Spalding is regarded as one of the best basketball brands in the world. They have many different unique designs that come in a wide range of prices. The Spalding Zi/O ranks number one on the list because of its revolutionary composite leather design. This design makes the ball reliable for the player, whether they are playing indoor or outdoor basketball.
The composite leather has deep channels which allow for control over the basketball. The material is grippy and resilient. The composite leather has a foam backing which allows for better control when dribbling. The ball comes in the official NBA size (28.5 in. - size 6).
Although the ball does not use real leather, the composite leather gives it very similar handling to a real indoor ball. The price is unbeatable at around $30 per ball.
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Under Armor does not produce nearly as many basketballs as Spalding or Wilson, but the Under Armor 495 has nearly topped the list. This ball is made of composite leather, giving it a similar feel to an indoor game ball. The ball is very grippy, and dribblers say its design allows for ball handling control. It is also described by being a very durable ball for outdoor use.
The ball is a bit heavy, and its composite material may make it harder to break in. Once the ball is broken in, players say it is the perfect ball to enjoy through all outdoor conditions. The UA 495 has tremendous air retention rates which is a result of the nylon body design. The ball is around $40 and is sold at most sporting goods stores and on Amazon.
The Wilson NCAA Replica has been a renowned basketball ever since it was named the official ball of the NCAA March Madness Tournament. The ball has a unique design, offering deep channels which are not made from rubber. The channels give the ball a firm grip allowing the ball to easily be palmed. This indoor/outdoor ball is user friendly and many describe the ball as easily controllable when dribbling.
The ball has a high and responsive bounce that dribblers enjoy. The ball has few downsides, one of them being air retention rate. The ball loses air faster than others on the market, and many do not love the patterned cover that the ball has. Although the channels allow for the ball to be picked up easily, some say the patterned cover is a less comfortable feel. The ball is priced low at around $20 making it a very good option for many players.
The Molten X-Series is a highly renowned indoor/outdoor basketball both in the United States and Internationally. It is the official ball of the FIBA and many players boast that it has the best feel in the game. The ball has a uniform pebble surface making it comfortable to dribble and easy to grip. The design of the ball features inlaid channels that provide ball control. The unique patterns make the ball easily visible to all players.
This ball has a very unique design as seen in its 12 channel design. The standard ball has only 8 channels. The extra channels give the ball more grip when palming. The pebbles on the ball are symmetrical and firm but many shooters enjoy the extra channels that the ball offers. Although the Molten X-series is much different than the others on this list, it is affordable priced around $30.
The Spalding NBA Street is considered one of the more basic basketballs on the market. This basketball is intended strictly for outdoor use only. The ball is made of rubber and is one of the more durable balls on the market. The Spalding NBA Street has a consistent bounce making it comfortable for most dribblers. The ball is priced around $13, one of the cheaper balls on the market, and is described as the perfect beginner basketball.
Since the ball is made of a firm rubber cover, it does not have as much grip as others on the market. The rubber coating makes the ball extremely durable giving it the ability to play in all conditions. The channels are deep on this ball giving it a distinct feel. Along with its durability, the Spalding NBA has a high air retention rate making it very reliable for outdoor use.
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The Spalding Street Phantom is one of the more unique Spalding brands. It has the deepest channels out of all the outdoor Spalding brands, and the ball is made of similar rubber to the Spalding NBA Street. This ball has circular pebble composition and the ball is described as the most grippy in the realm of outdoor basketballs. In fact, this ball is so grippy that some say it does not have as natural of a feel. The ball only comes in black, making it very visible during a sunny day, but harder to play during a night session of pickup basketball. Since the ball is black, it can get very hot when sitting out in the sun. The Spalding Street Phantom is priced around $20 so it is only a bit more money than the Spalding NBA Street ball. This ball has great air retention rates and bounce responsiveness.
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Along with many of the other great Spalding products on the list, the Spalding TF-500 is another great ball. The TF-500 is similar to the Zi/O in size and weight, but the design is slightly different. The ball is less grippy than the Zi/O but has a more distinct feel than the Spalding NBA Street. The ball has a high air retention rate, but it does not have as much bounce as many of the other Spalding balls.
Although the ball is around the same size as the Spalding Zi/O, the cover is much more firm and has less give than the Zi/O. The ball is priced around $30 making it relatively similar to the price range of the Zi/O. The ball is for more experienced players who prefer a more firm feel rather than a cushion feel.
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Nike is less known for its basketballs compared to brands like Spalding or Wilson, but this ball is designed to feel great in the hand while being as durable as they come. The Nike Versa Track is an indoor/outdoor ball that is made of composite leather, rubber, nylon, and other materials. The ball has incredible shape retention and many players have stated that this ball has lasted more than 5 years of play!
The ball is easy to break in and its wide channels offer stability when dribbling and palming the basketball. The Nike track versa has a soft rubber core and a pebbled surface which give the ball good bounce retention with a controlled feel. The ball is around $25 and its composite leather composition allows it to feel much like the texture of a full leather indoor ball.
NIKE Versa Track Basketballs:
Baden is another brand with only one product reaching the top ten basketballs. The Baden Contender is an indoor/outdoor basketball which is well known for its comfortable feel. This ball is much harder than the feel of the Spalding NBA Street, as it has large pebbles on the cover making it feel comfortable in the palm. The ball has very high air retention and many players say that the Baden Contender has a balanced bounce making it very controllable.
Although the ball has a great feel due to the large pebble cover, the ball is less grippy than most of the balls listed here. Players who are experienced may find it easier to grip the ball off of the dribble than players who are younger or players with smaller hands. The ball is priced around $30.
The Mikasa BX-1000 is described as being a fairly basic basketball with less technological features for experienced players. The ball is priced around $10 and is perfect for beginners, or kids who are playing ball at home. The ball is one of the smaller standard size balls in circumference, but it is also one of the heavier balls. It is strictly meant for outdoor use and the ball is relatively durable.
This ball has very shallow channels, making it harder to pick up and hold onto. The ball is made of hard rubber and the standard pebble cover is less grippy than many of the other basketballs listed. Its low price makes it a budget basketball, but even so, it does not compare to the Spalding NBA Street which is the same price and intended for the same purpose.
Basketballs are very different when it comes to size, grip, bounce and durability. Each ball may be constructed of different materials such as leather, composite leather, rubber, or nylon. Through each of these factors, basketballs may all serve a different purpose for the player. The best basketball is the one that best suits the player's needs. For example, one player may value a grippy basketball while others may value a ball which is durable under harsh conditions.
Spalding is the official ball provider to the NBA and the brand is ranked better than Wilson; although, Wilson is second by a small margin. Spalding is known for its revolutionary composite leather designs as Wilson focuses more on its grip. Both brands have very durable basketballs that are priced in the same range. The brand with the better ball can simply be decided based on the customers purchasing decisions of size, grip, bounce, and durability.
The best basketball for outdoor use is the Spalding Zi/O. The Spalding Zi/O ranks number one on the list because of its revolutionary composite leather design. This design makes the ball reliable for the player, whether they are playing indoor or outside basketball. The ball mimics the feel of the Official Spalding NBA basketball. It is priced at around $30.