If you are a quick guard and you like to beat your opponent off the dribble with deadly crossovers and smooth pull-up jumpers you need shoes that can keep up with your style of play.
But what does the perfect guard shoe look like?
- It features great traction that will grip the floor and allow you to change directions very quickly
- The cushioning is responsive and doesn’t lag
- It is a low- (or mid-cut) shoe that doesn’t unneccessarily restrict your range of motion
So how do you find a shoe that fulfils these three criteria?
Easy! You check all shoe releases of the last year, pick all low- or mid-tops, read all the reviews and choose the one with amazing traction and responsive cushioning!
Sounds like a lot of work? Luckily I did it for you! I have checked out the 43 most popular basketball shoe releases since the end of 2016, read (or watched) all 272 reviews I could find and summed up the expert findings here.
The following list shows all low- or mid-tops (as of March 8, 2018) that received great scores for their traction and feature responsive cushioning:
Very responsive shoe
Bounce Cushioning works well
Very good traction
Adjustable Ankle Support
Low profile Boost
Quality of materials
great court feel
The Best Basketball Shoes for Guards
Let’s take a closer look at these shoes:
The Kobe AD NXT is a big upgrade over the disappointing Kobe AD. The biggest change is the completely new lacing system. Critics are split on whether it works or not. Some love it, some hate it. Overall, the Kobe AD NXT is a very good overall performer for quick guards. The only downside is the very expensive retail price of $200.
The sole of the Curry 4 Low remains unchanged from the High version. That's a good thing when it comes to the great multi-directional traction pattern, but most experts would have loved an upgrade to the cheap and minimal EVA cushioning setup. The cheap synthetic upper materials of the High version are largely replaced by more premium and comfortable textile knit. Overall, the Curry 4 Low is a slight improvement over the high-top and the perfect shoe for quick guards who are looking for a light, responsive, and minimal low-top.
The second signature sneaker of Paul George improves on all aspects compared to the PG1. The bigger Zoom air unit in the forefoot provides more cushioning and the traction works better on dusty courts. Lockdown and lateral containment have been improved by the use of sturdier materials and the introduction of forefoot wing-straps.
Overall, the Nike PG2 is a great allrounder without any weaknesses. At $110 retail it is one of the most affordable signature sneakers on the market but performs just as well as much more expensive models.
The Adidas Dame 3 is uniformly praised for its Bounce cushioning and blade traction setup. The unique setup of the upper with many lacing holes to choose from allows you to customize the fit to your liking. Unfortunately, most critics had a hard time finding a comfortable fit. Complaints about heel slippage were common as well. Overall, this shoe is a great fit for players with a slightly wider foot (to prevent heel slippage) who look for a good overall performer at a fair price.
Under Armour is still relatively new to the basketball sneaker game but the Curry 3 is already seen as one of the most consistent and well-performing signature lines on the market. This shoe is optimized for Steph Curry's style of play and gives you amazing traction and court feel for quick crossovers and cuts to the hoop. As Steph is rather light and doesn't play above the rim, the cushioning is really firm and impact protection is minimal.
The narrow (and very squeaky) traction pattern of the Kobe AD Mid performs amazingly on clean courts but has slight issues on dust courts. Outdoor use is not recommended as the rubber is very soft and will wear off quickly. The full-length lunarlon cushioning setup with an Air Zoom unit in the heel is universally liked by reviewers. The colorways with synthetic suede upper have very poor ventilation and the material needs a little while to lose its initial stiffness. Overall, the Kobe AD Mid is a solid performer, but at $150, there are better performance options out there.
The Curry 3Zero is part of a slightly downgraded and more affordable line of Steph Curry shoes. The traction has remained the same and performs very well on clean courts but many reviewers complained about inconsistency on (mildly) dusty courts. The reduced price shows in the materials which are less premium than in the original Curry 3 but still do a good job. Universally liked by shoe critics is the innovative adjustable heel which provides great lockdown and works especially great for ankle brace wearers. Overall, the Curry 3Zero is a solid performer at a fair price.
The Adidas Harden Volume 1 performs well in all categories except fit. Traction was almost uniformly praised by reviewers. Materials vary among different colorways but are of high quality in each one. The only weakness of the shoe is the painful break-in period. Especially the leather toe cap was causing a lot of reviewers trouble.
Kyrie Irving's third signature sneaker is praised by reviewers for its fair price, good looks, and great traction. The biggest flaw of this shoe is the missing cushion. Good choice for light and quick guards who value court feel over impact protection. The upper and outsole are made of very durable materials, so this shoe will also hold up pretty well outdoors.
What makes a great shoe for point guards and shooting guards?
As a quick guard, traction is by far the most important aspect of a shoe’s performance. Sticky traction will allow you to blow by your defender with an explosive first step, help you to stop on a dime when attacking the basket, and give you the necessary grip to pester your opponent on defense. Shoes with bad traction will rob you of all your quickness, negate all your strengths and might even make you slip on an opponent’s crossover – nobody wants that!
So, the most important thing as a guard is to get shoes with amazing traction.
Shoes with comfortable cushioning that make you feel like you’re walking on clouds are great for heavy big guys, but not for shifty guards. As a guard, you probably weigh a lot less than the Shaqs of this world, and therefore you need a lot less impact protection. In fact, mushy and soft cushioning often has a negative effect on your speed and quickness as it takes away from your court feel and makes cuts and first steps a split second slower.
As a guard, you want to have a responsive cushioning setup with excellent court feel that doesn’t take away from your quickness.
Style of Silhouette
In today’s game, most guards are playing in low or mid-top basketball shoes. These shoes are cut a lot lower around the ankles compared to traditional basketball “boots”. This style reduces the weight and allows a greater amount of flexibility and freedom of movement. The lost ankle support is made up for with other support features like extended outriggers and sturdy heel counters. If you still don’t feel comfortable playing in low-tops, or you are recovering from an ankle sprain take a look at ankle braces. Steph Curry is wearing an ankle brace every game, and he’s doing okay! Low or mid-tops are the way to go for guards.