Top 10 Basketball Shoe Brands: Hidden Gems Unveiled!

Nike, Adidas, Air Jordan, maybe Under Armour. That’s about it as far as basketball shoe companies go, right?

Today, I am going to be talking about the top 10 basketball shoe brands – which clearly tells you that there are much more than a lot of people think nowadays.

Yeah, Adidas and Nike are the kings of mainstream releases these years, and nothing to take away from them.

Look a Bit Further – Some True Gems Are Lurking

So many players fall into the trap of thinking what’s popular is the best, or they’re just not taking the time to evaluate on other brands, or simply don’t even think of the idea to see if there are any hidden gems out there.

There are – lots of them. And because the main models in the Nikey/Adidas & AJ territory are keeping the prices pretty high due to the recognition, it’s a brilliant idea to take a look at some of the lesser-known logos out there.

They are usually cheaper and in some cases provide almost the same, if not better value. That is the purpose of the list.

For shoes that I’ve played in and tested on the list, I’ll leave links to their full reviews to get more details.

Let’s take a look at the top 10 basketball shoe brands!


10. REEBOK

One of the old-school OG’s still strong in the game with their athletic footwear & apparel, though not very known of their basketball lines this modern era.

Allen Iverson’s and Shaq’s signature shoes were the popular Reebok Answer V at that time, and everyone was balling in them.

Today, Reebok has been re-releasing the most successful Retro lineup of basketball kicks and this smells like a pretty awesome comeback.

Yeah, they are not known for new, updated technology when compared to the big dogs but if you really like an old school pair of still solid performers, and if you rep Allen Iverson or Shaq (who doesn’t?), then check some of my personal favorites:

Reebok Answer V. Still really good “DMX Flow” heel & forefoot cushioning with pretty smooth transitions and an overall balanced feel, even if you’re heavier.

They got a really premium leather upper with synthetic overlays for extra durability and a not-in-your-face mid-top build, which feels solid and not too much. Not the lightest shoe in the world but it was released in 2001 – ahead of its time in my opinion.

Reebok Kamikaze II. An even older OG to the game released back in the 1990s, Shawn Kemp’s signature model still packs a pretty good punch and feels good while playing even faster-paced games.

Of course, the downside would be that it’s a retro and it’s not re-released by Reebok, so the prices on Amazon or other retailers aren’t going to be normal. Once again, a fan of Retros will love these, since they are still good performers, despite being called a “fashion shoe” everywhere.

9. ATHLETIC PROPULSION LABS

Top 10 Basketball Shoe Brands: APL

The controversial “increase your vertical” and “banned by the NBA technology”  statement influencer – APL claims to be the most ambitious basketball shoe technology company out there.

You can read up on my opinion of how I feel about the vertical increasing part, but taking all that talk away and solely looking at their shoes subjectively as assets on the court – they really do get some awesome releases.

APL Concept Boomer. The latest and greatest product from the company, the Boomer packs the Load N’ Launch cushion foam throughout the whole foot and breaking the shoe down to its internals – these guys use actual springs in the forefoot area.

That’s crazy and even though they don’t practically increase your vertical, they do provide a very premium and bouncy cushioning setup that bigger and/or more explosive players will love. Plus the other elements such as a molded heel counter, a TPU cage, and solid foot lockdown make this one a stand-out in 2019, seriously.

APL Concept 3. Probably the most popular release to date, this one made the whole vertical phenomenon that much more popular and hot, claiming that it’s enhanced thanks to the technology.

Once again, solely looking at the shoe’s performance – it’s also really good. It’s a solid mid-top that I think would fit a lot of different playstyles.

8. ANTA

Some of you might have never heard of this one but it’s Warriors’ Klay Thompson’s signature go-to model and I think the 4th model in the lineup is one of the best shoes of 2018. Still haven’t tested the KT5 yet but I got a good feeling.

ANTA is a Chinese brand and was launched back in 1994, but the really good stuff has been popping just in recent years. It’s your time to grab them and see for yourself! Let’s take a look at my favorites.

ANTA KT4. Truly one of the most well-rounded models of 2018, the KT4 offers its called A-Flashfoam cushioning. It’s awesome! Springy and responsive in the heel, I would’ve liked a bit more in the forefoot but I always like shoes on the bouncier side.

All the critical elements for a good shoe are there and you’re getting everything for $125.

ANTA KT3. I could just line up all the KT releases and all of them I really liked, which is a huge positive towards ANTA. Yeah, I’d go with the latest release since it’s the most updated take but the KT3 is still amazing. Grab it if you don’t have the ability to find the KT4.

7. LI-NING

Top 10 Basketball Shoe Brands: Li-Ning

Another overseas brand that packs a killer punch for less money. And that is all we ballers want. Rocked by Dwayne Wade as its signature shoe while he was in the league and currently rocked by Blazer’s CJ McCollum, I had the chance to play in one model and loved it.

Li-Ning Way Of Wade 6. The Chinese shoe might look spooky at first but don’t get it twisted. I’m not a fan of the looks but I loved how they felt on the court. I remember I was still playing in them during the most intense year I’ve had in training and trying to take my athleticism to new levels.

And boy did they not mess up. Not the bounciest of softest cushioning but just enough balance to make me completely forget I got shoes on, supplement my speed, and just let me play. Zero distractions. They got a combo of CushioN and CloudFoam cushion technology a knit upper and a fit wide footers will also finally appreciate.

6. NEW BALANCE

Top 10 Basketball Shoe Brands: New Balance

Who would’ve thought! They’re back with their A-game to make good hoop shoes, Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard is rocking them and the talk is back.

But do they got some actually trustworthy performance models at the moment? I’ve never personally tried any NB basketball shoe in my life. I will admit that.

But Kawhi’s presence and the newest New Balance OMN1S performance sneaker release has introduced a possible killer performer to the market by none other than New Balance.

New Balance OMN1S. Now, these were released in extremely limited quantities and currently sold out on the original retailer, If you want to get them, you would need to cop them on eBay or on a reseller for a lot more cash.

Regardless, if you do get a chance to try them, I heard people are having mixed opinions. From all I could gather, it seems that the cushioning is good and doesn’t feel too much or too little, traction is solid too, though it’s the fit where players are mostly having mixed feelings with.

It really intrigues me that it’s a very wide-footer friendly shoe, so something to look at if you’re one of them.

5. UNDER ARMOUR

Top 10 Basketball Shoe Brands: Under Armour

Yeah, UA does have some weaker releases from time to time but having tested a lot of shoes by now from Under Armour, I feel like they are seriously doing a fantastic job.

Having the greatest shooter of all time, Steph Curry on their signature roster helps of course. But what I also love is they never forget their secondary lines, and they are some really good budget models out there as well.

Under Armour Curry 6Currently the latest and my favorite Curry shoe at the moment, this one I think packs it all I will ever need. It’s a very strong statement since I really thought nothing from UA is going to top the Curry Two or the Curry 3 Zero II.

The 6th iteration offers UA’s latest HOVR full-length cushioning which feels surprisingly bouncier than UA’s usual setup.

Check these out if you’re looking for a shoe that ticks all the boxes and even though you won’t find anything revolutionary here, you will soon find out that it just does everything right and there’s no need for more.

Under Armour Curry 3 Zero II. Another well-rounded shoe from UA that once again simply ticks all the boxes that a trustworthy sneaker would need to tick.

These ones aren’t as plushy in terms of cushioning though – get these for a more responsive, lower to the ground ride.

4. BRANDBLACK

Top 10 Basketball Shoe Brands: Brandblack

Yeah, I’ve actually put these over Under Armour. Despite not having too many releases, I still believe BB is one of the top basketball shoe brands out there.

It means nothing if you’ve never heard of them – I happened to try two models so far and I was SHOCKED at how good both were.

Brandblack Rare Metal. The latest & greatest iteration of BB – I loved the Rare Metal. The brand is not holding anything against improving their technology and I love that.

The cushion setup is the new Jetlon EVL which feels amazing, it’s got a Jacquard upper and literally unrivaled traction. I don’t think I’ve seen a shoe grip the floor so ferociously in a long time.

Brandblack J Crossover 3. A shoe I tested a while ago but I’m confident that it would still be at least in my top 20. The JC3 packs Black Foam cushion which is a previous iteration of the Jetlon EVL but still really soft and awesome. They also got one of the most premium and durable uppers I’ve ever seen.

3. AIR JORDAN

Top 10 Basketball Shoe Brands: Air Jordan

You’ve probably all knew how the top 3 will have by now but the biggest OG, Air Jordan has to be up there.

Despite the fact that the brand’s shoes are one of the priciest, there is simply so much to choose from – every single soul would likely find a model meeting their needs.

Air Jordan XX9 Low. This is still hands-down my all-time favorite AJ performance shoe.

I just don’t know what’s it with the newer models – they’re good and I like a lot of them but there’s just something about the XX9’s particular ZOOM AIR cushion setup and the crazy soft woven upper.

2. NIKE

Top 10 Basketball Shoe Brands: Nike

The king of athletic products is, of course, one of the biggest sports brands ever and single-handedly has the biggest pot to choose from in terms of basketball shoes. So it’s a no-brainer – just about any kind of player will find just about anything they like.

Nike Hyperdunk 2017 Flyknit. The last Hyperdunk model in the glorious era of the most popular basketball shoe line by Nikey.

I still play in these and I still love them for their responsive, yet balanced cushioning the amazing Flyknit upper you just can’t go wrong with, and an overall light fit that accommodates my game brilliantly.

Nike LeBron 16. Having tried the newest LeBron 18 not too long ago – I still confidently stand behind the statement that the 16th is superior.

I just love its cushion improvements year-to-year and I think the 16th is the sweet spot if you are unsure what type of setup you need. Plus the nubuck & Battleknit upper combo feels as premium as it can be. One of the most fun shoes to play in.

1. ADIDAS

Top 10 Basketball Shoe Brands: Adidas

After years of inactivity, lurking in the shadows, Adidas finally started to show its true performance basketball glory, starting somewhere in around 2015.

Right when the D Rose 5 came out – that was it. It took off from there and it never looked back. Some of you might be shocked why it takes the #1 spot and not Nike, but they are seriously killing it.

Adidas Crazy Explosive Primeknit 2017. The ultimate go-to model for pretty much any player that values comfort, cushioning, and adaptiveness to your foot. And who does not like that. The full-length BOOST foam is god-like, while the premium Primeknit upper will show you just about how good a shoe can feel for your foot.

Adidas Harden Vol. 3. Another masterpiece of recent years, this is everything a player with any ability would find suitable. The lovely BOOST cushion throughout the whole foot, a nice knit upper, and a fit that is likely on my top three best fitting shoes of all time.

What is Your Favorite Brand?

Now that you know my take on my favorite trademarks out there, take a look at your shoe closet – what is your favorite brand to hoop in? I’d love to know your thoughts!

Got a few potential models in your list but you’re still not sure what to pick? I’ve got an extremely comprehensive guide on how to choose and buy the right sneaker for YOU. Check that guide HERE.

I hope you found the list useful as you can now delve deeper into more brands and get the idea that just about any brand can make a stand out shoe. You just have to know what to look for.

If you have any questions, suggestions or just want to have a chat,

Leave a comment down below and I’ll quickly get back to you!

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2 thoughts on “Top 10 Basketball Shoe Brands: Hidden Gems Unveiled!

  1. If you could predict when to post this article, you couldn’t have done it at a better time for me! I am planning to buy a pair for my niece, who is obsessed with basketball. It will be a surprise gift. She is 15 now and still does not have any “proper” shoes. I think she would be happy to receive any of these. I felt very much lost in the woods before, as I know little about the basketball player’s needs. Even so, I read carefully your article and I think it helped me a great deal to narrow the choices. Thank you so much for that.
    I wonder though, if you were to recommend one or two brands, for my niece, which would those be?

    1. Thanks!

      Well, for a good recommendation, it would really depend on the person. Since you said your niece is 15, that’s still a very young age, so a good amount of cushion and protection will be needed. I would first recommend having a read at my guide on properly choosing a basketball shoe, which should answer most of your questions in terms of what to choose: CLICK HERE

      As for brands, the safest bet would be to go with Adidas or Nike, though don’t sleep on the lesser-known brands as well!

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