7 Best Nike Basketball Shoes, 100+ Shoes Tested in 2022

Dimitrije Curcic
Dimitrije Curcic on
7 Best Nike Basketball Shoes, 100+ Shoes Tested in 2022

When it comes to sports footwear, Nike leads. This holds true even in performance basketball where the brand and its subsidiary Jordan hold more than 80% of the market. This makes quite an extensive range to choose from.

Some models come with extra cushioning, some have outstanding grip, and some provide the most secure lockdown around your ankle. On top of that, you can also find those all-around performers that successfully blend all of the above.

To help you find the right option, we have reviewed over 100 basketball shoes and selected the cream of the crop.

How we test basketball shoes

The best Nike basketball shoes are determined by ranking them according to their Corescore. A corescore is an aggregate numerical assessment that is based on reviews by players, expert reviewers, and even ordinary users. 

For the list below, we were able to survey more than 930 experts and more than 64,000 users.

Best Nike basketball shoes overall

Nike KD 14
Nike KD 14

CoreScore

92
Superb!
4.6 / 5 from 56 users
91 / 100 from 14 experts

Pros

  • True to size
  • Great cushion and feel
  • Great ankle support
  • Strap makes feet feel locked down
  • Looks really cool
  • No heel slip

Cons

  • Stiff out of the box
  • Needs wiping off for traction
  • Runs hot

Verdict

As the leader in shoes and other sports apparel, everyone waits for Nike to outdo itself whenever they release a new model. Hence, it’s really a big thing that we were still taken aback by the amazing performance of the Nike KD 14. We expected greatness, but it dished out even more than that.

Made for one of the most prolific scorers in the game, the KD 14 is designed to aid movement, not restrict it. Indeed, our runs to the basket were smooth when we played in this. The midsole tooling even felt like it was fueling our movements, and it did that without sacrificing impact protection. Now, that’s what we call EFFICIENT!

Aside from that, when Nike says this provides all-around support, it really means it. The strap, the collar, and even the rather simple upper materials all work together to deliver no-frills lockdown. Hell slippage? Wobbliness? We surely did not have to worry about them!

As for the traction, it ironically felt better over time. You see, some will bottom out with use, but this one just got stickier and meaner! Talk about a gift that just keeps on giving.

We really had to be nitpicky to have something “bad” to say about the 14th Kevin Durant shoe. All the good stuff that it offered were only unleashed after a short break-in period. But is this a dealbreaker? Absolutely NOT!

Nike KD 14 full review

Nike basketball shoes with best grip

Nike PG 5
Nike PG 5

CoreScore

90
Superb!
4.6 / 5 from 309 users
88 / 100 from 20 experts

Pros

  • Highly-cushioned
  • Superb traction
  • Looks great
  • Good value for money

Cons

  • Feels pretty rigid
  • Runs small
  • Tight fit

Verdict

Though Paul George’s name is not as loud as fellow Nike endorsers LeBron James or Kyrie Irving, he makes sure his Nike PG 5 does the talking for him. This one really got a great grip on clean and even on slightly dirty courts. Focusing on traction is a good call; a basketball shoe, after all, is close to nothing if it doesn’t bite well.

Besides grip, the PG 5 also does so well in terms of cushion. When we played in it, we noticed that even the most aggressive strikes didn’t hurt us. The impact absorption was simply phenomenal. We think that even those with slight foot injuries can play in these; this is simply how comfortable this low-top is.

Surprisingly, the generous cushioning was not at the expense of court feel. When playing as guards, we noticed that control and a fairly low-to-the-ground feel were still there. The shoe surely felt like it’s giving us the best of both worlds. 

Of course, the PG 5 is not as expensive as other signature shoes from Nike. This is purely good news! Who doesn’t want to get great performance for less? The fact that it has a fairly noticeable lifestyle appeal is just the icing on the cake.

Nike PG 5 full review

Nike basketball shoes with best cushioning

Nike Cosmic Unity
Nike Cosmic Unity

CoreScore

91
Superb!
4.6 / 5 from 113 users
89 / 100 from 22 experts

Pros

  • Top-tier cushioning
  • Consistent traction both on clean and dusty surfaces
  • Supportive once broken in
  • Grippy outsole
  • Wide feet friendly
  • OK for outdoor use
  • Sustainable materials
  • Awesome looks
  • Soft, snug fit

Cons

  • Break-in period needed
  • Not so breathable

Verdict

Basketball players are often divided into two groups: one that adores plush cushioning, and one that disdains it in favor of a more pronounced court feel. However, the Nike Cosmic Unity offers the best of both worlds. Indeed, it delivers the perfect blend of court feel, impact protection, and even some bounce.

With such an amazing feature, the Cosmic Unity is a versatile model that suits every player regardless of their preferred style of play. Heavier players get the compression that they need while quicker runners and guards get to enjoy unparalleled explosiveness. 

Besides a great midsole, this low-top shoe also provides containment like no other. We enjoyed the upper not only because of its light premium feel but also because of its ability to securely fasten the foot to the footbed without compromising comfort.

Side-to-side movements are also made more stable by the shoe’s wider base and foam that comes up the sides. It feels as if the foot is being cradled. 

Given all that has been said, the Nike Cosmic Unity is already a must-have. But it’s not done yet. It is stylish. It is neat, and it’s also made of recycled materials. If this shoe were a stone, we seriously doubt if the two birds were the only ones hit by it.

Nike Cosmic Unity full review

Best Nike low top basketball shoes

Nike Air Zoom BB NXT
Nike Air Zoom BB NXT

CoreScore

88
Great!
4.5 / 5 from 217 users
86 / 100 from 19 experts

Pros

  • True to size
  • Nice fit
  • Impressive cushioning
  • Great lockdown
  • Durable
  • Breathable
  • Out of the box comfort
  • Good traction

Cons

  • No ankle support

Verdict

A highly-cushioned basketball shoe, the NIke PG 5 offers players a solid platform for jumping. This would be a good shoe for a big or power forward who likes to stay in the lanes and remain on the block. Aside from the pleasing looks, the Nike PG 5 offers great value for money.
Nike Air Zoom BB NXT full review

Nike basketball shoes with best support

Nike Kybrid S2
Nike Kybrid S2

CoreScore

89
Great!
4.6 / 5 from 80 users
86 / 100 from 8 experts

Pros

  • Undeniable court feel
  • Consistent and secure foot containment
  • Next-to-skin comfort
  • Solid craftsmanship and durability
  • True to size
  • OK for outdoor use
  • Cool design

Cons

  • Wiping needed on dusty courts
  • Narrow

Verdict

Widely recognized for its rather eccentric looks, who would have thought that the Nike Kybrid S2 actually has a lot more to offer? In fact, it has swept us off our feet with the type of support that it offers. We didn’t have qualms jumping, running, and even sliding on the court; that’s just how securely this one wraps around the foot.

When it comes to cushioning, this Kyrie shoe is really one for the guards. It sits really low to the ground, so the court feel is really very much pronounced. We felt in control and we just did not second guess any of our movements on the hardwood or even on cold cement. 

With that, it goes without saying that this shoe is suitable for outdoor use. Now that most gyms are closed, the Kybrid S2 is a good shoe to buy since it will be a good partner even on the blacktop.

Did we already talk about the eccentricity of its look? While we recognize that it may not be appealing to everyone, we are sure that this shoe will always make a statement. If your personality is as flashy as Kyrie Irving’s, then it’s a crime to miss the opportunity to wear and play in this shoe.

Nike Kybrid S2 full review

Best value Nike basketball shoes

Nike Precision 5
Nike Precision 5

CoreScore

85
Great!
4.3 / 5 from 1,055 users
83 / 100 from 10 experts

Pros

  • Bang for the buck
  • Top-notch grip
  • Pronounced court feel
  • Very light
  • Supportive structure
  • Fits close to the foot
  • Soft upper material
  • Doesn't look cheap

Cons

  • Dust-prone outsole
  • Not very cushioned
  • Not for outdoors

Verdict

It’s rare for a regular basketball shoe, let alone a budget one, to please all the different sectors within the basketball community. Yet, the Nike Precision 5 did that without breaking a sweat! 

Why? What goodness does it bring, you ask? Well, this budget shoe from Nike offers high levels of comfort. Its upper just feels really light, soft, and really minimal on foot. We can wear it casually at work for the whole day, and you won’t hear us complaining about pain or fatigue.

When it comes to on-court performance, the Precision 5 comes to slay. Its tread mechanism works really well, better than some signature shoes even! Whether the court is pristinely clean or just a bit dirtier than what we would have liked, the bite was unaffected.

As for the cushioning setup, this one’s for guards. The tooling is firm and there is a lot of court feel. You won’t get worried about your feet sitting too high off the ground with this one! 

Given all the goodness that it brings, it comes as a surprise that the Nike Precision 5 is as affordably priced as it is now (not that we’re complaining, though!). This shoe is an enduring proof that a shoe doesn’t have to be expensive or flashy to be good.

Nike Precision 5 full review

What sets the best Nike basketball shoes apart

Nike dominates the basketball market definitely not by chance. It offers a good deal of innovations that help with performance on the hard court. 

Many of the proprietary technologies featured in Nike basketball shoes debuted in running shoes.

 

Technology

Description

Cushion

Air 

Polyurethane pouch filled with dense gases, achieves that feeling of comfortably ‘walking on air’

Zoom Air

Air unit with tightly stretched tensile fibers knit inside it for a more perfect balance of responsiveness and impact protection

Lunarlon

Special foam, bouncier and 30% lighter than phylon 

Vapormax

Air packets that are put directly beneath known pressure points for a more targeted and efficient cushioning

React

Special lab-produced foam that is both soft and responsive

Upper

Flywire

Suspension-cables-like wires on both sides, cradling the foot and holding it securely in place especially during motion

Flyknit

Digitally engineered knit that is light, form-fitting, and seamless

Battleknit

Flyknit innovation for LeBron James that becomes increasingly stiff at the midfoot where stability is most needed

Knitposite

First used on LeBrons shoes, this is basically Flyknit infused with heat-molded yarn that makes it more durable and supportive

Beyond technologies: Other factors to consider

Apart from technologies, other factors play important roles in ensuring your enjoyment of Nike basketball shoes

Playing style

Expectedly, many of the top Nike basketball shoes are from signature lines dedicated to some of NBA’s most prolific players like guard Paul George and power forward Kevin Durant. This should make choosing the right shoe easier. Shoes from signature lines are sensitive not only to the star player’s personal preferences but also their playing positions.

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According to Basketball Reference, Giannis Antetokounmpo and LeBron James are versatile players who can handle almost all playing positions. We can expect their shoes to be as flexible as they are.

Style and aesthetics

Nike basketball shoes are as pretty as they are high-performing. They will be of use even when you are off the court. 

Low or high, know what you want. High-top basketball sneakers are espoused by players like LeBron James. Low-top basketball shoes are worn by many of Nike’s NBA stars, the most prominent of which being Kobe Bryant. Wanting one collar length over the other is just a matter of preference. 

Know your color. Nike basketball shoes are available in thousands of colorways. Many of them commemorate important events or holidays such as Black History, Christmas, Easter, and the NBA Championships. There are also colorways that reference the lives and careers of their signature athletes. 

To know more about the general steps to consider when buying basketball shoes, read our detailed buying guide.

Indoor or outdoor? The sturdiness test

The basketball shoe industry in general is largely driven by the NBA. With this, Nike releases basketball shoes that are deliberately for indoor hooping on a well-kept hard court.

You need to know how to assess a shoe’s outdoor playability before you use it on asphalt or any other type of outdoor court. Here’s how you can assess the shoe:

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Get the best Nike basketball shoes for less

The top Nike basketball shoes are going to be even greater if they are NOT expensive.

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Non-signature models are not expensive simply because no big names are attached to them. 

The price of older models are deliberately brought down in clearance sales. Remember, the presence of a newer option does not automatically make older models less effective. They still have the technologies that make them desirable.

Even within signature lines, Nike develops takedown models to appeal to a wider audience. These basketball shoes are cheaper because they use non-premium materials. LeBron’s Witness line and Kyrie Irving’s Flytrap series are examples of takedown signature releases from Nike.

Author
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.