The 5 Best Basketball Shoes For Centers & Big Men

Last updated on October 30th, 2022 at 04:21 am

Centers and big men play a crucial role in protecting both the paint and the rim. They are also responsible for blocking shots and picking up most of the rebounds.

Because of their massive body size and weight, joint pains and muscle aches are quite common among big men. In addition, lack of proper gear, including sneakers and the lack of proper ankle protection, can cause serious injuries.

Because of their massive size, weight, and constant jumping, centers require basketball shoes that can protect their ankles and knees while absorbing their overall weight.

Alleviation of stress and protection of joints is critical for centers and big men. Thus, if you are a big man, you should always settle for a pair of basketball shoes that are specifically designed for big men. 

That said, what are some of the things that you should consider when shopping for the best basketball shoes for centers and big men?

What to Consider When Choosing Basketball Shoes for Centers and Big Men


Unlike guards, forwards and centers require proper cushioning because of their weight, which puts more stress on joints. Because of their massive weight and size, centers require basketball shoes that are not only comfortable but also offer proper impact protection.

When shopping for basketball shoes for big men, always look for a pair that comes with proper cushioning. Cushioning systems like the Adidas boost and the Nike Zoom technology help protect the player’s knees, ankles, and joints during games and training sessions.

Ankle Protection

While low-tops are still popular, big men and centers should always settle for basketball shoes that offer maximum protection to the ankles. This is mainly because their roles in the court involve jumping up and down, whether it is collecting rebounds or going for blocks.

Jumping up and down can cause stress on the ankle, which can affect the player’s overall performance and health. High-tops are the perfect basketball shoes for centers, mainly because they offer a sense of security and additional support to the player.


Because of the weight factor, basketball sneakers for forwards should come with a solid construction/material that will not break under pressure. It is not uncommon for a big man’s shoes to blow apart as was the case with Zion Williamson while he was playing for Duke.

When shoes break due to excessive weight or pressure, they can cause injuries. Thus, all centers and big men should always settle for shoes that come with solid construction.

The material used will always determine whether the basketball shoes will last for a long time or will require a replacement within a short time.


Basketball players require lots of traction and thus it is one of the main things to look out for when shopping for your next basketball shoes. Traction will ensure that you have enough grip when sprinting on offense or when backpedaling back on defense.

Before purchasing your next pair, ensure that your preferred choice offers adequate traction. Let us look at the 5 best basketball shoes for big men and centers.

Best Basketball Shoes For Centers, Big Men & Forwards

1. Nike Lebron 17-Best Overall

With plenty of cushioning including a midsole phylon, the Lebron 17s are arguably the best basketball shoes for centers, big men, and forwards. As mentioned earlier, Big men and centers need plenty of cushioning and that is what exactly the Nike Lebron 17s offer.

The impact protection on this pair is exceptional, such that you will not be aware of your feet touching the ground. At the forefront, the shoe features Nike Zoom Air, the back Air Max and at the midsole Phylon.

All these pieces of technology work together to ensure that impact is absorbed way before it reaches the knees and the ankles.

In terms of durability, the Nike Lebron 17 uses Kniposite material which is not only durable but also feels more like a pair of shoes that you’ve had for a very long time. Technically, you do not need to break into this basketball shoes.

In addition, the uppers of the knit section offer great support and containment, which is important to the playing style of big men. Overall, the Nike 17s are highly stable and offer plenty of support.

However, despite being high-performance basketball shoes for forward and big men, the Nike Lebron 17’s are pricey.

Plenty of cushioningQuite pricey
Highly durableCan be quite heavy for some users
No time needed to break into the shoes
Great support and containment

2. Zoom Freak 2-Best For Explosive Players

If you are a big man who prefers court feel over impact protection, then you should definitely get the Nike Zoom Freak 2 basketball shoes. Because of its moderate cushioning, the Nike Zoom Freak 2 feels very light on the feet.

In addition, the overall weight of the Zoom Freak 2 and the aerodynamic design makes these basketball shoes suitable for centers, big men and power forwards who are quite explosive on the court.

While the traction on the Zoom Freak 2 has been superbly done, they are only ideal for indoor use. In addition, although you can use them on dusty courts, the Nike Zoom Freak 2 will require regular wiping. Despite being a signature shoe, the Zoom Freak 2’s remains quite affordable.

Overall, the Nike Zoom Freak 2 is the perfect basketball shoes for forwards who prefer speed and maximum ankle support.

Light in weight Not suitable for outdoors or dusty courts
Quite affordable
Superb fit and support

3. Nike Zoom Rize 2

The Nike Zoom Rize 2 is a superb under-the-radar basketball shoe that’s not only a high-performer but also a highly innovative basketball shoe. Being a pair that’s geared towards big men, the Nike Zoom Rize 2 is much thicker in comparison to the Nike Zoom Rize 1.

This offers centers plenty of cushioning on impact and a much softer landing. Like its predecessor, the Nike Zoom Rize 2 uses lightweight materials, including a textured mesh for the uppers.

Apart from giving the shoes a lightweight feeling, the textured mesh also prevents the shoes from getting scratches and abrasions.

To ensure maximum ankle protection, the Nike Zoom Rize 2 also comes with a padded tongue and collar, something that’s not quite common in many lightweight shoes. The Nike Zoom Rize 2 also offers great traction as it sports the same rubber outsole as that of Kobe 9s.

The patterns on this pair are not only circular but also wavy, which ensures that the shoes offer a great grip.

However, it’s important to note that because of the bulkiness of this shoe, players tend to be higher off the ground when playing with the Nike Zoom Rize 2. This can be an issue for players who are not used to higher shoes.

Thicker cushioning Not ideal for players who are not used to higher shoes
Proper ankle protection
Great overall traction

4. Adidas Next Level

The Adidas Next Level is one of the few offerings by Adidas that’s geared towards big men. While most shoes in the market use either Bounce, Boost, or CloudFoam technology, the Adidas Next Level uses Lightstrike technology.

Apart from taking care of impact, the Lightstrike tech also offers a smooth transition with a lighter overall underfoot experience. For maximum durability, the Adidas Next Level uses Primeknit on the uppers of the shoes.

The PrimeKnit uppers also allow the shoe to properly expand, which in turns makes this pair one of the best basketball shoes for with wide feet.

Like the Adidas Harden 3’s, the Adidas Next Level basketball shoes offer players a much similar experience in terms of traction as both shoes not only uses similar rubber outsole with herringbone patterns.

This is simply a pair that won’t wear and tear easily. While the pair is true to size, it’s highly advisable for wide footers to try on the shoes before purchasing.

That said, with a well-balanced cushioning system and lightweight construction it’s clear to see why this budget offering is one of the best basketball shoes for centers and big men.

Well-balanced cushioning Not ideal for dusty courts
Highly durable
Ideal for wide feet

5. Under Armor Embiid One

The Under Armor Embiid One is a solid performer that offers players plenty of cushioning and impact protection. For proper cushioning, the Under Armor Embiid One uses HOVR heel pluck and full-length Micro-G technology.

Unlike the UA Curry 7’s, which proved to be a major letdown in terms of cushioning while using similar technology, the Embiid One’s are not only quite comfortable but also very stable on the feet. While these shoes are perfect for big men, small-sized players who prefer proper cushioning on their feet can also get these basketball shoes.

In addition, the Under Armor Embiid One also features a sturdy mid-foot shank together with a midsole construction that properly cusps the player’s foot at the rear. Because the Under Armor Embiid One uses mesh uppers, breathability is not an issue with these shoes.

Furthemore, because of the mesh upper, players do not require plenty of time to break in into these shoes. Overall, the Under Armor Embiid Ones are solid basketball shoes for power forwards, big men and centers.

Pros Cons
Superb traction and cushioning Slightly heavier
Very comfortable on the feetMaterials used in the uppers do not give a premium feel

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