[caption id="attachment_149410" align="alignnone" width="625"] Image via SneakerFiles
Worn By: Carmelo Anthony, Kawhi Leonard
Best Feature: Durability
Melo’s sneaker line has long been underrated and the tenth installment of his signature line is the perfect combination of style and performance of his signature look. The M10 is arguably the most durable sneaker on the market. Featuring handcrafted premium material, Jordan Brand really went all out and held back no expense to get the sneaker to not only look and perform great, but last a long time, making the steep sticker price easier to stomach. With a Flight Plate in the front and superior cushioning, you really can’t go wrong with the M10.
Nike KD VI
Worn By: Kevin Durant
Key Feature: Traction
Riding the massive success of the KD VI, the next incarnate of the KD line has made a few tweaks in both design and performance. Featuring a strap across the midsole that draws flashbacks of the KD 2 and the KD 4, plus an improvement in traction, the sneaker is one of the best for foot and ankle safety. Featuring exposed Zoom, Hyperposite and a clean look, the KD 7 has huge shoes to fill (no pun intended) following the success of the KD 6 but looks to be up to task.
Nike Zoom Crusader
Worn By: Paul George, James Harden, Paul Millsap
Key Feature(s): Affordability, Outdoor Durability
For those on a budget, the Nike Zoom Crusader is a great option. While it may be too lightweight and low-cut for small forwards who bang in the post, small forwards who make their living from three-point range to the foul-line extended area should definitely take a look at the Crusader. Favored by a pre-injury Paul George, the Zoom Crusader gives decent traction and for those who like to take their game to the blacktop, the sneaker was originally designed with outdoor use in mind.
Nike Zoom Soldier VII
Worn By: LeBron James, DeMarcus Cousins
Key Feature: Power Flex Traction
While the LeBron 12 certainly looks to be the new standard in basketball footwear, the Zoom Soldier VIII is certainly nothing to sneeze at. Don’t forget, LeBron gave up on the XI last season in favor of the Zoom Soldier VII and the VIII is just as good, if not better than the VII. Featuring Power Flex traction, decent cushioning and a snug fit, the performance is tremendous at $130. Plus, if the LeBron 12 is too futuristic looking for you, or you’re looking for a more basic design, the Soldier VIII offers a clean, simple look by comparison.
Worn By: Kevin Durant, Gordon Hayward, Wilson Chandler
Key Feature(s): Colorway Selection, Foot Stability
Just because it’s a year old, it doesn’t make the KDVI is a year worse. Favored by ballers on every level last season, the KDVI should still get major play this year--plus once the KD 7 starts to pick up, the price point of the VI will likely drop. The VI has been written about ad nauseum at this point, but here’s the bottom line; for those looking for a low-cut sneaker with good but not great support, awesome cushioning, and unique colorways, this is the shoe for you.
Nike Zoom HyperRev
Worn By: Rudy Gay, Andre Iguodala, Paul George
Key Feature: Full Length Zoom
Much like the HyperDunk, Nike’s Zoom HyperRev is a model for all positions. Thanks to superior traction and full length Zoom Air, the HyperRev is one of the best non-signature Nikes to come along in quite some time. At $120, the HyperRev can be considered a bargain since it contains all the Nike tech just without a signature athlete attached to it.
Worn By: Awaiting NBA Debut
Key Feature: Versatility, Dynamic Flywire
It doesn’t matter what position you take on the court, your style of play, or what level of ball on, the Nike Hyperdunk is one of the most versatile sneakers on the market. Lightweight but still super supportive, the Hyperdunk comes in both high and low variations and has Dynamic Flywire tech to help keep your foot in place. If the $140 price tag is too high, the Hyperdunk 2013 (which may be an even better design depending on who you ask) can be found for the low.
Jordan Super.Fly 3
Worn By: Awaiting NBA Debut
Key Feature: Flight Plate Technology
Granted, the Jordan Brand has become known for its retro releases but they still make a damn fine performance sneaker. Though the sneaker won’t release for another week so we can’t dish out too much since they haven’t been wear tested yet. But if the Super.Fly 3 is anything like the Super.Fly 2, JB has another great basketball sneaker on its hands.
Worn By: Russell Westbrook (so far)
Key Feature: Comfort, Look, Performance Woven Upper
While the Jordan XX8 turned heads thanks to a risky design that featured a zipper upper, the XX9 features all the great Jordan Technology plus the best Jordan look since the XX3. With a Performance Woven upper that conforms to your foot based on your sweat (the advances in sneaker technology are insane), the sneaker has a custom feel that is unparalleled as far as comfort goes. While Jordan did remove the heel’s Zoom unit, the XX9 still features an amazing Zoom Air design, thanks largely in part to the decision to reduce the underfoot Zoom by a few millimeters for a more comfortable fit from the moment the sneaker is taken out of the box. Priced at $225, the Jordan XX9 is a great choice if it fits the budget.
Nike LeBron 12
Worn By: LeBron James
Key Feature: Literally everything
After months of hype, leaks and rumors, the LeBron 12 was finally unveiled during a presentation at the Nike World Headquarters in Portland. If you recall, the James never quite got comfortable with the LeBron XI so Nike made it a point to design the 12 exactly to LeBron’s specifications. WIth brand new technology, including Megafuse (a synthetic leather that blends into mesh) on the upper, a brand new Zoom Air design on the sole, an abundance of colorways already, plus no change in the price point from the XI, the LeBron 12 a must-cop for any serious baller.