Our verdict

The PUMA MB.02 does many things right but we discovered that it truly shines when it comes to support. In fact, we claim it to be one of the most supportive shoes on our list! Bigger players who rely on lots of stability and impact protection (like LaMelo Ball himself) are the shoe's target audience. What's more, we found that the MB.02 provides it all without being a clunker.

Pros

  • Awesome impact protection
  • Top-notch ankle support
  • Superior stability
  • Excellent foot containment
  • Reliable traction
  • Comfortable in-shoe feel
  • Durable construction

Cons

  • Lacks energy return
  • Not breathable
  • Not perfect for outdoors

Audience verdict

90
Superb!

Who should buy

We believe that the PUMA MB.02 will benefit the following folks:

  • bigger players who need plenty of impact protection
  • athletes who want the highest level of stability and ankle support
  • fans of the star player LaMelo Ball who want to experience his signature shoe

PUMA MB.02 Review

Who should NOT buy

Based on our lab tests and the shoe's court performance, the PUMA MB.02 really lacks bounce and energy return. If that's what you prioritize in hoop shoes, then we highly recommend checking out the Nike KD 15.

And if you are someone who takes the game outside a lot, we suggest going for shoes with thicker and more aggressive tread patterns, like the PUMA Court Rider.

PUMA MB.02 Lab test

Breathability

This PUMA shoe is clearly not meant for sweaty games.

Its layers of plasticky mesh embraced by synthetic overlays really suffocated our feet.

In addition, when we pumped smoke through the shoe's upper, we found that the material barely allowed the smoke to pass through. Thus, we rated its ventilation as low as 2 out of 5.

PUMA MB.02 (left) vs. UA Curry 10 (right)

Shoes like the PUMA Rise NITRO and the Under Armour Curry 10 did much better in the same breathability test.

Trying to find a reason behind such a lack of breathability, we investigated the shoe's mesh under our microscope.

PUMA MB.02 Microscope 1

The PUMA MB.02 features an insanely tight-woven fabric with what appears to be TPU threads for added durability.

PUMA MB.02 Microscope 2

For comparison, here is what the mesh looks like on the highly breathable UA Curry 10 (score: 5 out of 5):

PUMA MB.02 vs. UA Curry 10 Breathability

Don't be misled by the transparency of the PUMA MB.02!

Test results
MB.02 2
Average 2.5
Compared to 38 basketball shoes
Number of shoes
1
Breathability
5

Durability

Toebox durability

What the PUMA MB.02 loses in breathability, it reimburses in durability!

Those sturdy synthetic materials have demonstrated some amazing wear resistance in our Dremel test. Having applied the tool for 12 seconds, we only drilled through the upper overlay and barely scratched the mesh. That deserves a solid 4 out of 5!

Here is what the same test did to the cheap Nike Precision 6 shoe. No wonder the MB.02 costs $55 more.

PUMA MB.02 Upper durability comparison

PUMA MB.02 (left) vs. Nike Precision 6 (right)

The shoe's durable upper paired with a large toe bumper practically makes it immune to toe dragging. As long as it occurs on the hardwood (outdoor use is discussed below).

PUMA MB.02 Toebox bumper

Test results
MB.02 4
Average 3.8
Compared to 29 basketball shoes
Number of shoes
1
Toebox durability
5

Heel padding durability

The PUMA MB.02 keeps surprising us in a good way even when it comes to such a sensitive area as the heel padding.

After 4 seconds of drilling the heel collar with a Dremel, it ended up with a mere scratch. This is way more wear-resistant than what we typically see in basketball shoes - 4 out of 5!

Test results
MB.02 4
Average 3.6
Compared to 26 basketball shoes
Number of shoes
1
Heel padding durability
5

Outsole hardness

The outsole looks just as promising as the upper.

First of all, the rubber which covers the heel and midfoot is exceptionally hard. Pressing our durometer against it, we measured the hardness at 86.5 HC - notably higher than average!

This is always a good sign because softer rubbers tend to wear out faster than hard ones.

PUMA MB.02 Outsole hardness
Test results
MB.02 86.5 HC
Average 81.8 HC
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 38 basketball shoes
Number of shoes
59.5 HC
Outsole hardness
91.0 HC

Outsole thickness

Not only is the shoe's outsole hard, but it is also shockingly thick!

Using a caliper, we measured it at 5.6 mm, which is among the thickest outsoles we've ever seen in our lab. Another outlier in this category is also a PUMA shoe - the TRC Blaze Court (at 5.8 mm).

PUMA MB.02 Outsole thickness

We expect the PUMA MB.02 to last way longer than your typical hoop shoe, especially indoors.

But unfortunately, as hard-wearing as it seems, this PUMA shoe is not great for outdoor courts. The problem lies in its overly narrow treads.

PUMA MB.02 Tread pattern

We found that vigorous, multi-directional movements put too much pressure on these slender lugs as they tend to shift a lot under pressure and erase prematurely.

This is the kind of tread pattern you want to see on an outdoor-ready hoop shoe.

PUMA MB.02 vs PUMA Court Rider Tread pattern

PUMA Court Rider

Test results
MB.02 5.6 mm
Average 4.0 mm
Compared to 38 basketball shoes
Number of shoes
0.0 mm
Outsole thickness
6.9 mm

Weight

If we hadn't weighed the PUMA MB.02 ourselves, we wouldn't believe that it weighs 14.6 oz (414g) per shoe!

PUMA MB.02 Weight

It is 7% heavier than the average of our lab-tested basketball shoes but certainly doesn't feel that way.

On foot, it felt light and fast to us and never got in the way of our footwork. But we understand if you want a shoe that's lightweight both on paper and on foot. If that's the case, we recommend the following:

Test results
MB.02 14.60 oz (414g)
Average 14.22 oz (403g)
Compared to 38 basketball shoes
Number of shoes
11.29 oz (320g)
Weight
17.46 oz (495g)

Cushioning

Heel stack

Just by looking at the PUMA MB.02, we knew it was among the most generously cushioned basketball shoes on our list.

Using a caliper, we measured its heel stack at 31.6 mm, which is a little taller than the average.

Thicker midsoles typically work best for heavier players and we can confirm that the MB.02 is the right tool for this group.

PUMA MB.02 Heel stack
Test results
MB.02 31.6 mm
Average 30.2 mm
Compared to 38 basketball shoes
Number of shoes
25.2 mm
Heel stack
38.4 mm

Forefoot stack

The shoe also beats records in the forefoot stack height. Measuring in at 24.9 mm, the MB.02 outdoes the average by a few millimeters.

PUMA MB.02 Forefoot stack

We felt like this PUMA got our back whether we landed on the heels or jumped on the toes. The cushioning was sufficient all throughout.

Test results
MB.02 24.9 mm
Average 21.9 mm
Compared to 38 basketball shoes
Number of shoes
18.2 mm
Forefoot stack
29.2 mm

Drop

The heel-to-toe drop on the PUMA MB.02 is fairly average for a basketball shoe.

Based on our stack measurements, it comes in at 6.7 mm. This means that the heel is only slightly elevated above the toes and the foot feels natural inside the shoe.

We experienced a fine balance of being cushioned yet feeling steady on the ground.

PUMA MB.02 Drop
Test results
MB.02 6.7 mm
Average 8.3 mm
Compared to 38 basketball shoes
Number of shoes
4.4 mm
Drop
14.8 mm

Midsole softness

Note: a low durometer measurement equals a soft material, whereas a high measurement means it's firm.

The primary cushioning of the PUMA MB.02 is made of compressed EVA. Pressing our durometer against the foam, we measured it at 22.4 HA. It is a little softer than average but still not in the "plush" range.

PUMA MB.02 Midsole softness

From our own experience with the shoe, it did a fabulous job protecting the feet from impact but unfortunately, it never gave anything back. Meaning, no bounce or energy return whatsoever!

We think that it might be due to the rubber carrier around the foam. Apparently, it mutes out the softness of the cushioning, making it feel dense underfoot.

Test results
MB.02 22.4 HA
Average 26.0 HA
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 38 basketball shoes
Number of shoes
11.0 HA
Midsole softness (soft to firm)
35.9 HA

Secondary foam softness

Note: a low durometer measurement equals a soft material, whereas a high measurement means it's firm.

PUMA did use its responsive NITRO foam in the MB.02. But here is the trick - it is only present in the form of two small units, one under the toes and one under the heel.

From our durometer measurements, we found the NITRO foam to be firmer than the primary foam. At 30.5 HA, it is 36% firmer than the compressed EVA.

We have also found from PUMA running shoes that the NITRO is a fairly durable foam. 

PUMA MB.02 NITRO foam softness
Test results
MB.02 30.5 HA
Average 28.6 HA
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.

Insole thickness

The shoe comes with a standard type of insole. We measured its thickness at 5.2 mm, which is the average of basketball shoes.

PUMA MB.02 Insole thickness
Test results
MB.02 5.2 mm
Average 4.4 mm
Compared to 38 basketball shoes
Number of shoes
0.0 mm
Insole thickness
8.6 mm

Stability

Lateral stability test

The PUMA MB.02 is one of the most supportive basketball shoes we've ever tried.

Our feet and ankles felt 100% locked in thanks to the shoe's mighty clutch. Its sturdy heel clip and strategically placed overlays made sure that our ankles weren't rolling anywhere.

Torsional rigidity

Contributing to a sense of stability is the shoe's rather stiff platform.

Because of a shank embedded in the midfoot, it takes a lot of effort to twist the shoe. It feels very dense and unforgiving. We rated its torsional rigidity as 4 out of 5.

This is great news for players who crave extra underfoot support.

Test results
MB.02 4
Average 4.5
Compared to 38 basketball shoes
Number of shoes
1
Torsional rigidity
5

Heel counter stiffness

We found that the heel clip at the base of the foot is the primary source of heel hold in the PUMA MB.02.

The rest of the collar is not as stiff, offering some breathing room without compromising support. In our manual assessment, we rated it as only 2 out of 5, where 5 is the stiffest.

Test results
MB.02 2
Average 3.6
Compared to 38 basketball shoes
Number of shoes
1
Heel counter stiffness
5

Midsole width in the forefoot

Last but not least, the MB.02 relies on a pretty wide base to create a steady platform.

Using a caliper, we measured the widest part of the forefoot at 110.9 mm, which is only a couple of millimeters away from the average.

Wide soles are essential in helping you change directions quickly without hurting the ankle. 

PUMA MB.02 Midsole width in the forefoot
Test results
MB.02 110.9 mm
Average 114.0 mm
Compared to 38 basketball shoes
Number of shoes
106.2 mm
Midsole width in the forefoot
122.2 mm

Midsole width in the heel

The PUMA MB.02 is just as wide in the heel. Our caliper shows 91.2 mm at the shoe's widest point.

PUMA MB.02 Midsole width in the heel
Test results
MB.02 91.2 mm
Average 91.3 mm
Compared to 38 basketball shoes
Number of shoes
82.4 mm
Midsole width in the heel
105.1 mm

Flexibility

Stiffness

Despite being a stable shoe, the MB.02 didn't cut back on flexibility.

In fact, it proved to be notably more flexible than the average of our lab-tested basketball shoes. It took a force of 32.2N to bend the shoe to a 90-degree angle, whereas most require around 40N.

Having a flexible forefoot in a hoop shoe definitely made us feel more in control of the court when moving fast.

PUMA MB.02 Flex

Test results
MB.02 32.2N
Average 40.6N
We use an average of four tests. The video shows one of those tests.
Compared to 38 basketball shoes
Number of shoes
29.9N
Stiffness
67.2N

Grip / Traction

The PUMA MB.02 works wonders when it comes to biting the court, be it hardwood, rubber, or asphalt.

Playtesting the shoe, its outsole felt very sticky and provided excellent stopping power. Until it got dusty, of course. Occasional wiping is still needed in this PUMA shoe. But it's not critical.

PUMA MB.02 Lug depth

Size and fit

Toebox width at the widest part

Measuring the shoe's toebox at the widest point (102.6 mm), we found that it is a couple of millimeters wider than the average.

This is not enough to claim it a wide shoe but it makes the MB.02 a solid medium.

We recommend players with wide feet get half a size bigger in this PUMA shoe.

PUMA MB.02 Toebox width at the widest part
Test results
MB.02 102.6 mm
Average 101.0 mm
Compared to 38 basketball shoes
Number of shoes
92.6 mm
Toebox width at the widest part
108.2 mm

Toebox width at the big toe

We also measure the toebox width closer to the big toe, to get an idea of how pointy the shoe is.

The PUMA MB.02 has the exact same width at the toes (77.3 mm) as the average of our lab-tested shoes.

PUMA MB.02 Toebox width at the big toe
Test results
MB.02 77.3 mm
Average 77.0 mm
Compared to 32 basketball shoes
Number of shoes
71.2 mm
Toebox width at the big toe
85.1 mm

Tongue: gusset type

It is always a nice bonus to get a gusseted tongue in a basketball shoe. Even if it is semi-gusseted as in the PUMA MB.02.

PUMA MB.02 Tongue: gusset type

This kind of tongue is a major contributor to foot containment. We felt like our in-shoe movements were limited when shifting side-to-side in the MB.02.

Test results
MB.02 Both sides (semi)

Comfort

Tongue padding

The padding is very generous in the PUMA MB.02. We measured the tongue thickness at 10.5 mm which is a little thicker than the average.

It creates a cozy in-shoe feel, contributes to ankle support, and prevents lace bites from happening.

PUMA MB.02 Tongue padding
Test results
MB.02 10.5 mm
Average 9.3 mm
Compared to 38 basketball shoes
Number of shoes
1.3 mm
Tongue padding
15.1 mm

Heel tab

PUMA MB.02 Heel tab

Removable insole

If you need to use custom orthotics with basketball shoes, the MB.02 is a very accommodating option.

We found that it has an easily removable insole and enough space to fit in the insert.

PUMA MB.02 Removable insole
Test results
MB.02 Yes