best basketball shoe brands

Having the right pair of sneakers is an important part of dominating a basketball court for players. In this blog post, we’ll look at the best basketball shoe brands making waves in the industry, providing players with the perfect combination of style, performance, and durability.

1. Nike

When it comes to basketball shoes, one cannot overlook the sports giant Nike. Over the years, Nike has expanded its product range from running shoes to basketball, football, yoga, tennis, and more. In addition to continuous investment in research and marketing, Nike consistently holds the top spot in the global athletic footwear market.

The key performance of basketball shoes lies in their cushioning, and major brands have always focused their research and development efforts on their midsole materials and structures. The technological prowess of Nike is at the forefront of this endeavor. Among its main midsole technologies are Air-Sole, Air Zoom, AirMax, React, and Renew, the first three of which are structural cushioning technologies. In contrast, the latter two are material cushioning technologies. Compared to basketball shoes that use only material cushioning technology, Nike’s basketball shoes perform better in cushioning performance as a result of Nike’s expertise in combining different technologies. Throughout the past decade, Nike has continued to develop its cooperation with NBA stars and released increasingly superior performance signature shoes, combining technology and marketing. Nike has consistently ranked first in e-commerce basketball shoe sales.

In terms of signature shoes, Nike currently has five major series primarily targeting the mid-to-high-end market: the LeBron series, the PG series, the Kyrie series, the KD series, and the Freak series. All of these signature Nike shoes feature Nike’s flagship midsole air cushioning technology, which provides excellent cushioning performance and sufficient resistance.

Additionally, different series place air cushions in the forefoot, rearfoot, or entire foot, catering to players with different playing habits. As an example, the Kyrie series uses air cushions in the forefoot, delivering moderate cushioning performance, emphasizing quick starts and strong resilience, making it a good choice for guards who drive more often than shoot. The LeBron series’ 16th and 17th generation, on the other hand, use Max Air technology at the rearfoot and Zoom Air at the forefoot. This provides better cushioning and resilience for powerful interior players. KD models have been equipped with full-length Zoom Air cushions since the 8th generation, with rearfoot and forefoot air cushions adjusted to make them more flexible for all-round players. While ensuring wrapping and wear-resistant anti-skid properties, the various series do not differ much in the design of the upper and outsole.

In contrast to signature sneakers, Nike’s team shoes are usually labeled after technologies, including Air Zoom G.T. CUT/RUN/JUMP, and Hyperdunk. A dual-layer Air Zoom cushion is embedded in the forefoot of the AIR ZOOM G.T. RUN midsole, providing double cushioning. The upper is made of double-layer breathable materials, emphasizing breathability and durability, while the outsole is made of wear-resistant rubber with a curved groove design, ensuring durability while improving traction. Consequently, Nike’s signature shoes and team shoes don’t differ significantly in performance.

While Nike’s basketball shoes are mostly unisex and excel in performance, many styles still sell for relatively high prices, which makes them cheaper during discount seasons.

2. Jordan

Jordan Brand is a subsidiary brand created by Nike for the basketball star Michael Jordan. The famous Air Jordan series is its prototype, which later became part of the Jordan Brand. The Jordan Brand won the sales championship on StockX, one of the top sneaker e-commerce platforms in the US in 2018, with a 46% increase in sales. This proves Jordan Brand’s popularity in secondary sneaker markets as well.

The Jordan Brand basketball shoes use the same midsole technology as Nike, but there are fewer models than Adidas. The AJ (Air Jordan) series and its retro series are the longest-running collections. In terms of cushioning performance, the AJ series is similar to the LeBron series, but recent AJ styles tend to use more Zoom in the midsole configuration, making them suitable for lighter-weight players, while LeBron combines Zoom and Max Air for higher cushioning limits, making it more suitable for heavier players. As far as shoe design goes, AJ emphasizes lightweight and applies new technologies to achieve maximum performance. From the AJ 34, Eclipse Plate technology provides better lateral support, assists in cushioning, and reduces shoe weight. The latest AJ 36 also uses Leno-weave construction technology to reduce weight without sacrificing durability.

In addition to the AJ series, Jordan Brand has updated its “Why Not Zer” series into its fourth generation, the only remaining signature shoe line. Zoom Air is often found in the forefoot, emphasizing quick starts in the “Why Not Zer” series. Additionally, the shoes prioritize lightweight design, with individual shoes not exceeding 400 grams in the third and fourth generations. Fabric and mesh uppers are often used for breathability and comfort. From the third generation on, color schemes became more exaggerated and distinct, suitable for creating streetwear looks.
Both the AJ and Why Not Zer series are priced around USD100. For those on a budget, Jordan Team’s team shoes in the mid-to-low price range also offer decent value.

3. Adidas

Unlike Nike, basketball shoes are not Adidas’s main products, so they do not have as many shoe technologies as Nike. Compared to Nike’s basketball shoes, Adidas’s basketball shoes are slightly weaker in cushioning due to their use of cushioning materials such as Bounce, Boost, and Lightstrike. Even though Adidas’s market value and strength still lag behind Nike’s, it doesn’t prevent Adidas from holding the second position in the domestic market.

There are also signature and team shoes available from Adidas. The signature shoe line comprises four major series: Harden, Rose, Dame, and D.O.N. Issue. The current styles are primarily aimed at the mid-to-high-end market, primarily for men. Signature shoes typically have lace-ups and rubber outsoles for durability and stability, with a major difference being the midsole technology used in each series.

A majority of Adidas’ mid-to-high-end basketball shoes use Boost technology and Lightstrike technology. Boost provides soft and responsive cushioning, with good durability. However, Boost is slightly heavy and does not meet lightweight standards. Adidas developed Lightstrike to address this issue, which is used in recent shoes like the Dame 6, 7, and D Rose 11. Although Lightstrike offers a lighter and softer feel than Bounce, its cushioning performance isn’t superior to Boost. The midsole also tends to age faster, so shoes equipped with Boost are recommended for those who prioritize cushioning and durability.

Bounce is the main midsole technology used in mid-to low-priced basketball shoes, including the Pro Bounce 2018 and Pro Model 2G in the team shoes category, as well as the Dame 2, Dame 3, D.O.N. Issue 1, and D.O.N. Issue 2 in signature shoes. With bounce technology, you get flexible and responsive cushioning, and moderate outsole hardness, but average cushioning and rebounding compared to boost. Although shoes with the same technology but different prices may have slight differences in midsole parameters, the actual performance difference is not significant. They are best purchased during discount seasons for a better deal.

Adidas offers unisex leisure series, like Originals and NEO, in addition to professional basketball performance shoes. Leisure basketball shoes tend to be more like sneakers than performance basketball shoes, often using leather uppers and featuring stylish designs, suitable for daily use, with plenty to choose from. However, some users have reported that the comfort of mid-to-low-end leisure series shoes is low, with stiff outsoles causing fatigue. Before purchasing leisure basketball shoes, try them on in offline stores.

4. Li-Ning

In the sports footwear and apparel industry, Li-Ning is a prominent Chinese brand. Although Li-Ning may not surpass Anta in terms of market share in China’s sports brand market, Li-Ning’s basketball shoes excel with midsole technologies such as Li-Ning Cloud, Bounse+, Lightfoam, and Carbon Fiber. Anta’s performance is inferior to Li-Ning’s. There are six major series of basketball shoes in Li-Ning’s lineup: Way of Wade, All-City, Yu Shuai, Shanjiji, Yinsu, and Kongxi, making it one of the leading Chinese brands in terms of quantity. Li-Ning’s basketball shoes are closely followed by Nike and Adidas in terms of sales volume, and its R&D strength is gradually improving, but compared to the top two brands, there is still a gap in product structure and brand strength.

Li-Ning signed NBA player Damon Jones as an endorsement partner in 2006, making it the first Chinese sports brand to partner with an NBA player. “Fei Jia” basketball shoes were also the first Chinese basketball shoes to enter the NBA in that year, winning the German IF International Industrial Design Award.

Li-Ning’s signature shoes today are the Way of Wade series and its sub-series, mainly made with Carbon Fiber. Despite being somewhat controversial, the cushioning limit of Carbon Fiber technology is still at the top of the list among current material cushioning technologies. The cotton candy edition of the All-City 9 used PEBAX Carbon Fiber technology and Li-Ning Cloud cushioning, offering high cushioning limits and a lighter, softer, and more responsive feel. The hollowed-out design reduces shoe weight while providing support; the Probar Loc stable tray provides full-foot support and protects against lateral rollover; and the rubber outsole is highly abrasion and grip-resistant. In addition to being fragile, PEBAX Carbon Fiber midsoles are prone to tearing. Basketball shoes using PEBAX Carbon Fiber technology can be compared to high-end basketball shoes from Nike and Adidas because the midsole’s outer edge is wrapped to reduce ankle sprains.


ANTA is the official partner of the Chinese sports delegation for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, and the 2024 Paris Olympics, demonstrating its recognition by official organizations. As a domestic sports footwear and apparel brand, ANTA has surpassed Li-Ning to become the number one brand, with a market share second to Nike and Adidas in the global sports goods market, ranking third.

As early as 2005, ANTA invested millions to establish China’s first high-tech sports science laboratory, dedicated to the research and innovation of sports shoe technology, laying the foundation for its continuous introduction of new products. ANTA’s midsole technology lineup now includes A-SHOCK, A-FLASHFOAM, ALTI-FLASH, and SMART-S.A.M., just like Li-Ning’s. The KT series is the only ANTA basketball shoe series that is relatively well-structured compared to Nike’s and Li-Ning’s.

The KT series is NBA star Klay Thompson’s signature shoe. It has been updated to the sixth generation. Each generation has improved cushioning performance significantly over the previous one. The latest KT6 features a 3D HUG support module – the ALTI-FLASH midsole, which is resistant to deformation, has slow decay, and strong resilience, paired with SMART-S.A.M cushioning gel in the heel. A large carbon plate area ensures overall stability while improving soft rebound and shock absorption compared to previous generations.

In addition to the KT series, ANTA has another signature shoe series designed for player Gordon Hayward, known as the GH series. While the KT series has two generations, the GH series has two. A-FLASHFOAM is used for the first generation, while ALTI-FLASH is used for the second. Compared to the first generation, the second generation arch TPU is more torsion-resistant. The second generation’s biomimetic tread pattern uses white rubber with crystal outsoles, which provides a better grip than the first generation, but with reduced durability. Both models are well-designed and offer good value.
There are some good non-signature shoes from ANTA, including Cement Bubble, Crazy Tide 3, and Sweep 3, which offer both performance and aesthetics. It is important to note, however, that ANTA basketball shoes do not come in sizes larger than 45. If you have large feet, ANTA may not be the best choice.

6. Under Armour

With its beginnings as sports compression clothing, Under Armour has expanded to include hoodies, sports pants, and running shoes. While Under Armour once ranked second in the US sports footwear and apparel industry, its business performance has declined significantly as a result of instability at the top level in recent years. Despite its similar pricing to Nike’s in the basketball shoe market, Under Armour has always been called the “American ANTA,” indicating that they have similar strengths. Under Armour’s shoe technology is moderate, with FLOW, HOVR, and Micro G as its main technologies, which are comparable to Li-Ning’s and ANTA’s.

The Under Armour basketball shoe selection is limited. Curry shoes dominated for many years, and in recent years the Embiid and Havoc series have been introduced. The first two are star signature shoes, while the latter is a team shoe featuring HOVR technology.

The Curry series launched its first generation in 2015 and now has eight generations. The Curry series belongs to guard shoes, known for their high ankle protection, strong upper wrapping, and heel support. Each generation of Curry shoes, though, had average cushioning and rebound, making them not very popular with consumers. The Curry series has improved its cushioning performance since then but has not yet reached top performance. It is more like the first Curry Flow generation than the eighth, since Under Armour also uses FLOW technology from running shoes in 2020. As opposed to the Curry 7, which uses HOVR and MICRO G midsoles, the Curry Flow 8 directly contacts the ground with the midsole, eliminating the outsole. This results in better cushioning, rebound, and traction, but greatly reduces durability, which is undesirable for outdoor combat.

Although the Embiid and Havoc series still use HOVR and MICRO G midsoles, prices are a little lower than Curry’s. Cushioning and rebound are moderate among basketball shoes within the same price range. The two series, however, excel in torsional resistance and emphasize shoe breathability, support, protection, and durability. If you value durability and slip resistance, these two series will also be of interest to you.

7. Peak

Peak’s development in basketball shoes has been increasingly strong in recent years. In 2018, Taichi Technology Shoes helped Peak gain a lot of market share. Peak Sports ranked fifth in Amazon’s basketball category sales in 2020 and first among Chinese brands in overseas markets. It held a 2.1% market share in 2020. Peak’s existing midsole technologies – Taichi Technology, P-Motive Technology, and P-soon Technology – still have some distance in terms of performance compared to domestic brands like Li-Ning and ANTA, which have numerous technologies. There are only three existing Peak series: the Parker, Lightning, and Triangles.

Since 2013, Parker has been making good designs for wrapping, stability, and torsional resistance. The Parker 1 is a representative work, with a TPU support module in the heel and a midfoot torsion-resistant plate providing sufficient stability. Forefoot cushioning is provided by Gradient Dual technology. In Weartesters’ “Top 10 Best Performance Basketball Shoes of 2014,” Parker 1 was ranked ninth and became the only Chinese brand to make it. This indicates that Peak’s strength has also been recognized in foreign markets. However, since the Parker 7, there have been no new shoes introduced.

With Taichi Technology, the Parker 7 first, then the Lightning 1. In actual gameplay, users reported that the Lightning 1 lacked court feel and had sluggish forefoot response, despite its soft feel and good cushioning. With the Lightning 2, lightweight P-soon technology was added to the forefoot, improving court feel and achieving a 70% rebound. A common drawback of the Lightning 1 and Lightning 2 is their weight and softness but not their springiness. In Lightning 3, the Taichi heel becomes lighter and more resilient, while the forefoot has been upgraded to Super P-Motive Technology, providing 18% more rebound. Quick startup and lightweight cushioning are integrated into the same midsole, which better matches the mechanical characteristics of basketball. In addition, the Lightning 3’s shoe conforms to the foot more than previous models, providing better wrapping. The Lightning 3 moves the carbon plate back to the arch to provide torsional resistance and force transition, preventing heel rollover upon landing. With a price of around 600 yuan, the cost-effectiveness is not low.

The new Peak Triangle series, which follows the retro route, uses full-length P-Popup technology and fills the rear sole with Taichi technology. In addition to a soft feel, it is better cushioned, rebounded, and durable in terms of wrapping, stability, and durability. The arch carbon plate is easily broken and there are severe sizing discrepancies. People with flat feet should be cautious when selecting the Peak Triangle, while those with normal foot shapes should order one size down.