Best Basketball Shoes 2022
Are you trying to find the best basketball shoes? Improving in the sport of basketball is a complex process.
It won’t happen without hours of practice on a court, but sometimes simple changes can make a big difference.
One of the most common changes people make are getting the best basketball shoes for their playing style.
A great pair of basketball shoes really can improve your game.
If it protects your ankles, provides support, or helps you get more lift, these subtle differences work with your practice to produce noticeable differences.
That being said, basketball shoes are designed for a range of different players, and even a great pair of shoes on the wrong pair of feet can go badly.
Picking the right pair of shoes is more than just looking for quality materials, it also needs to be designed for your playing style.
Who Should Get These Shoes?
This review list contains shoes for every type of play style, but they’re all focused on serious basketball players only.
These shoes are built tough to withstand practice twice a week, and a game every weekend.
Each of the shoes presented are the best basketball shoe out there—for the particular play type. That means the best for guards, the best for those prone to ankle injuries, and more.
We’ll be specific about what type of player the shoe is best for, so you can easily find what you are looking for.
When purchasing basketball shoes as a serious player, it’s best to also have a pair of backup shoes on hand to rotate with.
This will help reduce wear and tear on your main shoes, while also having something already broken in should something go wrong.
Your backup shoes don’t have to be the top quality of your main shoe, but it should still fit your game play style.
Let’s take a look at what makes a good shoe for different people, and what’s important for everyone.
The Best Basketball Shoes for Every Player
Below is our picks for best basketball shoes. These shoes will vary from the best basketball shoes for heavier players, shorter players, and those in different positions.
Because of that, it’s important to pay attention to the recommendations in order to get a shoe that is right for you.
With that in mind, these are our top picks for you.
1. Air Jordan XXXII (Best general shoe)
If you’re not sure what your play style is, the Air Jordan XXXII may be a good starting point. That’s because this shoe is so high class, it can handle just about any position and still augment the player.
The shoe has an interesting pattern on the underside, best described as a negative harringbone. This is a big boost from the XXXI Air Jordan, and provides infinately better traction on indoor courts.
These soles are ideal for indoor play, but do not hold up well on outdoor courts. If you plan to play outdoors you will need a harder outsole.
The upper is a flyknit that doesn’t require any kind of break in period, and is highly breathable. Reduced cushioning makes the shoe less bouncy, but still comfortable even for larger players.
This shoe also fits true to size, and although its a bit snug in the midsole, can handle wide footers true to size as well.
2. Nike Kyrie 4 (Best general shoe)
This is another great all around shoe that can improve player performance no matter what position they play.
This shoe is all about balance, and delivers that better than almost any other shoe out there on the market.
The traction on this shoe has been highly praised by those who have purchased them, and allow you to maximize your speed due to the secure footing it provides.
The rubber outsole does best with a break in period, so don’t be surprised if it is slippery at first on the court until it breaks in.
The Nike Kyrie 4 isn’t just about traction. It also offers balanced cushion, and a light weight design that will make you forget they are even on your foot as you glide your way down the court.
The fit is also lock tight, with engineered mesh and suede working together to let you feel snug and light without discomfort.
The shoe also offers great cushion that is light weight while still providing joint protection.
This shoe is very well balanced, which is part of what makes it so great for general use.
This is another shoe that doesn’t hold up very well as an outdoor shoe, so if you’re looking for outdoor play this might not be the best option.
3. Curry 2 (Best Choice for Point Guards)
Point guards typically need a light and fast shoe that can move with them as they set up plays for the rest of the team.
Shoes that are too heavy or restrict movement too much can stifle play, and limit their ability to maneuver during a tough game.
The Curry 2 is the perfect answer for point guards, and seems to be dreamed up as an answer for speed, speed, and more speed.
These shoes are designed to support shooting, with every aspect of it working together to create the perfect shoe.
The cushion is one of the key features here, which is bouncy enough to help you take off for slam dunks and jump shots, while also protecting your joints when you come down once again.
Traction is also very good for the Curry 2s, allowing you to get the speed you need to accelerate into jumps, as well as tight turns to help protect the ball.
The shoe also features a quality lock down that won’t let you slip and slide around in the shoe, including a higher lace design that adds more ankle protection to an already great set up.
This shoe must be broken in before play, as it is very stiff out of the box. The curry 2 is once again not ideal for outdoor play, and should only be worn on indoor courts to avoid fraying.
4. Harden Vol. 2 (Best Shoe for Shooting Guards)
Shooting guards shoot the basketball the most, which is what gave them their name.
A great shooting guard needs a shoe with quality cushion, so that they can make jump shots over and over again without sacrificing their body to joint pain or injury.
The Harden Vol. 2 by Adidas is the perfect answer for shooting guards. The cushion is responsive, providing an excellent balance between all day comfort and the ability to feel the court as you play.
These shoes are also surprisingly light, with a knit top that breathes and keeps you feet cool without any added weight.
These shoes are not suitable for outdoor courts, and their one real drawback is they don’t do well on dusty courts either.
5. Air Jordan Retro XIII (Best for small forwards)
Forwards have the most versatile job of any position, and need a versatile shoe that can keep up with them.
The Air Jordan Retro XIII is the dream of a small forward that must be tough as nails, but also fast and light.
This shoe is great for most players, but really excels for hybrid players that enjoy wearing many different hats.
This shoe features carbon fibers in the midsole to make the shoe more bouncy and responsive, and is extremely comfortable to wear.
These shoes also hold together well, and are designed in almost every respect to be a tough, outgoing shoe that will give what you need and more.
If there could be such a thing as a flaw in this design, it is that the shoe can get hot.
6. Lebron XIII by Nike (best for power forwards)
It’s no secret that Nikes are some of the best shoes out there.
Power forwards need the best shoe out there, because they’re often in the thick of fights over the ball as they attempt to catch rebounds coming their way.
These shoes are designed for big players, which was before this shoe a fairly rare occurrence.
Most of the good quality shoes out there were for smaller players, and certainly none of the signature lines offered good quality shoes for larger people.
This shoe changed all that with cushion your knees will thank you for, a lock tight fit that keeps injury prone ankles secure, and heavy duty materials that will take a beating and still offer great quality support.
While this is a battle ready shoe that can hold up to direct competition under the net, it does have some drawbacks.
It requires a significant break in period in order to be comfortable, and the low top version is simply not appropriate for this position.
The shoe itself also tends to run narrow, so size appropriately.
7. Lebron XIV by Nike (Best for Centers)
Centers are usually the biggest and toughest people on the team, and that means they need a shoe that can take their weight and provide the support they need for their joints.
The Lebron XIV is ideal for Centers, with a heavier shoe built specifically for the Center position.
Some people have complained about how heavy the shoe is, but that is because of who it was meant for.
These shoes are designed for aggressive play, and although they are heavier, they can also take a beating. It features tough materials that won’t tear apart if you get stepped on or take a direct hit.
On top of this, it has good traction and unparalleled support.
Unfortunately, this shoe needs to be wiped regularly during play, as it does tend to hold dust.
8. Dame 5 for Adidas (Outdoor shoe for guards)
Not all games will be on indoor courts, and up until this point all of the shoes we have recommended have been based on indoor courts.
If you love feeling the breeze while you’re playing games, an outdoor shoe is an essential.
Outdoor shoes need tougher outsoles that will hold up better to outdoor courts, and the Dame 5 has such a sole.
This shoe has excellent support and a tight lock-down that will leave you feeling like you’re not even wearing shoes.
They feel great right out of the box with no break-in period, and has some of the best traction out there.
Choose this one if you play outdoors and need a budget shoe that won’t fall apart your first game.
9. Kobe Proto 1 by Nike (Outdoor shoe for larger players)
One final submission to our best basketball shoe list is the Kobe Proto 1. We’re recommending this for the larger players that need an outdoor shoe that can handle tough courts and a heavy player.
These beast like shoes give the user a low ride, and minimal cushioning in order to help provide a more responsive shoe.
Although the cushion is minimal, that’s not to say your joints will take a hammering. The shoe utilizes Zoom Air technology absorbs shock from landing while offering maximum feel of the court.
These shoes are also suitable for outdoor use, so you won’t have to worry about them being torn apart by a poor surface.
What You Need to Consider in a Shoe
The following values in a shoe are important to every single player, regardless of what position they are in.
These universal factors determine what the quality of a shoe is, and whether it will last a long time and fit well, or be chucked in just a month.
No matter what position you play, traction is one of the most important features of a shoe.
Basketball courts can be slippery, and even the slightest bit of dust on the court can cause shoes to become even more slippery.
Good traction doesn’t just keep you from getting injured from an unlucky fall however, it also plays a big part in whether you can make use of your skills on the court.
Good traction means being able to sprint faster, turn more quickly, and jump high, secure in the knowledge that your grip will be there.
Even the accuracy of your throws can be determined in part through traction.
If the grip of your shoes aren’t good when crouching down low for a jump shot or simply to throw, it can mean missing an otherwise good shot.
No traction means you are trying to play a game without any power, agility, or speed—which can mean underwhelming performance.
Traction is important to every aspect of your performance, so when looking at buying a new pair of shoes you should check traction first.
Many quality shoes use a classic herringbone shape, but unique treads can also be useful. If you typically play on dusty courts, deeper traction is recommended.
Tough games can often mean long games. It’s easy to disregard how important support is for you in comparison to other aspects of a shoe, but it can really make a difference after a few hours of play.
Your feet hold up your entire body, and there’s no other part under a greater load.
If your joints are supported comfortably through a long game, you’ll be less sore than other players. This could give you an edge in competition, but there’s also more to it than that.
With tight turns and quick acceleration, injured ankles are a common problem among basketball players.
Many basketball shoes, especially those designed for positions where agility is not as important, have hi-tops to fully protect ankles.
Medium tops are less protective, but allow for more ankle movement, and low tops should be avoided unless in a position that demands a lot of agility.
Although support is important for every playing position, it’s essential if the player is larger than most.
Larger players benefit more from support, and also require more protection due to the inevitability of getting stepped on during play.
Support is a very important consideration when choosing a new basketball shoe, and can make a world of difference in performance and longevity.
Serious players spend a lot of time practicing and playing the game. If you play hard, you need a shoe that can stand up to hours of abuse.
A poor quality shoe might be able to handle a casual weekend game with friends, but when bathed in fire from the all-out war that a rough game can be, they will fall apart.
A good pair of shoes doesn’t just look fabulous and feel comfortable, it is designed for battle.
It is the weapon you use to help you move faster, jump higher, and act fast enough to stop the opponent from scoring points.
It’s no secret that basketball is a tough game. You need to be strong, fast, and quick on your feet.
This means your shoes not only need to stick with you, but keep delivering support, traction, and speed all season long.
A sub-par pair of shoes may be able to offer these things for a while, but may become too battered to be useful within just a few weeks of tough play.
When choosing a shoe, it’s important to find one that can stand up to the blood bath that is your games.
Pick a shoe that is as tough as you are, and you’ll never be let down during an important game.
Somewhat related to support is comfort. Comfort is a little hard to measure in terms of shoe quality, but nearly every aspect of the shoe will have an effect on the comfort you feel.
In order for the shoe to be comfortable, it must have a toe box big enough to not crowd toes or cause toenails to fall off, a shoe that fits properly, and enough cushion to keep it from being a jarring ride.
When a shoe doesn’t fit quite right or has a rough ride, you’ll notice them. A good shoe allows you to dismiss thoughts about your shoe entirely, and instead think exclusively of the game.
An uncomfortable shoe, even if it is good quality, will cause you to focus in the pain in your toe or how the upper is digging into your foot rather than on the game.
Although the quality of the shoe mainly determines comfort, breaking in the shoe is also important too.
Some shoes are comfortable without a break-in period, while others must be worn in order to be comfortable.
During our review process, we will mention whether or not a basketball shoe affords comfort right off the bat, or whether it requires a break in period to provide the comfort you need.
The final consideration that applies to all basketball shoe is lock-down. This feature of a shoe could also be categorized as comfort in part, and also under support, but it still needs to be considered on its own.
In order for a shoe to perform at its best, it needs to stick to your foot no matter what you do to it.
Lock-down is how well a shoe stays with your foot, especially at the heel where it is most likely to slide, while you are playing.
Good shoes have features from lacing and strap combinations to heel cuffs that work together to keep your shoe on your foot.
A great shoe will have lock-down so tight that even if you’re reversing course and switching directions at top speed, you’ll never even notice what your shoes are doing.
On the flip side, shoes with poor lock-down may allow your shoe to slide around on your foot, pulling you out of the game.
You may become distracted and unable to focus on the game, because a part of your brain is always on your shoes and whether you’re going to slip in your shoe while trying to make a pass.
All of these things are very different, but they all matter in terms of quality. When searching for the right shoe for you, all of these problems should be something you keep in mind.
How to find basketball shoes that fit your playing style
Earlier we talked about what makes the best basketball shoes for general use, but that doesn’t take into account playing style.
Different positions, and different personalities, have different ways of playing. One player may need more ankle support, while another needs less so they can turn more quickly.
Let’s talk about unique characteristics to basketball shoes now, and how that helps make a difference for individual players.
One of the biggest differences between basketball shoes is the silhouette. This comes down to whether a shoe is a high top, mid top, or low top.
In the past, all basketball players used high tops regardless of their position, but this is changing as the game itself evolves.
Let’s look at the different types of silhouette now, and what team positions benefit most from using them.
Low tops are an uncommon shoe for basketball, because they sacrifice all ankle protection. Low tops are the same level as normal sneakers, and don’t offer any kind of ankle support.
This type of shoe does have its place in basketball however.
They are best for guards who want to feel quick on their feet, without being weighed down by heavier high-top shoes.
Low tops offer maximum flexibility, which will allow greatest ankle movement.
Low tops are not recommended for larger players, as much of the benefits to them are lost. If you are light and fast and looking to stay that way however, these shoes are a possible option.
If you find high tops suffocating but need more ankle support than low tops, mid tops are an in between that could prove useful.
Mid tops are ideal for forwards or wings, who need to have some agility without compromising on their ankles.
Finally, we have high tops. Most basketball players are already familiar with the iconic high top silhouette, because it is the most common type of silhouette seen in basketball.
High tops offer full ankle protection, while somewhat limiting mobility.
High tops are best for larger players who need maximum support and stability.
It’s also better for anyone who may be in direct line of fire with other players below the rim, and need maximum support.
We talked about traction earlier, but it’s worth dipping into what makes traction good quality.
There are two main factors that go into what makes traction that really works, and novel concepts that can be spotty on whether they work well or not.
The classic herringbone pattern is what you should stick with unless there is very good reason to try something different.
The herringbone pattern is a classic because it provides traction in all directions, and won’t slip if you move your foot in a specific direction.
Sometimes, basketball shoe designers get a little crazy with traction patterns, either to try and improve on the design or to make the bottom of the shoe as appealing as the top.
Sometimes the results are good, and sometimes it makes you slip and slide as if the court was an iced over lake.
The herringbone pattern may seem boring, but it’s definitely a classic for a reason. Stick with it unless a different pattern has glowing recommendations.
In order to provide traction, the sole of the shoe needs to have a rubber coating. Rubber is what provides the grip that keeps you secure while making your moves on the court.
Although all rubber may seem alike, there are two basic types of rubber compounds. These can be broken up into hard rubber and soft rubber.
Hard rubber coatings are more durable and will hold up for a longer time, but they have their drawbacks.
They don’t have as much grip as soft rubber coatings, and can be especially slippery on dusty courts.
If you can make a choice, choose a shoe with a solid rubber outer sole. Although solid rubber isn’t as pretty as other options, it gives the best compromise between durability and traction.
Cushion is how soft the shoe feels, and how much it gives when you are running around in them.
Although a soft ride might seem like a good idea no matter who you are, it can actually depend on the individual.
Larger players can benefit from more cushion, because there is more pressure on their joints, especially when jumping or other athletic maneuvers.
On the flip side, lighter people may benefit from a firmer setup.
Cushioning is something most shoe companies have put a lot of research into. Almost every shoe company has their own version of technology with a patented name to it.
These include Nike’s ZoomAir and Adida’s Boost.
This is one area where you may need to depend on reviews to ensure you find a level of cushion you like. Every shoe is different, and so is the technology from different companies.
As long as you know how much cushion you like, pick a shoe that has either firm or generous cushioning depending on your own preferences.
While high tops and mid tops are what we commonly think of when it comes down to support, there are actually other technologies that really make a difference.
Some of these technologies are relatively new to the basketball world.
A decade ago, it would have been unthinkable to wear a low top shoe to a basketball game, it was an almost guaranteed sprained ankle or worse due to the nature of basketball.
Now, more support in the outrigging means it is possible to safely wear low tops during a game.
A wide outrigger makes the base of the shoe itself wider, which leads to a more stable structure that isn’t prone to rolling.
Other features that can make a difference in support include midfood shanks and proper lockdown of the shoe.
The final consideration for a great quality shoe is material. The upper however, is one area where the type of material isn’t quite as important as, say, a solid rubber outsole.
The upper can be made of mesh, or high quality materials.
The only real difference you will see is that cheap materials tend to have a longer break in period.
If you want to enjoy your shoes right off the bat, you’ll need to get higher end material that doesn’t need that break in period.
A surprising amount of consideration needs to go into a basketball shoe. A great shoe is more than just something to protect your feet while you compete.
It’s a tool that can improve your game, and help you edge your way up from good to great.
If you’re serious about basketball and becoming as good as you can in the sport, you will need a pair of shoes as unique as you are.