With the NBA season starting in one year and ending in the next, it can be hard and sometimes confusing to say what the best basketball shoes of the year were.
But, with this year’s NBA season now continuing following the forced coronavirus break, we've looked back at some of the best basketball models available during the 2019-20 season. While peripheral issues such as hype or exclusivity usually influence our opinions when it comes to footwear, this time we've gone for the picks that will actually serve you on-court. As such, attributes such as fit, traction, and reliability, as well as the overall look, go into the mix.
Scroll down to the see our list of the best basketball shoes of 2020. Additionally, you can see our favorite selects from 2019 as well.
Nike LeBron 17
Release Date: September 27, 2019
The LeBron 17 features the largest Air Max heel unit on a LeBron James signature sneaker yet. The sneaker also features two independent Air Zoom Pods on the forefoot for increased cushioning. The design has stayed largely the same sans the increased Max Air heel unit, still giving off an aggressive vibe thanks to the textured Battleknit 2.0 upper.
Jordan Why Not Zer0.2
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Release Date: January 10, 2019
Russell Westbrook's signature model isn't merely a series of flashy colorways. Rather, Jordan Brand's Why Not Zer0.2 proves you can mix wild design with inventive engineering. Hidden gems include a "0" traction pattern to match Westbrook's jersey number. Phylon in the heel also provides excellent lockdown and support.
Air Jordan 34
Release Date: September 25, 2019
The idea behind the Nike Air Jordan 34 is to get rid of everything that is not absolutely necessary, creating a lighter and more effective shoe in the process. That means introducing the Jordan Eclipse Plate, which is formed by two Pebax pieces and a forefoot Zoom Air unit, and bringing in a herringbone traction outsole for increased stability on all surfaces. The Air Jordan 34 is designed for all types of players, ranging from high-flyers like Zion Williamson to scoring machines like Jayson Tatum.
adidas N3XT L3V3L
Release Date: December 1, 2018
If low-tops were once verboten, imagine how people reacted to the idea of playing basketball in a shoe with no laces. adidas changed that narrative by presenting a sock-like sneaker that has next to no slippage despite offering no way to tighten it. Extremely comfortable thanks to a new foam midsole that adidas calls Lightstrike and featuring a Primeknit upper, the N3XT L3V3L should be considered by those who typically play on indoor courts.
Nike Kyrie 6
Release Date: November 22, 2018
Kyrie Irving’s signature line continues to be one of Nike’s best from a price-performance ratio. An Air Zoom Turbo cushion in the forefoot, as well as a midfoot strap ensure your feet are locked in and comfortable as you ball. Plus: the Kyrie line usually comes in a range of fun colorways, so you’ll be able to add a little extra flair to your game.
Converse All Star Pro BB
Release Date: May 18, 2019
These aren't your grandfather's Chuck Taylors. The All Star Pro BB is Converse's re-entry into the pro basketball marketplace after laying dormant since 2012. Designed by Eric Avar, instrumental in creating Kobe Bryant's Nike line, the All Star Pro BB includes a Nike React sole and Quadfit mesh upper encased in a low-slung cup sole for premium lockdown. Perhaps best of all is that, while the sneaker is built for basketball today, it honors the past through elements referencing the Converse Weapon and, yes, your grandpa's Chucks.
New Balance OMN1S
Release Date: May 7, 2019
When Kawhi Leonard left Jordan Brand for New Balance, no one anticipated that his first signature model would be so understated. But for those who know Leonard as a player and person, the humble design of the OMN1S would have been no surprise when it debuted in February. Built atop FuelCell foam and featuring a knit build with synthetic panels, the sneaker came with evocative colorway names like "Detroit Camo," "Trust Leonard," "Black Ice," "Best Kept Secret," "DNA," and "Project 515."
Under Armour Curry 6
Release Date: January 4, 2019
Under Armour's HOVR cushioning doesn't play second or even third fiddle to offerings from Nike or adidas. In fact, some might even make the case that the Baltimore brand's ability to maximize comfort underneath the entire foot, not just the places taking the most impact, makes HOVR a true engineering marvel. The translucent rubber outsole not only adds a nice flourish of color, it also enhances grip, while the shoe itself is well ventilated, leaving your foot dry even after a long session.
Nike Kobe AD NXT FF
Kobe AD NXT
Release Date: August 24, 2019
If you like flying up and down the court, running the fast break, and playing transition offense, the Nike Kobe AD NXT was designed for you. The sneaker utilizes Nike’s innovating lacing technology to lock you in with one pull. Straps at the forefoot and ankle lock you in place and make sure your sneakers are ready to match whatever break-neck pace you decide to push.
Release Date: March 8, 2019
PUMA re-entered the basketball market in October 2018 with the launch of the Clyde Court Disrupt, and the PUMA Uproar solidified that return through a combination of HYBRID cushioning tech, Ignite foam, NRGY beads at the midsole, and a wraparound TPU heel piece that adds support during different movements. The Uproar complemented this modern tech with a design grounded in PUMA history.
Nike Adapt BB 2.0
Adapt BB 2.0
Release Date: February 16, 2020
The Nike Adapt BB 2.0 is — as its name suggests — an upgrade on its predecessor. First and foremost, Nike made the Adapt BB 2.0 easier to put on by removing the Flyknit shroud, opening up the collar, and integrating a stretchable ballistic mesh throughout the upper. The midsole stack height has been reconfigured to offer a better ride, while Air Zoom Turbo in the forefoot provides a bouncier court feel.
adidas D.O.N. Issue 1
Release Date: July 1, 2019
Donavan Mitchell’s first signature sneaker retails for $100 and is packed with more tech than its modest price might suggest. A herringbone-pattern outsole provides traction, while a Bounce midsole offers comfort and stability. Its defining feature, though, is a propulsion clip on the side, which provides lateral support and encourages a dynamic play style.
ANTA Rajon Rondo RR5
Release Date: Fall 2017
Chinese brand ANTA has made huge inroads thanks to endorsement deals with NBA players such as Klay Thompson, Gordon Hayward, and Rajon Rondo. The latter has the most playable signature model. The A-Shock cushioning, heavy knit A-Web upper, and nylon cables at the base of the lacing system all make for a basketball shoe that is both comfortable and durable.
Release Date: May 15, 2019
When it comes to full-length Air Zoom, the Nike KD12 went the whole hog, leading many wear-testers to laud it as one of the best usages of the cushioning tech in modern memory. From a traction standpoint, the multi-directional lines appear almost fingerprint-esque, meaning there’s no need to worry about slipping on-court.
adidas T-Mac Millennium
Release Date: December 18, 2018
If you hadn't already noticed, the NBA has been all about relaunching forgotten icons. Although it’s been quite a while since Tracy McGrady’s first signature shoe came out, 2019’s updated version is one of this season’s winners. This modern take swaps out adiPRENE+ in the forefoot and heel for Boost cushioning. Forefoot caging on the lateral side and a multi-directional traction pattern along the outsole provide the wearer with stability and a quick first step.
adidas Harden Vol. 4
Harden Vol. 4
Release Date: October 12, 2019
James Harden’s latest signature sneaker is a low-top, as were the three versions before it, though this time the ankle collar extends higher around the achilles, offering more protection and stability. A mid foot band provides additional support for players that like to make hard cuts to the basket. The midsole is made with Lightstrike cushioning, a super-light alternative to Boost and Bounce.
PUMA Clyde Hardwood
Release Date: October 18, 2019
PUMA returned to the basketball fold in 2018 and the Clyde Hardwood is its fifth performance-focused style. It lives under the brand’s iconic Clyde franchise — named after Walt Clyde Frazier — alongside the Clyde Court (PUMA’s first contemporary basketball style). The Clyde Hardwood sits lower than the Clyde Court and has a more structured upper for increased stability. It fuses some of PUMA’s best performance technologies with the look and feel of the original Clyde sneakers, giving players a lifestyle look and high-tech feel on the court.
Nike Zoom Freak 1
Release Date: June 29, 2019
Reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo made history in the summer, becoming the first European basketball player to be given a signature Nike shoe. The Nike Zoom Freak 1 features double-stacked Zoom units under the heel for extra cushioning, designed with high-impact players in mind, as well as an internal containment system of stability and control. This shoe, thanks to its relatively low price point, is a great entry-level shoe for athletic players that value stability without sacrificing explosiveness.
adidas Dame 6
Dame 6 Sneakers
The adidas Dame 6 features the brand’s Lightstrike cushioning, which offers comfort without sacrificing on weight and, ultimately, on-court speed. A herringbone rubber outsole provides superior traction, while a sock-like fit and webbed lacing system ensure your foot is locked in and not sliding around when it counts the most.
Kevin Durant’s 12th signature sneaker was already lauded as his best yet, thanks to the full-length Zoom Air unit. The KD13 brings that back and upgrades it by stitching it directly to the upper and adding an addition Zoom Air unit in the forefoot. An all-new traction that looks like it was inspired by LEGO pieces ensures you won’t be caught slipping on the court.
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