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21st June 2023 EDT RELEASES

10 Best Basketball Shoes That Debuted in the 2022–23 NBA Season

From Nike, adidas, to PUMA, a listicle of sneakers your favorite NBA players wore this last season.

10 Best Basketball Shoes That Debuted in the 2022–23 NBA Season
10 Best Basketball Shoes That Debuted in the 2022–23 NBA Season

Since the Nike Air Jordan 1 was introduced to the world, basketball shoes have crossed over into the lifestyle space more than ever before. Almost 40 years on, NBA players have become some of the world’s most influential athletes. De facto style icons, their shoe game is scrutinized about as much as their hoop game, especially for the superstars skilled and popular enough to warrant their own signature line.

In each one of the 82 games in the season, there’s always bound to be a new colorway, a new Player Exclusive that’s never been seen. For brevity, the article only covers models that were released within the last season—and their best General Release colorways.

What’s the point of seeing something you like if there’s no way you can have them, right? Even David Bowie only studies art he can steal from.

Here are the 10 best basketball shoes NBA players from the 2022–23 NBA season (in no particular order):

■ #1

LeBron James – Nike LeBron 20 “Liverpool”

Narrative plays such a huge part in a shoe’s appeal and there’s no better narrative than it being the King’s 20th signature sneaker in his 20th year. One he wore when he broke the 39-year, all-time scoring record in February. Dress that in Liverpool F.C.’s colors and there’s a pair that you wouldn’t feel out of place wearing in a football game.

LeBron may be old in basketball years but his shoes are far from it. Apart from being the lightest of all his signatures, the 20 was designed with the next generation of athletes in mind. Their multi-directional style of play working well in tandem with the Zoom Air on the forefoot and heel, along with the carbon-fibre midfoot shank.

■ #2

LaMelo Ball – Rick and Morty x PUMA MB.02

Here’s a pair befitting of its LaMelo Ball’s flashy plays and personality. It’s a definite upgrade to its predecessor, constructed with an engineered woven mesh on the upper, strengthened by some fuse overlays, at the same time integrated with NITRO foam midsoles. There’re plenty of wild colorways that’d dressed the MB.02, but the Rick & Morty carried over from last year remains the most recognizable.

■ #3

Trae Young – adidas Trae Young 2.0 “Super Villain”

The Trae Young 2.0 builds on the success of the debut model. It retains some of its finer features, at the same time introducing new ones. The adidas hallmark BOOST cushioning continues to be the preferred base working in tandem with the Lightstrike midsole and an adaptive SCK360 semi-laceless knit upper.

The entire construction was designed for the shifty player that “Ice” Trae Young is. If your game’s modelled the same, if you’re as audacious as he is, unafraid to be the villain, then consider the shoe a perfect fit. You’d hate to love him, but have to his game.

■ #4

Kevin Durant – Nike KD 15 “Aunt Pearl”

Although Kevin Durant debuted the KD 16 during the playoffs, the 15 was his weapon of choice for the regular season. The KD line has always been a best-seller and fan favorite. This time, it forgoes the midfoot strap of the 14 and in place installs a modified containment system that works in harmony with the Air Zoom Strobel cushioning.

Many colorways have adorned the silhouette and each one has its fans. But who can disregard the tribute to his Aunt Pearl? An homage that’s been a mainstay in every KD model since the 7.

■ #5

Ja Morant – Nike Ja 1 “Midnight”

Ja Morant to Gen Zs is what Allen Iverson was to Millennials. A basketball anti-hero, of sorts. He has the makings of a superstar and it was only a matter of time before he got his own signature shoe. His fast rise might also be his reckoning, nonetheless his recent missteps are for another article.

Released midway through the season, the Nike Ja 1 focuses on three performance areas: dynamic lockdown, responsive ride and support for landing. A pair designed for the explosive player that its namesake is. Out of all the colorways released thus far, the “Midnight” iteration and its bedazzled Swooshes may be the crown jewel.

■ #6

Luka Dončić – Jordan Luka 1 “Neo Turquoise”

Luka Dončić’s game may be unorthodox and unpredictable, but everyone could’ve predicted he would get his own signature. The Luka 1 is introduced with full-length Formula 23 foam; an ultra-supportive fit crafted with Luka’s signature step-back in mind; and embroidered Flight Wire on the upper—like braided cables that support bridges—wrapping around the upper to secure the feet.

■ #7

James Harden – adidas Harden Vol. 7

James Harden is one of the most unique basketball players in the current era and his shoes says as much. The adidas Harden Vol. 7 might be a head-scratcher to conventional tastes, but sitting comfortably on anyone’s palette has never been Harden’s concern. The bold look of his latest signature borrows from luxury fashion’s puffer jackets.

Similar to Trae Young’s, the pair-in-question also features a hybrid BOOST and Lightstrike midsole while the traction pattern supports each jump, cut or change of direction—all the moves in The Beard’s repertoire.

■ #8

Jayson Tatum – Jordan Tatum 1 “Zoo”

Jayson Tatum, at 25, is still at the periphery of his prime. Yet, he’s already led a team to the NBA Finals along with several All-Star appearances in his belt. There’re more peaks ahead of him and now he has his own signature to take him the rest of the way.

Some of the JT 1’s most notable specs include its lightweight construction: reducing weight with the use of foam within a strong plastic frame in the midsole; the reserved use of rubber, mainly on the forefoot and toe where it matters most; and the Nike Zoom Air unit visible from the outsoles.

The “Zoo” colorway pictured is inspired by the favorite place he likes to bring his son Deuce to, with its animal motifs complemented by layers of texture and color.

■ #9

Zion Williamson – Jordan Zion 2 “Voodoo”

The “Voodoo” colorway that’s imbued Zion Williamson’s Nike Air Jordan 1 Low is one of the best sneakers released last year, and so is the same makeup over his signature Jordan Zion 2.

It’s a definite upgrade of the first with the integration of a forefoot stap over the laces for a more secure fit, a wider build, in addition to more responsive Air cushioning. It’s also the first for the Air Strobel unit to be placed in the heel. The shoes are even optimized for play on outdoor courts (where most games are played), thanks to the solid traction of its rubber outsoles.

■ #10

Russell Westbrook – Honor The Gift x Jordan Why Not .6

Speed takes precedence in the design of Russel Westbrook’s 6th signature sneaker, one of the most explosive players in NBA history. The rubber outsole wraps nearly the entirety of the midsole to keep from slipping during quick acceleration. To further support the move, the inner bootie holds the feet like a cockpit for added security when going from 0 to 100. All held together by an outer shroud, secured with a zip collar that reads, “Why Not?”

The colorway is a special collaborative effort between Westbrook’s Honor The Gift label and his Jordan Brand signature.

And that’s the list of the best basketball shoes your favorite NBA players wore this 2022–23 season. There ought to be more from even lesser-known brands. Under Armour’s got next especially with a roster that already includes two MVPs in Stephen Curry and Joel Embiid. China-based brands ANTA, Li-Ning, and 361° are slowly but surely cutting a bigger slice of the pie. Perhaps next year’s listicle will look very different.

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