12 Best Basketball Shoes For Guards & ALL You Need To Know

Are there such things as best basketball shoes for guards today? It depends. We need to talk about it though.


Today’s sneaker market is absolutely MASSIVE and choosing the “perfect” pair for you can be extremely confusing.

Our modern era of basketball is constantly blending the positions together as it seems that everyone now does, or is even required to do, a little bit of everything on the court.

But even though the market has gone through a shift to provide tons of shoes that fit pretty much everybody, there are plenty of kicks that could be described as guard-friendly and that suit the guards of our game best.

This is what we’re going to talk about today to hopefully get you equipped with some stuff you’ll be able to use when the time comes to get a new pair of shoes. Along with my handpicked list of 12 shoes as well of course 😉


Let’s start with something you need to remember first.

Keep it simple!

Here’s the thing about the basketball shoe game today – you’re probably not going to experience all or even most shoes that are offered today.

Unless you’ve got a fancy budget to work with all the time, you’ll likely just stick to a few pairs per few years, or even a single pair ’till it breaks down on you.

This is why it’s important not to overthink the “choosing” part of things. There are literally HUNDREDS of shoes available that are all actually good, and the difference in performance & quality can oftentimes be marginal.

This is also why many shoes I’ve reviewed here tend to have very similar scores.


But that’s a good thing for us consumers if you make it that way. Sure, there are quite a few shoes that could be considered as bad products and there are also shoes that stand out from the crowd as they’re so good and so much fun to play in.

But the middle ground of just “good” shoes is the most common scenario – this means that instead of thinking “I might pick the wrong one” you could just pick one and go with it.

Read a dedicated shoe review, check the user feedback and stick with what you prefer in terms of materials, the amount of cushion you prefer, whether you play indoors/outdoors, low tops or mid/high tops, etc.

Chances are, you’ll likely be happy with your decision, provided you did some digging on the shoe. This applies to shoes for just about any other position or playstyle. Keeping it simple and sticking to your preferences is key.

Now with that said, there’s a reason I’ve made this post. You should never overcomplicate things.

HOWEVER, there are still a few things you should know about picking a good guard’s shoe. If you follow those principles (which are pretty simple) and go with what you like, you’ll be prepared for a comfortable, safe, and fun game on the court.

Let’s break down those principles.

4 keys are all you need


Good traction is needed for every player – but aggressive multi-directional traction that provides enough bite no matter how you plant your feet is absolutely necessary for a guard.

Guards are fast, nimble, and shifty. Going 0-100 miles an hour and then suddenly 100-0 is part of our game and we need the shoe’s outsole to “bite” the floor so we can push off of it every single time that’s needed.

This is why you see these crazy-looking traction patterns that come all the way up to the midsole, such as Kyrie’s shoes. This ensures that no matter how awkward your foot plant is, where you step, how you push off, and how fast you’re going, the outsole should handle it.

Not every shoe can deliver that kind of bite – so it’s one of the most important factors to take in. Nike’s herringbone pattern is still among the most trusty options out there. The rest is a bit trickier – that’s where reading shoe reviews and sticking to these shoe lists helps a lot.


No matter what kind of guard you are – you need some amount of impact protection to safely and efficiently absorb your foot’s contact with the ground. Jumps, cuts, landings, changes of direction, and quick stops are all part of a guard’s bread and butter.

Most cushion compounds that brands offer today do offer that amount of protection but there are still setups released today that are pretty barebones and that I wouldn’t recommend to any player. If a shoe doesn’t have any kind of tech for its cushion and an EVA midsole is the only component – I’d stay away.

Besides impact protection, the overall ride of the shoe will 100% come down to personal preference. Bouncy or firm, soft and mushy or stiff and low to the ground – pick what you like as there’s no right or wrong answer here.


Overall support and foot containment are also absolutely critical for a guard. But unlike other players – guards usually make the most of “forgiving” type of setups when it comes to support.

The balance between security and mobility is still tricky to nail down for brands today but there are shoes that deliver enough security without restricting you, keeping you comfy and feeling quick.

The implementation of the right support features, the upper materials that provide enough structure but aren’t overly heavy or stiff, and the stability of a shoe’s cushion setup are the biggest factors to nail down the perfect balance. My support guide has some in-depth insight into this.


Notice the wording “a light feeling shoe”. A shoe’s weight on paper shouldn’t be your #1 factor here – there were plenty of times where a shoe that’s heavy on paper actually feels super quick.

Every component of a shoe has to work well with one another as there’s no 1 single thing that makes a shoe feel light and mobile. But as an addition, for shifty, nimble players (think Kyrie, Steph Curry…), ideally, you’ll want to aim for a shoe that has a wider base but the tooling is slightly curved.

This means that you’ll be stable but quick lateral, medial and linear foot movements will come off as more responsive due to the curvature of the shoe. Not a critical factor but something that feels nice for certain guards.

A lot of thought went into the process!


I won’t recommend stuff I haven’t personally tried and thoroughly tested. All shoes you see on the list have their dedicated reviews that’ll be linked. Most game time was outdoors due to the pandemic but certain shoes I’ve played in the past were also tested indoors.

2+ months is the minimum time I dedicated to properly evaluate a shoe and put out a review. If you don’t see a review for a particular shoe on the list – this means I’m in the process of putting that review out but have a solid enough opinion on the shoe already.


I’m only including shoes released in the last few years. This is simply due to practical reasons – good luck finding an old-school retro for its retail price today. You’ll be able to purchase all the mentioned shoes at the most popular sports retailers for their actual retail prices.

And don’t forget that shoe technology is constantly improving – like all tech, keeping up with the latest & greatest has its benefits for your efficiency, comfort, and security.


The shoe list contains 12 shoes but they’re divided into 6 categories. Not all of you like the same things and you’ve all got different preferences. I’ll do my best to cater to most of those preferences.

I’m a 6’1 at 175 lbs guard myself. I like to play explosively, I drive to the hoop a lot and play above the rim when I can. This means I often really push the limits of certain shoes but I also have a good idea what other types of guards prefer due to experience, so you should have a pretty good idea of what each shoe offers!


I encourage you to come back to this list (and most other shoe lists as well) as I’m constantly on the hunt for new shoes to play in. Perhaps the list will look entirely different by the end of the year!

But for now, there should be plenty of options for you to choose from, even if you want to mix things up.


2 best budget shoes, 2 best for outdoors, 2 best low-profile shoes, 2 best-cushioned shoes, 2 most secure shoes, 2 best all-around. In no particular order

Best for Outdoors #1

My Rating: 9.5  |  Retail Price: $115

Best Basketball Shoes For Guards: Dame 3


Launched back in 2016, this is one of the few shoes I’m still regularly playing in that are 3+ years old. And I’m talking about the same one pair! A true outdoor tank that held everything I had on ’em and still going.

I never have to worry about wiping the outsoles off, sliding out, or worrying if I’ll be fine on an old nasty court. Stuff we rarely get in 2020/2021.

And the way the Dame 3 is built is also super sturdy: the fused mesh upper is tough as hell but still comfy enough, adidas’s Bounce cushion is still operating and provides a very balanced ride for just about any guard and the support on these is tank-like while not feeling overly stiff.

Everything you need for outdoor play is here. And you can still get these under retail on Amazon!


Make sure to give these time to break in as they might feel a little firm at first. These are also wide footer-friendly. I’m a wide footer myself and they’re perfect with my regular size.

These are a little tough to put on due to the one-bootie construction and the upper that doesn’t stretch. 

Best for Outdoors #2

My Rating: 8.8  |  Retail Price: $185

Best Basketball Shoes For Guards: LeBron 16


Another tank of a shoe that might not look like it but delivers all you need for comfortable and secure outdoor play. Launched back in 2018, the 16th LeBron is the most practical LeBron shoe in my opinion. And yes, even with the 17th and 18th shoes out.

Here’s all you need to know: these have a curved line pattern outsole that bites any floor extremely well and uses some of the most durable rubber we’ve seen on a LeBron, and I didn’t need to wipe them off as dust escapes the pattern quickly.

The full-length Max Air & Zoom Air cushioning is tons of fun if you’re looking for a balanced setup with some bounce to it.

They’re also supportive yet super comfy thanks to the Battleknit 2.0 upper. Speaking of the upper – it’s a knit stitched with nylon, so you’re getting comfort and reliability. One of the most durable iterations of a knit I’ve seen in a while – huge props to the LeBron 16.


I had some heel slippage initially but that went away after some time with these, so be aware of that. And you can go true to size even if you’re a wide footer – these felt just right about 6-7 days in for me while being very wide footed.

Best on a Budget #1

My Rating: 8  |  Retail Price: $100

Best Basketball Shoes For Guards: DON Issue 2


If you’re looking to get the most uumph with the least amount of $$$ – Donovan Mitchell’s second signature shoe is an improvement from the first and also a very solid guard’s shoe that doesn’t do anything super special, yet delivers all you need to play.

The D.O.N. Issue #2 offers solid multi-directional traction that doesn’t require you to interfere every time you step through debris. It’s got Bounce cushion which isn’t particularly bouncy but gets the job done in providing impact protection and some light cushion underfoot.

The shoe is very stable and supportive, something adidas rarely fails in. It’s a very light shoe that plays that way, which is something all guards can appreciate.

The upper is mainly textile with some synthetics for structure and it works well – it’s comfy, breaks in super quickly, and ventilation is solid. This kind of upper won’t be the most durable in the world but for $100, it’s a very reasonable deal.


This won’t be your #1 outdoor beater – I’d recommend keeping outdoor games to occasional as the outsole doesn’t look the strongest. Also, you might be a little thrown off by the cushion at first as it might feel a little dead. Give these enough time and the foam will soften up.

Lastly, go up 1/2 a size if you’re a wide footer. Regular/narrow footers can go true to size and expect a snug fit.

Best on a Budget #2

Retail Price: $100

Best Basketball Shoes For Guards: CP3.12


Another killer deal for those who missed it back when it launched – you’re getting a full-on Flyknit upper, a Phylon + forefoot Zoom cushion setup, deadly herringbone traction that’s outdoor-ready, and an overall solid performer for just $100.

The ride with these is similar to the D.O.N. Issue #2 – it’s fast, responsive, low to the ground but still offers some slight foam rebound upon impact and there is plenty of impact protection thanks to the surprisingly good Phylon midsole.

You’re getting a little bit of everything with these and for fans of knit uppers – this is your jam. Light, comfy as hell, takes virtually no time to break in. And the shoe is still supportive due to the improvements made from the previous CP3.XI.


First off, there are a little tough to get these days – I’ve seen a couple of stores have ’em but you’ll have to do some digging to get these. And if you’re a wide footer – go up half a size. Or check out my list of the best shoes for wide feet.

Best for Low-Profile Guards #1

My Rating: 8.3  | Retail Price: $130

Best Basketball Shoes For Guards: Kyrie 6


The Kyrie 6 might just be your best friend if you’re a quick low the ground type of guard. If you mostly play below the rim, need court feel, and you’re very shifty – this one’s for you.

The Kyrie 6 takes the usual Kyrie formula and slightly improves it to make it more comfortable compared to the Kyrie 5. The shoe offers a Phylon midsole + a forefoot Zoom Air Turbo unit for cushioning.

This setup is still super fast, low to the ground, it’s very stable due to the shoes flat base and you’re getting just enough impact protection to feel safe and comfortable. A near-perfect setup for quick guards in my eyes.

The shoe’s tooling is slightly curved which helps with quick lateral movements, it’s very supportive and the upper’s a textile at the front & leather at the back. A great combo of support & comfort that worked very well for me. Traction is as deadly as on other Kyrie’s models, plus it’s durable enough for regular outdoor play.


Most people will be fine with their regular size, though wide footers should go up 1/2 a size. Also, the forefoot cables attached to the laces kept getting loose for me. Re-lacing the shoe completely helped fix that. Make sure you don’t lace these up extremely tight and you’ll be fine.

Best for Low-Profile Guards #2

My Rating: 8.3  | Retail Price: $130

Best Basketball Shoes For Guards: Curry 6


Almost an equivalent to the Kyrie 6 – same price, nearly identical scores from me personally, and plays just as well. The Curry 6 offers some of the best comfort along with undeniably great support for such a light shoe. Enough with the notions that low tops can’t provide support.

But if you’re a fast Cury-like guard or a quick spot-up shooter, this is a very solid choice. The HOVR cushion on these is full-length and provides excellent impact protection while keeping you quick and glued to the ground. Don’t expect bounce from these – but if it’s speed and precision you’re looking for, these got you covered while not completely taking away cushion underfoot.

Traction is solid and pretty durable for outdoors, while the upper is a really nice knit along with synthetic overlays in high-wear areas. If you like knits – Under Armour nailed it here.


Wiping the outsoles off might be needed with these as the traction pattern is dense enough to quickly pile up dust inside. Not the worse scenario I’ve seen though. And these are wide-footer friendly: true to size will be recommended for pretty much everyone.

Best Cushioned #1

My Rating: 9  |  Retail Price: $150

Best Basketball Shoes For Guards: CE 2017 PK


Aahhh, the Crazy Explosive 2017. The 2016-2018 period was when I think adidas was on their roll – banger after banger, and this one, just like the Dame 3, is among the handful of shoes I’m still actively wearing that are older than a couple of years. And for good reason.

A near-perfect shoe for those high-octane guards that jump out of the gym and tend to have a more explosive/athletic playstyle. Being one of those myself, the Boost cushion on these is still among my favorite setups of all time.

It’s bouncy and the spring back you get is hard to compete with when Boost is in the game. LOADS of impact protection too, and you’re not sitting too high on the ground as you would on a LeBron for example.

All that Boost is caged in a TPU carrier which prevents the foam from over-compressing and keeps you both stable and fast. An amazing setup for those looking for top of the game cushion.

The rest of the shoe is also very well-made to complement Boost and provide everything you need: deadly traction that’s outdoor-ready, killer all-around support that doesn’t slow you down, and a Primeknit upper that’s light, breathable, feels super nice to the feet and breaks in almost instantly.


The shoe comes in several different versions: there is a low top and a mid-top version of the Primeknit shoe and there are also low top & mid-top shoes of a mesh variant. Both are very similar in terms of feel and performance but if you can find the Primeknit version, I’d go with that.

Best Cushioned #2

My Rating: 8.4  |  Retail Price: $175

Best Basketball Shoes For Guards: AJ 34


This one was crowned as the #1 shoe of 2020 for A LOT of people, including myself. Apart from being a very versatile shoe for just about anyone, it’s also a great fit for jumpers out there.

Forefoot & heel Zoom Air and a Phylon midsole might not sound like much but it’s all about how it’s done and how of a foam they’re using for the midsole. And this one’s no short of fantastic.

Buttery smooth heel-to-toe transitions (also due to the Eclipse plate underfoot), great impact protection, and that nice and soft energy return upon impact (a.k.a. bounce).

This is a slightly softer and “mushier” feeling setup when compared to the Crazy Explosive. So if you’d like to have top-tier cushion that’s on the softer side rather than a quick & springy type of bounce, the AJ 34 will be a better fit for you.

Along with top-of-the-line cushion, we also have solid grip for just about any floor, they’re comfortable AND wide feet-friendly, and support has always been improving while keeping things fairly light and unrestrictive. The upper is a synthetic along with Jordan’s Performance Woven underneath. 


This is not an outdoor model and you can tell by looking at the rubber of the outsole. I’ve still been playing in the park with these but not regularly – probably best to keep it that way if you don’t want your $175 blown sooner rather than later.

For wide footers, definitely go true to size. Same thing for regular/narrow footers, unless you’re aiming for an extremely tight fit. Breaking these in won’t take long, so no worries!

Most Secure #1

Retail Price: $225

Best Basketball Shoes For Guards: WoW 8


Dwayne Wayde’s signature line from the Chinese brand Li-Ning has been low-key killing it with almost every release and if you’ve never heard of it – the 8th shoe is a good one to start. That $225 price is not too shabby for a basketball sneaker but if you can pay for it – your knees and ankles will thank you.

Cordura’s Nylon is used for the shoe’s upper – it’s thin and light but it only stretches so much, keeping you contained and comfortable.

There’s additional stitching laterally all throughout the upper which helps the upper hold your foot during lateral strides, and the external outriggers also help catch your foot in case it rolls out laterally.

And then there are heel counters for heel & ankle lockdown, a massive carbon fiber shank that goes from heel-to-toe for torsional rigidity, Li-Ning’s BOOM cushion is very well-rounded & stable, and the midsole comes up and hugs your foot giving you that secure feel.

There’s a traditional lacing system implemented with a twist to allow for more customization and the forefoot strap further locks down the front. There’s EVERYTHING you can think of here and I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t work on the court.


First off, give these some patience – the upper, and especially the carbon fiber shank plate can take a while to soften up and break in. The shoe might feel a little stiff at first but things shaped up to be much better a few weeks in.

While the shoe is quite heavy on paper, it doesn’t feel like that anymore and for a guard who’s having ankle issues or just needing maximum possible security – this is a no-brainer.

Also, the shoe fits a bit long for most people, including wide footers. Going down 1/2 a size will be needed. Lastly, the outsole isn’t too impressive durability-wise, so keeping outdoor games spaced out is recommended.

Most Secure #2

My Rating: 8.1  |  Retail Price: $180

Best Basketball Shoes For Guards: AJ 35


The Jordan 35 is a direct successor over the AJ 34, keeping things very similar to the last shoe and also applying some tweaks to further modernize what Air Jordan performance is all about. It’s not bulky and stiff anymore. This AJ feels lighter than ever but also surprisingly more supportive than ever.

It all starts with a secure fit which the AJ 35 delivers. The shoe has a wide platform which promotes stability, there are internal heel counters in place for heel & ankle lockdown, there’s the improved Eclipse Plate 2.0 which does a great job providing torsional support and also making those step transitions smooth as hell.

There are also midfoot cables that attach to the laces for extra lockdown and the upper has also been improved, mixing in raw materials for more structure and durability. You can either go with a leather & textile variant or a suede & textile option.

The rest of the shoe remained close to the AJ 34 – the cushion feels almost the same while being slightly faster and firmer, traction is still great. They’re good for wide footers and especially good for flat footers.


There’s an issue that might throw some people off. Those nylon midfoot cables attached to the laces might cause discomfort for the arches of your feet. The loops with which the cables and the laces are connected through can really dig into your arches while tightening the shoe up.

This has never gone away for certain guys, while it did for others, so be aware of that. Since I’m a wide footer and I generally don’t like overly tight fits, my case wasn’t as severe and the issue completely went away 3-4 weeks in. Something to keep in mind.

Oh, and just as the AJ 34, this won’t be your #1 outdoor option. The rubber on these seems similar, if not slightly worse compared to the previous shoe., albeit still better than today’s average sneaker.

Best All-Around #1

My Rating: 9.4  |  Retail Price: $115

Best Basketball Shoes For Guards: Dame 5


The Dame line seemed to have always been consumer-friendly. We’re (almost) always getting a fantastic all-around sneaker for game time but we’re also getting it for a reasonable price, which never has seen a huge step-up ever since the first shoe.

But the Dame 5 specifically is still among my favorite shoes to hoop in. If we’re talking versatility and balance, the shoe’s got it. These have got some durable outsoles slapped on which makes for some great traction, no matter the floor.

Bounce cushion isn’t the bounciest of the most “fun” but works super well for just about any guard in terms of impact protection, stability, and energy return.

Support has always been on-point for Dame’s shoes and this one’s no exception. And Lillard’s shoes always seem to be built super well, the dude just wants to make a good shoe that doesn’t cost a fortune and lasts for a long time.

Something we should absolutely appreciate among the many overpriced products brands have been putting out claiming it’s the next best thing. Spoiler alert: it’s usually not. It’s usually just good.


These come in a mesh & nubuck or a leather variant. You won’t really be missing out on getting either one. The shoe also runs a bit long, usual to adidas’s sizing inconsistencies. Regular/narrow footers will want to go down 1/2 a size while wide footers like myself can stick with their regular size. 

Best All-Around #2

My Rating: 8.5  |  Retail Price: $130

Best Basketball Shoes For Guards: Harden Vol 4


While the latest Harden Vol. 5 is out and I don’t have it yet, let the 4th one handle things for you – another great all-around sneaker that fits a shifty guard like Harden but also suitable for most guards out there.

The Harden Vol. 4 has excellent traction which is as squeaky as it can get. Just thought I’d put that out there.

Lightstrike is used for the shoe’s cushion and while low-profile guards will love these the most for their responsiveness and plenty of court feel, there’s still enough cushion underfoot to keep you comfortable & explosive. A very fast setup with more players than just Harden in mind.

For such a compact low-top, you’d think these aren’t that supportive? Well, you’d be wrong. adidas put everything they can to make such as light and compact shoe provide maximum security and it shows.

The shoe being very flat and wide is a start. Then there’s the heel counters, midfoot shanks, you name it. All on top of a minimal upper, so comfort isn’t out of the picture.

For $130, it’s a nifty package that delivers. Not in the most bombastic or revolutionary way, but it just works. Forget about the rest and play.


The Harden Vol. 4 comes in a knit or a mesh upper, while both come with some synthetic leather/nubuck touches. Just like the Dame 5, both options play near identically, so you won’t be losing performance going with either one.

Next, watch out for the midfoot band that locks you down – I did feel some discomfort as it was pinching the front of my foot but that went away eventually. That might’ve also had something to do with my wide & high-arched feet.

And yes, you can take these outdoors but I’ve definitely seen more durable rubber before. Another “in-between” scenario where it might or might not break down quickly. I’ve been playing in these for 3+ months and the traction’s still fine, so at least you’ll be good to go for that long.

That’s a wrap on the shoe list! I’ve put my heart and soul into this (maybe slightly exaggerating) and I hope you’ve found it informative! As I’ve mentioned earlier, be sure to come back here as the list might change as I test new shoes.

But there’s always more where that came from! For the big guys of basketball, I’ve got a shoe list for you as well, along with several others. Check it out!

And lastly, if there’s anything else you’d like to add, or you’ve got a question, or just want to chat,

Leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you as quick as I can!



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2 thoughts on “12 Best Basketball Shoes For Guards & ALL You Need To Know

  1. This is definitely an interesting guide, especially for my little brother. He’s not that much in with me it’s just a year and a half younger than me but he really likes shoes, and he plays hoops! I think that if I sent this article he will definitely be getting something from here. Thank you so much for this!!

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