2018 what a damn year. I wasn’t able to get on any type of real schedule to write or review shoes all year and I although I like to keep up with release dates, it’s really hard to do given the number of shoes released along with the limited quantities made for initial releases which are then subsequently rereleased in bigger quantities a few weeks later. It’s amazing how much FOMO drives demand in the sneaker biz even if it’s artificial. Don’t believe FOMO works ? Watch this on Netflix or Hulu

A few things I’m going to touch on before my actual awards and rankings. Feel free to scroll down and skip ahead, I know a lot of “readers” do this based on the questions I get.

The Canvas is changing..slowly but it’s changing

I love the movies and I could write about movies all day just like shoes but maybe I’ll save that for another time. Black Panther, Crazy Rich Asians etc..it’s nice to see some color up on the screen. 25 years since Joy Luck Club was entirely too long. Keep trending this way Hollywood!

I ❤️ 🇯🇵

I got to go to Japan with my wife and it was as amazing as I had expected. They love their sneakers as much as anybody and the Harajuku district is where it’s at.

Can you get me the pair right in the middle ? Kicks Lounge Tokyo

Kicks Lab in Tokyo

I think I visited every sneaker shop in the area while I was there. I also visited a ton of street vendors there as well. Food was ridiculously good and the people were so friendly, polite and most of all orderly.

App of the Year: HomeCourt ai

I haven’t gotten around to writing a review yet but it’s freaking free so download it and you decide for yourself. Do you keep buying $150 shoes hoping your jump shot or you have more energy at the end of a pickup session? It ain’t the shoes kids get in the gym and practice.

I like McDonald’s. HomeCourt just added the arcs..pretty cool.

Although I downloaded it for the shooting drills, I really love the dribbling drills even more because it isn’t a pattern of movements, you actually have to react. It also gives you a calories burned count which is awesome because I hate sitting on a stationary bike or treadmill. Ten-twelve calories per minute with fun dribbling drills?! Sign me up!

Best traction

Not often do I have to split hairs with traction so I’m kind of just lumping them together because these are all great. I did not have time this year to really compare them all as throughly but I did put my overall top shoes through the laces before I wrote this. These are somewhat in order especially the top few.

  • Soldier XII
  • Pg2
  • Kobe Protro
  • Why Not
  • Curry 6
  • Harden V3
  • Marquee Boost
  • Pro Bounce
  • Tmac 5
  • Lebron XVI

I haven’t had any major issues with the Harden V2 but the V3 is slightly better so I just left the V3 by itself.

Best cushioning

I prefer a very balanced cushioning set up, one that isn’t too squishy and soft but is still fun and responsive. Sometimes I will go with firmer set ups and other times I like a little more softness. Cue Michael Scott …

This year, I found almost every shoe to be very balanced. I think the Tmac was the most “plusheven though it barely fits that description. Per usual Nike and Adidas dominate this category. I somewhat sorted them softest to firmest by brand


  • Tmac Millennium
  • CLB 18
  • Marquee Boost
  • Harden V3
  • N3XT L3v3L
  • Harden V2
  • Pro Bounce


  • KD XI
  • Lebron XVI
  • Jordan 33
  • Soldier XII
  • Kobe Protro
  • Pg2 forefoot only

I left out the Why not bc it just didn’t feel very Zoomy and fun. Yes I will get a N3XT review out soon. The cushioning is the highlight of the shoe and feels like a mix of MicroG and Lunarlon. It doesn’t have the density of Boost or Bounce and the shoe itself only weighs 13.5 ounces so the cushioning itself must be pretty light. I do question how durable it will be in the long term though because it doesn’t feel like it’s meant to last but with sneaker life cycles shortening these days who cares right ?

Best Fit

  • HDX
  • Kobe NXT 360
  • Kyrie 5
  • Why not
  • Soldier XII
  • Kobe Protro
  • 3zero2

The HDX fit so damn well for me as well as the Kobe NXT360. Fit isn’t ultra important to me but I do need a certain level of fit to be achieved especially in lows. Nike almost always does lows right while Adidas and UA can be hit or miss a lot of times. The N3xt fits well while stationary but I don’t just stand around so it doesn’t qualify for the fit award.

Most comfortable

Comfort does not equal performance but I will say some shoes are more comfy than others

  • KD XI
  • N3xt l3v3l (it’s comfy at least)
  • Marquee Tmac HardenV3
  • Kobe Exodus

The Kd is a sock with a sole but lacks the support I want. It doesn’t hinder Kd though so comfort is what you seek, be like KD. The N3XT is also a sock with a sole but it is lacking in a few important aspects for me as well.

I’d rock the Kobe Exodus if the outsole were a little flatter and stable like I prefer. Nothing wrong with the shoe at all aside from that for me. It’s no name cushioning feels really good underfoot from heel to toe and is a great balanced set up. One of my first readers ever, S0lechild posted his first blog post so if you don’t believe my review, read his. I like to say I helped him but it’s all him. Give his blog a follow!

Best Value (see best budget)

  • Harden V2
  • Pro Bounce

Most Underrated

  • 3Zero2
  • Kobe Exodus
  • HdX
  • Pro Bounce
  • Soldier XII
  • In reality, the underrated category comes from lack of marketing by the company or its a team shoe. This happens all the time because there is only X number of dollars allocated for marketing so companies have to decide where their marketing makes the most impact per dollar spent.
  • Best tennis

    Zoom Zero

    This is such a great shoe for tennis or b-ball. Full length Zoom is rare for a Nike so I jumped on these. I was about to review the Adidas Ubersonic 3 but I don’t have time to right now and I saw them at the outlets so I’m waiting for more discounts.

    Best Budget Shoe

    Once again, Adidas takes this spot. Adidas pricing is down and I don’t even think we’ve seen the bottom for prices. Adidas hype has died and while that sucks for Adidas, I’m not going to complain. If you wait a few weeks to a few months you can save some serious cash.

    • Harden V2: ok this isn’t a budget shoe per se but for a low of $42 bucks you can’t beat an MVP’s first MVP shoe for $42
    • Pro Bounce: I’ve never seen a shoe go from retail to on sale as fast as this shoe. Picked up a pair for $52
    • PG2: $110 retail $50-60 on sale.
    • 3zero2: $100 retail. The bottom is going to be $30 ish imo. Sad but true
    • Soldier XII on sale. $60-70 bucks yep sounds good to me.

    I really like the budget category because it shows you don’t have to pay more for performance. More importantly, if you wait a month or two you can get great deals.

    Least value

    These are definite don’t buy at retail shoes. Unless they are limited I’d wait for Curry’s if you unless you really really want to have a Steph shoe. Anything other than a Curry, UA kicks are “heading to the outlet for sure” kind of shoes.

    • HOVR Havoc: $120 -115 for a shoe with half HOVR. Did not enjoy this snore fest at all. At least traction was good
    • Curry 5: it’s only okay on court but for $130 wtf am I paying for ? EVA and Curry’s name. Anafoam isn’t expensive they just make seem like it is. Average cushioning, fit and traction at $130 just isn’t worth it. I didn’t pick up any more even at heavy discounts so you know that’s not a good sign.
    • Curry 6: it might be a new cushioning but it feels like Charged. Not to mention the fit isn’t great, lace pressure and oh yea the outsole rips. Good look with the 50/50 ball that is called UA customer service these days. I’ll gladly keep on playing in my Curry 2’s. Another shoe I am not going to by any more of.
    • N3xt L3v3l: sorry $180 is too much. Even with adidas discounts of 20% it is still too much. Keep the laceless concept in the lab until it’s done right.
    • Yu Shuai xi: meh foam, oh well at least I like how it looked. Already gave them to my cousin. $110 retail is a rip. damn you tariffs

    Best Retro

    I couldn’t pick one sorry, I think both were done really well. People slept on the Cement 3 for some reason which is fine by me. Lebron retros were executed well too.

    Best Protro

    Pic courtesy of the Big Lead

    Best Low

    1. Harden V2/V3
    2. Tmac
    3. ProBounce
    4. Pg2
    5. Lebron XVI Is it even a low? I mean seriously what defines a low or a mid these days

    Adidas is slowly getting their sh*t together with lows. The Tmac is a high low so I got a perfect lockdown. The Harden V2 and V3 are very different but they are both great. Doesn’t really seem to matter to the Beard what he’s playing so why should it matter to you?

    2018 Rankings

    I didn’t review that many shoes in 2018 and I haven’t even published a few of them but for the sake of not getting into Feb 2019 here are my rankings for 2018. Most are based on actual performance aspects, some are based on my personal preference and some of it is based on “damn I played fking great these are keepers”. *not sure what’s up with the formatting sorry*

  • 1. Kobe Protro
  • 2. Soldier XII (Surprise!!)
  • 3. Marquee Boost
  • 4. Harden V2/V3
  • 5. Tmac
  • 6. Pro bounce
  • 7. Pg2
  • 8. Lebron XVI (technically great just not for me)
  • 9. 3Zero2
  • 10. Why not (kinda boring to play in)
  • 11. Kyrie 5
  • 12. Aj33 (good at everything, stiffer than most)
  • 13. Zoom zero (as a b-ball shoe)
  • 14. HDX (traction needs work)
  • 15. CLB18 (better than the stock CLB16)
  • 16. Exodus (heel too rounded for me)
  • 17. N3XT L3v3L
  • 18. NXT 360
  • 19. Yu shuai xi
  • 20. Curry 4 low
  • 21. KD XI
  • 22. Hovr Havoc
  • 23. Harden BE2
  • 24. Curry 6
  • 25. Curry 5
  • Damn I still reviewed 25 shoes? Still need to get a few reviews done. I had a few people message me about the Puma Disrupt and I used my friend’s pair and it’s an easy pass for me. Poor traction on dusty floors and slightly clunky (although cushioning and fit were good) Why bother paying $120 for a shoe when I can get a more well rounded shoe for less ? That being said, it you like how the shoe looks, go get it.

    WTF happened UA

    The standout at the bottom is Under Armour. A few years ago I loaded up on the Curry 2 and I’m glad I did because nowadays UA has gone marketing first, performance second. At least they got Embiid? I threw the Curry 4 low in there for fun and even though I didn’t love it. After number 15 they all kind of jumble together but the Curry 5 and 6 were pretty disappointing. I kept the 6 above the five because the traction was much better. Don’t let this footage fool you, it was caused by a wet spot from the LA Kings’ game before

    Oh to see potential go out the window 😞. I spent a good percentage of my sneaker buying collecting everything Curry because I loved the looks and performance but now not so much.

    Good luck finding these PE’s. New Spawns look like meh but I’ll try them out anyways.

    Top 5 of the year

    For me 2018 was the best year of b-ball shoes I’ve ever seen. Adidas and Nike really stepped up this year while UA lagged behind even though they introduced HOVR to their basketball line. Almost every shoe I tried this year was at least a second team and I think I gave out more first teams than usual because almost every shoe had all their bases covered. Because of how good they all were I had to go with what I reached for without hesitation. I rearranged my list a few times before posting this so keep in mind the difference between 1-5 isn’t very much at all if anything.

    Kobe Protro

    Protro Review

    The Kobe I was already in my top 10 all time and to get a fresh pair nearly identical to it? Great at everything plus I have years and years of great memories and games in these. Nike made enough that of these so they really don’t cost $175. They are popping up on secondary markets for under retail in the $120-140 range. Not really any performance benefit vs the OG just a bunch of marketing and a different Zoom set up but it’s nice to grab colorways like the 81 points since it’s been a grail since ..well the 81 point game.

  • Lebron Soldier XII
  • Soldier XII Review
  • So this is probably a shocker to everyone. I actually had the Adidas Three Trio above the Soldier but then I realized I got everything I love in one package with the Soldier. And I really contemplated putting this at number one because it performs well in every category, especially traction and cushioning. I actually tested these against the others on a very poor court and the Soldier just kept humming along while the others needed a bit more wiping to keep up. Everything I complained about on the Soldier X and XI was fixed with even better traction to boot along with bigger Zoom and a better fit. Thanks for reading Nike!
  • Some readers will prefer foam over Zoom but I’m still a Zoom guy and these are almost as good as the Soldier VI. I wouldn’t pay retail for them since I’m smarter than that but for $60-70 bucks now I can safely say it’s ok to pull the trigger. Stronger Velcro would be the only suggestion but I haven’t had any issues since pulling/stretching the straps fully aside from getting them kicked undone once or twice.
  • Marquee Boost

    Marquee Boost Review

    I love everything about this shoe. Comfortable out of the box, it’s unique looking and it does everything I need. Plus it’s gonna be cheap very soon. (I’m trying to talk sense into everyone when I write reviews, not sell them on hype). I’ve already seen them on eBay from legit sellers for $100 shipped and have barely seen any sold.

  • Harden V2/V3
  • V2 Review
  • V3 Review
  • I had a hard time here since I value traction more than anything else but the fit was much better on the V2 than V3 and the traction improvement was marginal. Did I mention the V2 cost $42 on clearance? Sorry you just can’t beat that.
  • The V3 is more flexible than the V2 so there’s that but Adidas designers took a break inspiration wise with the V3 as these are the most boring sig shoe I’ve seen in some time with poor colorways and color blocking and apparently grammar..

  • “See’s the game” should not have an apostrophe. It now makes the sentence mean “See is the game or see is a noun and now in possession of the game ” Thanks Jqqqq for the heads up 😂
  • These could easily pass for a team shoe which is sad considering how great Harden has been this year. Creators never follow but I guess Adidas creators can sleep on the job. Inspire us Adidas, don’t lull us to sleep. I’ll grab more V3 more next year for $42. If you want a quick summary on which to pick, do you want a stiffer shoe with a better fit and firmer cushioning or a more flexible shoe with a little better traction and lower to the ground yet softer springier cushioning. I like them both for different reasons. I also lumped these two together because you can get both together for the price of retail already. Furthermore two sig shoes shouldn’t come out in the same calendar year, amIright UA?
  • Tmac Millennium

    Tmac Millennium Review

    look ma, no wings

    I count the Adidas line as a three headed monster because it feels odd that they occupy so many top spots and they all play pretty similarly. The Tmac is overpriced at retail of $160 so these are sitting. The Tmac is a great blend all around with a little thicker plusher cushioning than the Harden V3 and Marquee which is pretty much a perfect cushioning set up for me. However, after finally getting to compare traction on the same dusty floor, these performed the worst out of the top performers so I had to bump them down

    I left the Lebron XVI off my top five/six because it just felt like a shoe to me and I prefer a little lower feeling ride. I just didn’t feel like I could cut the way I wanted to. Technically its a great shoe but it just doesn’t work for me. Thus the Pg2 got the nod in front.

    I know I’ll get this question, did any of these make the real Top5/10 rotation and for once yes and no. The Protro is just a replacement for the OG Kobe I and I’m actually confident enough with my Top 5 that I can’t kick any out but I can certainly add on. My rotation is full of mostly older kicks and will wear out so I have to limit my time with them as they get older. Welcome home Marquee, Tmac, Lebron and James..or is it Jame’s? Time to get #grammerly Adidas.

    48 Comment on “2018 Year in Review, Awards and Rankings

    1. Pingback: Air Jordan XXXIII 33 Performance Analysis and Review | schwollo.com

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