7 Best Low Top Basketball Shoes in 2024

Dimitrije Curcic
Dimitrije Curcic on
7 Best Low Top Basketball Shoes in 2024
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Basketball shoes are often said to be better off as high tops because the high collar is there for more stability. However, scientific evidence does not support this notion. Low-top basketball shoes are reported to be as effective as mid-tops and high-tops on the court.

We went on to test low-top basketball shoes in our lab and on the court and discovered just how many excellent options there are among these low-tops. From the cheaper ones to the premium models, we have tested shoes with outstanding grip, cushioning, and an overall sense of support. We have scrutinised all of them equally, both inside and outside our lab, so we can deliver fair judgement.

How we test basketball shoes

Here at RunRepeat, we give each basketball shoe a chance to be on our feet while hooping in indoor and outdoor courts. We try each of them for a considerable period of time before we report every detail, may it be minor or major. But for us to provide neutral judgments and impressions, we do not owe anyone our reviews by buying all the shoes using our own money.

Apart from on-foot tests, we also perform lab tests. Here, we measure stuff like stack heights, insole thickness, base width, and more. We do this so we can confirm what the brands claim. Also, we want to gather as much data as possible so we can share more information about the shoes and you can make smarter decisions. Moreover, we split the shoes in half to have an intensive view inside.

Best low-top basketball shoes overall

What makes it the best?

The Nike LeBron NXXT GEN easily rose above other low-tops performance-wise because of (1) the amazing lockdown that it provided, (2) its surprisingly lightweight structure, and (3) top-notch traction on both indoor and outdoor courts. It was easy to have the time of our lives while wearing this hoop shoe.

This LeBron shoe has a midfoot shank and responsive upper materials that helped keep our feet in place no matter how aggressive our movements were. There was never a moment when wobbliness became a source of concern for us. 

LeBron shoes have always been expected to be on the heavier side, but the NXXT GEN just changed that. Our in-lab scale measured its weight to be only 13.12 oz or 372g, making this low-top the lightest LeBron James basketball shoe to date. 

The grip of the Nike LeBron NXXT GEN’s outsole was surely one for the books. We never had problems with whether we were playing on indoor or outdoor courts.

Our experience of stability would have been more complete had the midsole platform been a bit wider. Our calliper measured the midsole width at the forefoot to be only 107.9 mm when the average is 113.3 mm. The heel is also slightly narrower at 90.3 mm (ave is 91.1 mm).

Pros

  • 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

Cons

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

Low-top basketball shoes with the best traction

What makes it the best?

Among all the low-tops that we played in, we were the most amazed with the bite that the Curry 10 has on various surfaces. Aside from this benefit, we also loved that this shoe delivered phenomenal lockdown while providing noteworthy flexibility.

When we wanted to make quick changes in direction, it was easy. When we wanted abrupt stops, it was never a challenge. The traction on this shoe is just that good. Enough said.

This shoe still delivered an amazing hold on our feet even as a low-top. Whether we were moving from back to front or from side to side, we were never threatened by slips. It helped that the base of the Under Armour Curry 10 got a perfect 5 for torsional rigidity after we manually squeezed it in the lab.

Just because this shoe was immensely supportive didn’t really mean that flexibility was sacrificed. We found in our lab that this shoe needed only 35.5N to bend at 90 degrees. The typical basketball shoe would need 40.9N.

Outdoor players will have to stay away from the Curry 10, though. It doesn’t have a real outsole so its midsole foam is the one that directly touches the surface. Using our HC durometer, we learned that it only has a hardness rating of 59.5, a far cry from the hardness of the 81.5 average.

Pros

  • 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

Cons

  • Not suitable for outdoor use
  • So-so impact protection
Full review of Under Armour Curry Flow 10

Low-top basketball shoes with the best cushioning

Nike Lebron 20
93
Superb!

What makes it the best?

When we compared it to other LeBrons, the 20’s midsole is on the thinner side. Yet, its heel was still able to deliver a good deal of plushness. It is because of this blend of court feel and impact protection that its cushioning system is a standout among other low-tops. It’s already a bonus that it had an insanely durable upper which protected our feet quite well. 

Using a calliper, we learned that the midsole especially at the heel area is 3.0 mm thinner than average. This reduction resulted in us feeling the ground more, thereby improving our athleticism and speed.

We also measured the softness of the midsole cushion using a HA durometer and we learned that it’s softer than the average. The LeBron 20 is 25.5, while the average is 26.6. The force of our heel strikes was effectively neutralised and our sprints up and down the court were consistently kept pain-free.

The upper was indeed a tank. We subjected it to a high-pressure Dremel test, but our drilling barely made a mark on the LeBron 20’s surface. It got a score of 4 out of 5 for toebox durability. Even on the court, we barely felt any trauma getting through, even if opponents unintentionally stepped on our feet.

Be warned though, the LeBron 20 is on the unbreathable side, getting only a score of 2 out of 5 for ventilation after smoke had a hard time escaping through the upper material.

Pros

  • Amazing overall performance
  • Great traction
  • Tremendous impact protection
  • Pronounced court feel
  • Dependable bounciness
  • Comfortable upper
  • Incredible foot containment
  • Stylishly streamlined looks

Cons

  • Not for outdoors
  • Has to be broken in
Full review of Nike Lebron 20

Best lightweight low-top basketball shoes

What makes it the best?

As a low-top, the Zoom Freak 4 never felt flimsy or lacking in support. On the contrary, it had an effectively stiff heel counter and a comfortably supportive structure overall. In addition to this, it has more cushioning material and a harder outsole, making it resistant to bottoming out. And it delivered all of these benefits without stacking on more weight. It’s only 12.3 oz (348g) when the average is 13.7 oz (387g). Hence, the Nike Zoom Freak 4 is the best lightweight pick among all the low-top hoop shoes we tried.

Support was never a problem because of the stiff heel counter, fully gusseted tongue, and considerably resistant overall structure. We gave the heel counter a 4 out of 5 for stiffness after it gave us a fairly hard time when we manually squeezed it in the lab. Our digital force gauge showed that this shoe only bent at 90 degrees when 54.0N of force was applied, a strong indicator of how inflexible this shoe is. For context, a typical shoe already bends at the same angle with only 41.9N.

Calliper measurements revealed that the stack heights of the heel and forefoot are 32.7 mm and 24.4 mm respectively. This means that the tooling is 3.7 mm and 2.6 mm thicker than average. We also learned that this foam is well protected by an outsole rubber that has a hardness score of 84.5 while the average is 80.3 according to our HC durometer, which means that the Freak 4's rubber is harder.

It’s just too bad that this basketball shoe cannot accommodate wide-footers. At its widest point, the toe box is only 97.6 mm wide which makes it narrower than the average shoe whose width is 99.9 mm.

Pros

  • 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

Cons

  • Not ideal for outdoors (but OK)
  • Not for bigger players and wide footers
  • Cheap-feeling materials
Full review of Nike Zoom Freak 4

Best low-top basketball shoes for outdoor courts

Nike KD 15
92
Superb!

What makes it the best?

Among all the low-tops that we tried, we consider the Nike KD 15 as the best for outdoors because of its outsole quality. The outsole is both thicker and harder than the average. Aside from this benefit, this basketball shoe also delivered amazing torsional resistance and heel support.

The rubber that makes up the outsole is 4.1 mm thick, which is slightly thicker than the 3.9 mm average. We assessed the sole’s hardness using an HC durometer and we learned that it’s also a bit harder than the typical shoe, 83.0 against 80.3. These qualities allow this basketball shoe to resist abrasion quite effectively.

The twist resistance that this shoe delivered was just a perfect 5. The stability, confidence, and focus that this feature afforded us were truly one for the books.

Heel support was also a noteworthy benefit. After pushing and squeezing the back of the shoe in the lab, we gave it a 4 out of 5 for firmness and support capacity. This part was truly effective in keeping the heel in place even as we sprinted quite aggressively toward the basket.

Too bad, wide-footers won’t be able to comfortably enjoy the goodness that this shoe offers. At its widest, the toebox is only 97.0 wide, making the Nike KD 15 narrower than the 99.9 mm average.

Pros

  • Consistent grip on different surfaces
  • Dust-resistant outsole
  • Plush and protective foam
  • Bouncy midsole
  • Secure heel counter
  • Well-ventilated upper
  • Feels light
  • OK for outdoors

Cons

  • Not for wide-footers
  • Lacks flexiblity
Full review of Nike KD 15

Low-top basketball shoes with the best stability

Jordan Luka 2
87
Great!

What makes it the best?

Much like the first Doncic shoe, the Jordan Luka 2 boasts exceptional stability. It locked our feet so securely in place that we never once felt a hint of wobble. We believe that shifter players who often make forceful side-to-side cuts will adore this shoe. It inspires a great deal of confidence for moving aggressively on the court (as long as it's a clean indoor court).

Pros

  • Insanely stable and supportive
  • Unmatched foot containment
  • Balance of court feel and impact protection
  • Good durability for indoor courts
  • Grips well on clean courts
  • Generously padded interiors
  • Spacious toebox

Cons

  • Not for outdoor courts
  • Outsole picks up dust quickly
  • Not breathable
Full review of Jordan Luka 2

Low-top basketball shoes with the best value

Nike Ja 1
88
Great!

What makes it the best?

As a low-top, the amount of support that the Nike Ja 1 delivered is quite impressive. We loved how it felt secure without being too restrictive. We also appreciated its outstanding durability and noteworthy lightness. Because of all these, we deem it as the pick that offers the best value among all low-tops. It’s a huge bonus that it’s only £120 when the average is £140.

Much of the lockdown that the Ja 1 gave came from its well structured sidewalls and heel counter. The heel counter, in particular, got a 4 out of 5 from us after we gave it a very nice squeeze in the lab.

We tested for durability through Dremel drilling through shoe materials. Both the toebox and the heel padding got perfect 5s because they truly held their own even in the face of immense pressure and abrasion. We are now so confident that this shoe will last long.

The weight of this shoe is also worth noting. At only 12.73 ounces or 361 grammes, the Nike Ja 1 is a lot lighter than the 14.22 oz or 403g average.  On court, this meant less effortful and speedier runs.

It’s just a huge bummer that the wide-footers among us couldn’t enjoy this shoe as much as they wanted. The shoe just tapers so much toward the big toe. At that point, our calliper measured it to be only 75.6 mm wide when the average is 76.8 mm.

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

Stability features for (low-top) basketball shoes

As said, collar height does not do much in terms of providing support and ensuring stability. What features, then, better ensure support and stability?

Lace.png

Closure System. Basically, a closure system is the main mechanism that keeps the shoe on your foot. In basketball, a lace-up closure is the most common. You can maximise the benefits of this by knowing how to tie your laces. Learn more about different lacing techniques in this guide.

heel counter.png

Heel Counter. For most low-top basketball shoes, or basketball shoes in general, the rear part of the shoe is made of sturdier material to form the heel counter. This feature helps keep the foot in place especially during aggressive movements.

Midfoot Shank. When movements become more aggressive, you risk twisting your foot. A midsole with a shank embedded in the middle of it helps prevent this from happening.

Inner Sleeve. The insides of a shoe are often lined with a form-fitting and comfortable material to enhance its fit. Neoprene and some soft fabric or rubber are the most commonly used material for this.

side clip.png

Side clips. Usually found on the lateral side, clips that are made of sturdy plastic are often laid to serve as additional support features especially if the upper material is made of stretchy materials.

Low-top basketball shoes: A Kobe Bryant effect

It was in 2008 when Kobe Bryant’s first low-top basketball shoe– the Kobe IV– was released; and he rarely wore high-tops in his games since then. This release is widely regarded as the start of the popularity of low-tops in the NBA.

kobe 4 protro.png

The Kobe 4 Protro

The fourth Kobe is so iconic that Nike and Kobe Bryant released a protro version of it in 2019. A protro is practically a retro with modern technological updates to ensure its court worthiness.

What prompted Kobe to go low? 

Having spent a good part of his childhood in Italy, he was exposed quite extensively to American football (known as football in the US). The shoes worn by American football players are often low-top. He thought that if American football players can make it with low-tops, there’s no reason that basketball players can’t!

Which NBA stars followed suit? 

The use of low-top basketball shoes has become so popular in the NBA. Many of the NBA guys that are sponsored by Nike are seen wearing low-top Kobes on the court. 

New NBA stars such as Paul George, James Harden, and just very recently, Giannis Antetokounmpo (with the release of his first shoe the Nike Freak 1) are huge Kobe fans. Their signature shoes sport low collars in keeping with their idol’s game-changing initiative.Though he usually wears high-tops on court, LeBron James and Nike also produce low-top versions of his highly celebrated signature basketball shoes. Stephen Curry does the same, though his fifth and sixth Curry shoe debuted as low-tops.

To know how to get the right low-top basketball shoes for you, access our detailed guide for the best basketball shoes.

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.