7 Best Cheap Basketball Shoes

Dimitrije Curcic
Dimitrije Curcic on
7 Best Cheap Basketball Shoes
We earn affiliate commissions at no extra cost to you when you buy through us. Why trust us

Getting more for less is always appealing. Because of this, brands such as Adidas, Under Armour, and even industry leader Nike make cheap basketball shoes available for everyone.

We have tested and reviewed over 30 shoes under £110 to find which ones have the best performance in this price range. Our takeaway? Lesser price does not equate to lesser quality. We were actually surprised to find that in some aspects, these shoes come very close to their more expensive counterparts.

How we test basketball shoes

Our mantra for our shoe reviews is honesty over freebie. So, for all the shoes we tested, we make sure that every penny we use the buy them comes from our own pockets. This way, we can be more straightforward about our feedback.

In testing the shoes, we do it two ways: wear testing and lab testing. We play in all the shoes for a substantial amount of time before reporting our likes and dislikes. We also take them both indoors and outdoors for a wider array of observations.

After that, we summarise our thought about our experiences, and then we proceed with more data-seeking inside our lab. We measure different aspects, such as durability, weight, and flexibility. We also tear the shoes apart, giving us an absolute view of every component.

Best overall cheap basketball shoes

What makes it the best?

Out of all the cheap basketball shoes that we played in, we consider the Nike Air Max Impact 4 our best bet. For one, it is truly big on comfort, and we never wanted to take it off in any of our games. It also delivered a lot of flex and amazing durability for outdoor use. The average price of a basketball shoe is £140, but this one we got for only £100. Definitely a steal!

The comfort that this shoe delivered came from a lot of factors. The notable ones are the soft underfoot cushioning, its relatively light weight, and fairly breezy upper. Our HA durometer estimated the softness of the midsole at 25.5 while the average is 27.9. According to our weighing scale, this shoe is 1.6 oz or 45g lighter than the typical hoop shoe. Finally, the upper got a score of 3 out 5 for breathability after a smoke was conducted on it.

Using a digital force gauge, we discovered that bending the Air Max Impact 4 to a 90-degree angle required only 34.7N of force. The typical basketball shoe puts up considerable resistance until 41.9N is applied. The shoe’s flexibility allowed it to move with the natural flexions of our feet.

To the touch, the outsole already felt sturdy. We confirmed this initial assessment using readings from our HC durometer in the lab. The Air Max Impact 4 sole durability score is 87.5, which is significantly higher than the 80.3 average.

It just has to be noted here that this shoe doesn’t hit the ground running. All the goodness that we just described could only be enjoyed after going through a break-in period.

Pros

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

Cons

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

Cheap basketball shoes with the best traction

Nike Ja 1
88
Great!

What makes it the best?

Traction is one strength of the Nike Ja 1 that we can never deny. In fact, it’s the best in this aspect, at least among all other cheap basketball shoes, or those that are cheaper than the £140 average. We also love that this shoe is big on durability and flexibility. 

When we played in the Ja 1, we loved just how easy it was to stop on a dime. We also had fun changing directions quickly as we tricked our way to the basket. All was made possible by the amazing bite that this shoe had. 

When it comes to durability, this shoe is also quite a treat. Both the toebox and the heel padding got a perfect 5 from us. How could we not score them so when the Dremel didn’t even leave a serious mark on them?

Allowing us to flex naturally was also something that we are thankful for. When we tested its flexibility in the lab, we found that this shoe only needed 34.7N to bend at 90 degrees. The typical shoe would need as much as 40.9N to bend at the same angle.

While traction was great, it’s with regret that we note that the Ja 1’s outsole is not the most durable. Our Dremel made 1.6 mm of damage, which is more than the 1.1 mm dent it would have made on the average shoe.

Pros

  • A true bang for the buck
  • Amazing grip on the court
  • Quite a supportive ride
  • Pretty comfortable wraparound
  • Great plushness around the heel
  • Good forefoot bounce
  • Durable structure
  • True-to-size fit
  • Stylish look

Cons

  • Cheap-feeling materials
  • Still has to be broken in
Full review of Nike Ja 1

Cheap basketball shoes with the best cushioning

What makes it the best?

Among all the cheap basketball shoes that we tried, it’s the LeBron Witness 7 from Nike that had the best midsole tooling. It was thicker so it surely was able to shield us from harsh landings. It wasn’t too soft, either, so it was effective in ensuring stability. Speaking of stability, we also appreciated that its base has great torsional resistance.

As per our caliper, the midsole is 34.1 mm high at the heel and 25.2 mm high at the forefoot. These numbers are higher by 4.1 mm and 3.6 mm than average. The extra stack height surely gave the midsole a lot of room to compress and absorb impact.

Through several HA durometer measurements, we also found out that the midsole isn’t overly soft. It got a rating of 30.3 (the average is 26.6), and it helped us maintain the stability of our runs and gait.

Stability was also further ensured by the shoe’s twist resistant base. After manual assessments in the lab, the base got a perfect 5 for torsional rigidity. The rigid base allowed us NOT to worry at all about painful accidental twists.

If there is one thing that we would like to change in this shoe, it would be its toebox. It was just too flimsy. Our Dremel test yielded a disappointing score of 1 out of 5. Given this, we cannot in good conscience recommend this for outdoor use.

Pros

  • Highly effective traction
  • Impressive impact protection
  • Optimum comfort
  • Breathable upper
  • Reliable heel lockdown
  • Good lateral stability
  • Great outdoor option
  • Fashionable design

Cons

  • Lacks court feel
  • Poor upper durability
  • No outriggers on the sole
Full review of Nike Lebron Witness 7

Cheap basketball shoes with the best support

What makes it the best?

We join the hundreds of experts and players in singing praises for the affordably priced (it’s only £80 while the average is £140) Nike Precision 6 because of its outstanding performance in many aspects: breathability, comfort, and most importantly support and stability. In fact, we consider it as the most supportive pick among all the cheap basketball shoes that we played in.

After doing the smoke test in the lab, we gave the Precision 6 a score of 4 out of 5. It was amazing to see how the smoke that we pumped through the shoe opening escaped quite easily through the upper material. This lab result was further supported by our dry socks after every game.

The tongue felt nicely padded, and it hugged our feet nicely and comfortably. Compared to the average thickness of 9.4 mm, this shoe’s tongue is considerably thicker at 11.9 mm. 

We did manual twists on the Nike Precision 6, and we also gave it a 4 out of 5 for torsional rigidity. The firm base contributed so much stability on the court. We never had to worry about sudden torsional twists; all our mind power was just focused on the game.

Stability and foot containment also comes from the sturdy sidewalls and the wide forefoot platform, which according to our caliper is a staggering 3.4 mm wider than average. We never felt our feet sliding off the footbed.

In the lab, we performed the Dremel test, and twelve seconds of drilling already poked a hole in the upper. Toe-draggers should really stay away from this shoe.

Pros

  • Effective grip on clean courts
  • Very comfortable in-shoe feel
  • Wide and stable base
  • Good ankle support
  • Nice court feel
  • True to size
  • Smooth heel-to-toe transition
  • Totally lightweight
  • Breathable upper
  • Really affordable
  • OK for outdoors

Cons

  • Dust-prone outsole
  • Little impact protection
  • Upper lacks durability
  • Not for wide-footers
Full review of Nike Precision 6

Best cheap baskteball shoes for outdoor courts

What makes it the best?

Out of all the cheap shoes that we played in, it’s the Adidas Harden Stepback 3 that we consider the best for outdoors simply because of its insanely durable outsole. We also appreciated its torsional rigidity and compatibility with wide feet.

We did the Dremel test on the outsole and we were so amazed with the results. Our high-pressure Dremel drilling resulted only in 0.2 mm of damage, which is far lower than the 1.1 mm average. This simply means that the sole is a lot more able to resist abrasion.

As far as twist resistance is concerned, the Harden Stepback 3 is perfect! We didn’t have to worry about foot twists let or even instability because of how firm the base of the shoe felt. After giving it a good twist in the lab, we were left with no other choice but give it a 5 over 5.

These Harden basketball shoes are surely a treat for wide-footers because of how spacious the forefoot area of the footbed is. Our caliper measured it to be 107.0 mm wide when the average is only 101.0 mm.

When it comes to breathability, however, there’s still a lot of room for improvement. After conducting smoke and light tests in the lab, we could only give the Adidas Harden Stepback 3 a 2 out of 5.

Pros

  • Incredibly good traction
  • A lot of court feel
  • Accommodates orthotics
  • Comfortable wraparound fit
  • Sufficiently supportive
  • Wide platform for stability
  • Great for centres and guards
  • Affordable

Cons

  • A bit weighty
  • Not the most breathable
  • Poor upper durability
Full review of Adidas Harden Stepback 3

Cheap basketball shoes with the best durability

What makes it the best?

Out of all the affordable basketball shoes that we tested, it’s the Lockdown 6 from Under Armour that made the most lasting impression when it comes to durability. Besides the sturdiness of its structure, this basketball shoe is also proud of its firm midsole and moderately rigid base. These features help it deliver speed.

In the lab, we subjected both the toe box and the heel counter padding to Dremel tests that would assess their durability. Both sites were able to resist the pressures of the tests well, and we were left with no other option but to give both a high score of 4 out of 5. Do we still doubt this shoe’s longevity? Not at all.

Using an HA durometer, we learned that the midsole is on the firmer side. Our in-lab device gave it a rating of 30.5 (the higher the score, the firmer) while the average is only 26.6. The firm cushion gave us more stability and better responsiveness, which helped with our speed.

Speaking of stability, the UA Lockdown 6’s moderately rigid base (with a rigidity score of 3 out of 5) gave us stability while still providing enough give to accommodate the natural flexions of our feet. Because we were able to flex, we had better leverage to further energize our sprints toward the basket.

We just wish that the Lockdown 6 had better ventilation. It only got a 2 out of 5 from us after we saw that too little smoke was able to escape through its upper material during our breathability test.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Good impact protection
  • Wear-resistant materials
  • Lighter than average
  • OK for the outdoor court
  • True to size, good fit
  • Suitable for all-day wear
  • Stylish appearance

Cons

  • So-so grip
  • Dull cushioning
  • Not very supportive
  • Lacks breathability
Full review of Under Armour Lockdown 6

Best cheap lightweight basketball shoes

What makes it the best?

The Giannis Immortality is the most pleasing light basketball shoe that we have ever played in. Aside from its lightness, we also appreciated that it delivered a lot of torsional rigidity and firmness, which allowed us to accelerate with much ease. This shoe’s a-lot-lower-than-average price (£90 vs £140) is already the icing on the cake.

Our weighing scale in the lab reported the Giannis Immortality 2’s weight to be 11.3 oz or 320g. This figure is a lot lower than average (14.22 oz or 403g). We really loved how this lightness allowed us to be a lot quicker on our feet.

The shoe’s firm midsole was also something that stood out for us. It allowed us to move faster because of its springiness. Using a caliper HA durometer, we measured the midsole’s hardness at 31.0 when the average is only 26.6. 

Another thing that we appreciated with the shoe is its torsional rigidity. There was not a moment where we had to worry about painful foot twists. After giving it a good manual twist in the lab, we rated this shoe a 4 out of 5 for twist resistance.

The firm midsole surely delivered a two-faced experience. While it was helpful for speeding up, it sucked when it came to impact protection. Bigger players who need a lot of midsole compression should stay away from the Nike Giannis Immortality 2.

Pros

  • Really good traction
  • Quick-feeling cushioning setup
  • Smooth heel-to-toe transitions
  • Very lightweight structure
  • True-to-size fit
  • Upper offers next-to-skin comfort
  • Good for outdoor use
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Not enough impact protection
  • Dust-prone outsole
  • A bit unstable
Full review of Nike Giannis Immortality 2

Which basketball shoes are considered “cheap”?

Here at RunRepeat, we consider “cheap” the bottom 25% based on SRP. Out of the bottom 25%, Nike, Adidas, and Under Armour offer the most number of cheap shoes.

blue.png

What makes up the top cheap basketball shoes

Generally, cheap basketball shoes are made from materials that are less expensive and far more common than the ones used on more expensive options. The table below summarises some of the most commonly used materials across brands.

 

Material

Description

Cushion

Old Cushioning Technologies

Cheaper basketball shoes make use of old technologies. A good example is Nike’s Air technology, which is light and comfortable.

EVA Foam

Closed cell ethylene-vinyl acetate copolymer foam or EVA is among the most commonly used material for midsoles primarily because it is durable, water-resistant, and comfortable.

Upper

Synthetic fabric

The upper of cheap basketball shoes also need to be durable, hence synthetic fabrics are usually used.

Artificial rubber

The upper material is sometimes reinforced or infused with much cheaper artificial rubber such as neoprene to ensure comfort.

Best basketball shoes for less

Cheap basketball shoes, even the best among them, can be classified into three categories. You can easily remember them with this acronym: NOT Expensive.

Cheap-basketball-shoes.png

Non-signature models are not less pricey simply because no big name is attached to them, so there is no need to pay a premium for that personality’s brand. 

Shoe models, hailed and sought after during their time, will eventually be replaced with newer and touted to be innovative ones. But new is not always better; older models, even with their price cuts, can still hold their own on the court.

Brands, in their efforts to appeal to a much wider audience, purposefully produce basketball shoes that are cheaper. They are often referred to as takedown models.

Cheap signature basketball shoes

To widen their reach, some basketball stars work closely with brands to come up with their own takedown basketball shoe releases.

LeBron James. Aside from his main LeBron line, the King LeBron James also has a takedown line known as the Soldier.

Kyrie Irving. Besides the main Kyrie line, shooting guard Kyrie Irving also has a series of budget basketball shoes called the Kyrie Flytrap. As of the first half of 2020, it made its third release.

Kobe Bryant. The late Kobe Bryant also drops budget-friendly basketball shoes every now and then. The Nike Mamba Fury is the first one to release since his death in January 2020. 

When you go for less pricey signature basketball shoes, always consider your style of play. If you are a big man who takes on the centre and power forward position, you’d need a shoe with more cushioning. LeBron’s basketball shoes can help you with this.  

However, if you are a guard who needs a more pronounced feel of the court, Kobes and Kyries are what you need.  Otherwise, you can go for cheap basketball shoes with great traction and court feel.

When is the best time to buy cheap basketball shoes? 

Basketball shoes can also come significantly discounted; if you know when to shop for them, that is!

When-can-I-get-cheap-basketball-shoes_.png

Buying at clearance sales are among the most obvious ways to get basketball shoes at significantly discounted rates. Clearance sales usually happen right after big events when retailers scramble to bring their inventories back to normal.

Speaking of big events, the retailer’s anniversary day or week is usually a period of generous discounts, especially for their loyal customers. Celebrations that push people to shop such as Christmas also bring prices down. 

You can also get basketball shoes for less upon the release of a new model in a basketball shoe line. The price of the one that the new release replaces will surely be brought down to entice buyers to at least consider buying it.

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.