The 10 Best Basketballs

Updated December 11, 2017 by Brett Dvoretz

10 Best Basketballs
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 41 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. Shooting hoops is a lot more fun when you have the right basketball. Everything from the size and grip to the feel and bounce can really affect your game. Choose from our list of indoor, outdoor and combo options to find one that is designed specifically for your local court and to help you beat out the competition. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best basketball on Amazon.

10. Franklin Sports Junior

The Franklin Sports Junior is small and lightweight to make it easier for little tykes just learning the game. It sports an All-American red, white and blue color scheme that will stand out from the crowd, though the colors will fade if left in the sun too much.
  • holds its shape well
  • great for schools or daycare centers
  • air valve sticks out a tad
Brand Franklin Sports
Model 32023
Weight 1.4 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

9. Under Armour Stephen Curry

If you're a Warriors fan, the Under Armour Stephen Curry is the ball for you with the MVP's trademark logo and an attractive speckled and solid panel layout. It seems to lose air quickly though, so be sure to pack a portable pump in your bag for emergencies.
  • rugged rubber construction
  • best for outdoor use
  • only comes in the official size
Brand Under Armour
Model pending
Weight pending
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

8. Spalding TF-1000

If you want to show off your ball handling skills, look to the Spalding TF-1000. It has a deep channel design that keeps even the sweatiest hands from losing the ball, making it a favorite among many youth and adult basketball teams.
  • comes fully inflated
  • good for daily use
  • bounce is sometimes inconsistent
Brand Spalding
Model 74784-Parent
Weight 5.6 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

7. Molten X-Series

The Molten X-Series features a unique 12-channel design that offers a good grip for most players. It is made of composite leather, but has a genuine leather-like feel, which makes spinning a ball on your finger look effortless.
  • consistent surface texture
  • two-tone color is easy to see
  • a bit smaller than regulation size
Brand Molten
Model BGG7X-P
Weight 3 pounds
Rating 3.5 / 5.0

6. Spalding Replica

For under $30, the Spalding Replica makes a versatile and affordable choice for indoor team practices or outdoor play. It has one of the softest composite leather covers in its class and looks just like the NBA Official game ball.
  • makes a great sound on wood courts
  • has a nice tacky feel
  • very consistent bounce
Brand Spalding
Model 74874-Parent
Weight 1.7 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

5. Under Armour 495

With the Under Armour 495, you won't have to pump very often thanks to its nylon windings and butyl bladder. It's a great mid-range choice with a soft, grippy feel that will give beginners the confidence they need to drive to the basket.
  • holds up well on any surface
  • available in three sizes
  • ideal for casual play
Brand Under Armour
Model BB126-PARENT
Weight pending
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

4. Wilson NCAA Solution

As the official ball for March Madness, the Wilson NCAA Solution should be able to help anybody up their game. It features a 100-percent composite cover and patented aqua grip channels that give superior control, so you can bounce, pass and shoot like a college star.
  • durable and well-constructed
  • core is cushioned for longevity
  • doesn't need to be broken in
Brand Wilson
Model WTB0700R
Weight 1.6 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

3. Baden Elite

The Baden Elite may not be a brand you think of when it comes to a premium ball, but it is a top-notch choice for players looking for the best. It is made with perfectly even, wide panels and a minimally intrusive air valve that create a consistent bounce every time.
  • long-lasting grip
  • resists moisture absorption
  • good for indoor shooting practice
Brand Baden
Weight 1.5 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

2. Spalding NBA Zi/O

The Spalding NBA Zi/O has a great feel with a comfortable grip that can improve your performance on any court surface. It has the traditional orange color with black channels and lettering that resembles the official NBA basketball.
  • color doesn't fade over time
  • great for all skill levels
  • advanced foam lining
Brand Spalding
Model 64-412
Weight 16 ounces
Rating 5.0 / 5.0

1. Wilson Evolution

For the perfect bounce and grip on an indoor court, you can't get better than the top-rated Wilson Evolution. It is constructed from a high-quality microfiber composite leather with a high definition pebble surface for optimal control while juking out your competitor.
  • tacky feel even with sweaty hands
  • can withstand heavy use
  • doesn't need to be pumped often
Brand Wilson
Model WTB0522ID-MaParent
Weight 1.5 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

When To Buy a Leather Basketball, When To Buy a Rubber One

Most people, when shopping for a basketball, tend to gravitate toward what is considered to be a regulation model. A regulation basketball has a leather exterior with a dimpled surface that allows for an ample grip.

In addition, any regulation ball should weigh approximately 1.7 pounds and measure 30 inches in circumference, with slight variations depending on how much air that ball has in it. The NBA uses a regulation ball that is manufactured by Spalding, but companies like Franklin, Wilson, and Rawlings manufacture their own regulation basketballs, as well.

There is a drawback to certain regulation basketballs in that their leather panels may have been designed specifically for indoor play. More importantly, asphalt may cause a leather ball to wear, or even peel. Rubber balls, on the other hand, are much more geared toward use in a park, or on an outdoor court. The bright orange color of a rubber ball is great for playing at night, as well.

Rubber balls are less expensive, and they bounce higher if they're fully inflated, though leather balls are more durable, and they're less prone to being punctured. The majority of starter balls are made out of rubber, while there is a wide range of intermediate balls (both leather and rubber) that have been designed for indoor and outdoor play.

Several Drills To Improve Your Basketball Skills

If you want to get better at basketball, chances are you'll need to practice. Practice can be collaborative, and practice can be fun, but practice almost always begins by zeroing in on a handful of drills, the type that will allow you to build a foundation, and then progress as you continue along.

First things first: a player needs to be able to dribble before he can shoot. With that in mind, set up a line of orange cones, and weave your way through them while dribbling the ball. The cones are an essential part of this drill in that they stand just tall enough to keep you from cheating, and yet they're soft enough to prevent you from getting hurt. As your dribbling improves, you can work on alternating hands. You can also increase the difficulty level by shortening the distance between each cone.

The most basic passing drill involves scissor-jumping your way down the court while touch-passing a basketball back and forth with a partner. This drill is meant to improve speed and accuracy. But over time, you and your partner can expand to practicing bounce passes, one-hand passes, and perhaps even fast breaks, as well. In the event that a partner isn't available, you can still complete a similar drill by bouncing the ball against a wall.

Shooting drills are a matter of expanding one's range while adjusting weak mechanics. The most basic shooting drill involves marking off several spots around the perimeter. Every time you've completed a full rotation, double back around the arc. As your scoring percentage increases, expand the perimeter a little further. You'll improve your outside game by sharpening the range on every shot.

A Brief History of Basketball (By Way of Its Founder)

The first-ever basketball game was played as part of a YMCA gym class that took place during December of 1891. This class, which was moderated by a Massachusetts physician named James Naismith, consisted of 18 boys, who had been divided into a pair of nine-player groups. Naismith instructed that the objective of the game was to bounce, or dribble, a soccer ball before passing it, or shooting it toward one of two peach baskets, which had been set up along opposing sides of the YMCA hall.

Over the next few months, Naismith would facilitate a number of scrimmages. These early matches would provide the impetus for Naismith's 13 Basic Rules of Basket Ball. Among these rules was the notion that a soft leather ball should be used to minimize injury, that a player could not run while holding the ball, and that it should be a violation for any player to directly block the opposing team's basket.

The first-ever "basket balls" were paneled in leather and stitched like footballs along the cross-section. These balls were centered around a rubber bladder which was filled with air, enabling the ball to bounce with uncharacteristic lightness.

Throughout the first third of the 20th century, Dr. Naismith continued to hone the regulations of his game. Manufacturers, meanwhile, began to develop balls that were more rigid, dynamic, durable, and player-friendly. Basketball flourished as an amateur sport, with several colleges developing their own basketball clubs (Naismith famously founded the men's basketball program at the University of Kansas in 1898).

Basketball was introduced as an Olympic sport in 1936. One decade later, the NBA was formed. Unfortunately, Dr. Naismith never got to see an NBA game played. Naismith died of a brain hemorrhage in 1939. He was 78 years old.

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Last updated on December 11, 2017 by Brett Dvoretz

A wandering writer who spends as much time on the road as behind the computer screen, Brett can either be found hacking furiously away at the keyboard or perhaps enjoying a whiskey and coke on some exotic beach, sometimes both simultaneously, usually with a four-legged companion by his side. He hopes to one day become a modern day renaissance man.

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