7 Best Basketball Shoes in 2023

Dimitrije Curcic
Dimitrije Curcic on
7 Best Basketball Shoes in 2023
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Basketball is a combination of running, jumping, quick stops, and abrupt direction changes. Regular trainers can support some of these movements, but only the right basketball shoes support them all.

Some shoes make for perfect all-rounders while others excel in a specific characteristic like grip or cushioning. Don't be overwhelmed, though, as we are here to guide you through your choice.

We have reviewed over 100 basketball shoes from 10+ different brands to single out the best options to date. 

Best basketball shoes overall

What makes it the best?

The Nike LeBron NXXT Gen is a badass shoe, we just have to be very clear on this. As a lightened version of the LeBron 20, it fuses LeBron's famous impact protection with an excellent ground feel which results in more solid control over footwork. We highly recommend getting this shoe if you plan to get aggressive on the court.


  • Top-notch traction
  • Lightest LeBron shoe (as of 2023)
  • Nice bounce in the forefoot
  • A fine balance of court feel and impact protection
  • Effective foot containment
  • Very comfortable wraparound feel
  • Quality materials
  • Standout design and colors


  • Surprisingly not for wide feet
  • Still kinda expensive
Full review of Nike Lebron NXXT GEN

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Any color
Black (DR8784001)
Light Orewood Brown/Coral Chalk/Sesame (DR8784100)
Black/Medium Soft Pink/White (DR8784003)
Blue (DR8784400)
Grå (DR8784004)
101white/metallic silver-black (DR8784101)

Basketball shoes with the best traction

What makes it the best?

Quick shifts. Fast and explosive runs. Well-energized jumps. That's what the Under Armour Curry 10 excels at. We believe that guards and players who want to get past opponents, do swift rebounds, and score a lot are the obvious beneficiaries of this shoe.


  • Fantastic traction on indoor courts
  • Pronounced court feel
  • A lot of spring back
  • Flawless heel-to-toe transition
  • Highly breathable upper
  • Very supportive and stable
  • Pretty lightweight
  • Stylish design


  • Not suitable for outdoor use
  • So-so impact protection
Full review of Under Armour Curry 10

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Any color
Black/After Burn/Yellow Ray (3025620001)
Purple Panic/Antifreeze (3025621500)
Blue (3026949400)
Capri / Yellow Ray (3025622300)

Basketball shoes with the best cushioning

Nike Lebron 20

What makes it the best?

The LeBron 20 definitely looks much more toned down, so it is visually different from the previous Nike LeBrons; yet, players note that its performance is as big as ever. It serves the need of not only players who want a lot of impact protection but also athletes who want to be agile on the court. It's already a bonus that this shoe has the looks for off-the-court action.


  • Amazing overall performance
  • Great traction
  • Tremendous impact protection
  • Pronounced court feel
  • Dependable bounciness
  • Comfortable upper
  • Incredible foot containment
  • Stylishly streamlined looks


  • Not for outdoors
  • Has to be broken in
Full review of Nike Lebron 20

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Any color
Black/Black-university Red (DJ5423001)
Silver (DJ5423002)
800total orange/vivid purple/green strike/hot punch (DJ5423800)
901 olive/brown-white (DV1193901)
White/Metallic Gold-black (DJ5423100)
Black/metallic gold/white/pure platinum (DJ5423003)
White/Metallic Silver-black (DR8784101)
Blue Lightning/Coconut Milk/Iron Grey (DV1191400)
More colors

Basketball shoes with the best support

Jordan Zion 2

What makes it the best?

Zion Williamson is a really big and powerful player, and his second signature shoe is built for players like him. Its design and overall structure contain so much force and high levels of aggression on the court. It's all about powerful cuts, forceful offenses, and determined sprints to the basket. It's as if the Jordan Zion 2 is saying: "give it your all or not play at all!"


  • Strong side-to-side grip
  • Tremendous support
  • Very pronounced court feel
  • Reliable energy return
  • True-to-size fit
  • Breathable
  • Good for bigger men
  • OK for outdoors
  • Casual style


  • Dust-prone outsole
  • Lacks impact protection
  • Seriously needs breaking in
Full review of Jordan Zion 2

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Any color
Red (DO9073600)
White/Volt-black-dynamic Turquoise (DO9161107)
Black (DO9161060)
Brown (DO8990217)
Barely Green/Flash Crimson (DO9161367)
Black/Metallic Gold/Vast Grey (DQ7688001)
170white/metallic gold (DQ7688170)
Brown (DV3462212)
More colors

Best lightweight basketball shoes

What makes it the best?

The Nike Zoom Freak 4’s weight (12.3 oz or 348g) is below the average (13.7 oz or 387g), so it helped us be more agile and to persist longer during our games. Its outsole is actually harder than average, making it more resistant to abrasion. The above-average hardness even makes it a worthy outdoor shoe. This shoe is also a beast when it comes to heel support because of its stiff counter. Given all these benefits, we hail the Zoom Freak 4 as the best lightweight shoe in our inventory.

We learned in the lab that while the outsole is not any thicker than average (4.0 mm vs 3.9 mm average), the rubber compound is actually harder. Our HC durometer pegged the Freak 4’s sole hardness at 84.5 when the average is 80.3.

The heel counter got a score of 4 out of 5 for firmness. We gave this rating after it showed considerable resistance when we squeezed and twisted it manually in the lab. Our feet loved this heel support!

Our digital force gauge showed that the Zoom Freak 4 needed 54.0N to bend at 90 degrees, this makes it more resistant than the typical shoe which would need only 41.9N. Players who need shoes that do so well with natural foot flexions might not be too happy with this pick.


  • Noticeable upgrades
  • Amazing grip on indoor courts
  • Dust-resistant outsole
  • Smooth steps
  • Pretty good court feel
  • Dependable impact protection
  • Jump-improving bounce
  • Reliably supportive structure
  • True-to-size fit


  • Not ideal for outdoors (but OK)
  • Not for bigger players and wide footers
  • Cheap-feeling materials
Full review of Nike Zoom Freak 4

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Any color
White (DJ6149100)
Light Bone/Moon Fossil/Sail/Sw (DJ6149002)
Wolf Grey/Wolf Grey/White (DO9679001)
Action Grape/Pinksicle (DO9680500)
Dark Marina Blue/Pink Gaze/Midnight Navy (DO9680400)
Laser Blue/Light Menta/Glacier Blue (DJ6149400)
University Red/White (DO9679600)
Vivid Purple/Laser Blue/Hyper Pink (DQ3824500)
More colors

Best basetball shoes for outdoor courts

What makes it the best?

The Nike Cosmic Unity 3 is an investment that will give a lot of returns. We believe that this is the case where a high price tag is absolutely justified. For us, this shoe is an instant top pick in the durability and stability departments. And for sure, it is among the best options for outdoor use that we've seen in a while. If Nike fixes its firm midsole and trims down the weight for the next iteration, we are ready to claim it as THAT SHOE.


  • Perfect for outdoor courts
  • Outstandingly durable
  • One of the most stable shoes
  • Wide platform
  • Very secure lockdown
  • Reliable traction on all courts
  • Breathable enough
  • Sustainable materials


  • Firm sole with poor impact protection
  • Heavier than average
  • Break-in needed
Full review of Nike Cosmic Unity 3

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Any color
Pale Vanilla/Topaz Gold/Sanddrift/Sea Coral (DV2757200)
Purple (DV2757500)
Jade Ice/Emerald Rise/Clear Jade/White (DV2757300)
Summit White/Pure Platinum/White/Black (DV2757100)
Wolf Grey/White/White (DZ2906001)

Best budget basketball shoes

What makes it the best?

We got the Air Max Impact 4 for $90 (the average price for Nike shoes is $134), and it surely delivered a lot more than we paid for and offered the best value for money among all basketball shoes. The most notable for us was the durability of its outsole, which made this shoe very effective for outdoor use. We also appreciated how bouncy the cushioning system was without ever sacrificing impact protection.

We measured the hardness of the outsole using an HC durometer, and we learned that the outsole of the Air Max Impact 4 is considerably harder than the average, 87.5 vs. 80.3. This explained why the shoe works wonders outdoors.

The midsole was subjected to caliper assessments in the lab. We found that the cushion right under the heel is quite thick (33.3 mm vs 29.0 mm average). We also loved that it compressed quite well whenever needed, effectively keeping our feet free from pain. When measured using an HA durometer, the midsole foam is also softer (25.5) than average (27.9). 

Aside from pampering our feet with its comfortable softness, it also gave us a lot of energy return. As a result, we were quite explosive as we ran past our opponents, and our jumps during rebounds and dunks were aptly energized as well.

It’s just too sad that this shoe is not really the most accommodating of wide-footers. Its actual width of 101.1 mm isn’t really more spacious than the 99.9 mm average.


  • Traction is consistently good
  • Responsive cushioning
  • Decent impact protection
  • Comfortable and well-ventilated upper
  • Dependable foot containment
  • Great for outdoor use
  • Value for money


  • Needs to be broken in
  • Not for wide-footers
Full review of Nike Air Max Impact 4

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Any color
White (DM1124100)
Black Volt Armory Navy Pure Platinum (DM1124006)
Black White Bright Crimson Wolf Grey (DM1124002)
Black White (DM1124101)
Black Anthracite Off Noir (DM1124004)
Black (DM1124001)
Bleu Marine Doré (DM1124401)
Ashen Slate Citron Tint Football Grey (DM1124400)

Comparison of the 7 best basketball shoes

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# of colorways

Why basketball shoes?

Logic says that because basketball involves a lot of running, it’s OK to play in your reliable ASICS or Brooks runners. They’ve got traction. They’ve got a cushion. They even promise durability. But are these in the right amounts?

Why basketball shoes_(hi).png

Compared to running shoes, good basketball shoes need the following:

Great traction. Basketball needs good traction because of the complex footwork that it requires. There are quick stops, jumping, and a lot of lateral actions. These are high-intensity movements that a shoe designed for running is not prepared for. 

Slightly less cushion. Because of the complexity of their footwork, basketball players need to feel the court. Too much cushion can lead to dangerous movement miscalculations, slips, and falls. 

More support. A good basketball shoe withstands immense pressure from aggressive movements. The extra stiffness and weight that it has make this possible.

Choosing one basketball shoe among many seemingly great options is already a daunting task. You can make your search easier by following the 3 quick steps below.

Basketball shoes and playing styles

Basketball positions allow us to predict what movements a player most likely does during the game. Basketball shoes should correspond to the needs of the wearer’s playing position.

Basketball shoes and playing position (hi).png

Centers and power forwards are quite similar. Big and strong, they usually position near the basket to do rebounds or blocks. Reebok’s Shaquille O’Neal and Nike’s LeBron James are among the most celebrated big men in the NBA. 

Small forwards, point guards, and shooting guards are more aggressive with their movements. Smaller and more agile, they are pretty mobile and more physically engaged with their opponents. Kyrie Irving and Stephen Curry are great examples. 

Generally, basketball shoes must provide a secure lockdown regardless of what role the wearer plays on the court. To ensure this, the best shoes are often equipped with laces, which you can tie in different ways depending on the size and shape of your foot. View quick lacing demonstrations here.

Finding the best fit in basketball shoes

It’s obvious that you should get the right size to maximize a shoe’s potential. What’s not so obvious are the factors that affect your size-related decisions. 

Brands fit differently.  RunRepeat is equipped with a tool that helps you find the right size given the brand. This tool can also use your actual size, brand preference, and inputs from other users to come up with sizing recommendations.

Consider the thickness of your braces. Ankle braces provide additional support to your foot. Braces basketball players use are thicker than normal. If you plan to wear braces, get shoes that are at least half a size larger than your usual shoe size.

Don’t forget the aesthetics

Low or high, know what you want. Low-tops are not really better performers than high tops, and vice versa. It’s just a matter of preference. 

Know your color. Basketball shoes are available in thousands of colorways. Some of these colors allude to NBA teams, NBA events, popular holidays (e.g. Easter and Christmas), and even political advocacies (e.g. Black History Month).

Indoor or outdoor: The sturdiness test

The basketball shoe industry is largely driven by the NBA. As such, brands rarely release shoes that are deliberately for outdoor hooping. 

If you often play outdoors, you need to know how to assess a shoe’s outdoor playability. Here’s our suggestion:

how to assess a shoe’s outdoor (hi).png

The best basketball shoes for wide feet

We have to be blunt, top basketball shoe creators like Jordan and Adidas rarely release products that are really for those with wide feet. Buyers will really have to rely on reviews of fellow wide-foot players before they make purchase decisions. 

In the first half of 2020, LeBron James’s LeBron 17 and Paul George’s PG3 from Nike and Chris Paul’s CP3 12 from Jordan are among the basketball shoes voted to be the best for wide-foot players. 

A lacing technique can also help in making regular shoes fit wide feet better. You can watch a quick demonstration here.

How do I break in my basketball shoes?

There are shoes that need break-in time so that they can be worn more comfortably. There are many ways to break in basketball shoes. The following are some.

  • Hold the shoe by the heel and then twist the toe area left and right using the other hand. Do this as many times as needed to soften the upper. Softening helps the material conform to the foot better. 
  • Wear the shoes daily with a thick pair of socks for at least ten minutes.  After a week, try a different pair of socks while doing household chores. You may look funny wearing high-end kicks in your home, but doing this makes the shoe court-ready quickly.
  • Use the shoes during your light indoor gym workouts such as in treadmill running. Don’t lift heavy weights while in basketball shoes as this might put too much pressure on the footwear.
  • Practice playing basketball in your basketball shoes. Basketball practices introduce the shoe to your unique movement patterns. After a few weeks, the basketball shoes should be ready to hit the court for some real action.

How we test basketball shoes

To come up with our list of the top basketball shoes:

  • We purchase the shoes by reaching into our own pockets so that we can proceed to review the shoes with total fairness.
  • We play, run, walk, and jump in the basketball shoes on both indoor and outdoor courts, so we will have a diversified feel of them.
  • Also, we put them through various tests in the lab, where we also dissect the shoes to scrutinize them more profoundly. 

To elaborate more on the tests we perform in the lab, we judge what factors affect the shoe's performance during our play and wear tests. A few of the things we check are the stack height measurements and the insole's thickness where we use our caliper.

Dimitrije Curcic
Dimitrije Curcic

Dimitrije Curcic has been playing basketball for over 22 years. Like Manu Ginobili, he’s a left-hander whose moves led him to a better career-shooting percentage than the Argentine himself. After playing professionally for 10 years, Dimitrije moved to coaching for two seasons before he became a basketball statistician for StatScore, and FanSided contributor for the San Antonio Spurs. Dimitrije loves to tell hoop stories through numbers and graphics and has been featured on Fansided, FiveThirtyEight, Eurohoops, and TalkBasket among the others.