In the past, basketball shoes were always bulky and high-top. People designed them with extra cushioning and a high collar to prevent injuries. However, as basketball became more athletic, basketball shoes got lighter and used less material. First popularized by the Nike Kobe 4 in 2009, low-top basketball shoes offer more mobility and flexibility, which is ideal for the game’s fast pace.
Here are the three best low-top basketball shoes in 2022:
What Are the Best Low Top Basketball Shoes?
- Under Armour Curry Flow 9: Best overall
- Nike Cosmic Unity: Most sustainable basketball shoes plus impact protection and court feel
- Under Armour Spawn 3: Best budget
The Under Armour Curry 9 built on the success of its predecessor, the Curry 8. The traction pattern underneath is identical to the Curry 8, and it provides excellent grip on the court. Like the Curry 8, the shoe is also very responsive, thanks to the full-length, rubberless Micro-G foam bottom.
The most significant change from the Curry 8 is in the materials. The materials on the Curry 9 are much thinner and lighter, making the shoe more comfortable to wear. The new materials also feel more premium. The fit starts out snug, but the stretchy fabric will form to your foot as you break them in.
The only thing reviewers found to be lacking was the impact protection. The Curry’s don’t have much cushioning, so if you have flat feet or sensitivity, you may want to consider our picks for the best basketball shoes for flat feet.
- Builds upon its predecessor’s success
- Excellent traction and grip
- Very responsive
- Lightweight and comfortable
- Premium feel
- Lacking in impact protection
The Curry 9 is on the high end for low-top basketball shoes. However, considering the quality of the materials and the shoe’s performance, we believe that the price is justified.
The Bottom Line
The Curry line from Under Armour is the best all-around. The Curry 9s are the best low-top basketball shoes for anyone looking for a responsive shoe with excellent traction. The new materials make the shoe more comfortable to wear, but the slight lack of impact protection may be an issue for some. We recommend shelling out the extra cash for these fantastic shoes, even on a budget.
Nike Cosmic Unity
Nike designed the Cosmic Unity as a part of their push for sustainability. It contains at least 25% recycled waste material, and the upper comes from recycled polyester. The goal was to create a basketball shoe with a minimal environmental impact.
The Cosmic Unity does not sacrifice performance for sustainability. The rubber outsole provides excellent traction, and the full-length Zoom Air unit gives the shoe a responsive feel. The foam in the midsole is also very soft, making the shoe comfortable to wear for extended periods.
Where the Curry 9 lacks in impact protection, the Cosmic Unity makes up for it. The thick foam in the midsole does an excellent job of absorbing impact and protecting your feet from injuries.
However, some players run into problems on dusty basketball courts. The herringbone traction pattern works well on clean surfaces, but it can be less effective on courts that are not well-maintained.
- Sustainable materials
- Minimal environmental impact
- Excellent traction and response
- Very comfortable
- Excellent impact protection
Nike priced the Cosmic Unity in the upper-middle range for low-top basketball shoes. Given the quality of the materials and the shoe’s performance, we believe that this is a fair price.
The Bottom Line
The Nike Cosmic Unity is the best low-top basketball shoe for those looking for a sustainable option. It performs just as well as its non-sustainable counterparts and excels in nearly every category. The only downside is the herringbone traction pattern, which can be less effective on dusty courts.
Under Armour Spawn 3
The Under Armour Spawn is one of the best-selling basketball shoes year after year. The Spawn line has always been known for its excellent value, and the Spawn 3 is no different. It’s one of the most affordable low-top basketball shoes on the market, but it doesn’t sacrifice quality or performance.
The Spawn 3 has a straightforward design. The shoe has a mesh upper and a solid rubber outsole. The full-length Micro-G bottom provides an outstanding balance of comfort, stability, court feel, impact protection, and bounce. There are no bells or whistles, but the shoe gets the job done.
The Spawn III provides excellent traction and grip, thanks to the unique pattern on the outsole. The one thing that some basketball players had trouble with was the material. Over time, it began to stretch in some cases, leaving a slightly loose fit.
- Quality materials for the price
- Simple design
- Excellent traction and grip
- Comfortable and stable
The Spawn III is one of the most affordable low-top basketball shoes on the market. Given the relative quality of the materials and the shoe’s performance, we believe that this is a great value.
The Bottom Line
The Spawn III is the best low-top basketball shoe for those looking for an affordable option. Its simple design and quality materials make it a great value, and it performs well on the court. The only downside is that the mesh upper can stretch over time, leaving a slightly loose fit. Still, we believe that it is a fantastic value at half the cost of many other shoes.
Are Low Tops Better for Basketball?
The debate between high-tops and low-tops has been going on for years, and there is no clear consensus. Some players swear by high-tops, while others prefer low-tops for comfort and mobility. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference.
There are a few things to consider when deciding whether or not to wear low-top basketball shoes. First, low-tops offer less ankle support than high-tops. The slight lack of support can be a problem for players prone to ankle injuries. For others, extra room for ankle movement can improve gameplay.
One 2017 study found that collar height had no significant effect on performance as far as performance goes. In addition, the study found that players performed equally well in high-tops and low-tops.
For bigger men, high-top basketball shoes provide more support and stability. On the other hand, Low-tops can feel less stable on the court, and they may not offer enough support for players who are carrying a lot of weight. As a general rule of thumb, low-tops are better for smaller, faster players like point guards, while high-tops are better for bigger, stronger players like centers.
What NBA Players Wear Low Tops?
In 2008, Kobe Bryant became the first player in the NBA to come out with a signature low-top shoe. Then, he won that year’s championship while wearing them. Since then, many other players have followed suit and begun wearing low-tops. Today, it’s not uncommon to see players of all positions and sizes wearing low-top shoes.
Players that you will see wearing the best low-top basketball shoes include:
- Kyrie Irving
- Damian Lillard
- James Harden
- Russell Westbrook
- James Harden
- Stephen Curry
What to Look for When Shopping for Low Top Basketball Shoes
When shopping for the best low-top basketball shoes, there are a few things to keep in mind.
- Consider the material of the upper. Mesh is the most popular option because it’s lightweight and breathable. However, it can also stretch over time, leading to a loose fit.
- We do not recommend going with synthetic leather shoes. They can be stylish, but they’re not as comfortable or breathable as mesh. They also tend to be more expensive. Many of these are collector’s items, but we don’t typically recommend them for playing basketball.
- Think about the outsole. You’ll want a shoe with good traction to make quick cuts on the court without slipping. The best basketball shoes have a herringbone pattern on the outsole for excellent grip (or a custom-designed grip like the Curry 9).
- Assess the fit. The best low-top basketball shoes will also have a comfortable and stable fit. They should be snug but not too tight, and they should offer support without being constricting.
- Account for the price. Low-top basketball shoes typically cost less than high-tops, but there is a wide range of prices. Because there are so many shoes out there, you do not need to break the bank to get a good pair.
Low-top basketball shoes have come a long way in recent years. They are lighter and more comfortable than ever before, and they offer excellent performance when playing basketball.
If you’re looking for a pair of the best low-top basketball shoes on the market, we recommend the Under Armour Curry 9. However, there is certainly something on this list for everyone!
What are your favorite shoes to wear when playing basketball? Let us know in the comments!