Best Basketball Shorts for On and Off the Court: 2020 Buyer’s Guide & Reviews

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Wearing a comfortable pair of basketball shorts can make all the difference in how you play and how you move on the court, whether you’re playing on the street or a real court. When you wear shorts that are tight or ill-fitting, it can actually hinder your movements, so you can’t move the way you need to, preventing you from jumping higher, or slowing you down when you run. Basically, if you want to play better, then you need the best basketball shorts, a pair that offers a fit that feels like they were made just for you.

But choosing a pair of basketball shorts isn’t as easy as you think since there are literally hundreds of pairs of shorts to choose from. The shorts you wear need to have a comfortable lining, a breathable design, and some adjustability, so they won’t start falling down when you jump or ride up when you run.

The type of material you’ll come across can have a big impact on your comfort, as can the overall design of the shorts. Since there are so many choices available, finding even a single pair that will fit you the way they should may sound impossible, but it’s not. I’ve done plenty of research and found the top seven pairs of basketball shorts that you won’t want to play without. Each pair offers the type of breathability and fit that you’ll need for total comfort when you’re playing. Below, you’ll find a comparison chart that lists some of the important features each pair has to offer, such as pockets, size options, and more.

Basketball Shorts Comparison Chart

ProductPocketsMaterial TypeSize OptionsRating
Champion Long Mesh Short

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YesMesh and Polyester9
Amazon Essentials Shorts

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NoPolyester5
Russell Athletic Mesh Shorts

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YesPolyester6
Under Armour Raid Shorts

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NoPolyester16
Real Essentials Shorts

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YesPolyester5
Adidas Basketball Shorts

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YesPolyester16
CYZ Performance Shorts

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YesPolyester5

Champion Men’s Long Mesh Short


Our Rating: (5/5)

If you’re looking for shorts that are going to last you practice after practice, then you need a pair that’s designed with durability in mind. Often, these are the shorts that come with a higher price tag, but considering how durable they are, they can essentially save you money that would be put towards replacing your cheap pair of basketball shorts. Champion is one of the biggest brand names in the industry. Aside from shorts, they offer an extensive line of sportswear and they’re the go-to brand for both pros and casual players alike. Their latest pair of basketball shorts to hit the market are made out of one hundred percent polyester and they’re available in nine size options, so you’re sure to find the right fit. They also come with a couple of pockets, so you can store your keys, phone, and wallet, while you play. They’re perfect for on the court or off, and they’re washing-machine friendly.

Pros

  • One hundred percent polyester
  • Lightweight
  • Breathable
  • Washing machine-friendly
  • Drawstring closure

Cons

  • Price
  • Pockets create a bulky design

Conclusion

These Championship shorts may be on the pricey side, but once you realize how durable they are, the type of comfortable fit they offer, and how breathable the material is, you’ll find yourself ordering a second and third pair.

Amazon Essentials Men’s 2-Pack Loose-Fit Performance Shorts


Our Rating: (4.5/5)

This is a two-pack of shorts that are made out of one hundred percent polyester and are available at a very low price. They’re washing machine-friendly, feature a drawstring closure, so you can loosen or tighten the waist. And offer the type of loose fit that allows you to easily fly down the court. Whether you need shorts for lounging or on the court use, these shorts offer the perfect fit and are available in five size options.

Pros

  • Drawstring closure
  • Washing machine-friendly
  • Affordable
  • Two-pack

Cons

  • Only five sizes to choose from

Conclusion

These polyester basketball shorts are comfortable, breathable, and perfect for on and off the court use. The fact that they’re only available in five size options can be very limiting, especially for larger players. Hopefully, Amazon steps up their game and starts offering more sizes for the big boys, sometime in the future.

Russell Athletic Men’s Mesh Short with Pockets


Our Rating: (4.5/5)

These shorts are made with a one hundred percent polyester lining and one hundred percent cationic polyester for the shorts themselves. The drawstring closure makes the waist highly adjustable, while the breathable material offers excellent ventilation, so you can stay cool and dry on the court. The Dri-power wicking technology will pull sweat away from your skin, significantly minimizing discomfort while you shoot some hoops. The elastic waistband further adds to the shorts’ comfort, while the built-in side pockets are perfect for stashing your phone, some gum, or other personal items while you play.

Pros

  • Breathable
  • Moisture-wicking technology
  • Elastic waistband and drawstring closure
  • Side pockets
  • Available in nine colors

Cons

  • Price
  • Only six size options available

Conclusion

These shorts are available in six size options and nine different colors. The elastic waist and the drawstring closure allow you to play in total comfort, as does the material’s moisture-wicking technology. These shorts may seem a little pricey, but the overall comfort and durability make them worth every penny.

Under Armour Men’s Raid Shorts


Our Rating: (4.5/5)

This ultra-soft polyester fabric is lightweight and features UPF thirty protection against the harmful rays of the sun. These shorts are very stretchy and flexible, featuring a four-way stretch construction that allows you to move with ease in every direction. The moisture-wicking material will keep you dry on the court by pulling sweat and moisture away from your skin. The shorts also feature anti-odor technology that prevents unwanted odors.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Breathable
  • Four-way stretch comfort
  • Moisture-wicking technology

Cons

  • Price
  • No pockets may be a drawback for some

Conclusion

These super stretchy, breathable, ultra-soft shorts are pricey, but they’re designed for both pro and recreational use, which is also why they don’t come equipped with side pockets like so many competing models do. The typical pro game dress code doesn’t allow shorts with pockets, so the fact that this pair lacks any, may be seen as an advantage for the serious player. Price aside, the shorts are available in sixteen sizes, and a total of eighteen colors, so you’ll have your choice of finding the perfect pair of shorts that fit perfectly and vibe with your style.

Real Essentials Men’s Active Athletic Performance Shorts


Our Rating: (4.5/5)

This is a five-pack of basketball shorts that are made out of one hundred percent polyester and come complete with a drawstring closure for ultimate adjustability. The moisture-wicking technology will keep you cool and dry, while the breathable material offers perfect ventilation so you won’t overheat out on the court. These shorts also have an elastic waistband so the shorts will remain comfortable and stay in place, even when you’re dunking or running down the court.

Pros

  • Drawstring closure and elastic waistband
  • Pockets
  • Moisture-wicking technology
  • Breathable

Cons

  • Only available in five size options

Conclusion

This five pack of shorts offers the most bang for your buck, so if you’re on a tight budget, make sure you scoop these shorts up ASAP. They offer a breathable design, a comfortable fit, and moisture-wicking technology, so you can enjoy a recreational game of hoops with your friends, even in intense heat, in total comfort.

Adidas Men’s Basketball 3G Speed 2.0 Shorts


Our Rating: (4.5/5)

These basketball shorts are made out of one hundred percent polyester interlock and they’re made by one of the biggest brands in the world. They feature a drawstring closure, so you can loosen or tighten the waist and achieve the perfect fit. The side pockets allow you to store your personal items, such as keys and a phone. The Climalite fabric is designed to pull moisture away from your skin so you’ll stay cool and dry whether you’re playing on an indoor court or an outdoor court.

Pros

  • Climalite fabric pulls moisture away from the skin
  • Adjustable waist
  • Lightweight fabric
  • Sixteen size options
  • Fifteen color options

Cons

  • Price
  • Pockets

Conclusion

These popular basketball shorts by Adidas are breathable, comfortable, and feature a waist that’s highly adjustable. The shorts are also available in a wide range of sizes and color options, so you can choose a pair that fits you perfectly and in your team’s colors. The price is a little high, but considering the shorts are made by Adidas, one of the biggest brands in the industry, the higher price tag isn’t exactly surprising.

CYZ Men’s Performance Basketball Shorts


Our Rating: (4/5)

These affordable lightweight shorts are perfect for on and off the court use, so they’re also a great choice for lounging, running, gym use. They’re stretchy, breathable, and comfortable, so you’ll find yourself wearing them often. And they’re also available at a price that’s affordable. They’re made out of premium polyester, so they’re highly breathable and feature moisture-wicking technology, which will keep you nice and dry by pulling the sweat from your skin. Unlike competing shorts, these CYZ shorts are only available in five size options, which is pretty disappointing. Unfortunately, because the sizes are very limited, these shorts won’t be a good choice for larger players.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Breathable
  • Pockets
  • Affordable
  • Comfortable

Cons

  • Only five size options available

Conclusion

These breathable, comfortable shorts are a steal for the price, but there are some limitations, mainly when it comes to the size options. The shorts are made out of moisture-wicking material, so you’ll stay dry on the court, which is a huge plus for any wearer. Their comfortable design also makes them appropriate for lounging gym use, running, and more.

Basketball Shorts Buyer’s Guide

When you shop for a new pair of basketball shorts, you don’t want to end up with a pair that feels scratchy against your skin, sags when you run, or shrinks when you dry them. You’ll find these shorts available in a variety of lengths and sizes. The length you choose should vibe with your style, but shouldn’t be long enough that they can impact your speed on the court.

You’ll want to steer clear of shorts that are made out of material that’s not very breathable, or material that doesn’t possess moisture-wicking capabilities since this can lead to discomfort and skin issues.

Length

Longer shorts are made for taller players, although some shorter players will opt for longer shorts for pure style. Just keep in mind, if the shorts are too long, you’ll have a hard time running as fast as you normally would if you were wearing shorts that fit well.

Quality

Not all shorts that come out of the washing machine are designed with durability in mind. Some may fade in color, others will have a nubby surface or areas on the shorts will begin to wear out. Some shorts may also start to fade if worn or dried in the sun. Fortunately, these are common issues that you’ll only deal with if you purchase low-quality shorts. If you can afford to pay more, then higher-priced shorts are guaranteed to last much longer and can easily withstand constant washing and drying, and without fading, losing their elasticity or shape.

Materials

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Basketball shorts are commonly worn on and off the court, whether it’s for lounging, or working out, playing hard on the court, but the type of material they’re made out of can have a major impact on comfort. Synthetic materials are more durable and designed to stretch, without losing their shape. Other materials, those that aren’t breathable, can allow moisture to sit on the surface of your skin, which can lead to discomfort and general skin issues. Below, you’ll find the most common types of materials used and which ones to look for when you’re shopping for a new pair of shorts, and which types of material you’ll want to avoid.

Cotton

Cotton is a popular option for most types of clothing, but it comes with both advantages and disadvantages. While cotton can be a great choice if comfort is your main priority, and you’re playing ball in cold weather, it can also be the worst choice if you’re playing during the summer months. Cotton is a type of breathable material, but the big problem here is that once it gets wet, it will basically mold to your skin, so your skin will be in constant contact with this wet material. For hot weather, you need a type of moisture-wicking material that’s designed to pull sweat away from your skin. Wearing cotton when you sweat is a bad idea and one that can cause skin irritation.

The fibers in cotton tend to gravitate towards sweat, which can also weigh you down, the longer you play. Although cotton is an affordable material compared to some types of synthetic, it’s one of the worst choices for the court.

Polyester

Polyester is another type of material that’s commonly used to make basketball shorts since it does an excellent job of pulling moisture away from the skin. This means that your skin will remain nice and dry and it can breathe, unlike cotton shorts. The fact that the shorts won’t weigh you down can be a big deal when you’re running up and down the court and you’ll feel better when you’re doing it.

Hybrid

Hybrid blends are commonly used to make shorts. These blends often include several different types of materials, such as spandex, polyester, and even cotton. Cotton is used to improve the texture of the materials, while spandex adds to the flexibility and polyester improves durability, while offering its moisture-wicking properties. Shorts that are made out of hybrid blends are often pricier, but you’ll end up with a pair of shorts that are durable, washing-machine friendly, and comfortable to wear for hours on the court.

Mesh

Like cotton, the mesh material is fairly inexpensive, but it differs from cotton since it’s quick-drying. Mesh shorts will allow air to flow through the shorts, unlike cotton, so you’ll stay cool and dry on the court. But it’s still no match for specialty hybrid blends or polyester. This is because mesh isn’t able to wick one hundred percent of the moisture away from your skin, so the material can remain wet and in contact with your skin during a game. Some hybrid blends will incorporate panels on shorts that are made out of mesh, which can increase the short’s breathability, but all-mesh shorts can be uncomfortable to wear in higher temperatures.

Pockets

If you’re looking for basketball shorts to wear exclusively for the court, then you may not want to wear a pair that has pockets, since this can make the shorts look bulky and can be more of a problem when you’re flying down the court. Others will prefer pockets, since they’ll allow wearers to stash personal items such as keys, a wallet, and phone, in which case, pockets are fine if you’re wearing shorts for a casual pickup game, but the serious basketball player simply doesn’t need them.

The Right Fit

Aside from the length of the shorts, you’ll want to pay attention to the waist sizes available. Most manufacturers will offer several size options and a drawstring design that will allow you to tighten or loosen the waistline, for ultimate comfort.

Obviously, finding a pair of shorts that fit well will be your top priority, aside from breathability and comfort. You don’t want shorts that are too short or too long. Longer shorts seem to be the style these days, but as I mentioned earlier, if your shorts are too long, they can negatively impact your mobility on the court. Shorter shorts will just make you feel self-conscious. While back in the day, short shorts were the style, these days, in the NBA, players tend to wear shorts that hit mid-knee. Aside from length and style, you’ll shop for shorts based on waist size, so pay close attention to a company’s size chart.

While these size charts can vary from brand to brand, you can typically expect to find the following sizes based on measurement:

  • Small: Twenty-eight to thirty inches
  • Medium: Thirty-two to thirty-five inches
  • Large: Thirty-six to thirty-eight inches
  • XL: Forty to forty-two inches
  • XXL: Forty-four to forty-six inches

If you’ve found that the size of your waist doesn’t correspond to the length of the shorts you want, there are some alternatives to choose from. Since most shorts have drawstrings that you can use to loosen or tighten the fit, you can easily get by wearing a waist size that’s larger than what you’d normally wear.

Price

Expect to pay more for name-brand basketball shorts. High-quality shorts are made by some of the biggest brands in the industry, including Adidas, Under Armour, Nike, Champion, and more. These shorts may come with a higher price tag, but you’ll also find that these are the shorts that are designed for regular use, they can handle plenty of wear and tear, and they won’t shrink or fade. While you may spend more, these are the shorts that will last you several months, unlike low-priced shorts that tend to shrink or slide down once you get moving on the court.

You won’t get better at dribbling or run faster if you’re constantly tugging at your shorts. This is why quality matters. Remember, you’re not paying for the brand name, you’re paying for quality. While there are some off-brand shorts out there that offer an excellent fit, they’re pretty rare to find. Fortunately, I’ve found the top of the line shorts that will work for all budgets and playing styles.

Final Thoughts

The best basketball shorts will be comfortable, breathable, will keep your skin dry, and will not hinder your movements as you fly down the court, practice dribbling drills, slam dunks, or perfecting your shooting technique. If you’re on a team and you need some shorts for practice, then you can get away with wearing a variety of styles and colors. However, if you’re on a team, you may need to consult with your coach regarding what type of shorts will be court legal, what type of material they should be made out of and whether or not you can get away with shorts that have pockets. This guide and my product recommendations will help you narrow in on a pair of shorts that will work for you on and off the court and the type of shorts that are designed to easily withstand heavy-duty use.