NBA Sneaker King Power Rankings: Montrezl Harrell, Lance Stephenson make push for top spot in league's shoe game
The battle for the NBA's Sneaker King title has heated up this season, with a number of players making a run for the top spot
The NBA's decision to loosen limitations on what sneakers its players can wear on the court has provided us with an abundance of crazy moments. With the freedom to wear any shoe they want this season, NBA players have reinforced their place as some of the most creative and innovative athletes in the world.
Keeping track of all the rare and eye-popping shoes the players have been wearing this season isn't an easy task, but the excitement to see what these guys pull off next makes it all worth it.
Here are the players that have opened up their limitless sneaker collections, the ones that have kept their sneaker reps' phones buzzing off the hook to provide us with the best looks on the court -- and, of course, to claim the top spot on our NBA Sneaker King Power Rankings.
15. Kyle Kuzma
The Lakers' second-year swingman lands on this list under another special set of guidelines: He agreed to a first-of-a-kind contract with GOAT, a sneaker reselling platform that doesn't limit him to a single brand. GOAT has been stocking Kuzma with a ton of highly-coveted sneakers throughout the season and he's been showing them off lately. Kuzma's best sneaker of the year so far was on display when he rocked the Nike LeBron 11 "SVSM" -- a promo sample of the LeBron 11 that never hit retailers.
14. Jimmy Butler
76ers star Jimmy Butler reportedly has a different pair of shoes for every day of the year. He's worn shoes on the court before that are so rare and so sought after that reselling platforms have them listed for over $10,000. Butler is a bona fide sneakerhead. His footwear on the hardwood this season has continued to impress with no pair better than the Jordan XXX "Cosmos" -- a shoe inspired by the relationship Nike has with Quai 54, the world's largest streetball tournament.
13. Lauri Markkanen
Bulls forward Lauri Markkanen is making a strong case for one of the better Nike LeBron collections in the entire league. The second-year player out of Arizona has kept us all guessing on which LBJ-themed sneakers he's going to rock on the court next. His blend of older models and player exclusives is what propelled him so high on this list and might help him keep rising.
12. Luka Doncic
Mavericks rookie Luka Doncic is taking the NBA by storm with one of the most successful starts to a career in recent history. The 19-year-old is making veterans look silly with his play, and he's also one-upping the competition with his incredible custom Nike selections. Doncic works with sneaker customizer Martín Redondo (@MelonKicks on Twitter) to make his ideas come to life on his sneakers.
So far, the pair has teamed up on two designs and Redondo told CBS Sports that a third one is already in the works. The most impactful design might've come when Doncic sported a pair of Nike Hyperdunk X lows inspired by world-renown artist KAWS.
"I really love KAWS art," Redondo said. "This is one of my favorite customs, it's the most elaborate I've done."
11. Russell Westbrook
Thunder guard Russell Westbrook is doing it again: averaging a triple-double and wearing some of the more exclusive and eye-popping Jordans around the league. Westbrook had the NBA buzzing when he debuted the Jordan Why Not Zero.2 in the "Future History" colorway, keeping him in the conversation among players with the best signature shoes. The former MVP also reached deep into the vault with an exclusive Jordan 10 PE that honored his first triple-double season.
10. DeMar DeRozan
Spurs star DeMar DeRozan has the premier Nike Kobe collection in the NBA. He's cornered the market when it comes to that signature line to the point where fans go to him to see the new releases in that line and to check out the rare pieces he brings out on the court. Recently, Nike retroed the shoes Bryant wore when he scored a career-high 81 points in a Lakers win over the Raptors during the 2005-06 season and DeRozan was the first to wear them on the court.
9. Paul George
Thunder swingman Paul George is enjoying an MVP-caliber season and he just debuted the next silhouette in his Nike signature line. George strapped up the Nike PG3 in a Nasa-inspired colorway and it was an instant hit among the sneaker community. Before bringing out the Nike PG3, George shuffled through a number of amazing colorways of the Nike PG 2.5, a shoe that quickly became a favorite among other NBA players.
8. Allonzo Trier
Knicks rookie Allonzo Trier has made a huge splash on the court after being undrafted out of Arizona in 2018. Trier has also made a name for himself as a big-time sneaker enthusiast and he's consistently bringing some heat to the court. One of the best kicks he's rocked on the court this season has to be the Nike Kobe 5 "5 Rings," a colorway Nike launched after Bryant secured his fifth NBA title in 2010.
7. Stephen Curry
Warriors star Stephen Curry is used to doing the impossible on the court, he's also done something most thought was impossible off it, too: making Under Armour relevant to sneaker lovers everywhere. Whenever Curry and Under Armour launch a new silhouette in his line, the sneaker community comes together to judge. And unlike the Curry Two low tops that had the dad-shoe world buzzing, the Curry 6 launched this season and were widely accepted.
Former NBA All-Star Gilbert Arenas joked on Instagram that he's finally rocking with Under Armour again as the new Curry 6 releases and that he'd stayed away since the Curry Two scared him off. Curry also poked some fun at himself when he wore a custom pair of the Curry 6.
6. Taurean Prince
Hawks forward Taurean Prince is a contender for the best kicks worn on the court on a nightly basis. The third-year player out of Baylor isn't afraid to mix up the brands and often switches from one pair to another in the same game -- that's a power move any way you look at it. Some of Prince's best kicks this season have come when he's dug deep into his sneaker vault and pulled out a number of classic Jordan brand retros, including the Jordan 8 "OVO." His style and extensive sneaker collection is sure to put him in contention for the NBA's Sneaker King crown as the season unfolds.
5. Kyrie Irving
Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving always finds a way to fascinate us while he's on the court. Whether it's his out-of-this-world handle, his step-back jumper or his ice-cold approach in late-game situations, Irving keeps us all hooked to see what he'll pull off next. Irving keeps that same sentiment with the wide array of styles he rocks while he's on the court. The Nike Kyrie 5 line is one of the best signature lines in the NBA today and Irving never gets stale with his selection. The Australian-born Irving recently debuted a collaboration with Nick Kyrgios, a professional tennis player from his native land, that had the sneaker community buzzing. With more perfectly-executed collaborations like these, Irving is sure to make a run for the crown.
4. De'Aaron Fox
Kings point guard De'Aaron Fox is enjoying a breakout sophomore campaign while also establishing himself as one of the bigger sneakerheads in the NBA. Fox has a very unique style when it comes to his on-court sneaker selections. He tends to always rock a high-cut shoe and relies on the Nike Kobe 9 and the Jordan 28, two silhouettes that provide a number of amazing colorways to shuffle through during a season. Fox's ability to turn his particular style into a must-follow every time he steps on the court is what lands him so high on the list and gives him room to improve.
3. Lance Stephenson
Lakers swingman Lance Stephenson is a complete wildcard when he's on the court. He has the talent to absolutely win you a game, and, well, you know what the opposite of that trait is -- he has that too. Despite the inconsistency of play, Stephenson is without a doubt in rarefied air when it comes to his sneaker collection and the kicks he brings on the court. His only competition are the two guys ahead of him on the list. Stephenson's sneaker choices aren't limited in any capacity and it was beyond difficult to narrow down his best choices of the season so far.
2. Montrezl Harrell
This is where things start to get real, people. This is where the NBA's ultimate sneakerheads make their presence felt, and that's exactly what Clippers big man Montrezl Harrell has been doing all season. If this competition were based solely on variety, Harrell might take the crown in runaway fashion. As you'll see below, Harrell might be the first NBA player ever to wear a pair of And 1 sneakers followed by some FILA kicks on the court. This type of stuff is unprecedented and his sneaker collection suggests it won't be the last time he comes through with gems like that. Harrell might be one of a handful of players that, based off consistency and variety, has a real shot to unseat the No. 1 guy on this list. I'll just say this: stay tuned to see what he pulls out next.
1. P.J. Tucker
You've all made it this far. You've seen how the NBA is at an all-time best right now when it comes to on-court sneaker wear. You realize how stiff the competition is and you're wondering who's No. 1? Well, Rockets swingman P.J. Tucker is on another planet -- no, he's in another universe -- in the shoe-wearing department. Tucker is a combination of Michael Jordan and LeBron James when it comes to rocking heat on the court. He's what LaVar Ball thinks his kids are: Undefeated, never lost. No player brings out rarer shoes than Tucker, and no one switches from one insane shoe to another during the same game at the frequency he does. Quite frankly, it doesn't seem like any other player has the pull to get their hands on the type of sneakers Tucker pulls out of the vault on a nightly basis. The competition on this list is simply to unseat Tucker. Enough talk, enjoy the visuals and remember, they don't do it justice at all.
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