This year offered a slew of basketball releases - possibly the most that we’ve seen so far – for both on and off court purposes. Ranking the best 25 out of so many options was a challenge, but considering the on-court potential of each is what we do best.

Whether you agree or disagree with this ranking, one thing that is certain… you've probably played in at least one of the sneakers that’s featured here today. If you pick your kicks for function over style then see if you agree, these are The 25 Best Basketball Releases of 2012.

Nightwing2303 is the owner/publisher of 

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No. 25 - Jordan CP3.V

Key Feature: Podulon
Worn By: Chris Paul

The CP3.V was a big deal in early 2012. Built for fast paced Guards, the CP3.V excelled in traction and its Podulon cushion made them one of the more comfortable shoes to not feature ‘Air’ cushion. With everything the CP3.V had going for it, they wouldn’t even come close to Chris’ next signature model that released the very same year.

No. 24 - Li-Ning Villain

Key Feature: BounSe & Cushion Technology
Worn By: N/A

The Villains may have not been a popular choice on the NBA courts this season, but these are a beast on-court. If you're from the throwback era of the 90’s, give these a try. They will bring you back to the good ol’ days while providing you with some of the most responsive foam cushion available.

No. 23 - Ektio Post Up & Wraptor

Key Feature: Maximum Ankle Support & Anti-Roll Over Bumpers
Worn By: N/A

One of the most interesting sneakers created. They may not be pretty but they sure as heck get the job done and provide you with unmatched support and stability. Unfortunately, there aren’t any NBA players that wear these on-court but there should be… the Ektio brand needs to be seen and let's hope they get their shine sooner rather than later.

No. 22 - adidas Top Ten 2000

Key Feature: Feet You Wear
Worn By: Wesley Johnson, Josh Smith and other adidas athletes

Even though these are a Retro product, they still translate well on-court today. While we no longer receive PureMotion, we'll bet there are players out there that appreciate the next best thing… Feet You Wear.

No. 21 - Nike Air Zoom Huarache 2k4

Key Feature: Zoom Air & Huarache Sleeve
Worn By: Amir Johnson & others

Once worn by Kobe Bryant, the Nike Zoom Huarache 2k4 is another Retro that still encompasses performance… even if they now come in a NSW box. Most fellow ball players are no stranger to the Huarache 2k4 so you most likely know what’s up with these as they are still on some player’s top picks as their personal favorite.

No. 20 - Li-Ning Turningpoint

Key Feature: BounSe & Cushion Technology
Worn By: Even Turner

Another performance model that is heavily reminiscent of 90’s era ball, the Turningpoint is a phenomenal performer that will surprise you if you were to ever give them a chance and lace them up on-court. Li-Ning has amazing foam cushioning and the traction on this particular pair is wicked.

No. 19 - adidas Crazy Light 2

Key Feature: SprintWeb & SprintFrame
Worn By:
Jrue Holiday, Mike Conley, Matt Barnes, Taj Gibson and more

At the time of their release, these were the lightest basketball shoe ever created. While the original version lacked support and was recommended for indoor use only, the Crazy Light 2 featured an overhauled design and threw in more support, better traction & more durable rubber. Listening to consumer requests was a huge bonus for adidas as they had turned the Crazy Light 2 into a very solid on-court performer that just happen to be extremely lightweight.

No. 18 - Nike Zoom Hyperfuse 2012

Key Feature: Zoom Air & Hyperfuse build
Worn By: Rudy Gay, Andre Iguudala & Rajon Rondo… just to name a few

They’ve added some bulk to the latest Hyperfuse when comparing them to their predecessors but they are still a solid option for most players, styles and positions. Nike has created a wide variety of sneakers that can float from the 1 spot all the way to the 4 or 5 (in some cases) which is a rare feat to be able to pull off when it comes to on-court performance.

No. 17 - Nike Air Penny V

Key Feature: 180 Degree Air Max, Hyperfuse Build
Worn by: J.R. Smith, Thaddeus Young, Delonte West and more

Never in the history of signature footwear has a signature sneaker line been resurrected… ever. While the Air Penny V is missing Zoom Air, the traction and fit alone may have you scratching your head as to what Nike had created with the Penny V… is it a Sportswear shoe or a Performance shoe? Whatever they are… they play well so you know what they say… Just Do it.

No. 16 - Air Jordan 2012

Key Feature: Modular Cushion
Worn by: Kevin Hart

Not a joke, Kevin Hart is probably the one single person most known for wearing the Air Jordan 2012 on-court during the 2012 All-Star weekend. We have seen them here and there but for the most part they’ve been pretty nonexistent on-court – unless you count the recent sightings of the AJ2012 Lite worn by Ray Allen and a few other Jordan Brand athletes. Overall, the 2012 is a solid shoe. They just needed to keep things simple instead of offering s player so many potential options. This is something the AJ XX8 looks to do… bring things back to basics and just make one solid hoop shoe for the year.

No. 15 - Jordan Areo Flight

Key Feature: Zoom Air
Worn By: Russell Westbrook & Blake Griffin

Last time Nightwing 2303 made a list, he stated that Russell Westbrook should be wearing the Aero Flight… coincidentally enough; he now laces them up routinely. These are fairly basic, nothing too spectacular, which is why I like them. Jordan Brand stuck with what works. No frills, no thrills, just straight performance at an affordable price.

No. 14 - Under Armour Micro G Torch

Key Feature: Micro G
Worn By: Kemba Walker

These are one of our author's personal favorite models of the year. If you have never tried a foam cushion then these are the shoes to break that record. It's strongly suggested to Guards to at least give these a try. Traction, cushion and fit are all well above average and these are the three main features that we personally look for in a hoop shoe.

No. 13 - adidas Rose 2.5

Key Feature: SprintWeb & SprintFrame
Worn by: Derrick Rose

adidas brings simplicity to the table while their products somehow boast major points in the performance department. The adidas Rose 2.5 is solid from the outsole up… it may even be one of the best Guard shoes ever to come from the brand. The best part… you can find these for discount prices now that the Rose 3 is available.

No. 12 - Nike LeBron 9 P.S. Elite

Key Feature: Carbon Fiber, Kevlar Flywire, Hyperfuse Build, Zoom Air, 180 Degree Air Max
Worn by: LeBron James

Nike went all out with their Elite line as the Playoffs began. Kevlar Flywire is a bit excessive but overall, these things performed and they performed well. Not to mention the King finally got his ring while wearing these… not too bad.

No. 11 - adidas Howard 2

Key Feature: TORSION and Alive Cushion
Worn by: Dwight Howard

Leave it to adidas to make a shoe for the league’s most dynamic Center that can be worn by a PG. Yes… a PG. Nightwing 2302 has worn the Howard 2 this year religiously… even buying two pairs of them because they played so fluid. Pretty great for a shoe designed exclusively for Centers.

No. 10 - Jordan Melo M8 Advance

Key Feature: Hyperfuse Build, Heel Max Air, Forefoot Zoom Air
Worn by: Carmelo Anthony

It may be confusing when a brand creates two versions of the same shoe, but you can’t deny that the Melo M8 Advance is a beast of a shoe and better than the Melo M8. As far as on-court performance… if you like traction, cushion, durable materials and a good fit then these may be the shoe for you. If you’re thinking to yourself that the description made them sound like a great all around shoe then that’s because they are. So what are you waiting for? Lace up a pair and start having some fun.

No. 9 - Nike Lunar Hyperdunk 2012

Key Feature: Hyperfuse build, Dynamic Flywire & Lunarlon
Worn by: Too many to list but Kyrie Erving may be the favorite player lacing them up at the moment

This is an ‘any man’ shoe. Similar to the Hyperfuse 2012, the Hyperdunk series is one that can cater to nearly all positions on the floor. If you like Zoom then you have the Hyperfuse and if you like Lunarlon then you have the Hyperdunk. Plenty of players are wearing both models on-court as we speak… that along should tell you that they may be a great addition to your game.

No. 8 - Nike Zoom Soldier VI

Key Feature: Hyperfuse Build & Zoom Air
Worn by: LeBron James

While LeBron didn’t wear them for long, he did lace them up. Not sure why he no longer wears the Soldier line in the Post Season but that shouldn’t make you think any less of the shoes as they are one heck of an on-court option. The strap along will keep you snug and securely locked into the base of the shoe while the traction and cushion take care of the rest.

No. 7 - Jordan Super.Fly

Key Feature: Lunarlon, Zoom Air & Hyperfuse Build
Worn by: Blake Griffin, Kevin Martin

This is Jordan Brand’s version of the ‘any man’ shoe. Stable, cushioned and they fit great… traction is awesome as well. The Super.Fly could have easily flown under the radar with so many top notch performance models released throughout 2012 but I’m here to tell you that these are definitely worth a shot. If you happen to see these at your local Nike Outlet, just pick them up and give them a go.

No. 6 - Nike Air Max Hyperposite

Key Feature: 360 Air Max, Hyperfuse and Foamposite build
Worn by: Chris Bosh, Rudy Gay and more

This was another shoe that was a pleasant surprise. Wearing these bulky shoes on-court can be tough after playing in the Foamposite One. After playing in them for a good 2 hours, all ill expectations were set aside. As arguably the best use of Foamposite material to date, the Hyperposites will mold to your feet and you won’t want to take them off.

No. 5 - adidas Rose 3

Key Feature: SprintWeb & SprintFrame
Worn by: Tony Allen, Jeff Teague & Tracy McGrady

These pretty much have everything the Rose 2.5 has but the traction lasts a bit longer and the fit is a bit more accommodating to a wider variety of foot shapes. They also brought back that premium vibe with the materials choices… something that we don’t see too often nowadays with all of the plastic fuse type materials from brands all across the board. Just give the Rose 3 some time to break-in and they’ll win you over.

No. 4 - Under Armour Spine Bionic

Key Feature: Micro G
Worn by: Brandon Jennings, DeAndre Jordan

Yet another shoe that was a positive surprise. These won us over after the first cut. Who knew that traction being surrounded by foam would still perform this nicely? Oh yeah, that Micro G… it’s amazing. They even provide you with a Micro G insole that you can remove and put in other shoes. Totally awesome!

No. 3 - Nike KD V

Key Feature: Hyperfuse Build, Heel Air Max, Forefoot Zoom Air
Worn by: Kevin Durant

The KD IV was popular beyond belief but the uncomfortable fit was a big problem for a lot of people.  Luckily Leo Chang changed all of that with the KD V. This is one shoe that gets better each and every time you play in them. If you like a contained fit, solid traction and above average cushion then this will be your go-to shoe.

No. 2 - Nike LeBron X

Key Feature: Hyperfuse Build, Dynamic Flywire, 360 visible Zoom Air
Worn by: LeBron James

These are easy to put at the number 1 spot simply based off the fact that they’re stacked with performance tech. However,  the 360 Zoom could still use some work to be considered ‘perfect’ – even though it feels so amazing under foot words can’t really describe the feeling. Score wise, these pretty much beat anything else on the market. They rank perfectly in nearly every category you can think of – making them a potential new pickup for you – running on our ranking in a very close second.

No. 1 - Jordan CP3.VI

Key Feature: Podulon, Hyperfuse build
Worn by: Chris Paul, Lamar Odem and more

The CP3.V was good… but the CP3.VI is better. The traction alone will have you salivating. It’s the best traction to be placed on any shoe… ever. If you are a fan of foam cushion & secure forefoot fit all at a low price point then this is the shoe for you. After looking back at all of the shoes targeted to each position, this one shoe stood out to our experienced testers as that near perfect model for a Guard… something we haven’t seen since the Kobe IV.

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