7 Best Leather Basketballs

Any basketball player who plays predominately indoors should be looking at a leather option for ultimate playability. Not only are leather options used in most professional leagues, but they have a certain feel to them that is hard to replicate.

While expensive, they can last a long time if treated properly. What are the seven best leather basketballs on the market right now?

1. Official NBA Wilson Basketball

Wilson officially took over as the NBA basketball provider at the beginning of the 2021-2022 season. After having a long time relationship with Spalding, Wilson was able to outbid the other company.

For such a pretty big change, there has not been a lot of pushback from players. That’s a good thing overall, as the NBA basketball is one of the best out there. It needs time to be broken properly, but the only major hurdle for the average buyer is the price.

Coming in at $150 give or take, this ball is an investment. People are paying for the labeling, as similar balls are significantly cheaper. It’s nice to have the official ball of the NBA, but people who are just going to play with it anyway might not feel like it’s worth the premium price.

Pros

  • Official NBA basketball
  • Outstanding quality
  • Performs well for games or practices

Cons

  • Very expensive
  • Takes time to break in properly

2. Wilson Solution Basketball

The Wilson Solution remains one of the most highly-rated balls for both official leagues and pick-up games. While it is now discontinued by Wilson, it is the former basketball used in the NCAA tournament. That alone should get people to think about making a purchase and trying to ball out.

One of the selling features of the Wilson Solution Basketball is that it is great at absorbing sweat and keeping a strong grip.

Most players love the fact that they can have the best type of ball control possible with this technology. It’s much easier to grip than the evolution ball, and it still performs well in many different conditions.

The ball does have a slightly heavier feel to it than some of the others out there, but that’s mostly due to the bill. It is going to weigh the steam and still play as it should be compared to all the other options out there. It’s NCAA and HS approved, and it’s meant to last a long time thanks to all of its added features.

Pros

  • Outstanding grip
  • Absorbs moisture well
  • Channels help with grip

Cons

  • Feels a little heavier than other leather basketballs
  • Wilson is phasing it out for other options

3. Wilson Evolution Basketball

This might be the most popular basketball at a local gym in the United States currently. The Wilson Evolution basketball has a nice feel to it right out of the box. It feels a little bit like a sponge, giving players a little bit of cushion when playing with it.

The ball performs pretty consistently, but it’s not quite as tacky as some of the other options out there. During those hot and humid game sessions, the ball might be a little too slippery for some players.

Pricing for the Evolution basketball helps it become such a popular option. It’s still a premium ball meant for indoor only, but it’s not as expensive as most of the other options out there.

Give the ball a try and see how it performs. The good thing is that people can try it out at their local run if they want. There’s almost always a Wilson Evolution in the gym.

Pros

  • Multiple color choices for a unique look
  • Very soft feel
  • A cushioned core that helps with ball control

Cons

  • Gets a little slippery when wet
  • Easy to get confused with other Wilson Evolution balls at gyms

4. Wilson NXT Basketball

The Wilson NXT basketball got its first real debut during the 2022 NCAA basketball tournament. That’s when Wilson unleashed this slightly brighter orange basketball that’s meant to be the next step above what the former Wilson Solution Basketball provided.

The focus with the Evo NXT is to provide better performance for shooters. They have a feature that’s called Extended Range Tech, which includes a soft core construction that generates more spin with less effort. Players can have a softer touch wherever they are shooting from.

The electric orange color seems to be a little polarizing to basketball traditionalists. Some prefer a darker orange and brown color for the past, while others like that it’s easier to see with all types of backgrounds.

Moisture management has been tackled with a micro touch cover used by the ball. Overall, Wilson seems very focused on making sure that this is one of the top basketballs people enjoy using every single time they step on the floor.

Pros

  • Standout colors
  • Newest ball technology
  • Cheaper than the official NBA ball with similar features

Cons

  • Bounces a little high
  • Color is not for everyone

5. Spalding TF-1000 Basketball

Spalding might not get quite the same love as Wilson in basketball circles, but the TF-1000 is a very popular indoor basketball. The construction of the ball has elite performance in mind, ranging from shooters to players off the dribble. It is the official high school ball in several states, and it can perform well indoors.

It is designed the way it is to not only recognize the ball easily for perfect grip, but there’s improved control and accuracy. Players who need to catch the ball and shoot quickly need to have the ability to lift up and shoot right away. The different feel works best for shooters.

Maybe the biggest negative for Spalding and their TF-1000 is that it just doesn’t show up as much anymore in gyms. Wilson has worked hard to take the majority of the shares in the market, making Spalding stick out a bit. Give it time, and it performs at a high level.

Pros

  • Wide channels enhance grip
  • Affordable
  • Very soft after break-in

Cons

  • Harder cover than most other leather basketballs
  • A lot of lettering on the ball causes minor slippage spots

6. Spalding NBA Official Basketball

There are still plenty of Spalding NBA official basketballs floating around. That’s good news for people who like the way they perform, as they are starting to go down in price a bit.

The Spalding NBA basketball became so much of a normal feeling for anyone who played at the highest level. Since casual baseball players always want to have that same feeling, quite a few people invested in the official ball throughout the years.

It plays a little bit differently than the Wilson basketballs, but most of it comes down to being made of premium products.

A lot of people using the Spalding NBA official basketball for the first time don’t fall in love with its feel. It is something that so many NBA players are used to that there tend to be zero complaints at all. It does get better as it’s broken in, which is great for the casual player.

Pros

  • Official NBA basketball for a cheaper price
  • Very consistent bounce
  • Enhanced feel

Cons

  • Lacks in the cushioning department
  • Takes a while to break in properly

7. Molton BGGX

Molton basketballs seem to be much more popular in other parts of the world outside of the United States. Maybe the biggest reason why that’s the case is that it is a long-time sponsor of FIBA, as well as some European leagues.

It looks a little bit different than most basketballs, as it’s multi-colored and has slightly different paneling. Some love this feel, while others never seem to get used to it.

Anyone who’s had trouble gripping a basketball in the past will find the Molton ball to have paneling that makes it a little bit easier.

It’s also better to track shots and see how rotation looks with a multicolor ball like this. It’s pretty affordably priced for the indoor model, which makes it a ball that works in any type of actual game.

Keep in mind that when bringing this ball to an open gym, most people are likely going to opt for another option if it’s available. Those basketball players don’t like change too much, so they will not embrace the different-looking ball unless they have to.

Pros

  • Pretty affordable price
  • Easy to see rotation
  • Gripping is easier

Cons

  • Feels a little harder than other balls
  • Not always accepted at local runs

How to Get the Most Out of a Leather Basketball

Leather basketballs are a great investment for anyone who takes the game seriously. They perform best indoors, and should only stay indoors for that reason. Leather can be pretty delicate, especially if it’s being dribbled on a cement court.

Most leather basketballs need a little bit of breaking in first so that they perform well. Try to take that extra bit of time to get them ready. All it takes is shooting around a little bit and using it in general. Once broken in, people will be much more receptive to playing with it.

Chris Davis

I'm Chris, the guy behind BasketballJoy. I've played basketball for 20+ years and have been a full-time coach since 2017. On this website, I share everything I know about the most beautiful sport in the world - Basketball.

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