Best Basketballs Reviewed & Rated for Quality

Basketball has come a long way over the years. Starting in 1891, basketballs were actually more like soccer balls. Fast forward to today, and there are so many different styles and types of basketballs for any occasion. There are so many choices, that it can almost seem a bit overwhelming when you are trying to find the perfect basketball for you. There are a few factors to consider when purchasing a  basketball that will ultimately help narrow down your choices and help you find a ball that is the perfect fit for you and your needs.  

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By Taylor Belmer:

Before we did the update, our guide was a bit of a brick off the backboard, but now it's a total slam dunk. We made sure to link everything clearly so that you can click on and find exactly what you are looking for. Whether you are an indoor or outdoor baller, this guide will lead you to a basketball that suits your needs!

Featured Recommendations

Spalding NBA Street
  • Spalding NBA Street
  • 4.8 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Rubber Cover
  • Price: See Here
Wilson Evolution
  • Wilson Evolution
  • 4.7 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Cushion Core Carcass
  • Price: See Here
Stylife 5”
  • Stylife 5”
  • 4.5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • PVC Materials
  • Price: See Here

One of the most important aspects to keep in mind when shopping for one  is where you plan on using it. Not all models are created equal. Some models were made specifically for an indoor court and some models are made for outdoors. There are a few out there that are made for both, so it is important to know exactly what it is you are looking for. It is also important to get the right size model. If you are buying for a child who is just starting out, the bigger, regulation size model may be too big for him, which will cause some major issues with overall ball control. Below, I have included a list of the best 10 models with all of these aspects in mind to hopefully help clear up any confusion for you.

 

10 Best Basketballs

 

1. Spalding NBA Street

1. Spalding NBA Street
If you are looking for a basketball that was built for the outdoors and offers a premium grip, then the Spalding NBA Street Basketball is the perfect choice for you. This basketball was designed to hit the pavement without having to worry about ruining the ball. Made with maximum gripping in mind, this ball handles like a dream. Coming in a variety of sizes, including the official NBA size, you will be the talk of all of your friends.

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Rubber Cover
This basketball is made with a rubber cover. This cover helps the ball keep its shape and also protects it from the rough elements of the pavement. That means that this ball won’t get ruined after a few games of outdoor basketball.

Wide Channels
This basketball is also equipped with wide channels. The wide channels allow you to get a better grip on the ball. This helps with ball control and overall accuracy because you are able to grip the ball the entire time it is in your hands, allowing you to feel confident while you play.

Cost and Value
Looking for a basketball that has amazing grip quality that won’t empty your wallet? Then the Spalding NBA Street Basketball is the perfect fit for you. In comparison to other basketballs on this list, this one falls into the less expensive price range, depending on the size that you order. Considering that this outdoor basketball is equipped with a rubber cover to protect it against the rough pavement, wide channels for an easier, more controlled grip, and comes in a variety of sizes to choose from, you are getting a great quality ball that won’t put a huge dent in your wallet.
Pros
  • Rubber cover
  • Comes in official NBA size
  • Wide channels
  • Variety of sizes
  • Less expensive depending on size
Cons
  • Ball may go flat after multiple uses
  • Price varies on size

2. Wilson Evolution

2. Wilson Evolution
The Wilson Evolution Indoor Game Basketball is the perfect basketball for any indoor game. Offering incredible grip with its leather micro-pebble technology and channels that are laid-in, this basketball won’t let you down. With a soft feel, you will be able to handle this ball like a pro in no time at all. Coming in two different sizes, intermediate and official, this ball offers something for everyone.
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Leather Micro-Pebble Technology
Instead of having regular rubber channels, this basketball offers channels that are made from a composite leather. There are thousands of these little micro-pebbles that cover the surface of the ball and wick away sweat, allowing for maximum grip and control. With this design, you won’t have to worry about the ball slipping out of your hand as you dribble across the court.

Cushion Core Carcass
Another unique feature that this basketball has is its carcass. It is made from a unique Cushion Core that consists of a sponge rubber that is low in density and a butyl rubber that is extremely durable. This only adds to this ball’s amazing grip and comfortable feel.

Cost and Value
Looking for a basketball that will have you shooting and dribbling like a pro? Then the Wilson Evolution Indoor Game Basketball is the perfect one for you. When compared to other basketballs on this list, this one falls into the more expensive price range, but don’t let the price scare you off! You need to remember that you are getting a high-quality basketball that focuses on grip and control with its laid-in channels and unique micro-pebble design. Coming in two different size choices, you are getting a high-quality, durable basketball that will stand the test on time!
Pros
  • Micro-pebble technology
  • Laid-in leather channels
  • Cushion Core Carcass
  • Available in 2 different sizes
Cons
  • More expensive
  • Might be lighter than expected

3. Stylife 5”

3. Stylife 5”
The Stylife 5” Mini b-ball for Kids is the perfect choice for those of you who have little ones. Made from a PVC material that is soft and non-toxic, your kids will have a blast with this ball. Its soft design makes for safe sports play in the house and can even be used outdoors. Made in bright colors and a variety of different colors and sets to choose from, they offer something that will please any child.
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PVC Material
This mini b-ball is made from a safe, environmentally friendly PVC material. This material is soft, so not only will it not do any damage while being played with inside, but it won’t hurt your children either. This PVC material has a soft touch to it and won’t make a lot of noise when being bounced in the house.

Large Variety to Choose from
This mini b-ball also comes with a large variety of options. You have 3 different colors to choose from and a couple different sets to choose from. .One set comes with 2 soccer balls, 1 football, and 1 b-ball, and a pump. The other set comes with 2 footballs, 2 b-balls, and 1 pump. Having a variety like this, you are bound to find something for everyone.

Cost and Value
If you are in the market for a miniature b-ball for your child that is safe, yet durable, then the Stylife 5” Mini b-ball for kids is the perfect fit for you. In comparison to other b-balls on this list, this one falls into the less expensive category, depending on the choice you make. Considering that this mini b-ball is made from a soft and safe PVC material that won’t damage your walls or hurt your children and comes in a large variety of choices, this is a great choice that won’t put a dent in your wallet.
Pros
  • Safe PVC material
  • Bright and fun
  • 5” mini basketball
  • Variety to choose from
  • Less expensive depending on choice
Cons
  • May be thinner than expected

 

4. Baden Elite

4. Baden Elite
The Baden Elite Indoor Game Basketball is the perfect ball for you to use when trying to improve your game. Designed with precision in mind, this ball is made from a microfiber that helps keep moisture off of the ball, so you can improve your grip. It also uses a special kind of technology to help give the ball a softer feel. Coming in two different sizes, Intermediate and Official, this ball will have all of your basketballs friends talking.
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Composite Microfiber
This basketball is made from a composite microfiber leather. This material helps you grip the ball better when your hands are sweaty. It actually helps repel the sweat, so it doesn’t interfere with your gameplay, allowing you to keep your focus on the game.

Cushion Control Technology
If comfort is what you are after, then this basketball is the one for you. It was designed with a unique technology called Cushion Control. This technology makes this ball have a soft feel and amazing bounce, allowing you to be your best during game time.

Cost and Value
In comparison to other basketballs on this list, the Baden Elite Indoor Game Basketball falls into the more expensive category. If you consider the overall quality of the material used to make this basketball, the incredible grip for maximum control, the overall softness of this ball, and the fact that it comes in two different sizes, you are getting a high-quality basketball that is worth every penny.
Pros
  • Composite microfiber leather
  • Cushion Control Technology
  • Symmetrical design
  • 2 different sizes to choose from
Cons
  • More expensive
  • May be too bouncy

5. Under Armour 495

5. Under Armour 495
If maximum grip and usage are what you are after, then look no further than the Under Armour Men’s 495 Indoor/Outdoor Basketball. This ball was designed to be used virtually anywhere. It is made from 80% nylon, so you know that this ball will retain its shape at all times. It is also equipped with a unique Gripskin composite, to help with overall ball control and grip. Coming as the official size 7 basketball, you are sure to improve your overall basketball skills with this ball.
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Butyl Bladder
This basketball is equipped with a butyl bladder. This type of bladder helps the basketball retain its shape and allows the ball to hold air for longer periods of time. This means that you can focus more of your time enjoying the basketball and less time having to worry about constantly having to refill it with air.

Gripskin
This basketball also uses what is called Gripskin. This unique technology give the ball a better feel and also allows you to get a better grip on the ball, so you don’t have to worry about it constantly slipping from your hands. This kind of technology will only help you improve on your basketball skills.

Cost and Value
If you are looking for a high-quality, durable basketball that won’t break the bank, then the Under Armour Men’s 495 Official Indoor/Outdoor Basketball is the perfect fit for you. When compared to other basketballs on this list, this one falls into the average price range. Considering the fact that this basketball is made from a combination of nylon and Gripskin for maximum control and handling, has a butyl bladder for ultimate air retention and shape, and has deep channels that also help with grip and bounce, you are getting an amazing basketball for a price that you can’t walk away from.
Pros
  • 80% nylon
  • Gripskin technology
  • Deep channels
  • Butyl bladder
  • Average pricing
Cons
  • Ball may have too much grip

 

6. Molten X-Series

6. Molten X-Series
The Molten X-Series Indoor/Outdoor b-ball is a great b-ball to use almost anywhere. FIBA approved, this b-ball has a synthetic cover that makes this ball safe to use indoor and outdoor. Equipped with a butyl bladder, this ball has an amazing feel to it and is great at retaining air. Coming in a 12-panel design and 3 different sizes to choose from, this b-ball sure aims to please.
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Synthetic Cover
This model is made with a synthetic cover, which makes this a versatile ball. You can use this indoors on a court or outdoors for a friendly session of b-ball and the ball won’t get ruined. This is perfect for those avid players that just can’t get enough of the sport.

Butyl Bladder
This model is also made with a butyl bladder. Not only does this type of bladder give the ball a better feel and bounce control, it is also amazing at retaining air. This means that you get to spend more of your time enjoying the game and less time having to worry about airing the ball up.

Cost and Value
In comparison to other b-balls on this list, this one falls into the average price range, depending on what size you order. Given the fact that you are getting a durable b-ball with a synthetic cover that can be played indoors and outdoors, has a butyl bladder for amazing air retention and bounce, a 12-panel design, and 3 different sizes to choose from, you are getting a great b-ball for a reasonable price.

Pros
  • 3 different sizes
  • Butyl bladder
  • Synthetic cover
  • Indoor and outdoor use
  • Average pricing depending on the size
Cons
  • May be smaller than expected
  • Pricing varies on size

7. GlowCity Light-Up

7. GlowCity Light-Up
Looking for a fun, innovative way to bring a new level of excitement to basketball? The look no further than the GlowCity Light-Up Basketball. This unique basketball was designed specifically for the dark. It lights up into a fiery glow with impact, so it stays lit the entire time that you play and then shuts off when not in use. With this ball, adults and children alike are guaranteed to stay entertained for hours.
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Lights Up on Impact
This glow in the dark basketball is perfect for a fun game of basketball at night. Its light-up technology uses 2 LED lights and is activated on impact. This means that as long as you are bouncing and shooting the ball, the lights will stay lit. It has an automatic shut-off as well, so when it is inactive, the lights will automatically turn off, saving on battery use.

Made to Last
This basketball may have been made with entertainment in mind, but it is also very durable. It is made of leather and is the same size and weight as an actual basketball. Play for hours on end every day of the week, and this ball will not fall apart.

Cost and Value
If you are looking for a basketball that brings a whole new meaning to the word entertaining, then the GlowCity Light-Up Basketball is a great choice for you. If you compared the price of this basketball to other basketballs on this list, this one falls into the average price range. Considering that you are getting a high-quality, leather basketball that offers LED lights that light up on impact and have batteries included, all backed by a 60-day free repair, you are getting a fun, yet durable basketball for a great price.
Pros
  • 2 LED lights
  • Lights on impact
  • Automatic shutoff
  • Made from a durable leather
  • Average pricing
Cons
  • Batteries may not last long
  • May be difficult to bounce

8. Mikasa BX1006

8. Mikasa BX1006
The Mikasa BX1006 Varsity Series b-ball is a great outdoor b-ball to shoot hoops with. This b-ball is made from 100% vulcanized rubber and offers deep channels for premium control while handling. Made with nylon windings and a butyl bladder, you can bet you will get a consistent bounce each and every time. Coming in a size 4 and backed by a 1-year warranty, this ball is perfect for that outdoor every day use and won’t disappoint.
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Deep Channels
This b-ball was made with grip and control in mind. Equipped with deep channels, you will be able to grip this b-ball firmly and have the ultimate control while moving down the court, no matter how sweaty or slippery your hands are.

Butyl Bladder
This b-ball is also equipped with a butyl bladder. This bladder is known for its amazing ability for air retention, allowing for a precise and accurate bounce. It is also known for leaving the ball with a softer feel and bounce, allowing for maximum control

Cost and Value
When compared to other b-balls on this list, this one falls into the less expensive category. Given the fact that this b-ball offers premium quality, deep channels for amazing grip and handling, a butyl bladder for maximum air retention and great feel, all backed by a 1-year warranty, this is a high-quality b-ball for a great price that you can’t walk away from!
Pros
  • Butyl bladder
  • Deep, pebbled channels
  • Vulcanized rubber
  • Less expensive
  • 1-year warranty
Cons
  • May not bounce as expected

9. The Rock

9. The Rock
The Rock b-ball Official Men’s is the perfect ball for those b-ball fanatics. Made from a composite leather, this ball feels great on the hands. With its deep channels, you are able to grip and control this ball at all times, no matter how clammy and sweaty your hands are. Being official weight and size, this men’s b-ball sure aims to please.
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Composite Leather
This b-ball is made from a composite leather that feels like the real deal. This material leaves the ball feeling soft and smooth in your hands, which allows for ultimate control, even while dribbling down the court for hours at a time.


Deep Pebble Channels
This b-ball is also equipped with deep channels that have a pebble design to them. These channels allow you to maintain a steady, reliable grip on the ball at all times. No matter how sweaty your hands get, this ball will still allow you to have firm control.

Cost and Value
When compared to other b-balls on this list, this one falls into the most expensive category. Don’t let the price of this b-ball scare you away though. Keep in mind that you are getting a high-quality b-ball made from composite leather that feels amazing in your hands, deep panels with pebbling for extra grip and control, and it is regulation size, so it is every bit as play ready as you are.
Pros
  • Regulation 29.5”
  • Composite leather
  • Deep channels
  • Pebbling for better grip
Cons
  • Most expensive
  • May not hold air for long

10. Daping Official Leather

10. Daping Official Leather
If you are looking for a high-quality b-ball that offers amazing grip and soft feel, then the Daping Leather b-ball is the perfect choice for you. Made from a premium leather that absorbs sweat, this ball will feel amazing and slightly tacky in your hands. Being lightweight and easy to handle and an easy grip, you will be glad that you chose this ball.
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Premium Leather
This b-ball is made from a durable premium leather. This material absorbs moisture and leaves the ball feeling slightly tacky in your hands, which only aids in your overall grip and control of the ball. With this type of material, the ball will feel amazing in your hands during the entire play.

Cushion Core Technology
This b-ball also uses a unique technology called Cushion Core. This unique design offers a cushion-like barrier around the butyl bladder and allows for the ball to bounce more precise, leaving little room for error.

Cost and Value
When compared to other b-balls on this list, this one is a little bit on the expensive side. Keep in mind that you are getting a high-quality b-ball made from durable, premium leather that feels amazing in your hands, a technology called Cushion Core to help with a consistent bounce, comes with a pump and needles, and can be used for indoor and outdoor play. You are getting a high-quality b-ball for a price that you can’t say no to.
Pros
  • Premium leather
  • Butyl bladder
  • Cushion Core Technology
  • Comes with pump and needles
  • Indoor/Outdoor
Cons
  • More expensive
  • May have harsh leather smell

When you look at this list, some of you might still get a little intimidated and some of you might actually feel a little relief. The important thing to keep in mind is the type of ball you are shopping for. Some models are specifically designed just for indoor use while others are designed for outdoor use. You will also want to pay attention to the size. It can play an important role when shopping for a ball because you need to remember who you are buying the model for. If it is for a younger kid, then getting a bigger one may prove to be more challenging for them and may discourage them from wanting to play the sport. Whatever the reason behind it is, you shouldn’t have to feel overwhelmed with the different options as far as models. This list was intended to help take some of that stress off of your shoulders and give you more clarity on the type of model you should get.

Criteria Used in Choosing the Best Basketballs

Indoor vs Outdoor

When it comes to shopping for the perfect model, there is one very important aspect to keep in mind. You need to determine if you plan on using the b-ball primarily indoors for sports use, or just outdoors for recreational fun. The reason that this is important is that there are a lot of models out there that are specifically designed for an indoor court and can be ruined if you decide to use it outside. The material and the way that the indoor model is made can’t handle the roughness of the pavement, so it could do permanent damage to it. There are some models out there that are for indoor and outdoor use and in that case, it is fine to use that b-ball both inside and outside because that is what it was made for. It is important to make sure you are buying the proper model for the proper terrain.

Size

Size is also an important aspect to keep in mind when you are looking for that perfect model. The most popular sizes available for balls are size 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 The size 3 is the smallest size out of the group and the size 7 is the biggest size and also the standard b-ball size for college and professional model. Knowing who you are shopping for will go a long way into finding that perfect one.

A younger child between ages 4-8 may do a lot better with the size 3, also known as the mini model because they are just starting out learning how to handle it. A size 4 would be most suitable for a child in the age range of 5-8 seeing that it is one step up from the mini. A size 5 is perfect for those middle-aged boys who are learning more techniques as they get older. A size 6 would be perfect for those young teenagers between the ages of 12-14 and the size 7 is the size for anyone older because it is the standard size used for college and professional model.

Channels

Every model is designed with channels. The purpose of the channels is to help with the overall grip of the model. The grip is important because you need to be able to grip it in a decent manner in order to maintain control. If you have a ball that doesn’t have decent channels, you will never be able to have that ultimate control, resulting in sloppy sports play and a lack of confidence.

Most models these days are made with deep channels. These deep channels allow your fingers to dig into the model better, giving you a better grip. Since we tend to sweat when we run or are active, these channels act as a gripping mechanism to help prevent it from slipping around in your hands. Some models take it a step further and add pebbles to these channels to only increase the amount of grip and control you have.

Bladder

The bladder of the model is also an important factor when purchasing a b-ball. The bladder is responsible for the overall air retention of the model and directly reflects on how it bounces. Bounce control is huge when it comes to playing an actual session, so you definitely want to make sure that the b-ball has a decent bladder. Most models are made with a butyl bladder, which is one of the best kind of bladders to have. It has amazing air retention capabilities, meaning that it won’t go flat or lose air while you are in the middle of playing. It also leaves it with a nice smooth feel to it, which makes the bounce that much more controlled. There are also latex bladders, but they are not as good at holding air, which doesn’t make for a very stable b-ball. You will usually see these kinds of bladders in the smaller, kid b-balls because they bounce easier on softer surfaces like grass.

Cost

As with pretty much anything you buy, you want to make sure you are getting the best value for your dollar. No one likes the thought of wasting money on a product that did not fit their needs or expectations. This is no different when you are looking to purchase a b-ball. Money can add up fast when you are constantly having to replace one b-ball after another. That is why it is important to know exactly what you are looking for prior to making a purchase. Knowing whether you are looking for an indoor b-ball for a session or something that can be used outside on the pavement will go a long way into saving you money.

The price of a varies on a couple of factors. The first factor is the size. The bigger it is, chances are the more it will cost. If you are in the market for an indoor b-ball for a session, then you will most likely need a size 7 b-ball and it will be a little bit pricier than a size 4 or 5. If you are just buying a b-ball for a little outdoor fun, then the size doesn’t necessarily have to be a 7. You could settle for a smaller size ball if you were looking to save a few extra dollars.

Another factor that plays a role in the cost of a b-ball is the type of material that it is made from. Most b-balls are made from a type of leather. Whether it is composite leather or premium leather will determine how expensive that b-ball is. The choice is really up to you and has more to do with comfort and whether or not you want to spend the extra money.

A couple other more common materials used to make b-balls is nylon and vulcanized rubber. These materials are both known for their flexibility. Nylon is great material for a b-ball because it retains its shape and never over stretches. Vulcanized rubber is also another great material for b-balls because of its ability to bounce and not lose shape. You are obviously going to be paying more money for better materials, but it will all be worth it in the end.

FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How do I know what size basketball is best for me?

A: The size of the b-ball you get is really determined by two factors. The first one being the age or experience level of the person the b-ball is for and the second one is where you plan on using it. The age or experience level is important to know because b-balls sizes are made according to age and experience. If you are shopping for a younger kid, then you should choose one of the smaller sizes and if you are shopping for someone with a higher level of experience with b-ball, then getting the regulation size would be just fine. The terrain or where you plan to use the b-ball plays a huge role in size as well. This is only because if you are buying a b-ball for an indoor session for school or a tournament of some sort, then you will most likely have to buy a regulation size ball, so it meets all of the requirements necessary.

Q: What material is best for a better grip?

A: B-balls that have a pebble type design to them with deeper channels are an excellent texture for gripping. The pebbles and deep channels allow you to maintain a good grip and won’t slip from your hands. There is also a new technology out that offers a premium grip as well. It is known as a soft-grip and is composed of a sponge rubber that has two layers to it, making it extra soft and offers an incredible grip.

Q: How do I find a basketball that has a good, controlled bounce?

A: B-balls that have a butyl bladder is a great place to start. Butyl bladders offer maximum air retention, which allows it to have a more consistent bounce and allows you to maintain better control.

Sources

  1. “Basketball Technology”. www.spalding-basketball.com
  2. “How to Choose a Basketball”. ActiveSG. www.myactivesg.com
  3. “Two Bladder Types”. www.molten.co.jp.
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