What is basketball?
No, I know what the sport is, my question is about the core of this game.
We all know that a football game, both of the team, coaches, fans – hell the entire stadium is good for nothing if the striker fails to shoot on goal.
To football that last kick is everything – it is a moment to do or die and to basketball, that same moment is defined by the jump.
When you jump to dunk the hoop, it is either a success or a failure – and basketball shoes with good cushioning can play a decisive role there.
This is a detailed review of best basketball shoes for jumping – in this review you will get to know why cushioning is so crucial for jumping, and there is a buyer’s guide for those basketball aficionados who’d like to find ideal basketball sneakers on their own.
Reviews of Best Basketball Shoes for Jumping
In this section, we will review the ten best basketball shoes for jumping. However, before I do so, I think it is very important to first address the elephant in the room.
What makes a shoe good for jumping?
In other words, how to pick a basketball sneak based on one clear and visible quality that can be linked with jumping?
A basketball shoe is made of different kinds of materials – what helps a player jumps higher? Is it the outsole? Is it the upper material or something else?
We all know the cushioning is one of the most crucial qualities of a basketball sneaker and it is cushioning that gives the player the much-needed bounce that they require to jump higher.
So, know we know what to look for when buying good basketball shoes for jumping. A basketball shoe good for jumping can be only and only one with a thick and advanced cushioning technology.
Best Basketball Shoes for Jumping [TOP PICKS]
Nike Kyrie 5
We know Kyrie Irving – basketball legend and rookie of year 2011. This amazing basketball sneaker from Nike was named after him. This is my personal favorite because apparently Nike just picked the best kind of materials and technologies it ever used and combined them in this sneaker.
Take its upper for example; it is made of highly breathable, but durable mesh. Not only mesh is a breathable material, but it also helps the shoe dry quicker once it gets wet.
This shoe offers a dual lockdown just like you get in case of the Venus Fly Trap system. There is a network of underneath the surface cables and these cables are connected to the lower end of the sneaker as well as the laces so when you cinch the laces down you enjoy a 2x lockdown.
The best thing about this sneaker is it’s cushioning; it comes with Air Zoom Turbo cushioning. We know that Air Zoom is an air unit with tensile fibers that compress and then get back into their shape as the player puts pressure on the feet and relieves the pressure.
Air Zoom Turbo is however more advanced and it features a wide forefoot Air unit to provide support and bounce to the forefoot.
Under Armour HOVR Havoc
Under Armour is one of the big names among top manufacturers of basketball sneakers. I’d even say that when compared with big brands like Nike and Adidas, UA is still underrated.
Take this sneaker, for example, it is equipped with the best traction duo just like in case of most of the UA basketball sneakers. It has got a tough rubber outsole which is considered the best for a strong grip on any and all sorts of courts.
However, what makes it ideal is the herringbone pattern; trust me, I’ve reviewed simply so many basketball shoes so far that I cannot even recall the count and in terms of strong grip on a slippery surface, no pattern beats herringbone pattern.
This shoe got this word ‘HOVR’ because of Under Armour’s proprietary HOVR cushioning that these shoe features. The whole mantra of HOVR is based on the need for an ‘energy return’ or a bounce – and not just another cushioning that does nothing but absorbs the shock.
In case you’re interested about the chemistry of the cushioning, it is a foam-based cushioning – a midsole, made by UA and Dow Chemical. It is mostly foam and some mesh-based ‘energy web’ that boosts the responsiveness and bouncy effect of the cushion.
Adidas Harden Vol 2
Adidas is L’Oreal of sports goods, especially sports shoes – and more especially, basketball sneakers. The name of Adidas Harden Vol 2 is a tribute to James Harden who played basketball for Arizona and who was rookie of the year 2009.
First thing that you notice about this sneaker is its innovative lockdown feature. It is sort of a dual lockdown feature using only eyelets and laces. There is a die-cut patch with 4 columns of eyelets. You can either use the eyelets closer to the laces and enjoy a pretty basic lockdown or use the farthest eyelets and enjoy a lockdown similar to what you’d enjoy with a sneaker that has got Nike FlyWire system.
Another interesting thing is this sneaker’s outsole – it is made of tough rubber. The interesting thing is the unorthodox pattern on the outsole. This shoe has a fractal traction pattern that helps with quick multidirectional movements.
In terms of cushioning too, this sneaker got the best of Adidas. It comes with Boost cushioning which is praised for the bouncy effect. Boost is a type of foam made of TPU – the whole cushion is made of small pellets of foam that get compressed when the player puts pressure on the cushion.
Nike Air Versitile Li
We have just reviewed an Adidas show with exceptional lockdown features – well it is only highly relevant if we brought up a show from Nike that offers really good dual lockdown features.
Nike Versitile Li is one of the shoes that will check most of your boxes if you’re a practical basketball player and not just a basketball fan that needs a basketball sneaker that doubles as an attractive casual shoe.
It has got lacing as its primary lockdown feature and then there is Nike’s famous FlyWire underneath the surface cables that connect the insole with the laces and the wearer enjoys a sandwich like a lockdown when they cinch down the laces.
The word ‘Air’ in the name is definitely for a clear reason – there is a small Air Zoom unit right underneath the heel. While it is not as good as a full-length Air Zoom unit or a pair of two units: one for heel and one for the forefoot, it still makes it easier for the player to jump higher.
This shoe has a tough rubber sole which is definitely better than translucent ones – because its edges do not fray. The traction pattern is not 100% herringbone, but most part of it is almost same as herringbone pattern.
Adidas Crazy Explosive PrimeKnit
How’d you like a basketball sneaker with sock-like construction, breathable material and thick Boost midsole that assures an energy return every time you land on your feet? Adidas Crazy Explosive PrimeKnit gives you the comfort and ease of a sock while you enjoy the support of a proper basketball sneaker.
In terms of traction – unfortunately, this shoe is not that good. It has a translucent rubber outsole which is not considered ideal on slippery courts. However, a digitally designed power traction pattern makes things better for the wearer.
Just like the previously reviewed Adidas shoe, this one has also got a Boost cushion. As I have explained earlier, Boost cushion is comprised of air-filled pellets of foam that compress and then get back into the previous form as the player lands on the ground and jumps for the next move.
This cushioning is known for the kind of bouncy effect that makes a basketball sneaker good for jumping.
In terms of lockdown, you primarily have the laces and secondarily, there is PrimeKnit upper that wraps around the foot so as to provide comfort and support.
The lacing system is also quite unique – the anatomical lacing system provides a good lockdown because laces cover a large area.
Adidas Dame 4
If a researcher’s cognitive bias would have a say in picking best of the best basketball sneakers, I’d definitely add Adidas Dame 4 to my list of top 5 basketball sneakers. In case you’re someone who thinks of leather or TPU whenever you think of a basketball sneaker, this one is not for you.
However, if you’re someone who prefers breathability to water-proof construction, this shoe is obviously for you. Its upper material is made of lightweight textile. The best thing about picking textiles over mesh is that while it keeps the shoe breathable – there are no durability issues.
For cushioning, this sneaker has got Adidas proprietary cushioning technology known as Bounce. Bounce is also a cushion made of foam – more or less like Boost – but it keeps your feet closer to the ground and thus avails you a low-to-the-ground court feel that is essential for better control.
Speaking of control, I must mention that this shoe has a tough rubber sole. While the traction pattern is not herringbone – it is sort of similar to that. It is a wavy tread pattern and all waves are asymmetrical. While the kind of grip that player enjoys with this pattern is not same as what they’d get with herringbone pattern, it is still very good on all types of surfaces.
Nike LeBron Soldier 12
Do you really love laces? I know that I love my moccasins mainly because they’re slip-on shoes and I do not have to untie and tie the laces every time getting in and out of them.
However, due to some reason (maybe because laces offer a real good grip) in sports and outdoor industry, shoes still come with laces and there is nothing that you can do about them.
Yet, LeBron Soldier 12 from Nike gives you a chance to try an innovative hook and loop lockdown setup that is a perfect alternative of lacing. These dynamic straps go all the way from the ankle to the toe-box and provide amazing lockdown.
One of the reasons why lockdown is so good is a loop through which the straps go from on both sides and due to this, the type of lockdown that the wearer enjoys is pretty much similar to that of Nike FlyWire + laces lockdown.
The upper material of this shoe is a mix of BattleKnit construction and the toecap is made of a tough material like leather or canvas (depending on the colorway that you pick). This shoe is definitely for those who are bent on durability and protection.
The cushioning of this shoe is a combo of Air Zoom unit for heel, Phylon midsole and bottom-loaded forefoot Air Zoom unit – so it is definitely made for jumping.
UA ClutchFit Drive 3
ClutchFit Drive serious from UA is one of the most successful and bestselling series of shoes made by the company. It is a decent basketball sneaker made by Under Armour and it features UA’s proprietary Micro G foam cushioning technology.
Micro G is another foam-based cushioning technology and it is known for exceptional shock-absorption and return energy. It is a unique mix of rubber and traditional EVA foam. While foam is the source of all shock-absorption, it is because of the elasticity of rubber that wearer enjoys a bouncy feeling upon landing on the ground.
The upper material of this sneaker is a combo of mesh and textile fabric. I personally love this combo and prefer it to fabric only upper. While it makes the shoe more breathable – you know that it is still more durable than a mesh-only upper.
Another quality of this shoe is its innovative lacing system or lockdown. They call it a bear-trap lacing system. It is connected with the tongue so it provides a stronger grip.
As for traction, this sneaker features the best duo that UA uses for most of the basketball sneakers made by this company: a tough rubber sole and a semi-herringbone pattern.
Adidas Pro Bounce
If you love high-top basketball sneakers with optimum padding in tongue and collar – and if ankle support is your mantra, you’d love Adidas Pro Bounce. It comes in many different colorways, it has a sleek, stylish and colorful outlook and you can wear this shoe to a casual/urban setting without any fear of judgment.
Coming towards its practical merits, let us first talk about the cushioning. This sneaker features Adidas’ patented Bounce cushioning technology. A lot of users have confirmed that Bounce feels a lot like Boost, former is firmer than the latter. A firmer construction allows this cushion to create a court feel and a good amount of bounciness that you need for jumping.
Another amazing thing about this sneaker is how Adidas created a masterpiece of an upper to please the two largest groups of customers: those who love mesh/fabric uppers for breathability and those who prefer TPU/leather for durability. What Adidas did is mixed Forgefiber with mesh and created an upper that is breathable as well as durable.
Pro Bounce comes with tough rubber sole with a spiral pattern – while this type of pattern does not supersede the herringbone pattern, it still delivers amazingly well on almost all types of courts.
Nike Hyperdunk X (Team)
Last, but not the least, we have Nike Hyperdunk X (Team) and I included this sneaker to my top ten list of basketball shoes for jumping, because it is a perfect sneaker with combination of great features such as material, cushioning and traction etc.
Let us talk about cushioning first – it has two Air Zoom units. One of them is right underneath the heel and the other one is for the forefoot. Both of these units (I wished Nike included a full-length unit instead of two, but the difference is not that much) are of almost the same size and thickness. Thickness is 14 mm and it is good for the rebound effect – but what takes that rebound effect to a new level is the phylon.
When it comes to traction, this shoe is almost as good as any UA sneaker with tough sole and herringbone pattern. The only difference is that the pattern on this shoe is a wavy (or I would say rotated herringbone) pattern. With deep grooves and this pattern, this sneaker will not disappoint you on any court.
Before I give my verdict, let us take a look at this table:
|Nike Kyrie 5||Air Zoom Turbo||Tough rubber sole/multi-directional pattern|
|Under Armour HOVR Havoc||HOVR||Tough rubber sole/herringbone pattern|
|Adidas Harden Vol 2||Boost||Tough rubber sole/fractal pattern|
|Nike Air Versitile Li||Air Zoom||Tough rubber sole/semi-herringbone pattern|
|Adidas Crazy Explosive PrimeKnit||Boost||Translucent rubber sole/digitally designed pattern|
|Adidas Dame 4||Bounce||Tough rubber sole/wavy tread pattern|
|Nike LeBron Soldier 12||Air Zoom Units||Tough rubber sole/maze-like pattern|
|UA ClutchFit Drive 3||Micro G||Tough rubber sole/herringbone pattern|
|Adidas Pro Bounce||Bounce||Tough rubber sole/spiral pattern|
|Nike Hyperdunk X (Team)||Air Zoom Units||Tough rubber sole/wavy tread pattern|
And here is the verdict:
- Nike LeBron Soldier 12
- Adidas Harden Vol 2
- Under Armour HOVR Havoc
Get any of these performers and I bet that nothing will go wrong.