The Top 5 Basketball Shoes For Centers + Big Men (2021)

Updated: January 22, 2021
Being a big man can be a blessing and a curse. You’re always wanted in a pickup game to play center and you can guard the middle like nobody else. At the same time, the strain on your knees and back can lead to debilitating pain and may even keep you off the court. If you’re tall and you want to stay in the game, you need to figure out how to avoid the pain of the center.

The key for big men is to find a shoe with high levels of cushioning. When you’re tall, you often weigh more than average (even if you’re skinny), leading to excessive forces being placed on your knees and back. To minimize the damage, you want to wear shoes that soften the impact you are placing every time you plant your feet.

The shoes below are those that have been reviewed and rated as the best basketball shoes for centers who need to protect their body.

1. Under Armour Embiid One

Under Armour Embiid One
  • Solid traction, particularly outdoors, where the thick rubber outsole seizes the court whichever way you play.
  • The Micro G is among the better cushioning that Under Armour offers, and is perfect for big men while still being suitable for smaller players.
  • Wide base and lockdown wings provide good all-round support.
Under Armour Embiid One

Fan Average

3.56
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Review Average

4.3

2. Nike LeBron 18

  • Good, steady traction, both indoors and outdoors, though expect the rubber to wear out on the blacktop.
  • World-level cushioning on this one, with a great rear Air Max unit and full length Zoom setup. The shoe rides low, and springs as well or better than any shoe on the market.
  • Solid support, particularly in the heal and midfoot area. Look out for the higher arch than is normal for LeBron shoes.

Fan Average

3.45
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Review Average

4.2

3. Adidas Pro Bounce 2019

  • Traction on the Pro Bounce 2019 is made of a new herringbone layout on the forefoot, morphing into a tighter-patterned tread in the rear, performing well overall.
  • The Bounce cushioning does a solid job, and feels similar to the outstanding DON Issue #1 from Adidas.
  • The Pro Bounce tends to feel on the narrower side, and provides good stability overall despite some minor heel slippage.

Fan Average

4.00
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Review Average

4.8

4. Nike Zoom Rize 2

  • Traction is solid and grippy on a range of indoor and outdoors surfaces.
  • Enhanced compression and plush cushioning is a clear improvement over its predecessor, the Zoom Rize.
  • Very good support, even with a base that isn't particularly wide. You'll feel secure.

Fan Average

4.13
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Review Average

4.4

5. Air Jordan 35

  • Outstanding herringbone traction, similar to the traction in the 34, which grips like a beast, but also may wear down quickly if playing outdoors.
  • Zoom in the forefoot and the heel provides superior cushioning and amazing heel-to-toe transitioning.
  • A big step up in support from the 34, with a heavy-duty frame and great lateral and torsional stability.

Fan Average

3.27
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Review Average

4.6
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