5 Best Low Top Basketball Shoes In 2021

No time to read? If you quickly want to know my pick for the best low top basketball shoes, then I’d recommend Nike LeBron XVII Low as the best one.

Basketball shoes have evolved over the years. From canvas to leather to synthetic, manufacturers constantly innovate and upgrade their materials and processes to achieve high performing shoes that meet the demands and ever evolving skills of ballers. Low top basketball shoes have become popular; thanks to Kobe Bryant and the other NBA stars. They have debunked the notion that low top basketball shoes provide less support.

In this article, I will be reviewing the following best low top basketball shoes:

Low Top vs High Top

Wearing low top basketball shoes or high top ones is not just a matter of preference. It comes with associated levels of comfort, protection, and other benefits. Low top shoes are generally lighter in weight because less materials are used. High top shoes are sturdier and are more structured compared to low top shoes. Depending on your style of play, the cut of your shoe can enhance your game by allowing it to focus on your strengths. Traditionally, centers wear high top shoes while quick and speedy guards wear low top shoes. With the advent of hybrid positions like the stretch four, low top basketball shoes are gaining popularity due to the shoes’ ability to complement the modern players’ style of play.

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High top basketball shoes used to be the norm. NBA players rock them. You see college players wearing them. This was the trend during the 20th century. However, in 2008, the popularity of low top basketball shoes started to gain traction. This was mainly influenced by Nike when the company introduced the Nike Zoom Kobe line of basketball shoes. With Kobe Bryant’s star power at that time, his signature shoes were selling like hotcakes. Low top basketball shoes have emerged to be the preferred basketball shoes especially amongst the youth who idolizes Kobe and his style of play.

It is observed today that almost half of the NBA players wear low top basketball shoes. Even in college basketball, a quick look at the players’ shoes would give you an idea of its popularity as the majority of them wear low tops.

Benefits of Low Top Basketball Shoes

First and foremost, low top basketball shoes are lightweight. It gives you the ability to shift direction quickly without hindrance. Point guards trying to break the press will find low top basketball shoes especially useful during intense moments of the game. Shooting guards and small forwards who often move without the ball to position themselves are going to love the flexibility that low tops provide. Defensive players can also benefit from low top basketball shoes; good defensive stance would usually require you to stay low and basketball shoes with less materials around the ankles are useful during this scenario.

If the risk of ankle injury is your main concern, you can always wear an ankle brace for added support and protection. You can take comfort in knowing that low top basketball shoes do not increase the risk of ankle injuries. In a study conducted to compare high top versus low top basketball shoes, the conclusion from the study is that there was no significant difference in the injury risk levels between wearing high top and low top basketball shoes when it comes to ankle sprains. Interestingly, the injury rate from the study is marginally higher per player-minute for those basketball players who wore high top shoes. The general consensus is that there is no strong correlation between the type of basketball shoe and ankle injuries.

Style is a matter of choice. However, my personal preference is to wear low top basketball shoes as I love the look. It provides an illusion of a more slender and overall more proportional aesthetics.

Speed and Agility

The game of basketball has evolved. Agility is now an advantage from positions 1 (point guard) to 5 (center). Big men who can stretch the floor and extend the defense using outside shooting and quickness are a nightmare to opposing teams. For point guards and shooting guards, speed is always an asset. One other skill that would set you apart is the ability to change speed and shift direction. This unique skill allows you to fend off your defender to get a clear shot at the basket or to make a bullet pass to an open teammate.

In order to complement our modern style of play, low top basketball shoes are the main choice nowadays. The options are also abundant. From Kobes to LeBrons, you are spoiled for choices of low top basketball shoes with good quality upper and outsole with excellent traction. I have checked out different brands and styles in order to determine the best available options. In order for me to narrow down the options, I will be reviewing the different parts of the shoes. Breathable upper is a must. Comfortable midsole cushioning should be taken into consideration. Grippy outsoles with a high traction tread pattern will also be one of the main criteria to determine the quality of the basketball shoes. At the end of the day, I will check out how all these components mesh together to achieve our objective of a comfortable and supportive low top basketball shoe to complement our speed and agility.

5 Best Low Top Basketball Shoes

Now that we have discussed the different criteria, let us go and decide which best low top basketball shoes to buy.

1. Nike LeBron XVII Low

LeBron James’ signature basketball shoes come with a low top design. The upper is composed of engineered knit material which is breathable, soft, and durable. The combination of superior cushioning and good impact absorption capability provide this pair of LeBron shoes its comfortable feel and secure fit. The shock absorption capability is derived from the Max Air units that are placed under the heels. The Nike React technology is integrated to the forefoot area in order to provide enhanced responsiveness to hard landings during intense moments of the game. A seamless transition from heel to toe can be felt as well as an overall soft cushioning across the midsole.

The midsole is durable as it has a molded overlay that provides additional support for stability and balance in order to reduce the risk of bad landings. This pair of LeBron James shoes has a snug bootie that fits like a glove. It conforms to your feet without being too tight. 

The lacing system is constructed using flywire cables with asymmetrical laces. These feed through loops over the sides and the tongue in the middle. This provides you a high level of adjustability in order to achieve a secure fit depending on how tight the laces are pulled. Additional soft foam pods are added under the Max Air units for enhanced cushioning and stability. The outsole tread pattern has excellent traction and works well on both hardwood and black top.

Pros

  • Nike React technology integrated to provide high level of responsiveness to hard landings
  • Superior shock absorption capability from Max Air units
  • Articulated tread pattern on the rubber outsole that provides excellent grip and traction
  • Flywire cable lacing system for adjustable and secure fit
  • Soft midsole with molded overlay

Cons

  • Pricier compared to the other models

2. Nike Kobe Mamba Focus

This pair of Nike Kobe Bryant signature basketball shoes provides good stability and balance through enhanced foot control. The embossed upper material is comfortable and breathable. Although the design looks low profile, it has all the features for your quick lateral and forward movements. The shoe eyelets are unique in the sense that they are made of thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) which look like snake eyes.

The outsole tread pattern is inspired by Kobe Bryant’s Mamba mentality and has distinctive grooves to it. This provides excellent traction for quick moves and stop-and-pops. The midsoles have zoom air units that provide a good level of cushioning for that bouncy feel. It also comes with a heel cage for added support. The outsoles are rugged and durable. You can use this either outdoors or indoors as the traction is suitable to all court surfaces. These low top basketball shoes are simple but have fine detailing that make them look classy and aesthetically pleasing.

Kobe Bryant’s “The Sheath” logo is embossed on the tongue and is a plus especially if you are a fan of his. The shoes are comfortable and require minimal break in period. This is mainly due to the comfortable zoom air units that are seamlessly integrated.

Pros

  • Comfortable and lightweight
  • Breathable upper
  • Excellent traction from Mamba-inspired outsole

Cons

  • Low profile design

3. Nike Kyrie Low 2

This pair of Kyrie Irving’s Nike signature low top basketball shoes are made of mesh upper. It is breathable and comfortable. The upper has good moisture releasing capability. The padded collar provides enhanced support and added comfort. It comes with a midfoot cage system that locks your foot securely. Together with an integrated lacing system, you get a locked in feel without being restricted from your movements. This gives you peace of mind when you drive strong to the hoop. Balance and stability are quite good. Defensive players would appreciate the secure and locked in feel especially when defending post players or when matching up against the opposing team’s quick players.

The midsole has a bouncy feel and has a good level of shock absorption capability. The heel area has zoom air units that are responsive and will cushion you from hard landings. The sole has superior traction from the curved outsole design. The tread patterns are quite aggressive in giving you that extra grip to support all your fancy moves. This pair works well with both indoor and outdoor courts. Overall, these are lightweight shoes that are good for all positions from point guards to centers. This low top design is suitable to both big men and speedy guards.

Pros

  • Extra support from padded collar
  • Secure and locked in feel from caged midfoot system
  • Zoom air units in the heel area for extra responsiveness

Cons

  • Can be narrow; get a half size up

4. Nike Zoom Freak 1

Giannis Antetokounmpo’s signature Nike basketball shoes are made of upper materials that are lightweight. The textile material is breathable and can wick moisture away from the shoes. The overall construction is solid in that the upper reinforces overall balance and stability of your foot. The padded collars add an extra layer of support around the ankle area. The internal forefoot containment system locks your foot down without being too restrictive. You can imitate NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo’s spin moves to the basket while having a secure fit on your shoes.

The midsole is made of foams that are quite resilient. It is soft and comfortable. The addition of dual Zoom Air units in the heel provides enhanced cushioning. This reduces stress and impact on your ankle areas especially during intense moments of the game. The outsole tread patterns are intricate. This provides traction and grip from multiple angles and directions. You will also notice the inscriptions on the outsoles that pay homage to Antetokounmpo’s roots. Another feature is the rubber clip that runs from the outsole over to the other side of the foot. This enhances lateral support. Overall, this is a great pair of low top basketball shoes that have good stability, balance, and support.

Pros

  • Rubber clip for enhanced later support
  • Extra cushioning from dual Zoom Air units
  • Excellent grip and traction from the intricate outsole tread pattern

Cons

  • Outsole can easily get dirty

5. Adidas Harden Stepback

The Adidas Stepback is James Harden’s signature basketball shoes. The upper is made of textile and the toe cap is made of synthetic material. The lacing system is ergonomically designed for you to achieve a comfortable and snug fit. The overall construction makes this pair of basketball shoes quite lightweight and the materials are breathable. Whether you are a guard or a big man, you will appreciate the comfort and support that these shoes provide. The outsole is rather bouncy and the grip and traction is good.

The distinctive features of these low top basketball shoes are the wide forefoot and the cushioned flexible midsole. These features make this a really comfortable pair that you can wear to crucial basketball games. Traction is ably supported by the sole’s front herringbone pattern while the heel section sports a unique pattern that has excellent grip and traction for great stability. The outsoles are made of thick and high quality rubber that can take the beating of outdoor basketball and can also be used on hardwood court surfaces.

In terms of aesthetics, the design is simple and the low top cut finish provides its classic look and elegant feel. The logo of James Harden on the tongue adds a modern twist to the classic Adidas look.

Pros

  • Lacing system is ergonomically designed
  • Good grip and traction
  • Value for money

Cons

  • Design does not appeal to everyone

The Awesome Choice

Low top basketball shoes have been the choice of many basketball players and we are spoiled for options as big name brands have been churning out high quality low tops in recent years. While you won’t regret buying any of the five that I have reviewed in this article, my top choice for the best low top basketball shoes is the Nike LeBron XVII Low.

The Max Air units provide superior shock absorption while the Nike React technology that was used in this pair provides great responsiveness to hard landings. The articulated outsole tread pattern has excellent traction and the flywire cable lacing system provides a secure and locked in fit. All these great features combined make this pair the best low top basketball shoes available online today.

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