7 Best Basketball Sneakers in 2024

Sheena
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7 Best Basketball Sneakers in 2024
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Basketball sneakers are primarily worn for their sporty style, versatility, and performance. Premier companies like Nike, Adidas, and Converse are constantly innovating and introducing new technologies to stay ahead in the highly competitive footwear industry.

Men and women of all ages want the latest or funkiest lifestyle basketball shoes to enliven up their sneaker game. That’s why big-name sportswear brands are striving and competing each year to offer excellent quality performance-ready sneakers in the market, which has greatly benefited consumers.

With tons of options available, we are aware that picking the right pair that genuinely satisfies your needs can be overwhelming. To help you with that, we tested the best basketball sneakers out there and published very in-depth reviews! After that, we selected the finest ones depending on the category. Take a quick look at our top picks!

How we test sneakers

We value our data-driven approach at RunRepeat. We make sure that each sneaker in the database goes through our meticulous performance tests and micro-level scrutiny. That means performing a battery of wear tests and analyzing the materials and technologies used in a particular model.

Here are the steps that we specifically adhere to:

  • We, as in-house sneakerheads, personally buy basketball sneakers with our own money. We then wear-test each model thoroughly.
  • We put in days’ worth of wearing each sneaker to give us a comprehensive grasp of its comfort, flexibility, durability, and more.
  • Before making our final verdict, we make sure that our top-rated selections are backed up by in-depth reviews from our team of dedicated wear-testers.
  • We also enrich our data by cutting the shoes into pieces and testing them inside our lab.

Best basketball sneakers overall

Adidas Superstar
93
Great!

What makes it the best?

Adidas Superstar is indeed the brightest star among other basketball sneakers because of the undying connection of its classic silhouette to hooping. Setting aside its incredible basketball-rooted style, we also found that the durability of its construction is without equal. When it comes to support and traction, Adidas Superstar absolutely delivered more than what we demanded from a basketball kick!

We can glide through the streets for hours in sheer comfort because of the smashing underfoot feel offered by the Adidas Superstar. We love how it provided us with ample arch support, letting us enjoy pain-free tours. Also, we discovered that there is sufficient toe wiggle room, eradicating any trace of hotspots around the toe. 

What also floored us is the stellar quality of the Adidas Superstar. We didn’t see any damage or abrasion on the sneaker even after braving the hustle and bustle outdoors. However, we discovered that it entails a wearing-in period as it felt stiff at the beginning. Unless you’re okay with it, we suggest searching for basketball sneakers that are comfy right from the onset.

Pros

  • Iconic style
  • Great for all-day use
  • Generously padded and comfy
  • Nice and flexible
  • Sufficient arch support
  • Very durable toebox
  • Accommodating toebox
  • Lots of colorway options
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Needs breaking in
  • Average breathability at best
  • Not for rainy days
Full review of Adidas Superstar

Best classic basketball sneakers

Air Jordan 1 Low
91
Great!

What makes it the best?

Air Jordan 1 Low combines its rich history with its legendary look, seamlessly bridging the gap between sport and style. Originally gracing basketball courts since Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls era, this pair quickly transcended its athletic roots from being a hoops shoe to the best classic basketball sneaker. Its grounded design offers steadiness, while its premium construction, validated by the lab, guarantees our safety and protection.

AJ 1 Low, as stated in its name, keeps its stack low at 22.9/11.8 mm vs. the 30.0/19.1 mm average. This grounded profile ensures precise control over our footwork, therefore improving our stability. Additionally, in our wear tests, it exhibited impressive traction across diverse surfaces, a nod to its basketball heritage that ensures reliable grip in various conditions.

Just like its presence in the industry, the toebox, heel, and outsole proved to be resilient and long-lasting against our Dremel test. Showing barely visible damage, it earned an impressive 4/5 for the first two and showed 20.0% less damage than the average outsole. Moreover, our blow torch proves the authenticity of the leather in high-wear areas such as the heel overlay and eyestay layer.

However, what this sneaker missed is a more accommodating toebox. At 72.5 mm in the big toe area, those with wide feet will find it restricting vs. the 74.8 mm average.

Pros

  • Legendary silhouette
  • Adds +1000 points to style
  • Fantastic wear resistance
  • Very firm and grounded platform
  • A Zoom Air unit adds a touch of bounce
  • Very secure foothold
  • Excellent value for money
  • True to size

Cons

  • Leather creases easily
  • Takes a while to break in
  • Not for wide feet
  • Not for all-day wear
Full review of Air Jordan 1 Low

Best retro basketball sneakers

New Balance 550
89
Good!

What makes it the best?

Our wear tests of basketball sneakers pointed to the New Balance 550 as the best choice for retro. We found that it has an incomparable blend of retro charm, profound basketball legacy, and exceptional quality. And the finishing touch: It is phenomenal on foot!

Even though the New Balance 550 has a vintage basketball look, we are more than impressed with its performance which aligns with present-day standards. In terms of matching with our daily casual and upscaled styles, we found that the sneaker does a very good job. We also appreciated how it took care of our feet even during full-day outings. 

The quality of the New Balance 550 is also faultless. We are delighted by the impeccable construction of the sneaker as we didn’t discover any flaw. As a matter of fact, even if we used it pretty roughly, the New Balance 550 stood strong without looking battered.

However, due to its loose fit around the toebox, a toe-hugging fit is something not to be expected from New Balance 550. If you prefer a snug feel around your toes, we suggest sizing down or getting other sneakers that are tapered in the front.

Pros

  • Attention-grabbing throwback look
  • Well-cushioned insole
  • Incredibly clean details
  • Suitable for various outfits
  • Durable, high-quality construction
  • No visible wear after several uses
  • Easy to clean
  • Striking shades
  • Reasonably priced

Cons

  • Insufficient lockdown feel
  • Not ideal for wide feet
  • Released in a limited quantity
Full review of New Balance 550

Most comfortable basketball sneakers

Adidas Campus 00S
96
Superb!

What makes it the best?

Adidas Campus 00S brought us around town in a fuss-free and seamless manner. Airiness and comfort are its hallmarks, with a well-ventilated design that ensures our feet stay cool and dry even during extended wear. The extremely plush padding feels like a treat for the feet, while the solid base supports our feet well. All these offer unparalleled comfort among basketball sneakers.

The generously padded tongue provides exceptional comfort, with its 23.0 mm thickness far surpassing the average of 8.8 mm. Despite its thick cushioning, the upper offers a pleasantly breathable experience. In the lab, the smoke we pumped in passed easily through the ventilation holes, earning an impressive 4/5 rating.

Moreover, the shoe's grounded profile boosted stability while the sturdy construction prevents painful foot twists, earning it a commendable 4/5 for torsional rigidity. With our caliper, we measured a below-average 24.6/14.5 mm stack that heightened surface feedback. Its firm composition also kept us surefooted, as confirmed by our 37.1 HA durometer measurement. However, being 20.1% harder than average, those seeking a highly cushioned ride won’t find the impact protection they need in Campus 00S.

Pros

  • Extremely padded tongue and collar
  • Astounding comfort
  • Awesome for daily and casual wear
  • Spot-on fit
  • Soft leather upper
  • Worth the price
  • Old-school vibes
  • Stylish for casual fits
  • Comes with two extra sets of laces

Cons

  • Slightly heavier than usual
  • Its midsole’s a tad firm
  • Difficult to clean and maintain
Full review of Adidas Campus 00S

Basketball sneakers with the best durability

Asics EX89
91
Great!

What makes it the best?

When the topic was durability, no other basketball sneaker could top the ASICS EX89. This basketball shoe had an extremely tough toebox, a perfectly durable heel padding, and a notably abrasion-resistant outsole. It was simply durability all over. It was simply the most durable basketball sneaker that we encountered. But it still gave a bonus; it had an amazingly thick tongue that provided all the pampering that we appreciated throughout our wear time.

In the lab, our Dremel drill was quite busy because we tested the toebox, the heel padding, and the outsole with it. Both the toebox and the heel padding displayed amazing resistance to pressure. After our high-pressure drilling, there was barely a mark on the site of the assault. Both these parts deserved the perfect 5 that we gave them.

As for the outsole, the dent that the Dremel left was only 0.6 mm deep. This damage was significantly less than the 1.0 mm that the typical sneaker would have incurred. We did not feel vulnerable at all when we wore this shoe on rough outdoor surfaces. 

The ASICS EX89 surely was tough, but it still had its soft spot. Its tongue was not only nice and plush, but it was also pretty thick. The average tongue was measured by the caliper to be only 8.7 mm thick. The tongue of this basketball sneaker reached 12.2 mm. 

All was well until we assessed this shoe’s weight. This one was indeed heavy. At 17.0 ounces (482 grams), it easily made the average sneaker (14.04 oz or 398g) feel like a shoe for kids.

Pros

  • Keeps feet warm
  • Great traction even on wet surfaces
  • Extremely comfy
  • Good impact protection
  • Feels stable underfoot
  • Retro look
  • Completes many casual outfits
  • Good for gym days or some fitness activities
  • Easy to clean
  • Has Ortholite insoles
  • Fits true to size

Cons

  • Quite heavy
  • Toebox needs a bit of break-in
  • Some synthetic material in the upper
Full review of Asics EX89

Best minimalist basketball sneakers

New Balance 480
89
Good!

What makes it the best?

While the New Balance 480 looks sporty and chunky on the outside, it’s actually light and gentle on foot. It has a grounded profile and a high level of flexibility that enhances our control and makes the ride more forgiving for all-day walks. Among the basketball sneakers we rounded up in the lab, 480 embodies minimalism the best.

Despite its chunky retro appearance, the shoe remained lightweight, tipping the scales at 14.0 oz (395g). Credit goes to its low stack height, measured at a modest 26.7/15.3 mm compared to the average of 30.4/19.3 mm. This thinner profile granted us added agility and enhanced control because of better ground feel.

The 480’s comfortable ride stems from its unresisting midsole from all directions. Whether we twisted or bent the shoe in our trials and lab assessments, it surrendered with minimal resistance. Twisting it revealed a low 2/5 torsional rigidity while our bend test shows it’s 39.4% more flexible than average.

Instilling confidence with every stride is the robust outsole, with its wavy pattern providing excellent grip even on wet pavements. It also exceeded the average kick in our Dremel test by showing less damage, a testament to its durability. However, we can’t say the same for the toebox and heel as they wreaked havoc in our Dremel tests. Those who prefer better quality in these areas can search further.

Pros

  • Luxuriously padded and comfortable
  • Protective cushioning
  • Feels stable and supportive
  • Excellent for all-day use
  • Great traction
  • Foot slides smoothly in and out
  • Zero break-in required
  • Accommodates wide feet
  • Dope retro vibe
  • Easy to clean and keep clean
  • Budget-friendly

Cons

  • Leather isn’t genuine and lacks quality
  • Durability could be better
Full review of New Balance 480

Best high-top basketball sneakers

What makes it the best?

The Converse Chuck 70 High Top proudly honors its basketball origins, offering features such as a durable and protective upper, a remarkable grip, and a flexible midsole. Shifting from its original purpose to a classic and stylish sneaker, it continues to survive changing times and trends because of its iconic silhouette and versatility, making it our best high-top basketball sneaker.

The upper is made of solid canvas with a reinforced design in the toe area for added protection. Putting it against our brutal Dremel reveals its sturdiness with a high 4/5 toebox durability score. 

Underfoot, the outsole delivers remarkable traction on any pavement and keeps us steady on wet surfaces. It still retains the original diamond pattern because it works well and we have no complaints!

As a high-top, Chuck 70 gives the initial impression that it’s stiff, but our actual walks and lab tests prove otherwise. It felt effortless to bend and move our feet. Our 90-degree test reveals it’s 37.4% more flexible than average, which is perfect for feeling agile and comfortable on walks.

However, its lack of cushioning may lack the plush support others need. We can’t recommend this sneaker for prolonged walks.

Pros

  • Ever-popular, iconic silhouette
  • Versatile for any outfit and occasion
  • Highly durable construction
  • Light for a high-top sneaker
  • Grounded platform
  • Surprisingly flexible
  • Affordable price point

Cons

  • Not breathable
  • No arch support
  • Very narrow profile
Full review of Converse Chuck 70 High Top

Choosing the best basketball sneakers from the so many options available can seem like an overwhelming task at first but the benefits are clear. Finding the right pair of basketball sneakers is crucial, particularly for a sport known for its dynamic and face-paced nature which relies upon exact foot speed, explosive jumps, and quick directional changes. The best basketball sneakers will serve you well - not only will such an investment improve your game, but it will also enable you to stay comfortable for longer.

Since the Michael (‘Air’) Jordan revolution, the basketball sneakers niche has become somewhat of a darling of the sports shoe industry. In 2022 the global basketball sneakers market size was a whopping $5.31 billion and it is forecasted to reach $6.76 billion by 2029, with an expected compound annual growth rate will be an impressive 3.65% from 2023 to 2030 [1]. Ok, big numbers - but what does it all mean? Well, with such enormous amounts of money on the line it’s high time we explored what the world of basketball sneakers offers, so let’s dive right into the nitty-gritty of what to look for and, rather importantly, why. Because if you find yourself eating, sleeping and living for the hoops you probably want the best sneakers to accommodate your game. So let us at RunRepeat give you the alley-oop assist you need to dunk that winner over your competition.

The five elements that make basketball sneakers great

  1. Size and comfort are the most critical factors in choosing the best basketball sneakers. Proper sizing ensures a snug fit for enhanced performance and prevents discomfort and potential injuries. Comfortable sneakers alleviate fatigue, provide cushioning for impact absorption and support the arches, and offer breathability to help keep your feet cool and dry during intense play. Ultimately you’ll only enjoy wearing comfortable basketball sneakers so make this your number one priority.
  2. Up top: High-top basketball sneakers are a popular go-to option, but for some players a mid-top or even low-top design is more suitable. Read why in our specialist section below.
  3. Sole anatomy: The midsole is where the cushioning is, and therefore this area is one of its most essential parts of a basketball sneaker when it comes to performance. Meanwhile the outsole is the point of contact on the ground; basketball players will seek maximum balance via a relatively flat and wide outsole.
  4. Consider your playing type/on field position: This might sound a bit advanced for some basketballers but understanding the type of player you are will assist you in understanding the type of shoe that will suit you best.
  5. Shoe aesthetics are hard to dismiss. Although we’ve placed it last on our list we’re totally aware many b-ball enthusiasts will be inclined to place it on top of their list; peer pressure and marketing tactics are hard to ignore! However concentrate on looks alone at your own peril: a super-cool looking but bad performing pair of basketball sneakers are still a bad performing pair of basketball sneakers. Our advice? Be smart, buy smart.

Comfortable basketball sneakers provide hours of court time

When it comes to figuring out what are the best basketball sneakers, you absolutely must consider comfort to be your top priority. When your feet are comfortable you can quickly cut your way across the court, lay up to the net or assist your teammates in defense and offense, and all without worrying about sore feet.

Basketball is a game of relentless running, directional changes, explosive jumping and sudden stopping. All of these physical demands add up and ultimately place great stress on a players feet and legs. To help cushion these impacts good sneakers manufacturers have come up with some technologies such as the classic and well known example is Nike Air. This iconic innovation utilizes pressurized air within a resilient and flexible membrane to deliver lightweight cushioning. This technology allows the air units to compress upon impact and quickly revert to their original shape and volume, ensuring rapid responsiveness and optimal shock absorption.

Aside from shoe technology, a critical factor in determining how comfortable an individual finds a pair of basketball sneakers is by ensuring they fit correctly with the right size. But getting the right size isn’t easy when researching online, and with that in mind we’ve come up with an online way to solve that problem and compiled the detailed and accurate sizing information for all the big basketball sneaker brands:

  • Adidas basketball sneakers tend to run true-to-size. Check out the Adidas sizing system here.
  • Nike basketball sneakers, including the Air Jordan series, tend to run true-to-size. Understand Nike’s sizing system on our dedicated Nike Size Chart page.
  • Converse is now owned by Nike, but don’t let that act as a distraction because Converse basketball sneakers tend to follow their own sizing system. To be more specific, Converse generally runs a unisex sizing system which are true-to-size for men and half-a-size small for women. The Chuck Taylor All Star series runs big for both. Get all the information about Converse sizing here.

Are high-top basketball sneakers over the top?

Since the 1960’s basketball sneakers have looked different to all other sneakers. The likes of Chuck Taylor sneakers quickly made high-top designs were iconic for not just the star NBA players but anybody with a ball in their hand. But as fashion evolved, the high-tops almost became over-the-tops in the pursuit of (trendy) form over function. 

But why have the high-tops been so popular in basketball ranks? The long-term assumption was simple: the extra height these uppers offered would allow the player to strap their ankle into place and thus avoid injury. Afterall, basketball requires a tonne of lateral and up-and-down movement, which can strain the tendons and bones of the foot and ankle. Basketball players are at constant risk of turning, spraining, or even breaking their ankles.

The science, however, is out. Despite years of studies focussed on injury prevention there is no conclusive evidence that supports this high-top fetish. For example, this study published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine compared high versus low-top shoes for the prevention of ankle sprains in basketball players. Despite analyzing nearly 40 thousand minutes of player-time the scientists found that there is no strong relationship between shoe type and ankle sprains [2].

On the back of this science the world’s best players have responded, and now they wear what feels right. For example, NBA players James Harden, Damian Lillard and Kevin Durant all choose to wear minimalist low-top basketball sneakers to help them glide up and down the court.

Similarly the trend for mid-top basketball sneakers has really taken off in recent years and that charge appears to be inspired by Lebron James. And if you like his style you might benefit from our guide to the best Nike Lebron basketball sneakers.

So are high-tops best? Or should you consider mid-tops and low-tops too? Our advice remains consistent: Wear what feels the most comfortable for you.

Basketball sneakers for ankle support and injury prevention

Top-quality basketball sneakers prioritize injury risk reduction over ordinary sneakers by incorporating specialized design and construction features. These shoes are engineered to provide superior protection and minimize the risk of injuries during gameplay. Here's how they achieve this:

Enhanced sole thickness: The best basketball shoes feature thicker soles, offering increased cushioning and shock absorption. This helps reduce the impact on your feet and joints, providing a comfortable and protective barrier against hard landings and sudden movements.

Superior traction: Basketball involves quick cuts, lateral movements, and explosive jumps, requiring reliable traction on the court. These shoes are designed with outsoles that provide a strong grip, ensuring stability and preventing slipping during intense gameplay. This is especially important when playing on slippery indoor court surfaces, where traction-focused shoes can significantly enhance safety.

Specialized traction patterns: Speaking of which, different court surfaces demand specific traction patterns. The best basketball shoes incorporate unique tread patterns tailored to different playing conditions. Shoes with multidirectional or herringbone patterns excel in providing optimal grip and preventing slippage, whether you're making sharp cuts or dribbling on a smooth surface. We’ve found the Nike Kobe 6, for example, are best worn on indoor courts only while the Air Jordan 1 Retro High sneakers are suited to outdoor playing experiences.

Supportive construction: Basketball shoes are built with supportive features that stabilize your feet and ankles, reducing the risk of twists and sprains. Reinforced uppers, padded collars, and secure lacing systems ensure a snug and secure fit, providing additional stability and support during lateral movements and jumps. 

Sole-mates: The anatomy of basketball sneaker soles

Thinking about what makes a good basketballer, one thing that springs to mind is size; basketballers aren’t small. And with that in mind sneaker manufacturers have had to come up with ways for their creations to cope with such heavy impacts, the benefits of which can also be enjoyed by the average Joe and Jane. So what makes the sole of good basketball sneakers unique? To understand better let’s take a look at the anatomy of the sole:

Insole: Serving as a cozy resting place for your feet, the insole delivers both comfort and support. Certain models offer the convenience of removable insoles, allowing you to customize your footwear experience.

Midsole: Nestled between the insole and outsole, the midsole exhibits a thinner profile in the forefoot region and thicker padding in the heel area.

Heel cushioning: To counteract impact and offer shock absorption, many basketball sneakers incorporate various forms of heel cushioning, including technologies like Nike Air, gel cushioning, and more.

Outsole: Constituting the rubbery foundation of basketball shoes, the outsole excels in durability while providing exceptional traction, especially on smooth indoor courts.

Tread: Employing herringbone patterns that lie flat without protrusions, the tread on basketball shoes aims to maximize contact with the ground. Additionally, some designs feature flex grooves to enhance flexibility while maintaining optimal grip on indoor surfaces.

Consider your playing type/on-field position

If the right pair of basketball sneakers can make your game, then it goes without saying that the wrong pair can break it. And not in the good point-break kind of way. Speaking of which, considering your on-court position or playing style isn’t something that springs to mind when in the market for a new pair of kicks, but such a mistake can be futile. Although not necessarily marketed this way, different sneakers are made to accommodate different playing styles. Consider these playing types and positions: 

  1. A point guard plays with more speed and agility than other players. These players will seek sneakers that are lightweight and flexible to allow for mobility and maximum speed.
  2. On the other hand, a tall center will enjoy the benefits of maximum cushioning and absorption to accommodate their heavy but strong leaping ability.
  3. If you find yourself playing as a forward or if you don’t have a specific position or playing style, you can go for any basketball sneakers that you find comfortable and offer adequate ankle support for repeated movements back and forth to accommodate your on-court versatility.

So is there room for position-specific basketball shoe models to exist in the modern era? Interestingly, the findings from this study published in the Footwear Science publication seem to think so, and reveal the potential for two: (1) a low- to mid-cut agility shoe model for guards and small forwards that has high traction and is supportive during acceleration and cutting movements, and (2) a mid- to high-cut stability shoe for power forwards and centers with the focus on ankle stability and jumping performance [3].

Performance over aesthetics

Flashy designs, trendy colorways and something like the Air Jordan logo sure are nice but if you truly want to excel on the court a pair of high performance basketball sneakers should be your primary consideration. Consider all of the key performance indicators we’ve listed above before thinking about the shoes’ aesthetics. And only with all of that information will you be ready to make your decision about what truly are the best basketball sneakers for you.

What shoes does LeBron James wear?

Considered one of the best players in the world it comes as little surprise to know that LeBron James wears his own series of Nike basketball sneakers. ‘The King’ helps Nike release the latest LeBron shoes simply by wearing them on court, and naturally we have our guide to the best LeBron sneakers available here.

References

  1. Cognitive Market Research: Basketball Shoes Market Report 2023 (Global Edition) - https://www.cognitivemarketresearch.com/basketball-shoes-market-report
  2. Barrett JR, Tanji JL, Drake C, Fuller D, Kawasaki RI, Fenton RM. High- versus low-top shoes for the prevention of ankle sprains in basketball players: A prospective randomized study. The American Journal of Sports Medicine. 1993;21(4):582-585. doi:10.1177/036354659302100416
  3. Brauner, Torsten & Zwinzscher, Marc & Sterzing, Thorsten. (2012). Basketball footwear requirements are dependent on playing position: Footwear Science. Footwear Science. 4. 191-198. 10.1080/19424280.2012.674980.
  4. KixStats Basketball Shoes Ratings https://kixstats.com/ratings?from=2023-06-10&to=2023-07-09&type=choice&league=NBA&by=kicks#results
Author
Sheena
Sheena
Sheena is a wordsmith turned sneaker addict. Her sneaker fixation intensified as her passion for writing grew. A hands-on mom of two sweet yet spunky kids (plus three dogs and two cats), she finds solitude in leafing through shoe catalogs to find the next "it" sneaker. Scrutinizing hugely popular and underrated kicks is her favorite pastime.