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 having just tipped off, we’ve selected 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 2019.
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
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 5
Release Date: November 22, 2018
Kyrie Irving’s fifth signature shoe is a well-rounded model with very little to dislike. This workhorse, suitable for both indoor and outdoor play, boasts Air Zoom Turbo cushioning, a flytrap-style enclosure, and excellent ankle collar padding for explosive changes of direction. The Kyrie 5 is a basketball shoe for people who just want to play and don’t need the distraction of super-hyped tech. Add to that its relatively low price and the Kyrie 5 is a no-brainer for many players.
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
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.