Last year, I took some time to give you the best outdoor basketball shoes of 2020. This year, I thought I would do the same and update you on some new options you should be on the lookout for if you want to keep your shoe game updated.
I scoured the web to find out which choices are gaining ground as the best outdoor basketball shoes of 2020. After long hours of extensive research, the winner is clear. The Adidas D Lillard 2 Basketball Shoe takes the crown as the very best outdoor basketball shoe in the market, stumping competitor brands like Nike and Under Armour.
With killer looks, solid structure and construction, premium materials, and superb performance on the court, the D Lillard 2 has finally earned the recognition it deserves, winning it the top spot on my list.
Of course, some other shoe designs came pretty close, and I’ll talk more about that later. But if you want to find out why the Adidas D Lillard 2 has won over my two thumbs up, then keep on reading as I dish out all the dirt on this top quality footwear choice.
Killer Traction on Challenging Terrain
I want to start off by talking about what might be my favorite aspect of the shoe. The main distinction between indoor and outdoor play is the court’s surface. Generally, indoor basketball courts are polished and smooth. This requires a special kind of traction that won’t cause uncontrolled slipping and sliding.
For outdoor play, courts can be uneven and rough. So shoes need to be able to grip against them, keeping your feet firmly planted even when not a lot of your sole’s surface area makes direct contact with the ground.
This is one of the reasons why I’ve come to love the Adidas D Lillard 2. Taking a glance at the shoes’ outsole, it’s easy to see that they’re designed for the outdoors. Thinly spaced grooves making sharp turns across the continental rubber material leave little room for gravel and rocks.
Slightly raised sections along the heel and forefoot leave something of a hollow space along the middle of the sole when your feet are planted on the ground. This makes room for bumps on the terrain, enabling you to keep your feet relatively parallel against the floor despite an uneven surface.
The super durable continental rubber material is the same as you would find used for tires. This makes the soles exceptionally resistant against wear and tear. So you can enjoy pretty much the same solid traction even with daily exposure to harsh surfaces.
Outstanding Responsiveness Thanks to Adidas BOUNCE
The Adidas BOUNCE technology is one of the latest solutions the brand has come up with to optimize performance on the court. The full-length cushions run from forefoot to heel, and give amazing bounce that lets you save momentum for the next step.
Based on what I’ve learned about the tech, it’s similar to Under Armour’s Micro G which has also gotten a lot of positive reviews since its release. Even then, I would contest that the BOUNCE simply gives slightly more responsiveness and a better court feel compared to UA’s Micro G.
During a game, the BOUNCE tech makes your feet more sensitive to the terrain, giving you a better feel of the court so you can adjust your posture and your movements to better navigate an uneven surface. Aside from that, the Adidas BOUNCE just feels a lot less effortful to run in. So you can keep a game going without spending as much energy.
Reliable Lockdown for an Injury-Free Game
The Adidas brand has been infamous for their inability to design shoes that truly lock down the foot for guaranteed injury prevention. So when I first looked into the D Lillard 2’s, I was expecting to see the same thing. To my surprise though, it seems Adidas has outdone itself with the design.
The D Lillard 2’s incorporate a premium heel counter that locks the foot in place to reliably prevent unnecessary lateral movements. The lacing system is specially designed to help work with the counter, applying pressure perpendicular to the heel to help lock the entire foot in place.
Work your way down the shoe and you’ll find straps that hold down the midfoot. And then up front, you’ve got yourself a roomy toe box that gives just enough space for comfort and flexion.
Ultimately, the shoe relies on heel and midfoot lockdown to prevent lateral movements. And I have to admit, the design works really well. The fit feels near perfect that they truly do start to feel like a second skin minutes after a game.
Premium Materials That Reflects the Cost
As the second most expensive shoe on this list, you would expect the D Lillard 2’s to be made of only the best quality materials. And you’re absolutely right. For some colorways, the brand uses jacquard uppers – a durable, lightweight, and flexible material that promises little to no break-in time. Others feature the same synthetic leather we usually see with other basketball shoes, but they’re not any less durable.
Personally, though, I feel that the jacquard material is a lot more breathable and lightweight. So they’re definitely a dream to play in especially on demanding terrain.
What’s Great About the Adidas D Lillard 2
- Intuitive outsoles designed for playing outdoors lessens the chances of having rocks or bumps on the court affecting your game.
- Full-length BOUNCE technology offers superb responsiveness and energy efficiency.
- Superb lockdown with smart heel counter and lacing system that works together to prevent lateral movement.
- Jacquard uppers on some colorways improve overall build quality, durability, and breathability.
- Substantial support keeps your feet and ankles injury-free on those challenging outdoor courts.
- Overall a high-performing shoe that helps you bring the best out of your game.
- Not all colorways use the jacquard material.
- Not exactly the most affordable outdoor basketball shoe there is but in this case, you really get what you pay for.
As promised, I’ve got a few other basketball shoe designs that – despite not making the top spot – still offer pretty solid performance for outdoor play. Check out these three honorable mentions and find a shoe that fits you:
Nike Foamposite One
The Nike Foamposite One is probably my second favourite outdoor basketball shoe for the year 2020. The design uses a unique foam-composite upper that gives unbelievable support, lockdown, and stability on the court. The design also incorporates the ever beloved Nike AIR cushion which improves responsiveness, comfort, and court feel.
What’s Great About the Nike Foamposite One
- Foam-composite uppers were designed for outdoor play, giving you unwavering support and stability all game through.
- Nike AIR cushion system provides impressive rebound and energy economy for explosive performance.
- Rubber outsole offers substantial cling and bite, keeping your feet firmly planted even during high-intensity games.
- Lacing system spans the entire surface of the uppers, allowing you to achieve a custom fit that suits your preferences.
- Breathability is largely sacrificed because of the upper material.
- Break-in period takes a pretty long time.
- Double the price of the D Lillard 2’s. Yup, you read that right.
Under Armour Clutchfit Drive II
If you’re looking for the best bang for your buck, then the UA Clutchfit Drive II might just be the ideal shoe for you. These shoes feature a hi-top silhouette, and use the crowd favorite Micro G tech to give you full-length responsiveness and bounce.
The Clutchfit technology is also pretty impressive. Basically, the design wraps snugly around your feet, providing great support and court feel to help you navigate the court confidently. This, in combination with the multi-directional herringbone outsole pattern, lets you glide, jump, and run at top speed without worrying about the injuries an uneven terrain could cause.
What’s Great About the UA Clutchfit Drive II
- Micro G inserts provide full-length rebound, making every area of the insole surface feel comfortable and responsive.
- Clutchfit lets you enjoy a premium fit without any uncomfortable loose areas or tight spots that could dampen your game.
- Outsole gives you reliable footing on lots of different types of outdoor terrain.
- Relatively cheaper compared to other choices on our list.
- A whole lot of colorways to choose from – you’re sure to find one that really meets your aesthetic preferences.
- Runs a half size smaller. Make sure to get them slightly larger to get a better fit.
- On and off isn’t the easiest thing to do.
- Get ready for some sweaty feet.
Nike Lebron Soldier IX
After reading about the Nike Lebron Soldier IX, I just had to give it a spot on my list. This robust design is perfect for hard players who really like to get into the game. The shoe uses a multi-directional hexagonal tread pattern for great traction on uneven terrain. The uppers are made from breathable mesh, and feature midfoot straps to help lock the foot down for secure yet flexible support.
The only reason why I couldn’t really bring myself to rank the shoe any higher on the list is because it tends to be too stiff. So it can significantly limit your range of motion and cause an unnatural gait pattern.
What’s Great About the Nike Lebron Soldier IX
- Breathable mesh keeps interior climate cool and dry for maximum comfort.
- Tread pattern is highly effective on outdoor terrain for superb stability and grip.
- Midfoot straps help with lockdown, providing counter pressure that prevents lateral movements at the most vulnerable areas.
- Pretty expensive considering the typical material used for the design.
- Really stiff straight out of the box, and stays that way for a very long time after you take them out.
- Insoles can’t be removed.
The Bottom Line
I really appreciate the careful thought and planning that went into the Adidas D Lillard 2 design. All in all, it seems the brand came up with a basketball shoe that really just works. The different elements come together seamlessly for improved performance outdoors. So I can definitely recommend the shoe for anyone in search of the ideal outdoor basketball companion.
Nonetheless, the Nike Foamposite One, the UA Clutchfit Drive II, and the Nike Lebron Soldier IX did come pretty close though. That said, you may want to check them out too to help you find the best basketball shoe for outdoor play that 2020 has to offer.