Today we’re going to take a look at the top basketball shoes for guards playing women’s basketball. When it comes to female guard play, the necessities for a women’s sneaker are weight, support, and traction.
Guards are typically the fastest players on the court, so lightweight sneakers are a must. Support and traction go hand in hand. All the while, the players’ foot needs to feel secure in the shoe, and the shoe needs to feel secure on the court when dashing around defenders.
The Nike LeBron line always has the latest and greatest when it comes to tech. But they are made to be worn by a 6’9”, 250-pound monster. Thusly, the sneakers tend to be bulky and cumbersome. Not ideal when running off screens at breakneck speed or making viscous cuts.
So let’s take a look at some of the best options out there for peak performance (and dope style!). From Puma’s Clyde All-Pro to the Nike KD 13 and even New Balance’s OMN1S Low, we’ve got the top guard picks so you can find the best fit for you. Plus, you might be surprised to find out which shoe Chelsea Gray prefers!
Before we get started, here is a disclaimer: This is not a countdown list. Everyone’s foot is different and therefore without trying a sneaker on, there is no way to know exactly how it will feel on foot. Wear what is comfortable. And don’t be afraid to buy some after-market insoles for the perfect fit. Also, as with most things in life – just because a pair of sneakers is the most expensive, doesn’t mean they’re the best!
These sneakers were supposed to be worn by the Nike Basketball athletes at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. They undoubtably would have been worn by countless players on the U.S. Women’s National team while receiving their Gold Medals, but alas a little thing called COVID-19 derailed those plans. Nike also signed Sabrina Ionescu to their roster.
Anyhow, the sneakers themselves feature the most cushioning of any sneaker on this list. The BB NXT comes equipped with three layers of the ultra-cushy react foam plus double stacked Zoom units in the forefoot. The downside to all this cushioning is that it leaves the player a bit higher off the ground than usual which might lead to rolled ankles.
The upper is completely done in man-made textiles which give the sneaker a glove like fit. The traction pattern looks almost like lines of topography coming from the pressure points of the foot with deep channels made from a high-end rubber compound.
Retail Price: $180 (Depending on size and color, they can be found for as low as $90)
Worn by: Breanna Stewart
The All-Pro is the next sneaker in line Puma Clyde line since the brand re-launched their performance basketball operation in 2018. At first glance, the sneaker looks like it belongs more on a tennis court than a basketball court, but the lightweight, full-coverage outsole empowers quick cuts on the court.
These sneakers feature a new knit upper from Puma called MatryxEvo Tech (can’t make this stuff up) which is stiffer than most knit uppers from other brands. It is interwoven with reinforcements in high-pressure areas. The construction makes the sneaker super-lightweight. The back features a suede heel cup which is a nice nod to the classic Clydes. One thing that may cause lady hoopers to pause, however, is the extremely low cut.
Traction wise the forefoot features a traditional herringbone pattern while the heel features broader/deeper channels. Puma’s biggest issue since returning to the basketball scene is their cushioning has not been on par with the big boys (and gals!). They look to change that with this model. The All-Pro features a cushier ride as the full-length foam-based cushioning is right under foot as opposed to encased in rubber like prior models.
Retail Price: $130
Worn by: Expect Skylar Diggins-Smith and Jackie Young to wear them in 2021
It was recently announced that Stephen Curry will be getting his own “brand” with Under Armour beginning with his next sneaker. So this is the last one that will feature UA branding (though it is pretty non-existent on this one anyway). Under Armour has also signed female hoopers Tyasha Harris, Bella Alarie, and Kaila Charles by the way.
This iteration, the Under Armour Curry 7, continues with the low-top construction that we’ve seen the past few years. The construction features a mixture of synthetic materials that do their job through the unique construction to lock the foot down. The HOVR foam cushioning wraps up the sidewall of the sneaker creating a snug fit ensuring the wearers’ foot wont slip.
Two things that are constant with the Curry line remains in this iteration. First, the good: the traction is second to none. Next, the bad: Steph prefers his sneakers to be firm due his previous ankle injuries. The sneaker boasts the use of both HOVR and Micro G cushioning, but in reality, they just slapped the branding on the side. The foam used is much denser than how either of these usually feel.
Retail Price: $140
Worn by: Tyasha Harris and Kaila Charles
Where to buy: Under Armour, retailers such as Dick’s and Champs have them in stock, but women’s sizes below 8½ are lumped in with the kid’s shoes (doubtful that the full tech is carried in lower sizes)
For obvious reasons, the Kyrie line is typically the most guard-friendly signature line that Nike puts out each year. It is also the most creative when it comes to colorways and variations which always makes is a fun line to follow. Because there are so many versions created, the sneaker can usually be found below retail in some of the less desirable colorways.
Let’s start with the construction. Many of the colorways for the Kyrie 6 use genuine leather for the back half of the sneaker. While leather was the material of choice 35 years ago for basketball sneakers, it has fallen out of favor for lighter (and cheaper) materials. The forefoot features the breathable textiles we’re used to, and the midfoot strap helps lock down the foot.
The biggest drawback for the sneaker is the lack of true cushioning in the heel. The Zoom Turbo in the forefoot is some of the best cushioning around, but heel to toe runners may have some issues.
Retail Price: $130 (can be found at Nike for $100 or less)
Where to buy: Nike
It’s hard to believe that there have been 13 Kevin Durant signature sneakers. Once upon a time the KD line was second only to LeBron in Nike’s pecking order, but due to some lackluster design choices (looking at you KD 7-10) and unfortunate injuries (plus Durant turning heel by joining Golden State) the KD signature line doesn’t feel as important as it once did. The KD 13 looks to change that.
The sneaker’s main focus is cushioning, and it delivered big time. They feature full length Zoom plus an additional Zoom unit in the forefoot. The insole is made of foam that conforms to the wearers foot, meaning a custom fit time after time.
The upper is constructed of primarily ripstop on most iterations (there are some variations on more premium colorways) which is a lightweight, confirming material that does not take time to break in. The issue is that there are time where the top-notch traction may cause the player to stop on a dime, but their foot may slip off of the foot bed in the forefoot.
Retail Price: $150-160 (Nike has some of the more generic colorways available under $120)
Worn by: Napheesa Collier
The Dame 7 is the next model in Damian Lillard’s signature line. While the Dame 6 was widely panned due to poor traction and lackluster cushioning, adidas did what good brands do and made the necessary changes.
The Dame 7 comes with a full mesh upper situated on top of adidas’s Lighstrike foam cushioning. Boost gets all the headlines on adidas models, but Lightstrike is lighter, more responsive, and, maybe most importantly, cheaper. None of Lillard’s signature models to date have featured Boost cushioning for these reasons. The outsole is made of durable rubber in a swooping zig-zag pattern.
Where some players may feel let down is in the materials. There is nothing wrong with synthetics and mesh, but the upper doesn’t feel as premium as some other signature models. Some concessions need to be made to keep a sneaker at a reasonable price point, and the materials are that thing on the Dame 7.
Retail Price: $110
As mentioned when discussing the Puma Clyde All-Pro previously, these are part of Puma’s signature basketball line with direct lineal ties to the original Puma Clyde.
One of the most appealing features about this sneaker is the use of premium materials for the upper. Genuine leather and suede are always a plus. The toe box is constructed of breathable synthetic mesh. The leather on the rear helps hold the foot in place once it has warmed up and conformed to the heel. The snugness combined with the herringbone traction gives the sneaker the perfect combination of support and stability.
The area where this model falls short is in the cushioning. Puma uses foam cushioning for their performance basketball models. In the Hardwood, they wrapped the foam in rubber. Because of this, the wearer does not get the responsiveness that may be desired. Some players prefer a firmer set-up, but it may be a drawback for others.
Retail Price: $120 (With the aforementioned All-Pro getting the hype, these have hit discount racks for as low as $60)
Worn by: Jackie Young
The OMN1S was New Balance’s foray back into the performance basketball scene. This is the low top version which was released in July of 2020 to little fanfare.
The OMN1S features a wide, stable base and possibly the best traction of any sneaker on this list. The upper is made of a woven knit upper overlaying an inner bootie. New Balance loaded the OMN1S with full length Fuel Cell foam cushioning which, while not on par with Nike’s Zoom, is comparable to most other cushioning systems.
As is typical with a lot of New Balance sneakers, the fit is tricky. The brand in general tends to run comparatively large in their performance footwear which can cause support issues for the wearer. New Balance’s website offers size 5-12 in regular and wide, so the perfect fit it out there, but these are scarce in store, so trying them on may be an issue.
Retail Price: $140
Worn by: There are no current WNBA players wearing NB
Where to buy: New Balance
Nike broke the mold when it went low with the original Kobe 4. It piggybacked off the 4’s momentum and went even lower with the 5. Now the Kobe 5 is getting the Protro (Professional-level performance + Retro) treatment. This is the third sneaker in the Kobe signature line to be re-tooled with updated tech for the modern player.
The upper features the same fused plastic-based upper that was introduced back in 2009. There were subtle changes, but nothing that changes the superb feel and fit that the original was known for. The biggest upgrade from its predecessor is the cushioning technology. It replaced it’s outdated, smaller Zoom units with larger, cushier ones.
The biggest downside to this sneaker is its availability. After Kobe’s untimely passing, Nike halted releases of his sneakers. The unfortunate event also caused the prices of his signature shoes to skyrocket on re-sale sites such as StockX. While Nike has brought his products back to retail, they sell out very quickly. At prices in the $250-350 range, some players might not even want to lace them for on-court use.
Retail Price: $180 (Good luck finding them for cheaper than $250)
Where to buy: StockX
Like Puma and New Balance, Converse jumped back into the performance basketball space in the past few years. And they signed Natasha Cloud in 2019 as their first WNBA player. This model is the upgraded version of their original All-Star BB that they re-entered the market with in 2019.
Converse is owned by Nike, so they can use a lot of the same tech in their sneakers. The upper of this model features a woven textile upper that is split between the medial and lateral sides of the sneakers. The outer side features a tighter, more supportive weave so the foot stays in place on cuts. This is a unique construction that is not seen on any other models.
The cushioning is made up completely of a Nike React insole. The cushioning system places the player close to the ground, providing outstanding court feel, but does leave something on the table when it comes to impact protection when landing. The outsole pattern works well for traction, but there are deep grooves that can cause trouble on dustier or outdoor courts.
Retail Price: $115
Worn by: Though not this model, Glory Johnson wore Converse in The Wubble
Where to buy: Converse
You’ve seen the top basketball shoes for guards worn by your favorite WNBA players. And gotten the scoop on all the pros and cons. So you’re ready to roll on finding the best pair of shoes for your game. Once you’re suited up with the right sneakers for you, check out basketball guard drills to take your game to the next level.
Written by Matt Weidner, a sneaker-loving Dad from suburban Philadelphia whose best playing days are firmly in the past. Follow him on Twitter at @SixersSneakers if you’re into sneakers, the 76ers, or both.
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