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?

We totally enjoyed wearing the LeBron NXXT GEN in our games because it was surprisingly light for a LeBron shoe. It also delivered a good amount of bounce and was quite flexible. All these benefits convinced us that this is indeed the best pick of its time.

At only 13.12 ounces or 372 grams, this LeBron shoe is even lighter than the average hoop shoe, which weighs 14.22 ounces or 403 grams. The reduced weight allowed us to run faster and jump higher as we battled for points on the court.

The Zoom Air unit in the forefoot did what it was supposed to do. Each step felt 100% fueled as we ran past opponents and attempted to score. We have to say, the Nike LeBron NXXT GEN gave us some of the most efficient runs ever.

The flexibility of this Nike shoe was also on point. It was able to follow our movements, even the most peculiarly angled ones. In the lab, we saw why this was so. This shoe only needed 32.4N of force to bend at 90 degrees. This figure is much lower than the 40.9N that a typical shoe would need.

It’s just too bad that the NXXT GEN  is not really for players with wide feet. The toebox at the big toe is particularly cinched, measuring only 74.9 mm when the average is 76.8 mm.


  • 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 colours


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

Basketball shoes with the best traction

What makes it the best?

When it comes to having an amazing bite on the court, nothing comes close to the Under Armour Curry 10. Aside from great traction, we also appreciated this shoe for its outstanding breathability and lightweight structure.

During our playtests, stopping on a dime was never a problem. Even if this shoe doesn’t really have a real outsole, it is still able to provide multidirectional coverage, and boy was the bite strong and dependable!

Comfort was not put at the backseat, either, because this shoe just had the perfect breathability. We did our usual breathability tests in the lab, and we’ve seen that both smoke and light didn’t have issues going through the upper material. Getting a perfect 5 from us has never been that easy.

Compared to the 14.22 oz or 403g average, this shoe comes in really light at 12.63 oz or 538g. We were able to run faster and jump higher because of this lightness.

It’s just too regretful that this shoe isn’t really for those with wide feet. At its widest, the our caliper showed that the toebox is only 97.5 mm wide. The average goes as high as 101.0 mm.


  • 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

Basketball shoes with the best cushioning

Nike Lebron 20

What makes it the best?

When it comes to cushioning, the LeBron 20 stands out because it offered an effective blend of impact protection and ground feel, which is further enhanced by its 4.4 mm drop.  In addition, this shoe also delivered protection from twists through its pretty firm and stable base. 

Using a caliper, we learned that the midsole is slightly thinner than average, especially around the heel. The heel stack is only 27.0 mm high when the average could go as high as 30.0. This setup brought our feet closer to the ground, effectively enhancing court feel.

Despite being thinner, the midsole still proved to be slightly softer. Our HA durometer in the lab gave it a rating of 25.5 when the average is 26.6. On the court, this much softness gave us just the right amount of impact protection.

Another benefit that’s worth mentioning is the LeBron 20’s torsional rigidity. Not once did we have to worry about painful twists because of how firm the base felt. We did manual twists on the shoe back in the lab, and hands down, it’s a perfect 5 when it comes to torsional resistance.

It’s just a bummer that there was not much breathability. This shoe only got a 2 out of 5 in our smoke test since the upper was seen to be relatively impermeable.


  • 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

Basketball shoes with the best support

Jordan Zion 2

What makes it the best?

We declare the Jordan Zion 2 as the best shoe for foot containment because it has a perfectly effective heel counter, an amazingly secure structure, and a twist-resistant base. All these features work together to hold the foot securely in place. Not once did we feel unstable or wobbly even as we moved quite aggressively during the most intense parts of our games.

Lab results showed us that the heel counter is flawlessly able to hold its own in the face of pressure. No amount of manual squeezing could make it give up its shape and secure clasp on the rearfoot. It very well deserves the 5 out of 5 for stiffness that it got from us.

Our jaws dropped when we saw that this shoe needed 67.2N of force to be bent at 90 degrees. A typical basketball shoe would only require 40.9N to bend at the same angle. The rigidity of its overall makeup reduced the chance of slipping to zero.

We also manually twisted the Jordan Zion 2 as part of our lab assessments. Because of the shoe's resistance when we did torsional twists, we gave it a 5 out of 5 for torsional rigidity. Given this much stiffness, worrying about ankle rolls quickly became a thing of the past.

Unfortunately, those players who want something light won’t be happy with the Zion 2. At 15.2 ounces or 431 grams, this shoe is indeed heavier than the 14.22 ounces or 403 grams average.


  • 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

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

Best basetball shoes for outdoor courts

What makes it the best?

Our experience and lab assessments tell us that the Cosmic Unity 3 from Nike is above all other basketball shoes in outdoor playability. We found that this shoe is above average when it comes to its outsole hardness, making it perfectly suitable for outdoor usage. Besides outdoor-worthiness, this Nike shoe was also a bomb because of its amazingly consistent bite and impressively durable upper.

We confidently used this shoe outdoors because we felt the unrelenting firmness of its rubber sole. Our findings on the HC durometer showed that the rubber material possessed a higher level of hardness (86.5) in contrast to the typical number (81.5). The harder the rubber, the longer it lasts in our experience.

When it comes to traction, the Nike Cosmic Unity 3 is an awe-inspiring beast. Aside from being consistent on both indoor and outdoor courts, we were amazed by how resistant it was to dust. The sole gripped the floors so well, even if we did not wipe it much.

The third thing that gives the Cosmic Unity 3 the edge over other shoes was the amazing durability of its toebox. In the lab, we performed the standard Dremel test. We saw that 12 seconds of high-pressure drilling barely left a mark on the material, pushing us to give it a perfect 5 for durability.

One thing that made us a bit concerned was its weight. It is indeed heavier than average (14.22 oz or 403g) at 15.66 oz or 444g.


  • 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

Best budget basketball shoes

What makes it the best?

We got the Air Max Impact 4 for £100 (the average price for Nike shoes is £140), 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

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.

Nike Lebron NXXT GEN Drop

Average stack height in basketball shoes: 30 mm heel, 21.5 mm forefoot

Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 drop

Average stack height in running shoes: 33.5 mm heel, 24.5 mm forefoot

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

Centres 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 maximise 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 colour. Basketball shoes are available in thousands of colorways. Some of these colours 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. Thus, we always measure the toebox width in all our lab-tested hoop shoes to let you know if they work for wide feet or not.

In the first half of 2020, LeBron James’s LeBron 17 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 practises 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 scrutinise 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 calliper.

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.