Given the popularity of the NBA and its roster of star athletes, basketball is a sport more readily associated with men than women. Hence, it comes as no surprise that shoes and other apparel created for this sport have the male anatomy in mind.
In this article, we take a look at the most suitable shoes for men. They are the ones that truly made a mark after testing more than 400 shoes from big sports brands such as Nike, Adidas, and Under Armour.
Of course, this does not mean that there are no women’s basketball shoes. Female fans are as real as their male counterparts, and their needs deserve unique attention. We have a separate page for the best basketball shoes for women.
Kevin Durant as a basketball player is one that you simply can’t overlook. He is fast, he scores, and damn he is tall! He is such a good team player as well who does a good deal of everything. If he is a shoe, then nothing represents him better than the Nike KD 14.
This shoe is just among the most supportive basketball sneakers we have on the market. The materials and the shoe structure all work together to deliver a type of lockdown that gives no room for second thoughts. We can really say that this one is really made for players who are agile and quite simply hard to contain.
Speaking of agility, don’t think that the good containment that it offers was at the expense of mobility. No, this was not the case at all. We were still able to move fast. We were still able to respond quickly to the opponents’ antics. Indeed, if you want to really break free on the court, this one should be what you should be wearing.
Now, if there’s something that we should complain about, it would be that this shoe needed to be broken in. But which shoe doesn’t? This issue was not a dealbreaker, and it shouldn’t be a dealbreaker for you.
There is no doubt that playing basketball is very demanding physically. One needs to be agile, strategic, and strong in order to score and eventually win. There is also no doubt that the Adidas Dame 7 is a shoe built for such demands.
One of the first things that we noticed about the Dame 7 was its low-to-the-ground construction. Because of it, we had a lot of court feel and being in control was never a problem. We were able to twist, sprint, and turn with much ease.
Lockdown was also super excellent. We didn’t have to worry that our shoes would come off our feet and just go flying everywhere. The heel counter, stiff-enough upper, and a considerably wide base helped keep the foot in place.
Even with all those features, the shoe still managed to keep its weight manageable. This definitely did not feel like a slapper or a brick on our feet. Anyone who tried playing in Nike LeBrons surely gets what we mean. This shoe is proof that a basketball shoe can be light, structured, and quite supportive all at the same time.
Having said that, the Dame 7 was also a delight to be used in outdoor games. Its outsole did not show any sign of wear and tear. The upper was also still intact even after many high-intensity games.
Adidas and Damian Lillard offer all the mentioned goodness without raising the price too much. We are telling you, the Adidas Dame 7 is definitely a steal!
Many basketball players regard the traction as a basketball shoe’s most important aspect. Being a quick guard himself, Stephen Curry is definitely one of those players. His regard for traction is very evident in his Under Armour Curry 8, which is touted to have a hall-of-fame grip!
Truly, we were able to stop on a dime as we pleased. We didn’t even have to second guess our moves because we were just so sure that the traction got us covered in all directions. There were no slips or instability whatsoever. Dust was not even a problem! There was absolutely no need to wipe. Playing in the Curry was just pure fun!
Besides a truly commendable grip, this shoe also delivered a nicely snug fit but still with lots and lots of ventilation. The materials felt premium and were soft enough to not cause any form of discomfort. We could literally wear the Curry 8 all day!
Did we already mention that this shoe felt super light? No? Well, this one was so light it felt like we didn’t have anything on! Yet, this does not mean that support wasn’t there. In fact, we couldn’t praise Under Armour and their team of designers for making sure that our feet were securely contained.
A new player in the modern basketball shoe market, Puma is expectedly not as big as Nike or even Adidas. Yet, the brand already made an indelible mark in the scene with the release of the Puma Clyde All Pro. This shoe is definitely an embodiment of what great traction is!
Many fans compared the Clyde All Pro’s grip to that of the Nike Kobe 9. We found it hard to believe at first because the Kobe 9 was just THE standard when it comes to traction on basketball courts. However, we were floored when we played in the All Pro! Stopping on a dime. Planting the foot securely. All these were such a breeze to do!
Puma also equipped the shoe with a really responsive cushioning system, making it a lot more palatable to players like us who are just so quick on our feet. After all, a good traction has to be paired with a really good court feel to maximize movement control.
Of course, the Clyde All Pro is more than just an amazing traction and midsole. Right out of the box, this shoe was just so comfortable, and it was largely thanks to the generously padded tongue that made us feel that our feet were covered with a really good comforter.
With all that, we think that the Puma Clyde All Pro should be what you are wearing now.
Consistent traction both on clean and dusty surfaces
Supportive once broken in
Wide feet friendly
OK for outdoor use
Soft, snug fit
Break-in period needed
Not so breathable
Basketball shoes are either plush or firm, and there seems to be no in-betweens. The Nike Cosmic Unity, however, changes this. This Nike shoe delivered a perfect blend of impact protection and court feel, serving the needs of both big men and quick guards. Indeed, this shoe is versatile enough to suit all positions.
Besides an all-around midsole, this shoe also delivered dependable support and stability. The commendable cushioning system, once again, helped with this. Specifically, the foam rises up to the sides, forming some sort of side walls that caged our feet and stopped them from sliding laterally.
The Cosmic Unity basketball was also constructed with a wide base, which greatly helped in maintaining balance even during the most intense sprints.
The more sociable among us were indeed happy with the premium materials that compose the upper. They really felt super comfortable; it was as if the shoes were made specifically for our unique feet. It also looked quite nice, and we didn’t have problems matching it with our casual outfits.
Though this shoe was not able to provide perfection, it surely delivered on the aspects that matter. Of course, its topnotch cushioning takes the center stage.
Traction: All expert reviewers agree that the 35th Air Jordan has a really nice grip on the court, especially if it's clean.
Impact protection: Players report that the cushioning protects their knees and feet even from hard landings and heel strikes.
Premium materials: The AJ 35 uses high-quality materials, and players really appreciate that.
True to size: Players conclude that future buyers can just go with their usual measurements for Jordan shoes.
Support: The Flywire and the updated eclipse plate seem to have done their job well because almost all experts have no complaints when it comes to support.
Smooth steps: Experts are happy that the 35 has really nice heel-to-toe transition because of the curved heel and forefoot.
Feels light: Though the Air Jordan 35 is at 369 grams (13 oz), reviewers still report that it somehow feels light. They must have compared it with the really heavy LeBrons.
Need break in: The traction, cushion, and other features of this shoe need time so that they perform at their best.
Dust-prone: The outsole picks up dust quite easily, affecting the traction. Wiping does the trick, though.
Less explosiveness: The Zoom units installed in this shoe are less bouncy and explosive than the ones in the AJ 34.
Arch discomfort: The Eclipse plate pushed against the arch of the foot, causing pain and uneasiness.
Suffocating: One of the experts says that the padded collar pushes on his foot and is "suffocating."
Not for outdoor use: The outsole is made of soft materials, so it surely wouldn't last long outdoors.
Because of the greatness of Michael Jordan, we expected the Air Jordan XXXV– or any shoe associated with him for that matter– to perform really well. We were not disappointed, especially with the cushioning.
Even if we played in so many (really intense!) games in this, not once did our feet or knees hurt. Landings were always well-cushioned, and even while running we felt like our feet had really nice cotton underneath!
Aside from providing really good impact protection, the Zoom units in the midsole were so explosively amazing! We never felt the need to exert so much effort just to get ahead. Now, if that wasn’t what efficiency is all about, we don’t know what is.
Everyone in our team was also so impressed with how grippy the Air Jordan 35 had been. We were able to make full stops without being wobbly or unstable. Running was much more precise. When traction is good, we could really expect a really fun game!
Sure, the AJ XXXV can be a bit expensive. It’s a shoe named after a legend after all. But if we factor in its performance, well, every penny you put in this is a penny well spent!
Besides a more pronounced court feel, guards like Kyrie Irving need really good support. This where the Nike Kyrie 7 excels in.
When we first wore the seventh Kyrie, we were so amazed at how perfectly well the fit was. The materials felt durable and they really followed the unique shape and contours of our feet. This type of fit alone would have given us enough support.
Yet, the Kyrie 7 offered more. Wing-like features on the forefoot delivered more containment; so did the material that came up from the sole, making some sort of cage that really held our feet in place. The wide base also contributed to a stabler feel.
To make this guard shoe even more palatable, the very good support is complemented by springiness, which of course helped propel us to the basket. The midsole is also soft enough to make prolonged sprints and direction changes as protected from fatigue as possible.
Even with all that goodness, the Nike Kyrie 7 still managed to have a really low weight. We didn’t feel it weighing down our movements. It was so light that only a few minutes into the game, we felt like the shoe became an extension of our anatomy.
Support is definitely one thing that you just gotta love about the Nike Kyrie 7, but it surely is not the only one.
Outsole pattern is not durable for constant outdoor play
Heel cushioning not enough for heavy post players
Russell Westbrook is known not only for his mean basketball skills but also his fashionable style off the court. Similarly, the Jordan Why Not Zer0.4, his fourth signature shoe, gets praises for both its stylish appearance and performance attributes.
Support is an aspect where the Why Not Zer0.4 really stands out. When we were playing in this, our feet never had the chance to slide off the footbed. The heel shank did great in keeping the rear part in place. Heel slippage was totally alien to us when we were playing. Plus, the upper materials were also great in caging the foot in.
The cushioning system is also worth noting. It is equipped with double-stacked Zoom that was prominently felt with every step. The ride is generally plush and comfortable, so pain was something we didn’t have to worry about or even think of.
The wide-footers among us are also happy with the Jordan Why Not Zer0.4. Though it looked sleek and streamlined, it actually had a lot of space inside, and accommodating wide feet was never a problem.
What made us all love this shoe even more is the fact that it didn’t really require any break-in period. This Russell Westbrook shoe was pretty and comfortable straight out of the box.
Great traction: Basketball athletes are so thrilled with the Spawn 3's traction. They say it's "freaking phenomenal"
Balanced midsole: Reports say that Under Armour's Micro-G tooling provides an amazing blend of comfort, impact protection, and court feel.
Nice fit: Ballers say that the shoe "did a really good job of hugging [their] foot."
OK for outdoors: A player suggests that the outsole of this Under Armour shoe is sturdy enough for outdoor use.
Lightness: At only around 11.2 oz (318 g), the Under Armour Spawn 3 is definitely among the lightest low-tops.
Cheap-feeling materials: Though this isn't such a big deal performance-wise, players still point out that the materials aren't the most premium.
Lateral instability: One player points out that his side-to-side movements felt a bit unstable because of the curve in the heel.
If you believe that a basketball shoe has to be expensive to be good, then you really have to reevaluate your beliefs. The market is replete with cheap options that are good performance-wise, and the Under Armour Spawn 3 rises above them all.
This US shoe gets the top place because of its highly commendable traction. When we heard that this has a “freaking phenomenal” grip, we were skeptical. But when we played in it, boy, we were all floored. “Freaking phenomenal” is still an understatement. This was simply up there with the Kobe 9 when it comes to traction.
This shoe also courted our glee with its incredibly balanced Micro-G tooling in the midsole. Big men, guards, everyone in our team cannot complain because this just delivered an out-of-this-world balance of impact protection, court feel, and responsiveness.
Given all the goodness that we just described, it’s easy to imagine this shoe to be both heavy and bulky. But this is really not the case. In fact, we felt that this is among the lightest low-tops. It also has a very streamlined look that made an impression on even the most fashionable bloke among us.
The fact that this was durable enough to withstand rigorous outdoor use made this our easy favorite. We didn’t want to look any further. With the UA Spawn 3, all our needs are satisfied. Without breaking the bank, mind you!
Nike is more than just expensive shoes and signature sneakers. Every once in a while, they also produce really affordable hoop shoes. Nike Precision 5 is one of them, and it surely did not disappoint everyone, even those who are skeptical and nitpicky.
You see, this shoe just knows what to prioritize. It features herringbone on its outsole, and it surely got us covered in all directions. We didn’t have to hesitate when we wanted to make quick turns and abrupt stops.
The grippy outsole was aptly complemented by a minimal but really sturdy upper. Under normal circumstances, the upper felt like we weren’t wearing anything. However, when we make abrupt stops, the upper material is actually sturdy enough to stop the foot from moving forward. This ultimately helped us avoid slides and wobbliness.
Guards were also in love with the cushioning. It was firm and it provided a lot of court feel. The nimble players in us were on a rampage taking control of the game as we ran and up the court with much ease and confidence.
What the guards loved was the waterloo for the bigger men. The amount of cushioning just wasn’t enough for them. Because the Nike Precision 5 appeared to be guard-specific, it had to settle as runner-up to the more versatile UA Spawn 3.
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.