Great traction and materials for $80. Cushioning offers little in the form of impact protection, but a good basketball shoe for the price.
Release Date: 2022
The Puma Playmaker Pro is Puma Hoops’ current most-budget model and one more piece of evidence that Puma actually puts some TLC into the design of every single one of their hoop shoes.
Nowadays, you, unfortunately, can’t ask for much from an $80 basketball shoe, and there isn’t much in the Puma Playmaker Pro, to be perfectly honest. But the design team for this shoe really did get the most out of this model. The Puma Playmaker Pro is currently being worn on NBA courts by the Boston Celtics’ top defensive weapon, Marcus Smart, so keep that in mind. If it works in the NBA, it can work for you.
The pair I tested was provided by the good people over at Bouncewear, one of the top online basketball stores in Europe, with physical locations in Belgium, France, and Luxembourg, with more locations soon to come. So with all that being said, let’s jump into the performance review
The traction would be this shoe’s top feature if it hadn’t been for the materials, but more on that later. This shoe features a solid rubber outsole, with a diamond-shaped matrix traction pattern, which personally reminds me of a basketball net.
This matrix configuration grips the court very well and has excellent multidirectional coverage. The diamonds along the sole deform depending on the section of the shoe to give you a better grip for the specific moves you make with that portion of your foot. They stretch out vertically on the lateral side of the shoe (to aid in defensive slides and such) and horizontally in the forefoot (to help with moves like stepbacks, hard plants, etc.).
Now, I would not suggest using this shoe outdoors. The rubber is too soft, and the pattern on my pair already has signs of fraying after just a couple of outdoor sessions. The pattern is somewhat deep set, so it should take some time to wear down, but again, if you are asking me, this is an indoor shoe.
The cushioning on the Puma Playmaker Pro was the most disappointing feature of the shoe for me, but that was mainly because of my preconceptions regarding Puma’s ProFoam.
The Playmaker Pro features a full-length slab of ProFoam for cushioning. I have tested ProFoam before in one of my favorite basketball shoes of the year, the Puma TRC Blaze Court. That shoe is super bouncy underfoot and just feels great. It features a ProFoam midsole and Trinomic cushioning in the heel and forefoot.
So when I saw that this shoe had ProFoam, I figured the cushioning would be similar. But it’s definitely nothing alike.
The Playmaker Pro’s impact protection is minimal, and the ProFoam feels very neutral, almost to the point of being “dead.” The setup isn’t terrible, it’s very stable and reactive and feels agile, but again this is not a shoe for outdoors, or even a slightly hard indoor court. Parquet and mushy PVC courts only for these guys.
This is easily my favorite part of the shoe. There is nothing premium about the materials, but similar to another great Puma model from this year, the Puma Court Rider 2, the choice of materials and the implementation make the shoe feel great in hand.
We have a primarily textile upper with some synthetic leather overlays and some hits of actual suede. The “leather” overlays are placed in sections of the shoe to add durability and containment to the shoe, and just make you feel like your money is well spent. I can’t explain it any other way.
It also gives the shoe serious, early-2000s vibes, which is all I want from a shoe materials-wise.
The shoe really doesn’t feature any groundbreaking tech support-wise, but everything on the shoe works together to offer a really secure feeling ride. The traction is grippy and offers a very wide and stable base to the shoe. The cushioning, though lacking in impact protection, is super stable as the materials give structure and containment to the upper. Finally, we have a couple of lace cables and a run-of-the-mill heel counter for extra lockdown.
Again nothing remarkable, but no complaints either.
The Puma Playmaker Pro fits true to size, so go with whatever size you usually use with Puma. The shoe doesn’t have that perfect performance you will find in the LeBron 20 for example, but it isn’t a sloppy fit, nor does it negatively affect performance.
On a positive note, however, the extra space should accommodate wide footers well, and the decoupled tongue should allow ankle brace users to adjust the fit easily.
To keep it short and sweet, I don’t think there is a better shoe that retails for $80. Is it the best shoe I have ever tested? No. But I did like the shoe, and if you are looking for a reactive shoe with great traction for indoor use that won’t break the bank, this is a good option.
Now, I will say that if you can get a good deal on a better performance model, that would be the best move.