AAU basketball is all about individual expression. It’s the time of year to show off all the parts of your game you kept under wraps during the high school season. Whether you are playing in front of college coaches or your parents it’s all about developing confidence in your game so that you are ready for Sectionals next year. Besides expressing certain aspects of your game, AAU also gives you the opportunity to showcase your tastes in fashion. Here at Eastbay we have put together a nice guide for you with some of the best products to have for your AAU season. This list is specifically dedicated to shoes that will help your play and style stand out on the court, but you should also take some time to check out our guide on the best apparel here. Alright let’s dive in.
The latest shoe from Kevin Durant is an excellent example of how the line continues to evolve to support the needs of basketball players. Durant was more hands-on in the design with this iteration and it shows. Wanting to focus on comfort and flexibility designers reworked the strobel (the thin layer inside your shoe separating your foot from the cushioning) so that the Zoom Air is stitched directly underfoot. The Zoom Air stretches the full length of the shoe and features several channels that help the shoe better flex as you cut and drive. While flexibility is necessary, you also don’t want to feel like you’re about to run out of the shoe every time you push off. That’s why the multidirectional flywire is so crucial, because it keeps your feet locked in and stable. The perforated midsole also helps cut some weight off the shoe to keep you light on your feet.
Let’s take a quick moment to acknowledge that Paul George somehow got better after suffering what many thought was a career threatening injury. Incredible. PG’s signature shoes have also continued to get better because of their guiding principle of simplicity. Everything that isn’t a crucial component of the shoe has been removed, making sure it’s as lightweight as possible. The tongue is connected to the collar, and the designers were able to cut weight by keeping the Zoom Air in the forefoot of the shoe. Another part that received a large amount of focus was the upper where the goal was to maintain flexibility while still adhering to the “lightweight” mindset. What really separates the PG from Nike’s other signature shoes is the outsole pattern. Instead of opting for the traditional herringbone pattern, the team was inspired by craters on the moon and decided to use a circular traction pattern.
Even at 34 years old LeBron James is still one of the most physically dominant players in a league full of physical freaks of nature (Reminder: Giannis’s achilles tendon is two times longer than the average person’s). The 16’s are built to harness all of LeBron’s power and focus it onto the basketball court. They combine Max and Zoom Air to absorb impact, lessening the strain on your legs, and then return all the energy to you. LeBrons are often slightly heavier than other player’s signature shoes, but that’s because they are designed to be more supportive and stable. Battleknit 2.0 is instrumental in this because it’s ultra-strong and provides support in the most crucial places. Then, to help complement the support and stability, the 16’s feature a custom lacing system and rigid heel clip that keeps you locked in for the entire game.
I would like to know where Russell Westbrook gets all his energy. Is it coffee brewed deep in the Amazon rainforest by tribal masters? Does his blood consist exclusively of five-hour energy? Is the Energizer Bunny his father? It’s incredible how much Westbrook brings it every single night which means he needs shoes that can handle his playing style. The Why Not 0.2’s are engineered to channel all the energy into production. One of the most important aspects of designing shoes for Westbrook is the cushioning system. It is critical that Westbrook’s foot be able to breathe in addition to being supported and kept fresh. To accomplish this, designers put Nike’s iconic Zoom Air in the forefoot and used a mixed-material upper. Another crucial component of the shoe is the midfoot strap, because if Westbrook’s foot isn’t locked down, he’ll jump out of his shoes. The strap provides a snug fit and makes sure your foot won’t slide around.
Kyrie Irving is one of the most uniquely talented players in the league with handles that would make Neil Degrasse Tyson question physics. His shoes are also some of the most creatively designed with some of the best colorways around. No player attacks from as many different angles and positions which means his shoes need to be versatile. In a game played on as fine of margins as basketball even the most minor of slips can ruin a drive or force you to throw a pass a half second earlier. That’s one of the reasons for the curved outsole which is meant to help Irving maintain grip even when his foot isn’t flat on the ground. Designers also included flywire cables around the midfoot, drawing on inspiration from a flytrap to secure your foot. One of the other nice things about the 5’s is the attention paid to protecting your foot. The toe has been reinforced and the padded ankle collar has your achilles covered.
Whether you’re running point, posting up in the paint, or spotting up on the wing these shoes are sure to help you elevate your game. You can check out the rest of Eastbay’s basketball shoe collection and all of our other basketball gear by visiting eastbay.com.