It’s already known that money and spending as little of it as possible to gain the biggest possible benefit is extremely important to us. Not everyone can spend $150+ on a single pair of basketball shoes that might or might not survive a few years before it’s needed to get a brand new pair again.
This is why today I’m compiling my ultimate list of the best basketball shoes under 100 bucks. Believe it or not, in 2020, you can still pick up some really nice hoop shoes for that price point, and not feel like you’re underperforming next to expensive LeBron’s or KD’s.
From all the shoes I’ve played in over the years, I’ll break down 5 shoes that still cost under or very close to $100 that excel in comfort, performance, durability, and value for the price aspects.
ARE YOU MISSING OUT BY SPENDING LESS?
Will you be missing something very important by staying under $100? Not really.
Yes, more expensive, mainstream shoes such as signature models do offer tech that’s not normally found in cheaper models, and they do have generally higher quality, more premium-feeling materials that usually last longer.
However, the margin from a good cheap shoe to a good expensive shoe is actually smaller than you might think. Specs on the brand’s site do not tell the whole story. I personally played in $100-$120 shoes that single-handedly outperformed some of $150 kicks or even certain $200 ones like some of LeBron’s or Jordan’s.
This is why comprehensive testing and actually playing in a shoe for a long time is needed to properly evaluate if the shoe does stand up to its price tag. You gotta remember that we pay a lot for these popular, signature models is because it simply costs the brand a good amount of money to make and publish more expensive tech such as Nikey’s Zoom Air, Adidas’s BOOST or Under Armour’s HOVR.
That’s why it costs more for us too. Cheaper, sometimes older releases usually do not have as beefy specs or are using ones that are not in production anymore, but that doesn’t mean they’re bad.
So, after doing lots of research, testing, and evaluating, you can realistically find a lot of fantastic performance basketball sneakers in the $100+ range.
And since I’ll be doing all the heavy lifting for you, the list is already compiled!
Let’s get started!
SAVE EVERY PENNY – 5 BUDGET PICKS
#5 Under Armour Jet 2019
Price: $95 (retail)
My Rating: 7/10
One of the lesser-known releases by UA in the basketball world. Despite the low price tag, this one’s no slouch, for real. They currently retail at 80 euros at underarmour.eu, which is about $95. You can also find them on Amazon for similar prices. I’ve happened to play in them for a bit just when they released and was extremely surprised by some things.
Strong points. Even though the shoe’s midsole offers a basic EVA foam for cushioning, it’s one of the softest and nicest EVA midsoles I’ve ever played in. They feel like a proper Zoom setup, which is amazing and a bit strange but who we are to complain for that?
You’ll actually get plenty of impact protection throughout the whole foot, and the setup feels pretty versatile, meaning it’s not complete barebones, but not too much to slow you down either. Anyone in positions 1-3 could rock these I feel like.
In terms of support, the shoe features a standard TPU heel counter for heel containment, a midfoot shank for lateral support, an internal bootie construction for a more secure fit and the upper is molded with TPU for extra coverage.
Once again, nothing crazy but nothing bad either. I wouldn’t give these to a heavy center but someone who’s on the lighter-medium side will find these supportive.
Drawbacks. Things I didn’t like as much were the traction and the fit. Traction didn’t completely fail on me but I’ve definitely experienced better traction before, especially on poorer condition courts. This is the area where you can feel the budget pricing kick in, but it all comes with the territory.
I also wasn’t the biggest fan of how the shoe felt the first few weeks. A break-in process is normal for most shoes but if I had to nitpick, lots of shoes nowadays have a much shorter and smoother break-in period than these. After a couple of weeks, they’re fine though.
#4 Under Armour Curry 3Zer0.III
Price: $90 (retail)
My Rating: 8/10
One of the older Curry models, this one being an alternative version to the original Curry 3, and it comes with certain changes. Importantly, the price tag is chopped down a bit, which is what we’re looking for here. You can still find them for under $90 on Amazon and I believe they still have them at retail over on underarmour.eu.
Strong points. The shoe features MicroG cushioning in the forefoot and Charged in the heel. Even though MicroG is known to be extremely bouncy and fun on older models, this wasn’t the case on the Curry shoes. Despite that though, the shoe’s cushioning is very responsive, it’s low profile, it’s speedy, but not to a point where you’re running on bricks, like the Kyrie 2 for example.
The shoe’s support and containment are excellent for a low top. The Curry 3Zer0.III has a midfoot shank, a nice heel counter, and a half bootie construction for improved containment. Curry’s shoes never fail in terms of support & security and this one’s absolutely no exception.
One of the best low tops at that time of release, and still very good now. I’m an explosive guard and I definitely don’t always stay below the rim as Curry does, and these still didn’t fail me once during play.
Drawbacks. The traction on these is great, though I wouldn’t take these outdoors as the rubber seems to chip away very quickly, they’re also pretty sensitive to dust, so if you’re not used to wiping the outsoles every few plays, you might face some slight issues during play.
I also didn’t like the tricky fit too much, as the shoe’s length felt a bit weird despite going true to size. I recommend trying these in store if you can still find ’em somewhere. If you’re not able to do so, I recommend going down half a size for pretty much all foot shapes.
#3 Nike Hyperdunk 2017
My Rating: 8/10
The last Hyperdunk model by Nike, and it was a true beast. You won’t find them anywhere on Nike.com, but I still see a few colors being sold on Amazon for under 100 bucks, which is nice.
Strong points. If you’re looking for a fantastic, durable and trustworthy performer that’s for lower-profile players who need maximum mobility and speed, this one’s for you. They got the REACT cushioning setup throughout the midsole, which goes all for mobility and court feel. This will be a niche-specific shoe, so if you’re looking for very springy, bouncy, and impact protection-heavy shoes, this one’s not for you.
I suppose you could get yourself a quality performance insole that would add a bit of cushion if you really like the shoe but feel its lackluster cushioning. I have a list of the best insoles for basketball right here!
However, opposite of the spectrum, it’s a near-perfect shoe in terms of how the cushioning is implemented and how fast it feels for a guard. I also loved the traction and support. Both are killer – traction is extremely well-done, and these should last a while outdoors. In terms of support, the Hyperdunk series was known for this, and the 2017 version still destroys some of today’s releases for a similar price.
The cushion setup is built for a quicker guard but the support & containment areas would do well for just about anyone, which is always a very welcome touch.
Drawbacks. The fit is something I had some slight issues with, part of that is due to the fact I’m a wide footer. Sure, that explains it but even after breaking these in, I felt a bit too stiff for my liking. Nothing too crazy, but wide footers should go up half a size here.
These are also a bit tough to find anywhere now, so if Amazon doesn’t have your size, you might need to do some research on where to get them.
#2 Adidas Dame 5 | Full Review
Price: $115 (retail)
My Rating: 9.5/10
The most recent model on this list, the Dame line simply never ceases to amaze me. The fifth model is actually only one model behind the latest Dame 6, and surprisingly, you can find the Dame 5 for under $100 on Amazon, as well as on some other stores.
Strong points. Right of the bat, this is one of my favorite shoes to play ball in EVER. For real. There’s just something about the Dame line – all the components of the shoe work really well, and there’s no culprit or something to be distracted by, never.
The cushioning setup is a full-length BOUNCE midsole, and if you’ve read my Dame 5 review, you already know I love it. It’s springy, it’s responsive, it’s versatile – it’s for everyone. The traction is also phenomenal, and also holds up well outdoors, as I was playing in these mostly in a park.
Support is also fantastic, with all the major features covered. I like to play with a lot of physicality and I find the Dame 5 to be among the best in withstanding that.
Drawbacks. It’s honestly really though to cover any issues with these as I didn’t feel like these had any real ones. I’d say ventilation would be something several shoes did better, but that’s something very small.
If you’re really going for a shoe with maximum breathability, the Dame 5 doesn’t lead in that category, but I reckon a lot of you don’t care much about that, just like myself.
#1 PICK: Adidas Crazy Explosive 2017 | Full Review
My Rating: 9.4
If I had to pick the top 3 best basketball shoes ever, this one would STILL be among the other two. That’s how good the CE 2017 was when it came out, and since it’s not priced at retail anymore, you can find it for cheap on Amazon. Congratulations, you did yourself a favor by waiting 3 years to get this beast.
Strong points. Similar to the Dame 5, the shoe screams versatility and pure performance. Full-length BOOST cushion is present here, and I absolutely love this version of it. This will be just a tad bit more on the springy side when compared to a completely balanced BOUNCE on the Dame 5, but it’s still a very versatile setup.
This is one of the most fun, explosive, and straight-up effective cushion setups you can play in. Impact protection is off the charts, and mobility is sacrificed almost at all. That’s a rare combination these days.
Traction is also great on all floors. I’d take these outdoors with no issues as well. Adidas has never been lacking in the support department, and the CE 2017 pretty much shows that in full display. We got a TPU roll cage your foot sits into, there’s a torsional shank implemented for stability, and the shoe’s made up of a sock-like bootie construction for proper lockdown. Another tank built for tanks, nothing better than that.
Pair that with superb comfort and you got yourself a true winner. I never truly understood why Adidas didn’t shoot for a proper continuation of the Crazy Explosive line but hey, they got all the new lines and signatures now so their hands are full I guess.
Note, this shoe has 4 versions: there’s a low-top and a mid-top, and both versions can come either in a mesh upper or the premium Primeknit upper.
Drawbacks. I really can’t say anything bad about these as every single box is checked, and for just about any player. If I REALLY had to nitpick, I’d say be prepared to wipe occasionally on poorer condition courts as dust tends to be picked up by the rubber.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE BUDGET SHOE?
That will be it for today’s list! I truly hope you enjoyed it and perhaps I helped you out to spend as little as possible, while still getting a great performer.
If you’re looking to save EVEN MORE cash, or perhaps your budget is just not quite there yet to cop a $100 shoe, look no further! I’ve compiled a list of the best picks under $50!
Maybe you guys have your own personal favorite cheap shoe you still play in and love? Maybe you got a question or want to give a suggestion?