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Expert Shopper Sports & Fitness

Best basketball

Which basketballs are best? 

Whether you’re playing with your friends in the driveway, at the courts in the park or in a gym or stadium, a good-quality basketball makes all the difference. If it feels bad in your hand or if it’s always running out of air, it can ruin a game. 

You’ll want a ball that can last for years and keep its bounce. If you are looking for a cheap yet high-quality basketball, the Wilson Evolution Indoor Basketball is the best choice.

What to know before you buy a basketball


While all basketballs have similar features, there are key differences that you should consider in order to get the most out of your money. The size of a regulation basketball is half the diameter of the hoop. If you’re buying for children, it might not be a good idea to give them NBA regulation-size basketballs. If you are playing for fun, the exact size may not be that important, but if you actually want to play the game, make sure you choose the correctly sized ball. 


Before you buy a basketball, you’ll need to know how it’s going to be used and on what kind of surfaces it will be dribbled. Whether you intend to use it inside or outside will determine the material it should be made of as you’ll want your purchase to last and be effective. 

The NBA uses leather balls because they are the highest-quality material, and they’re perfect for indoor courts you’ll find in stadiums. Leather is the most expensive material for basketballs, but its soft and supple feel is highly sought after. The leather boosts control of the ball and provides excellent grip, even when hands are sweaty in high-pressure situations. However, you’ll need to break it in before using it in a game.

Rubber basketballs are best used outdoors. If you use a leather ball outside on a concrete surface, you can ruin the texture of the ball and smooth it out, making it more difficult to control. Conversely, rubber doesn’t have that problem. It’s incredibly durable and has excellent bounce. This material is a good option for kids learning to play in their driveway or courts in public parks.

Synthetic basketballs are good for people who want an all-around ball, something you can pick up and play anywhere. Synthetic materials might scuff up a wooden court a bit, but the marks can be buffed out. These kinds of balls are highly durable and don’t need to be broken in before use.

What to look for in a quality basketball


Basketballs can be hard to grasp if you don’t have large hands, but if you have a basketball with the proper grip, it shouldn’t be too hard to hold it in one hand. The right grip brings control to your game, improving ball-handling and release on your shots. Look for a tacky, pebbled grip, and make sure you don’t wear it down by using it on the wrong court.


While leather is the most expensive basketball material to make a basketball with, it requires upkeep or it can smooth out and be ineffective. You’ll want to buy one that is tough and not liable to fall apart, and you'll need to regularly maintain your equipment. For easier maintenance, consider synthetic or rubber balls that retain air well and don’t wear down easily.


Most basketballs are burnt orange, but they don’t have to be. Nowadays, you can get basketballs in all kinds of different designs, so choose the color you like best. Aesthetics aren’t everything, but if it boosts your confidence, you may play better.

How much you can expect to spend on basketballs

Basketballs vary widely in price and can range from $10-$200. The difference often comes down to material, with less expensive basketballs likely being made of rubber.

Basketball FAQ

Can I use any basketball inside and outside?

A. You can only use synthetic basketballs both outside and inside. Rubber basketballs won’t get worn down on concrete, but they’ll scuff up a wooden court. Leather basketballs are only for inside use. If you take them out to a concrete court, you may ruin them.

Which material has the best grip?

A. The best grip you can get will be from a leather basketball. The suppleness of the material allows fingers to sink into the material, and the pebbled surface gives a good hold.

What’s the best basketball to buy?

Top basketball

Wilson Evolution Indoor Basketball

What you need to know: The Wilson Evolution series is one of the highest-quality basketballs available. 

What you’ll love: The feel and bounciness are outstanding, and it is easy to control. It’s made from premium microfiber composite leather.

What you should consider: The Wilson Evolution Indoor Basketball is more expensive than most basketballs.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Dick’s Sporting Goods

Top basketball for the money

Wilson Killer Crossover Basketball

What you need to know: The Crossover is a rubber ball that can be used on most surfaces. Better yet, it’s extremely durable and affordable.

What you’ll love: It’s available in a variety of colors. It’s an excellent gift for kids playing street ball with their friends.

What you should consider: The only downside to this basketball is that it’s not suited for league play.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Spalding NBA Zi/O Indoor/Outdoor Basketball

What you need to know: You can use this easily dunkable basketball wherever you go.

What you’ll love: This ball, made from composite material, is for all-around use and has a grippy-pebbled finish. It’s also backed with foam to give it a better feel in the hand.

What you should consider: If you use it outdoors too often, it may lose its texture and become smooth.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon 


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Sam Bramlett writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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