5 Best Basketball Shoes For Dunking And Jumping In 2021

If you quickly want to know my recommendation for the best basketball shoes for jumping and dunking, then go for the Nike LeBron XVII Low.

Can basketball shoes improve your elevation? Which basketball shoes make you jump higher so you can reach the rim and dunk the ball? These are the sort of questions that I will be answering in this article.

Basketball shoes have different parts and I’ll be looking at bouncy outsoles and superior midsole cushioning. These features will help you increase your elevation and at the same time provide you with the much needed cushioning for safe landings.

In this article, I will be reviewing the following best basketball shoes for jumping and dunking:

Bouncy Outsole

Your vertical jump is influenced by a number of factors. Genetics play a major role as certain individuals are destined to have more developed muscle fibers. However, with proper knowledge and training, you can maximize your body’s potential.  Age is another major factor so you have to tailor your training to your specific needs. With a little help from the right choice of basketball shoes, you can further propel your jump higher and reach your goal.

When choosing basketball shoes, you have to carefully analyze the rubber outsole and its composition. The thickness and density of the material will either enhance or restrict your movement and agility. I will meticulously examine each pair of basketball shoes to identify which ones will complement your ability to jump higher. Let’s first check out some high jumping dunkers in the FIBA dunking contest to get an idea of the awesome dunks and the types of basketball shoes that they wear.

Impact reaction from the thickness of the outsole is another factor to consider. Excellent heel to toe transition is a plus which makes transition from running and generating your momentum to finally taking off for that maximum elevation. You should also consider what type of basketball court surface you are going to play on. Recent models of basketball shoes from more popular brands have softer and more pliable outsoles. These can bottom out rather quickly on outdoor courts so you have to take note of this feature when you make your purchase. These types of shoes, however, can have great traction on wooden flooring and adds a slight bounciness to your vertical jump.

The outsole tread pattern directly impacts your acceleration when in motion. This in turn enhances your momentum and your ability to maximize your vertical reach. The traditional herringbone pattern is generally what we will be looking for. However, there are also several unique traction patterns that provide good grip and traction on both the hardwood and the blacktop. I will check out all the options and will narrow down the choices for you.

Superior Cushioning

The midsole materials and quality are often so hidden that you ignore the fact that they actually give you comfort and peace of mind to perform at your peak level. Materials like EVA (ethylene-vinyl acetate) greatly improve basketball shoe cushioning. This material is lighter in weight compared to thick rubber. Good quality basketball shoes with EVA midsoles are beneficial to players who constantly jump to the hoop or try to block a shot. The comfort that you derive from this type of midsole coupled with wearing a pair of good quality basketball socks will provide you with excellent balance. This is crucial especially in the heat of the game when continuous leaping and hustling of the ball happen.

Another angle that we have to look at is durability of the midsole. The material should be soft and should retain its shape and form for extended periods of time. This is to make sure that it can withstand the demands of high leapers and heavy pounders. I will examine the inside of the midsole to check out the material and how it reacts to your acceleration and jump.

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Padding around the ankles will give you added support. This reduces the risk of straining the ankles from awkward landings which happen quite frequently when you jump to the best of your ability. You shouldn’t only be concentrating on how high you jump. You should also think of how to land in a safe manner. Injuring yourself will set you back from your hoops dreams. Recovering from an injury is a tedious and painful process which may not necessarily bring you back to your previous performance level.

Shock Absorption

The higher your jump, the harder your landing. You should always keep this in mind and pick a pair of basketball shoes that can support hard landings with superior shock absorption capabilities. The combination of good quality midsoles, thick rubber outsoles, and grippy traction pattern will help you achieve the right level impact support and shock absorption.

Midsoles made from pliable materials are excellent in bouncing your heel and toe back to a stable position after you grab that rebound or after you slam the ball strong into the hoop. To further boost your shoes’ shock absorption capability, you can slip in a pair of high quality basketball insoles. I have written a comprehensive review on this topic which is extremely useful to high jumpers and dunkers. Your comfort level during intense moments of the game will not be compromised if you choose any of the inserts I have recommended in that article. You should check your shoe size and buy half a size up if you decide to wear basketball insoles.

The shoe outsole should be made of good quality rubber in order to help with traction, balance, and overall stability. This is important for basketball players in order to maximize their performance level. We will also have to consider the amount rubber that comes in contact with the basketball court surface in order to determine the level of shock absorption it can support on your impact. I will scrutinize the overall construction of the basketball shoes and how each component blends together to achieve the right level of performance and support.

5 Best Basketball Shoes For Jumping And Dunking

Now that we have a good understanding of the different criteria, let’s go and decide which best basketball shoes for jumping and dunking to buy.

1. Nike LeBron XVII Low

This pair of Nike LeBron 17 signature basketball shoes has a low top design that is made of an engineered knit upper. The fit is comfortable and secure. It combines maximum cushioning with superior impact absorption. The Max Air units are integrated under the heel and will provide a high level of shock absorption. It has great responsiveness to hard landings because of the Nike React technology that is added to the forefoot area. You will feel the smooth transition from heel to toe as well as the soft and comfortable cushioning.

The molded overlay in the midsole is rigid and sturdy. It provides additional support for stability and balance to reduce risk of awkward landings. LeBron 17’s shoe bootie is quite snug but is not restrictive. The flywire cables create a unique lacing system with asymmetrical laces and feed through loops over the tongue and the sides. This gives you a secure and locked in feel that is adjustable based on how tight you pull them.

Soft foam pods are embedded directly under the Max Air units for additional cushioning which make jumping quite comfortable and enjoyable. You will notice the extra bounce from its soft and responsive materials. The outsole has a unique tread pattern that works extremely well on both hardwood and concrete. You can quickly gain momentum to accelerate for your jump as the grip and traction are excellent. Overall, this can be considered the best shoes for dunking.

Pros

  • Max Air units for shock absorption
  • Nike React technology for responsiveness to hard landings
  • Rubber outsole with articulate tread pattern for good traction
  • Unique lacing system for a secured fit
  • Bouncy outsole and soft midsole cushioning

Cons

  • Priced on the higher end

2. Nike AlphaDunk

The Nike AlphaDunk’s upper is made of Flyknit technology that is breathable and comfortable. The external heel counter is solid and provides stability and balance for take offs and landings. Your feet will be further supported by the Flywire cables that will lock your feet down securely. The combination of the external heel counter and secure flywire cables help generate momentum when you accelerate in preparation for a high jump. You will also be glad to know that your ankles are supported by padded inner collars. This is to make sure that you have balance when you leap high for the basket or when you continuously jump to battle for a rebound.

The midsoles are quite bouncy as they are made of lightweight foam. This also gives a natural and comfortable feel that is soft to the underfoot. The Nike AlphaDunk has a massive 270-degree Zoom Air unit which is the biggest yet. The rubber outsole is thick and wide which is extremely supportive to your jump’s balance and stability. The outsole tread pattern has good traction and is suitable for both indoor and outdoor basketball courts. You will notice a back pull which assists you with ease of wear especially if you are wearing an insole for added cushioning.

Pros

  • Large Zoom Air unit for stability and balance
  • Padded inner collars to support awkward landings
  • Bouncy outsole with good traction

Cons

  • Shoelace eyelets can get tight

3. Nike Kyrie 6

Kyrie Irving’s Nike signature shoes are made of engineered leather and ballistic mesh to create a high quality upper. The mesh vamp is breathable and has a moisture-wicking capability. This pair of Nike shoes comes with padded collars that wrap your ankles in a secure fashion to help you with your jumps and dunks. This ultimately helps in keeping your ankles aligned to your feet when you attack the rim or when you leap to block a shot. The midfoot has a thick adjustable strap that runs across the foot for a locked in feel.

The reinforced toe box is an advantage as it prevents your feet from abrasions due to constant friction from accelerating to jump and from hard and impactful landings. The Kyrie 6 comes with a Nike Air Zoom Turbo unit under the ball of your foot. This pair has added support from its curved structure and enhances multi-directional cushioning. The shoes are lightweight and have good stability and balance for high leapers and dunkers. The outsole has a unique multi-angle blade pattern. It extends up to the sides of the shoes to support jumping and dunking without the feeling of being restricted. The tread pattern works well with indoor and outdoor basketball courts.

Pros

  • Multi-angle traction enhances momentum for jumping
  • Good cushioning from Zoom Air Turbo units
  • Lightweight and bouncy midsole material
  • Mesh vamp for breathability

Cons

  • Slightly narrow; buy half a size up

4. Nike KD Trey VIII

This pair of Kevin Durant signature basketball shoes are made of two layers of textile to form a breathable and comfortable upper. The mid-top design comes with perforated foam pods which are extremely comfortable and have good shock absorption capability. The midsole is made of Nike Renew technology’s foam and is associated with a firmer foam around it. This construction provides a perfect balance between stability and comfort.

The responsive foam cushioning will help you accelerate faster in preparation for jumping or dunking. The Flyknit padded tongue adds a layer of protection to your forefoot. You will appreciate the mid-high collar as it is layered with foam. It enhances comfort and support around the ankles which are much needed for dunkers. The rubber outsoles are of high quality with a unique wavy tread pattern. This provides multi-direction traction. Grip is excellent and works well on both wooden courts and the blacktop.

In terms of aesthetics, you will notice that Kevin Durant’s logo is subtly molded on the outsole. Overall, the bouncy outsole and responsive midsole make this a suitable pair for jumping and dunking. You can count on these for acceleration, elevation, and support for safe landings.

Pros

  • Bouncy and durable outsole rubber
  • Engineered two-layers of textile upper for comfort and breathability
  • Wavy outsole tread pattern for multi-directional traction
  • Good shock absorption

Cons

  • Outsole pattern wears out quickly on outdoor surface

5. Nike Zoom KD 12

This is another pair of Kevin Durant signature basketball shoes that enhances your vertical leap. The Nike Zoom KD 12 has an articulated full-length Zoom Air cushioning that molds to the shape of your feet. You will feel the comfort from heel to toe when jumping and landing. You will also notice that there is an extra bounce generated from the additional Zoom Air unit that is stacked in the heel.

The synthetic upper is lightweight and flexible. It supports quick take off without being restrictive to the forefoot and ankle. The quad axial flywire cable system makes sure that you have a secured locked-in fit after a hard landing. It has a sockliner over the Zoom Air unit that gives you a broken-in feel and comfort. The midsole has a perforated foam that is very flexible and supports sudden stops and jumps.

The outsole pattern is non-marking and has excellent grip which is ideal for wooden flooring. You can also use this for outdoor but the sole may tend to bottom out quickly. Overall, with Zoom KD 12’s lightweight material, good cushioning, and bouncy outsole, dunkers and heavy jumpers can be assured of an enjoyable and comfortable wear.

Pros

  • Responsive cushioning for extra bounce
  • Broken-in feel out-of-the-box
  • Sock-liner for smooth feel
  • Bouncy outsole

Cons

  • Synthetic upper is not as breathable

The Awesome Choice

All the five pairs of basketball shoes that I have reviewed in this article will give you an enhanced jumping and dunking experience. You can choose any of the five and feel confident with your choice. However, the one pair that really stands out for me as the best shoes for dunking is the Nike LeBron XVII Low.

The high quality rubber outsoles coupled with the soft midsole cushioning provide you that extra bouncy feel. The Max Air units together with the Nike Reach technology provide superior shock absorption for hard and impactful landings. The articulated outsole tread pattern gives you that grippy traction required during your acceleration. Overall, this is my number one choice as the best basketball shoes for jumping and dunking.

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