. Granted that it is a super low top shoe, it has very poor ankle support. On the other hand, the Kobe XI is incredibly lightweight and is one of the best basketball shoes for heavier players who want to jump higher and run a little bit faster. However, it is very important to keep in mind that the risk of spraining your ankle skyrockets when you play in these shoes.

The shoes have raised questions about their durability and traction. However, they are very heavily praised for their comfortability and lightweight. These shoes would be perfect for someone who is just looking to do drills and shoot around by themselves. The Kobe XI lows come in some very interesting colorways. It is very rare for a performance shoe to have so many designer-inspired color options and combinations!

In addition to the many signature Kobe XI models such as the What the Kobe edition, you have the option of further customization on NikeID. NikeID lets you choose between many different color combinations as well as embed a personal logo or ID onto the shoe.

 

 

Nike Hyperdunk 2016

Comes in 40 colors, Nike ID customizable

LIghtweight, Responsive, Supportive

The Hyperdunk has been a very popular performance option since 2008. The Hyperdunk is one of the most versatile shoes made by Nike and is branded by its Lightweight, Responsiveness, and Support. The Hyperdunk 2016 has always been the launchpad for NIKE’s Flywire technology, and this year’s model isn’t any different. The Hyperdunk 2016 is a shoe technology beast featuring herringbone patterns to offer traction for multidirectional movement. The high-top design is sure to keep your ankle stable as you cross over and euro step your way to bucket paradise.

Owners of the Hyperdunk 2015 who have moved on to the 2016 edition are raving about the improvements from the previous model. However, the Hyperdunk 2016 does have its flaws. Many people disregard the Hyperdunk 2016 as an elite performance shoe because of its somewhat cheap looking materials. The Flywire and material can make the shoe feel very uncomfortable for some. This is an example of a shoe that really needs to be broken in in order for you to be able to comfortably play in them. One of the major drawbacks of this shoe is the price. Since the Hyperdunk is already priced in the upper stratosphere, it might make sense to just spend the same money and get a higher quality shoe such as a signature player shoe or a Jordan edition. However, there is an appeal to making a name for yourself and wearing a shoe that doesn’t already have somebody else’s name on it.

 

Jordan Retro Editions

Jordan 7,11,12, 13

If you are looking to stun everyone on the court with impressive fashion, the best way to turn heads will be the retro Jordan collection.  These are definitely on the top of any list of best basketball shoes for pure style!  There are many different Jordans most popularly ranging from the first model to the fourteenth. Here are the best options to wear for real basketball style and performance.

Jordan 7s

 

The Design inspired by Western African “afro-pop”, the very popular Air Jordan is widely regarded as the best performance shoe of the early Jordan releases. These shoes are sure to make you look like a hardcore hoop fan who has a fat wallet and incredible sense of basketball style. These shoes are highly praised for their traction, cushion and comfort, and support. This shoe does share many problems with old shoes however.  You can expect very poor ventilation and this shoe is likely to have a somewhat weird fit. These shoes can also be very pricey and difficult to even find an outlet with these in stock. Finding these types of shoes can be viewed as somewhat of a networking masterpiece. There are shoe groups on facebook to join that can help you locate these shoes. While you can find them on eBay, expect a bogus markup.

 

Jordan 11

Widely regarded as one of the coolest basketball shoes of all time. Jordan 11 models such as the cool greys, concords, and breds are all famous colorways closely associated with basketball prestige. These shoes aren’t just one of the most impressively designed basketball shoes of all time, but they can also make quite an excellent performance shoe. Many sneakerheads may cringe seeing these played in on the court but they can be very good for basketball playing purposes as well. The ventilation in the Jordan 11s was game-changing for its time and remains today to be in the upper category of breathable shoes. The 11s are known for their supportive material and their mid-high top design will be very supportive for your ankle and also light enough to avoid robbing you of that explosiveness you have been hitting the gym so hard to acquire. The 11s have a very supportive material and good traction. Obviously, these shoes are going to be very, very expensive. Good luck finding these in a store or anywhere else, seriously.

 

Jordan 12

The Jordan 12s are known for having great traction as well as a very supportive high top. These shoes are dripping in style and the design is very, very nice. These shoes are likely to be very expensive, as is the case with any retro Jordan. Users of these shoes on the court complain about their poor breathability.

 

 Jordan 13

These shoes are insanely stylish and offer great high top support. They are very comfortable, although not very lightweight. Sneakerheads will cringe if you test the durability of these shoes, but they are very likely to last you for a long time. These shoes are not very breathable compared to newer models.

 

 

Nike Lebron XIII

The Shoe made famous by Lebron James and his triumphant NBA Finals campaign over the Golden State Warriors. These shoes are viewed to be of excellent caliber by even the most adamant shoe critics. This shoe can be quite pricey and a little heavy for a performance shoe.  However, these shoes can be worn in many different ways and as a performance shoe offers a unique blend of talents.

The Lebron XIII is most known for having elite traction and durability. These shoes are made of very high-quality material and therefore do not degrade or wear down as fast as the typical shoe. The traction has a unique pattern that is apparently very revolutionary. This shoe is also known for having very high-quality ventilation.

As is the case with many luxury items, the Lebron XIII comes with a hefty price tag. The Lebron XIII has sold out of many of its best colorways and can be very difficult to track down in stores or on the internet. The best options for buying this shoe may be to search Flight Club or eBay. Keep in mind that buying basketball shoes this way can be very expensive and you are likely to pay far more than their originally listed price.

If you can get your hands on it and have the extra cash these shoes are great for explosive movement and will last you a very long time.

 

Cheaper Shoes (Under $75)

 

Nike Air Ring Leader

If you are looking to save money on your basketball shoes, the Nike Air Ring Leader is currently the cheapest basketball shoe featured. These shoes are very durable and comfortable for their price. These shoes are not very expensive and are likely to last you for a long time.  It’s one of the best basketball shoes for versatility since it can be used comfortably for other purposes.  The material of the shoe also makes it very easy to clean. Many users of the shoe agree that it runs true to size and is lightweight. It is also worth keeping in mind that these are low top shoes, meaning that you are sacrificing a lot of ankle support in favor of lighter weight.

As with any shoe, it does have some drawbacks. The major drawback to buying these shoes has to be the aesthetic. If you wear these shoes in a pickup game, odds are nobody will want to play with you unless you happen to be 6’10 with a Ray Allen-esque jump shot. These shoes scream that you are a new player. Users of the shoe also complain that it is weirdly proportioned. The toe area is disproportionately wider than the rest of the shoe. The insole of the shoe is also non-removable which makes it hard to slip in orthotics if need be. These shoes only come in one color, white, which can be hard to keep clean. These can be great shoes for playing in and exercising in, and they are very affordable.  They offer a great option as a starter shoe if you are not yet sure how passionate you are about the game of basketball. The Nike Air Ring Leader Low is a great place to also test try low top shoes and see if you can handle the lack of ankle support.

 

Under Armour Jet


If you are looking to make a more financially sound decision as well as avoid sacrificing your court style, the Under Armour Jet model is a great option. The shoe has a very sleek design and comes in 4 different color combos. This is a high top shoe so you won’t have to worry about snapping your ankle on a vicious crossover in these bad boys. The Jet is widely acclaimed for it’s comfort, cool colors, traction, and breathability. The breathability is especially interesting as it will help you avoid fatigue and keep your shoes smelling fresh.

Some people complain that these shoes run small, so be cautious when ordering them online. It might be best advised to go to a local house of hoops or dick’s sporting goods to try them on before purchasing.

 

 

Under Armour Lockdown

 

Priced very reasonably these are one of the best basketball shoes that still offer good performance on a low budget. They have a nice design that doesn’t instantly reveal its status on the lower end of the price range. They have a nice high top design to keep your ankle together. This rating is very impressive for a shoe at this price. Reviewers of the Under Armour Lockdown rave about its style and comfort. This shoe is without a doubt a great blend of price and comfortability. However, these shoes are not very lightweight and they do not have the same mesh and flexibility of a higher ranking performance shoe. The material of the shoe has many customers worried about the durability of the shoe. It is likely that cheaper shoes are more likely to break down fast.

 

Finding the Right Shoe by Focus

We hope we’ve given you some food for thought, but in case you’re still looking for more, here are some great factors to consider when looking for the best basketball shoes for you.

Lightweight

The importance of having a lightweight shoe is unquestionable. Being lighter will help you run faster, jump higher, and turn quicker. When adidas first debuted the crazy light model, the basketball world went bananas over it’s shocking lightweight.

Comfortability

For most people, style comes from how you feel. In order to feel good and play at your maximized potential, you need to feel comfortable. Sometimes the comfort of the shoes heavily varies amongst users.

Durability

What is the point in buying the best pair of basketball shoes you can afford if they can only last for a couple weeks? There is nothing more annoying as a basketball player than coming home and noticing that you’ve ripped a hole through the toe of your shoe, or that the precious nike logo has been creased in half and now looks like a weird white line glued together on the back of your shoe.

Traction

How can you possibly expect to crossover like Kyrie Irving or Allen Iverson if your shoes are slipping and sliding all over the court? There are many different factors that determine the traction quality of a basketball shoe such as whether you are playing outside or inside.

Style

Look good, play good. One of the most important things to being a basketball player is looking like you are one hell of a player. There are certain shoes that warrant a head nod of respect from all basketball players. Having your style together can make the difference between getting picked up on a team or watching the game from the sideline. Whether your style comes from developing your own look or being inspired by the look of an NBA superstar, we’ve reviewed some of the best basketball shoes out there with the most prestige and style.

Ankle Support

One of the most important factors to making the right decision about your best basketball shoes, is guaranteeing that you are avoiding the risk of injury. Spraining ankles is the most common injury amongst basketball players and it is very important that you do your research so you can stay off the long list of players who sprain their ankle every day. One of the most important qualities in ankle support is the difference between high and low top shoes. However, there are many models of low top shoes that offer a surprising amount of ankle support.

Price

It is always a smart idea to make sure you are getting the most out of your money. Maybe you or your family member is a newer player, just looking to try basketball out and see how it goes. Buying a cheap pair of basketball shoes can be difficult, but this list will comb out the lowest priced shoes and help you see which ones are not only the cheapest, but a good value for their price.

SO YOU WANT TO JUMP HIGHER?

We all have dreams of jumping higher and higher, eventually getting over the rim and smashing down a ferocious two-hand dunk. There are many rumors that shoes are everything when it comes to jumping higher.  Although shoes alone probably won’t be the difference between barely touching the rim and taking off from the free throw line, putting the ball between your legs, and shattering the backboard into a million pieces, having the right pair of shoes can definitely be the difference between skimming the rim and grabbing it. Here are some suggestions that will help you throw down a powerful enough dunk to get the guy from the front desk to come into the basketball gym and threaten to kick you out because of your intimidating aerial showcase.

There are two kinds of jumpers in basketball, one leg dominant jumpers, and two leg dominant jumpers, (I know Harvard stuff right). You are a one leg jumper if you like to run and take off of one foot to dunk, you are a two-foot jumper if you gather yourself by putting both feet on the ground and then powering up to dunk. As such, the best basketball shoes will be different, for different jumpers.

One Leg Jumper

If you are a one leg jumper it is going to be important to have enough support to support transferring the momentum of your sprint into your jump. Here are three best basketball shoes I recommend: 1. Nike Lebron Soldier 10 2. Nike Hyperdunk 2016 3. Jordan AJ XXXI

Two Leg Jumper

If you are a two leg jumper then support won’t be quite as important because you probably already have pretty good balance. The most important things for a two leg jumper will be two have a lightweight shoe that won’t cause any additional resistance. Here are three shoes I recommend: 1. Nike Kobe 11 Low 2. Jordan AJ XXXI 3. Nike Kyrie 2

SECRET WEAPONS TO JUMPING HIGHER WITH YOUR SHOES ALONE

In this section, I will show you a top secret shoe banned by the NBA that, although not a traditional basketball shoe produced by a blue chip company like NIKE or Under Armour, is very likely to help you jump higher. I will also show you an insole that is nearly guaranteed to add an inch or two to your vertical jump

Athletic Propulsion Labs

The APL basketball shoes are famous for their “load-n-launch” technology that is designed to help you jump higher. This is truly one of the best basketball shoes to get you airborne.  The insole is supposed to be more responsive to your jump and will spring you up to that rim. The shoes tend to have better reviews from people who jump higher, if you jump high already, these shoes will likely work better for you. The higher you jump, the more you get out of them.

APL’s most famous model out right now is called the Blade. It has a very nice design, but it comes at a very steep price. If jumping higher is very important to you and you aren’t looking for a traditional basketball shoe, these may be the shoes for you.

Springbak Insoles

These insoles are used by world class athletes across the world. In addition to helping you run faster and jump higher with a more responsive insole, they can also greatly help alleviate shin splint pain. These are priced between cheaply on Amazon and can fit into any shoe. They are not likely to stack well with the APL shoes however.

 

Conclusion

In Conclusion, there are many different basketball shoes to choose from. Choosing the right pair is completely dependent on your needs as a basketball player and the design/colorway that best suits you. One of the biggest differences between shoes to note is the low top vs. mid vs. high top. High top shoes will give you much better ankle support whereas low top will usually be much lighter, mid being a blend in between. If you are looking for upper echelon style, you can’t go wrong with the Air Jordan retro collection. However, if you are looking for the best basketball shoes for performance, you are probably best going with the Nike Hyperdunks, Jordan AJ XXXI, or a signature player collection. Rocking your favorite players’ kicks may help you become inspired and add their flare to your game. It is also very important to see if the shoe is durable and versatile between indoor and outdoor courts. Also, keep in mind that buying white shoes may be problematic to keep clean and maintain that fresh white color. Good luck with your decision, and hopefully, this guide helped you gain some insight on the best basketball shoes to get for YOU! Thank you for reading!

P.S. Looking for women’s basketball shoes? Check out my Best Basketball Shoes for Women Guide!

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4 Comments

  1. Justin

    Very detailed review, I already have a pair of the Adidas Crazy Explosives and love them. What other shoe do you recommend that fits most similarly to the Explosives?

    Reply
    1. John (Post author)

      Thanks for the comment! The Adidas Crazylight Boosts or Crazy 8’s would the most similar in my opinion.

      Reply
  2. Hunter

    Are the Crazy Explosives or the Kyrie 2’s better for someone with wide, flat feet?

    Reply
    1. John (Post author)

      I would say the Crazy Explosives. For more details check out the articles regarding b-ball shoes for wide and flat feet. Thanks for the comment!

      Reply

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