The Best Basketball Shoes for Big Men in 2022 – Reviews & Guide

Anyone who has ever played a serious basketball game knows how much the right pair of shoes can elevate your performance. And it’s not that only name-brand shoes that come at really high prices that fit the bill for everyone. While thousands of shoes on store shelves offer different types of boosts to your game, the right pair of shoes that match both your playstyle and body time will provide you with stability and, preferably, some verticality. Now obviously, different types of shoes fit the bill for different types of players. Finding a good pair won’t be as tricky if you’re a leaner player who relies heavily on your jumper.

But if you’re a big man, the story is more complicated. In today’s 3 pointers heavy atmosphere, name brands have moved further away from shoes that favor down-the-block gameplay. Amidst all the Currys and Kyries, shoes that favor post-ups seem almost nonexistent. And then again, the ones that do exist seem to emphasize the grip and forget that even Centers need to have a shot nowadays. Gone are the days of Wilt and Kareem. Instead, a typical NBA center is now expected to bash their back against the basket using bulk while also having the versatility to stretch the floor and go “Swish!”

Best Shoes To Wear After Knee Repla...
Best Shoes To Wear After Knee Replacement in 2022

All of this might seem a bit intimidating, given that performing the double duties of a big man slash shooter is already pretty challenging. And I relate to those struggles as a six-foot-eight guy who plays quite a bit of pick-up and (more than a few) amateur tournaments. As an avid shoe enthusiast, I’m more than inclined to spend more than my fair share trying out the latest kicks. Over the last five years, I’ve personally had the opportunity to try out more than a few shoes. This article aims to make this life easier for big men. If you want to read more about my personal experience, a few tips for finding the right shoes, or the best basketball shoes for centers /power forwards, keep reading!

But first, why do big men require special shoes?

Being a big man can either be a blessing or a massive curse. We get picked first in a pickup game because no one else can play that efficiently in the post. At the same time, the responsibilities of a big man are infinite. Guarding, posting up, shooting- you name it! We’ve got to do it all. And the strain this versatile playstyle puts on our bodies can also never be understated. The big knee and back pain doesn’t just put us in for a rough night after every game, and it also keeps us out of action for considerable periods. And thus, the key to staying in shape for the next round is to find a shoe with good cushioning that distributes body weight and more than your joints.

We’ll be discussing how cushioning, design, and materially affect your game further in this article. But many of you already know what kind of shoes you like and just want to know about your options. So here’s a quick table to choose from if you know what you want:

Under Armour Embiid 1 Adidas Men’s Marquee Boost Low Adidas Men’s Ownthegame Nike Men’s Lebron 17 Adidas D Rose 7 Nike Zoom Rize 2 Under Armour Team Drive 4 Adidas N3xt L3v3l Jordan Melo M11 UA Clutchfit Drive 2
Price Range

High Range

Price Range

Mid Range

Price Range

Mid Range

Price Range

High Range

Price Range

Mid Range

Price Range

High Range

Price Range

Low Range

Price Range

High Range

Price Range

High Range

Price Range

Mid Range

Primary Material

Mesh

Primary Material

Textile

Primary Material

Mesh

Primary Material

Knitposite

Primary Material

Primeknit

Primary Material

Textile

Primary Material

Textile

Primary Material

PrimeKnit

Primary Material

Synthetic

Primary Material

Synthetic

 

If you want to know a bit more about the basics of choosing a shoe, keep reading!

Choosing the right sneaker- the basics

Now basketball sneakers come in all sorts of designs depending on what kind of aesthetics you like or what part of your game you want to highlight. Any pair of basketball shoes obviously won’t be perfect. Every player has a slightly different playstyle and finding that one right shoe is a long shot if you don’t know your type. So here are a few pointers::

  • Most traditional big men often prefer high-top sneakers, but it depends on your game.
  • Good cushioning is important to provide impact cushioning during rebounds, blocks and post-play
  • You want your shoes to last the wear and tear of playing in the post
  • You want stability when you land while having enough grip to stay grounded.
  • Good looks are always a plus.

Let’s discuss further,

Low Tops Vs High Tops- the never-ending debate:

Historically, ever since they started making shoes specific for basketball, sneakers tend to be cut way higher than regular everyday shoes. This is because before the era of Chef Currys and Trae Youngs came the period of Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul Jabbar. Tracing back to the days before the 3 point lineup until the 2010s, post play has been the most critical asset of the game. However, that is no longer the case, with lighter and more flexible low-top shoes taking over the market.

While low-top shoes are all the hype, high-top shoes provide additional support and security during battles under the basket. And while under the basket, the risk of other prominent men stepping on your feet is an actual scary prospect. The ankle collar that high-top shoes come equipped with usually protects you a bit more from this. The only discernible negative of a low-top shoe would be the extra weight. However, this doesn’t matter, given that big men don’t rely on their fast feet anyway. So, my suggestion would be to go for high tops shoes if you want the support, go for low tops if you want flexibility.

Cushioning

While designing Currys or Kyries, cushioning isn’t usually a priority because their games are not based upon high-impact styles. And this is evident from their signature brand shoes- which have very firm, rigid, and low mid-soles. But as a center or a power forward (or even a small one if you’re Lebron or KD).

Cushioning is prime gentlemen. Never forget!

Durability

Not all of us have the money to splash around every week like those rich sneakerheads. So this is the part where it gets tricky. You want your shoes to be taking all of the force that comes with high wear and tears. However, you want that without compromising the durability of your kicks. So look around for reviews from previous users about how much playtime you can expect out of each pair.

Stability and grip

As a big man, you will mostly be landing on your heels. While that might not be a problem, you want to get a pair of kicks with an excellent heel-to-toe transition. This means you want an even weight distribution that allows you to be more stable during landing. However, you don’t want that at the expense of good grip. If you’re looking at the grip, a thick rubber outsole is one of the prime considerations. The outsole itself might have different types of patterns depending on what surface or impact point it is dedicated to. I prefer the herringbone pattern on my outsole. And if that is impossible to get, I’ll go for some more recent multi-directional patterns. Good stability helps in the post, while grip allows extended range and flexibility.

Aesthetics

A pair of good-looking sneakers can go a long way in boosting both your confidence and your style. Signature shoes that name brands come out with are usually way further ahead in the funkiness department.  Simpler shoes with cool patterns are more my style, but that decision is ultimately pretty much up to you.

And now, I’ll be giving you a complete rundown about the best shoes me and my friends have tried out over our careers. I promised you honest opinions, and thus I’ll go into depth about both the good and bad about each individual pair. Let’s get right to it!

Our top 10 basketball shoes for centers and big men:

1. Best Overall- The Under Armour Embiid One

The Under Armour Embiid One

Features:

  • Ture to size fit
  • TPU wing for midfoot lockdown
  • TPU panels in stress zones to prevent wear
  • Full-length Micro G and a HOVR heel puck for cushion
  • Thick rubber outsole for better grip
  • Ankle support- ⅝ construction
  • Wide base for good all-round support
  • Mesh requires no break-in time

The Under Armour Embiid 1 is the ideal shoe for big men who prefer to play mostly in the post. The shoe itself provides excellent support to your entire feet frame, distributing your body weight sufficiently. The rubber sole itself is an excellent feature along with the TPU wing for midfoot lockdown. But for me, the selling factor was how incredibly comfortable the entire experience was and how they achieved this with shoes that provide this much stability. The mesh itself was very breathable unlike leather or suede-made shoes.

The Under Armour

Final Verdict: The Under Armour Embiid One is currently my go-to choice of sneakers when I play tournaments. It provides all-around support, strength, and durability and is great for anyone for six feet.


   Pros
  • Good traction due to rubber outsoles
  • Good wear resistance
  • Micro G cushioning is very effective
  • Good all-round support and stability
  • Good ankle support
  • Durable material- mesh
   Cons
  • A bit bulkier than I would prefer

2. Adidas Marquee Boost Low

Adidas Marquee Boost Low

Features:

  • True to size fit for wide footers
  • Classic and Vintage Adidas design
  • eTPU midsole cushioning
  • Highly responsive midsole
  • Padded heel collar
  • Zonal Herringbone pattern on the outsole for traction
  • Lace-up lockdown system
  • Wide base for good all-round support
  • Material: Textile, rubber, and synthetic

The Adidas Marquee Boost Low is one of the most breathable pairs of basketball sneakers that I’ve ever tried out. And the upper part of the shoe is made out of pure textile rubber. The Boost’s foam midsole cushioning contains an updated version of the TPU- the expanded thermoplastic polyurethane or the eTPU. The elastic lace closure was a big plus for me, as it only complimented the smooth textile lining even better. But, the selling point for me was my preferred herringbone pattern which was bang on with its traction and grip control.

Final Verdict: The Boost cushioning this shoe comes with provides an unmatched level of comfort that was lacking on a lot of other shoes. With its classic looks and outstanding performance during both on-court and off-court use, the Adidas Marquee Boost Low is a great choice for any baller.


   Pros
  • Good traction and grip
  • Responsive midsole
  • Fresh design and colorways
  • Good all-round support and stability
  • Good ankle support
  • Fit for both indoor and outdoor use
   Cons
  • Midsoles might be a bit high for some

3. Best for comfort- Adidas Men’s Ownthegame

Adidas Men’s Ownthegame

Features:

  • True to size fit for wide footers
  • OrthoLite sock liners
  • Cloudfoam midsole cushioning
  • TPU heel cup
  • Padded heel collar
  • Adiwear pattern on the outsole for traction
  • Lace-up lockdown system
  • Material: Rubber, synthetic leather, mesh

The prime reason I love the Adidas Men’s Ownthegame is it’s extremely durable yet lightweight comfortable. The unmatched combination of responsive cushioning along with dual zoned Adiwear traction provides some much-needed flexibility in your game. Moving away from the TPU technology, the Ownthegame uses Cloudfoam cushioning in the midsole that basically takes all of the impacts out of your heels. For support, the Upper is detailed with Mesh and Polyurethane while the heel cup is TPU. If you’re a defensive big man who likes to stretch the floor, this is the right shoe for you.

Adidas Men’s Ownthegame

Final Verdict: You’re not going to feel like wearing the bulkiest or strongest shoes for all of your pickup games. For chilled-out pickup matches, comfort takes precedence over everything else. The Adidas Ownthegame is the best shoe for those situations- excellent comfort, but not at the cost of performance.


   Pros
  • Good traction and grip
  • Responsive midsole
  • Well made sock liners
  • Good all-round support and stability
  • Good ankle support
   Cons
  • Synthetic leather is not as breathable

4. Nike Lebron 17

Nike Lebron 17

Features:

  • True to size fit
  • Unique Knitposite material
  • Two independent Zoom Air pods in the forefoot
  • Air Max unit cushioning
  • Rubber outsole with unique groovings 
  • Cushioning is reinforced with a layer of foam underlying the Air Max unit
  • Foam midsole
  • Mid-top shoe
  • Lace-up lockdown system

For those of you who prefer maximum cushion above all else, then the Nike Lebron 17 is THE PERFECT shoe for you. Even though it’s a bit on the bulkier side, it comes with Zoom Air in the forefoot along with Air Max in the heel providing you a bit more spring in your step. The outer material almost feels like a sock along most of the body but has support in most key areas. With durable construction in the upper region, a responsive midsole, and unique grooving in the outsoles, the Nike Lebron 17 is the prototype basketball shoe for physical players of all playstyles.

Final Verdict: The Nike Lebron 17 is a shoe that markets itself on and specializes in one thing- cushioning. But don’t let that fool you, these sneakers are extremely responsive, energetic and provide great support. Besides, who doesn’t like a pair of Lebrons!


   Pros
  • Good traction and grip
  • Responsive midsole
  • One of the best cushioning units
  • Good all-round support and stability
  • Very comfortable
  • Very breathable material
   Cons
  • A bit bulky
  • Not great for outdoor use

5. Adidas Men’s D Rose 7

Adidas Men’s D Rose 7

Features:

  • True to size fit/ Snug fit
  • 2 options of material- Engineered mesh+ nylon or PrimeKnit
  • Neoprene collar stuffed with paddings
  • Synthetic Leather lockdown wings
  • Full-length Boost Cushioning
  • Cushioning is reinforced with a layer of foam underlying the Air Max unit
  • Responsive foam midsole
  • Lace-up lockdown system

The Adidas Men’s D Rose 7 is one of the most balanced shoes I’ve ever tried on. Stability, support, traction, cushioning- you name it and these sneakers are good at it. However, the main reason for their inclusion into this list is to put an option out for men with narrower feet. And it comes with 2 different options of materials- mesh with Nylon or Primeknit. It also is outfitted with a neoprene collar, leather lockdown wings, and a torsional spring plate.

YouTube video

Final Verdict: Although the D Rose 7 is primarily designed as a guard shoe, it performed exceptionally well during post-up play. And for men with narrower feet, this is definitely the best option available. 


   Pros
  • Good traction, cushion and grip
  • Responsive midsole
  • Great for players with narrower feet
  • Good all-round support and stability
  • Excellent material
   Cons
  • Not good for players with wide feet

6. Nike Zoom Rize 2

Nike Zoom Rize 2

Features:

  • True to size fit/ Snug fit
  • Enhanced compression and plush cushioning
  • Solid and grippy in both indoor and outdoor courts
  • Circular tread pattern
  • Zoom air unit in the forefoot
  • Ankle padding and heel counter work together to keep the heel in place
  • Smooth heel to toe transition due to outsole
  • Upper reinforced with flywire

The Nike Zoom Rize 2 is above all, an ode to the black mamba. It takes a lot of inspiration from the Kobe 9 with high energy return, dependable traction, and secure lockdown. Something to remember- the upper material might be minimal but pretty functional. But the selling point for these shoes is how easy to use it is with a traditional lacing pattern and durability during outdoor use. There’s foam cushioning in the heel along with Zoom pods in the forefoot making the entire experience a lot more fun. It is the ideal choice for big men who prefer low-cut shoes.

Final Verdict: The Zoom Rize 2 is an excellent shoe for big men who want high-energy returns from their sneakers. It has a few places it could improve in- more specifically the breathability of the shoe but that doesn’t deter me from using it.


   Pros
  • Good and reliable traction and grip
  • Extra bounce in your step
  • Great support and stability
  • Very lightweight
  • Excellent material
   Cons
  • Little to no ventilation

7. Under Armour Team Drive 4

Under Armour Team Drive 4

Features:

  • True to size fit/ Snug fit
  • Material: Textile and synthetic
  • Breathable and lightweight mesh textured upper
  • External heel counter for support and back of the foot stability. 
  • Herringbone pattern on the full rubber sole
  • Die-cut EVA sock liner
  • Toe wrap for forefoot flexibility
  • Exposed Micro Gheel for stability
  • Compression-molded EVA midsole
  • 3D shank wraps up around sidewall for tractional rigidity.

The Under Armour Team Drive 4 is a shoe that I think deserves more attention than it currently gets. The full-length bootie construction with molded ankle collar makes the shoe fit perfectly and comfortably. For firm cushioning, there is exposed an Micro Gheel unit. As for why I put this shoe on this list, it would be the herringbone pattern that provides maximum floor control and grip. The shoe itself is ideal for big men who like to spread the floor a bit often due to the toe wrap that improves forefoot flexibility.

Under Armour Team Drive 4

Final Verdict: The Under Armor Team drive 4 is one of my favorite shoes due to it’s herringbone pattern. The sneakers work well during both indoor and outdoor use and can be used for casual use as well. 


   Pros
  • Good grip due to herringbone pattern
  • Good lateral stability
  • Good torsional rigidity
  • Flexible and supportive
  • Firm cushioning
  • Light and breathable
   Cons
  • External heel counter may hurt feet

8. Best Designed- Adidas N3xt L3v3l

Adidas N3xt L3v3l

 Features:

  • True to size fit
  • Superior traction due to herringbone pattern on outsoles
  • Revolutionary Lightstrike foam for cushioning
  • PrimeKnit is used in the entire shoe
  • No traditional lockdown- no laces
  • Herringbone pattern on the full rubber sole
  • Torsional support plate and an internal heel counter
  • Synthetic leather around the ankle area aids
  • Achilles Pillows

If you asked me to define the Adidas N3xt L3v3l in one word- it would be ‘experimental”. It comes without any lacing system but users don’t experience any heel slippage, side to side movement, or other similar issues. However, the selling point of this shoe for me would be its superior traction even on dusty courts. The full lightning cushioning gives you the best impact protection and an extra bounce in your step. With fantastic lateral movement and synthetic leather around ankle area aids, there’s nothing this shoe can’t do- if you give it some time.

Final Verdict: While the Adidas N3xt L3v3l is a bit too expensive for it to be a trial shoe, it’s design really outdoes any other pair I’ve tried. I’ve never thought that sneakers could work without laces, but somehow they do. If you have the dough, I’d say take the risk!


   Pros
  • Good grip due to herringbone pattern
  • Futuristic design and technology
  • Torsional rigidity due to support plate
  • Flexible and supportive
  • Firm Lightstrike cushioning
  • Light and breathable
   Cons
  • Not very durable
  • Long break-in period

9. Best for Outdoors- NIKE Men’s Jordan Melo M11

NIKE Men's Jordan Melo M11

Features:

  • True to size fit
  • Cored out center- but lacks heel technology
  • Unlocked Zoom and flight plate system
  • A heel counter, lateral outrigger, and lateral outrigger
  • No traditional lockdown- no laces
  • Material: Leather or synthetic leather

The NIKE Jordan Melo M11 takes a lot of inspiration from the Jordan XX9. It provides excellent cushioning with unlocked zoom and a flight plate system. However, they are more outdoor shoes than indoor ones- performing better on cement courts over wooden courts.  The M11 is definitely more responsive than the XX9 and uses much better materials. The shoe also performs admirably in high-pressure situations with good support due to the lateral outrigger, heel counter, and flight web. 

NIKE Men’s Jordan

Final Verdict: The Jordan Melo M11 is the ideal sneaker for those of you who are regular in pickup games at the park. Even though they could do better with the heel cushioning, there’s enough impact protection from the cored center to somewhat balance it out.


   Pros
  • Good grip due to herringbone pattern
  • No break-in period
  • A good amount of bounce
  • Flexible and supportive
  • Good cushioning
  • Performs great in the outdoors
   Cons
  • Lacks heel technology

10. Under Armour Men’s UA ClutchFit Drive 2

UA ClutchFit Drive 2

Features:

  • Go down half a size for a snug fit
  • Multi-directional herringbone for traction
  • Charged foam technology for cushioning
  • Clutchfit technology as an underlay in some parts
  • Fuse overlay for additional support
  • Tongue and inside padding are thick and soft
  • TPU pieces in the heel cup
  • Material: Synthetic

The Under Armour Men’s UA ClutchFit Drive 2 is a more supportive version of the original Clutchfit Drive. Even though the Charged foam cushioning was initially made to serve guards, the responsiveness makes it a good choice for big men who can dribble a bit. The shoe outsole provides really good traction due to, you guessed it- a multi-directional herringbone pattern. UA uses their revolutionary Clutchfit technology as an underlay from the midfoot to the ankle collar. Under the forefoot, there is a mesh that is very flexible.

Final Verdict: The UA Clutchfit Drive 2 seems like a cross between a shoe made for guards and big men. As such, it would be a great choice for Power Forwards with narrower feet. The shoe itself performs really well during games and would be a good option for those who like to dribble.


   Pros
  • Good grip due to herringbone pattern
  • Extremely comfortable
  • Great support
  • Revolutionary Clutchfit technology
  • Firm but effective charged foam
  • Flexible
   Cons
  • The heel cup may cut into the skin of some users
  • Bad reviews about the durability

But how do find the right balance between lift and stability?

Now that you’ve been through a list of my most preferred basketball shoes, you know which shoe provides what unique advantages.  But two words always confused me – lift and stability. If a shoe provides you with a lot of bounce, it is feasible to assume you’ll need help stabilizing when you land. But additional stability requires extra components or modifications to the shoe which often hamper the amount of lift your sneaker can produce. Now if you have no constraints about your budget, then finding a shoe that excels at both bounce and stability should not be a problem. However, if you can’t spend without bounds, go for shoes that have air units in their heel. The heel itself provides you with a lot of bounce and impact protection- something that reduces the need for external stability components.

Best Basketball Shoes for Big Men
Infographic: Best Basketball Shoes for Big Men

Maintaining Your Sneakers

A new pair of basketball shoes can be a big investment for some. Even if it’s not, you want to make sure that you take care of your shoes so that you can use them to their potential for as long as you can. So, keep these tips in mind:- 

Keep your Sneakers Clean

This one should come as no surprise. I am keeping your shoes clean increases their lifetime. And there are hundreds of tutorials on youtube that can properly visualize the process of cleaning basketball shoes, and I’d suggest watching one when you can get to it. But we’ll go through a quick rundown right now.

  1. The first step to giving your sneakers a proper wash would be to check for debris or small rocks within the soles. This is especially relevant if you play outside on cement courts a lot. Get something thin like a toothpick and go through the grooves to find small rocks or debris. 
  2. The next step is to procure a soft brush. Dip the brush in a water soap solution and use it to clear any dust layers built up along the more rigid/leather parts of the shoe. The bottom areas often have grime buildup and should always be cleaned. 
  3. Use a damp piece of clothing to wipe down the sides of your shoe and any softer portions you could not reach with your brush. If your shoes are white, add a bit of toothpaste to give them some extra shine.
  4. Clean the laces or insoles in your washing machine or wash any other clothes as you would.
  5. Finally, softly rinse the shoe down for any dust particle you couldn’t reach. 
  6. It is essential to let your shoes dry in the open air. 

Store your shoes in an open space

After a game, many players throw their sneakers into their backpacks and forget about it until their next session. I’ll come clean, and even I’ve done this occasionally while on my way back from the gym. And speaking from experience, this is the worst thing you could do to a pair of 200 dollar shoes. Over time, I’ve learned that the best way to store your shoes is to keep them in an open room or an outdoor space. Basketball shoes for centers usually carry a lot more material and components and thus require the available airflow does them that much more good. This dries the sweat out of your shoes and keeps them somewhat fresh. And if you want minty fresh footwear, a little bit of shoe deodorizer does wonder.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Are celebrity-endorsed sneakers worth it?

Well, that depends. It’s not like companies put more effort into making endorsed shoes at the same price range. What celebrity endorsement does, is two things- 

  1. Prove that the boots are NBA worthy- increasing their valuation
  2. Shoes that fit players with that specific celeb’s archetype. 

So, if you’re a big man who plays down in the post, a pair of Kobe’s, Lebron’s, or Embiid’s might not be the worst idea.

How to wear/ break in basketball shoes?

While many shoes don’t require breaking in, some need some time to get used to. Remember, it’s always important to find a shoe that fits your perfectly. Once you have that, just wear your sneakers for the light activity for 10-15 minutes before taking them to a game.

Is it okay if I wear my sneakers outside of the court?

It depends on what kind of shoes you’re wearing. Some shoes perform poorly on cement or roads. Wearing those outsides will destroy their durability. On the other hand, shoes that perform well on cement courts should do you well, even if you wear them out.

Final Thoughts

Well, there you have it- a complete guide for buying and maintaining your sneakers. While there are many lists out there that only include men’s high-top basketball shoes, they don’t consider the idea that big men don’t only play in the post anymore.  

In this list, I’ve put down at least one shoe for every playstyle. While I have my favorites, the final choice of your shoe is ultimately up to you.  Pick something that you’re comfortable, stable, and have fun in. But above all, pick a pair that boosts your confidence.

Now go out and conquer the courts!

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