Optimized Performance Choosing the Right Basketball Shoe

Wondering what basketball shoes to buy? For any serious baller, purchasing the correct basketball kicks is paramount for success in the sport. Learn about the best purchases you can make for performance!

There are three kinds of people who buy basketball shoes: the casual customer (who doesn't really know much about shoes, and his purchases reflect that), the sneakerhead (addicted to aesthetics and new kicks every month), and the performance seeker (who looks to get the shoe suited for playing great ball in).

Out of those categories, the performance seeker has the hardest time finding some decent shoes for his needs simply because he can't just point at a shoe and pick it up (ala casual customer) or let a snazzily designed pair get his attention (like sneakerhead). He has to base his decisions on ankle support, stability, fit, comfort, and court feel and response in order to come away with an excellent buy.

Nowadays, with all the brands and signature shoes floating around the market, it's hard to find good performing ones; these, however, can be relied upon to deliver consistently. So, without further ado, here's...

The Best Performance Shoes In Basketball

* adidas TS Supernatural Creator

adidas has always been second to Nike when it came to shoes that did well on the court and in sales. With a return to Pure Motion technology in the TS Supernatural line though, the brand of three stripes entered a new era of performance. The shoe was well-received by professional players and weekend warriors in the know, as Pure Motion tech is based upon the concept of letting the foot work as it was intended to.

Many basketball shoes nowadays are highly cushioned, and it feels good. Unfortunately, in the long term, key muscles in your foot do not activate as efficiently or powerfully as they should. Pure Motion is designed into the Supernatural line so that the natural movement of the foot is brought to the fore, allowing stronger cuts, higher jumps, and more fluid movements.

Pros

  • Great traction
  • Excellent movement and stability
  • Strong ankle counter for a good locked-in heel
  • Comfy fit
  • Fairly lightweight

Cons

  • Shrouded upper (the upper portion of the shoe) makes the shoe extremely hot with long durations of play
  • Bad ventilation
  • Overall

Brilliantly constructed shoe, and the Pure Motion technology is really worth trying. Unfortunately, with the way the Supernatural Creators are designed (with a shroud and zipper upper), the breathing is poor; thus, the shoes become very hot after prolonged play. If you can put up with that, this is an excellent purchase.

* Under Armour Micro G Black Ice

Under Armour, previously only known for performance apparel, has expanded into basketball shoes, coming out with the Micro G Black Ice. It's surprising that the shoe is as good as it is for a first release, competing with the very best of high-performing basketball shoes. It's one of the lightest as well, weighing in at 13.5 ounces.

It's specially designed to give a low to the ground feel, created from the ground up utilizing Micro G technology. With this aim, it only follows that stability in the shoe must follow. Rest assured, despite the eccentric dip in the upper heel area, the ankle counter provides decent support. A forefoot strap also adds extra lockdown to the shoe.

When it comes to ventilation, the Black Ice shines; multiple perforations and technology in place specifically to address the accumulation of moisture (HeatGear) mean that this is where the shoe performs best.

Pros

  • Great ventilation
  • Solid design
  • HeatGear adds a unique comfort to the shoe

Cons

  • Average traction with the stylized sole patterned after fractured ice
  • Mid-sole lockdown needs be addressed, as fit is an issue at times

Overall

The Micro G Black Ice is a good shoe and you definitely wouldn't mind it being in your performance shoe lineup. Frankly, though, it's not going to be an eye-opening experience. It does everything decently, but the technology used is not quite up to par with the advancements of Nike and adidas. Still, it's a solid shoe, and you could do much worse than the Micro G Black Ice.

* Nike Zoom Kobe VI

As always, the Zoom Kobe line has delivered in pretty much every aspect. Boasting new technology that lets the Kobe VI fit like a second sock (or a third, depending on your sock preferences), the shoe essentially "memorizes" your feet and molds around them for a custom fit and feel, and stability is top-notch, as is response. The ever-present Flywire adds rigidity to the structure, also another plus.

The overall lockdown is incredible, as the ankle counter is one of the most if not the best designed in the business of basketball shoes, whether low-cut or high-cut, and definitely serves the purpose of holding the heel and ankle in place. Breathability is also better addressed than in the previous editions of the Zoom Kobe.

The Kobe IV also retains the very efficient, springy Zoom technology. Zoom Air pockets are stationed in the forefoot and heel area, and the bounce is something you'll notice when jumping and sliding laterally on defense.

Pros

  • Excellent stability and lockdown
  • Outstanding flexibility and give with the shoe's sole
  • Better ventilation than the previous incarnations of the Zoom Kobe line
  • Zoom technology brings out the best in performance
  • Custom fit
  • Sleek design

Con

  • Style over substance sole; traction could be better
  • Overall

The Nike Zoom Kobe VI is a release that's worth every penny. Unfortunately, as is the case with the Kobe V, the sole is designed with more style in mind than performance. While the traction isn't horrible, it could be better served with a more traditional herringbone pattern. That said, it's still an awesome shoe.

* adidas adiZero Rose 1.5

The ad campaign behind the adiZero Rose 1.5 says it all - "Fast Don't Lie". Derrick Rose headed the whole gig, and it was fitting - a signature shoe for the most explosive guard in the NBA. How would the line match up against other heavyweights like the sleek Zoom Kobe?

It turns out that it does just fine, doing much better than just holding its own. The adiZero Rose 1.5 is light, built upon an innovation of adidas, the SPRINTSKIN. The unique properties behind the new material of the upper include flexibility (not near as flexible as the Kobe line, but more than flexible enough for any baller's needs), breathability, and sturdy but minimally weighted. The Geo Fit collar was retooled in the 1.5, and fits well into the construction of the shoe, offering strong support but not near as restrictive as the original incarnation of the adiZero Rose.

Pure Motion again makes a return, and the shoe reaps the rewards. The transition from heel to toe is near flawless, and with a newly designed sole patterned after cilia, the traction is among the top tier of basketball shoes. You'll notice the response of the shoe on the fastbreak and on quick movements - very springy and aiding in expressing one's explosiveness.

Pros

  • Fastbreak transition response
  • Lightweight
  • Pure Motion technology and its benefits
  • Great traction
  • Breathes well

Con

  • Cushioning might be an issue for some players
  • Overall

If you're a player that's sensitive to cushioning, the shoe is a bit lacking in that regard, as the design team removed adiprene+ (the stellar cushioning present in full in the adidas TS Supernatural Creator) in the forefoot. It's a minor flaw, but a flaw nonethless.

Provided you can get past the minimalistic cushioning in the forefoot, and if you like fast, grounded shoes that display your quickness and explosiveness to the fullest, then look no further, because with the adiZero Rose 1.5, Fast Don't Lie.

All the sneakers in the list are undoubtedly the best the basketball performance shoe market can offer. Rock a pair and see the difference in your game!