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Top 5 Best Basketball Hoops For Kids | 2017 Reviews

June 24, 2016
Top 5 Best Basketball Hoops For Kids

Top 5 Best Basketball Hoops for Kids | 2017 Reviews

Even in this era of XBox One, PS4 and iPads, every kid needs a basketball hoop nearby. Many spend hours of their day (and often, their night) at a nearby playground or school, while others are fortunate enough to be able to play at a local gym or athletic club. Of course, there’s always the old-school option of attaching a hoop to a tree by the side of the road or onto a garage.

But there’s really no substitute for having your own permanent in-ground basketball hoop – or one of the high-quality portable hoops on sturdy bases which are now plentiful. They’re not weathered, rusted and bent like many of the hoops that have been at the playground for years, and they won’t break easily like the cheap jury-rigged ones you might stick on a tree. Today’s best hoops are strong and durable, most can be lowered for younger players or extended to regulation height, and some even come with breakaway hoops or tempered glass backboards.

These basketball hoops are great for those who envision an NBA career (or whose parents envision it for them) and want the very best equipment for their daily workouts. To be honest, though, if they have that much talent they are probably going to be spending most of their time practicing at school or seeking out games against other accomplished players. Where the top 5 best basketball hoops on our list really stand out is for kids (and families) who simply want to have a great time playing at home with equipment that will make their game better, more realistic and more fun –not more difficult.

Check our Best Basketball Hoops Buying Guide here.

Done? Let’s play to 5!

Quick Comparison Table

Spalding NBA The Beast Portable Basketball

Goalsetter All-American Basketball Hoop

Spalding NBA Hercules Portable Basketball

Spalding NBA In-Ground Basketball

Lifetime 1221 Pro Court Portable Basketball

Spalding NBA The Beast Portable Basketball System
Goalsetter All-American Basketball Hoop
Spalding NBA Hercules Portable Basketball System
Spalding NBA In-Ground Basketball System
Lifetime 1221 Pro Court Portable Basketball System

$$$

$$$

$$$

$$$

$$$

7 ½-10 feet

6-10 feet

7 ½-10 feet

7 ½-10 feet

7 ½-10 feet

Portable

In-ground

Portable

In-ground

Portable

Spalding NBA “The Beast” Portable Basketball System

Spalding NBA The Beast Portable Basketball System

If you walk into a sporting goods store and want to buy the best basketball you can find, you buy a Spalding. The company made its first basketball in 1894 and has been the official basketball supplier for the NBA since the early 1980s.

They also make the finest portable basketball hoop you can find. “The Beast” is not only well-made, it’s just about as good as the baskets you’ll find in high school and even some college gyms, with almost no detectable vibration during play. We’ll start with a look at the parts you’ll spend most of your time staring at: the backboard and the rim. Unlike some high-end in-ground systems that have ½ inch backboards, the 60-inch backboard on this Spalding model is ¼ inch thick. You won’t notice the difference, however, because it’s made from strong tempered glass (with a heavy-duty steel frame and aluminum trim) that mimics the performance of professional boards; bank shots and rebounds are true and predictable. No other company makes portable backboards combining this size and quality. The rim is a Pro Image breakaway model with heavy-duty wrap-around support, which can handle any dunks you might be able to throw down (or at least attempt). The white all-weather net is strong enough to last for at least several years.

They don’t call this “The Beast” just for the quality of its backboard and rim, though. You won’t find a sturdier – and heavier – portable hoop. It weighs more than 300 pounds, and that’s before you fill the 55-gallon base with sand or liquid to keep it in place. The support is also as large as you’d expect; it’s a five-inch square steel pole (with two vertical steel ancillary supports) that’s angled perfectly to spread out the weight of the unit so it can’t tip over, with four struts in the base to assist. The good news is that the hoop can be moved easily, thanks to the multiple and lockable wheels and casters along the bottom of the base, and there’s a screw-based system that lets you raise and lower the height of the rim from 7½ to 10 feet in just seconds. The bad news? It will take several people a few hours to fully assemble “The Beast.”

There are other cool features on this top-of-the-line Spalding basketball hoop including the flat inset cover for the base which can act as both a handle for moving the unit and as a “rebounder” when you’re shooting on your own, and the a screw-in water level gauge in the base cap, handy if you’re planning to use liquid to steady the hoop. But the extras aren’t what make this such a great hoop – it’s the construction, stability and quality of play. You’ll pay around $1000 for it, but there’s no other portable unit that comes close. (If you can’t fit “The Beast” into your budget but still want a high-quality unit with a 60” backboard, we suggest looking at Spalding’s NBA Portable Basketball System with an acrylic backboard which sells for about $550.)

Details of the Spalding NBA “The Beast” Portable Basketball System

Style

Portable

Backboard / Rim

60” width, ¼-inch tempered glass, breakaway rim

Support

5” square steel pole with additional supports

Base

55 gallon, fillable with liquid or sand

Height

Adjustable, 7 ½-10 feet

Weight

325 pounds

Warranty

Five years on backboard, one year on pole, base and rim

Goalsetter All-American Basketball Hoop

Goalsetter All-American Basketball Hoop

What “The Beast” is to portable basketball hoops, the All-American is to in-ground models: the best you can buy for your kids to use at home. It’s even more expensive than the Spalding model (don’t worry, we’ll be getting to some more-affordable hoops soon), but it’s a basket you could easily install when your first child is just learning to dribble and still get full use from when your last one is ready to head off to college.

It’s incredibly annoying to go to all of the trouble necessary to install a permanent hoop on your property, only to have the thing break or rust away after a few years. There’s no worry with the Goalsetter, because even though the company doesn’t have the name recognition of Spalding it specializes in these in-ground basketball systems. It’s important to note that like the Spalding, the All-American’s backboard is 60-inches rather than the regulation 72-inch size. But oh, what a backboard. It’s also made from tempered glass with the same response and feel as a professional board, but thicker than the one on “The Beast” (3/8 inches rather than ¼ inch); it’s mounted on a proprietary 1½ inch steel H-frame to ensure perfect bounces. There’s simply no in-ground backyard backboard which will perform any better. The heavy-duty, true breakway rim is outstanding as well.

The support for the Goalsetter is a 5-inch square, one-piece steel pole that’s angled nicely for stability, support and three feet of safety when driving to the hole. Typical issues with in-ground basketball hoops are vibration and a constant need to dodge the support pole; this model takes care of both with its thoughtful design. There was just as much planning put into the look and durability of the support system, with a corrosion-resistant paint process that has a primer and two baked-on layers of acrylic, high-gloss paint. There is a compression-style height adjustment system that lets you change the rim height from 10 feet all the way down to six feet, one of the largest ranges we’ve seen anywhere. And the erection of the Goalsetter is easier than you’d imagine, with a hinge system that lets you completely assemble the unit and then just raise it into place without ladders or scaffolds. You can also pay an extra $50 for an acrylic backboard, which won’t play quite as true but will be even more durable than tempered glass.

$1700 is an awful lot to pay for anything, let alone equipment for a “game.” For those to whom basketball is more than “just” a game, though, there’s no substitute for having an All-American hoop in your yard.

Details of the Goalsetter All-American Basketball Hoop

Style

In-ground

Backboard / Rim

60” width, 3/8” tempered glass, breakaway rim

Support

5” square steel pole

Base

n/a

Height

Adjustable, 6-10 feet

Weight

435 pounds

Warranty

Lifetime, five years on rim

Spalding NBA Hercules Portable Basketball System

Spalding NBA Hercules Portable Basketball System

We now move into more affordable territory, where you can find good-quality basketball hoops for kids without breaking the bank. And while we’d prefer to spotlight a number of different and reliable companies, the truth is that the best mid-level portable basketball hoop is also made by Spalding, the NBA Hercules.

This is a much smaller and lightweight model than “The Beast,” but it’s still built well for a $350 portable hoop. The backboard isn’t as wide (50 inches), it’s thinner (3.5mm) and it’s made from acrylic instead of tempered glass. That means there will be an odd carom here and there and you’ll notice some vibration when the ball hits the board, but it’s nothing which will impact a family or pick-up game in the way a polycarbonate backboard would, particularly since there’s still a steel frame. The rim is breakaway-style but won’t stand up to thunderous dunks, and the steel support pole is 3½ inches rather than the 5 inches of the Spalding hoop reviewed earlier (and it’s in three pieces which makes assembly easier but lessens stability to a degree). In short, the performance of the Hercules isn’t as impressive as its big brother’s – but it’s still much better than you’d find in other models at this price level.

There’s a large base on this system which fills with 39 gallons of water to keep the structure in place, and it’s easily moved on two built-in wheels. Overall, the Hercules weighs about two-thirds less than “The Beast,” the rim height can be adjusted without much effort from 7½ to 10 feet, there’s good padding on the underside of the backboard and there’s a good offset of 16 inches underneath the board before you’ll hit the support.

Is it close to the same monster of a hoop as “The Beast?” No, it’s not even close. But it’s a terrific model for the family, and definitely one of the top 5 best basketball hoops for kids.

Details of the Spalding NBA Hercules Portable Basketball System

Style

Portable

Backboard / Rim

50” width, 3.5mm acrylic, moderate-strength breakaway rim

Support

3.5” steel pole

Base

39 gallon, fillable with liquid

Height

Adjustable, 7 ½-10 feet

Weight

100 pounds

Warranty

Five years on backboard, one year on pole, base and rim

Spalding NBA In-Ground Basketball System

Spalding NBA In-Ground Basketball System

You’re not going to find many high-quality in-ground basketball hoops in this middle price range; perhaps not surprisingly, we once again turn to Spalding for the exception.

The $400 NBA In-Ground system has many of the features you’d expect on a much higher-priced model. There’s a 54-inch wide, ¼” thick tempered glass backboard with a steel frame, a breakaway rim similar to that of the Hercules (so don’t try your biggest slams on it), a four-inch square steel support, and an crank system to adjust the height between 7½ and ten feet. There are some negatives, though; the pole doesn’t angle backward so the offset between the board and the support is only two inches, and assembly is a beast, if you’ll pardon the pun.

However, once you’ve got it into the ground, this is a sturdy hoop with true bounces which will stand up over the long haul. And the price is definitely friendly for a terrific Spalding basketball system.

Details of the Spalding NBA In-Ground Basketball System

Style

In-ground

Backboard / Rim

54” width, ¼” tempered glass, moderate-strength breakaway rim

Support

4” square steel pole

Base

n/a

Height

Adjustable, 7 ½-10 feet

Weight

146 pounds

Warranty

Limited lifetime on backboard, one year on pole and rim

Lifetime 1221 Pro Court Portable Basketball System

Lifetime 1221 Pro Court Portable Basketball System

We know there are many readers who aren’t looking to spend hundreds of dollars on a basketball hoop for their kids, so we finish with the best option right around the $100 mark.

Lifetime makes good “budget level” sporting goods and we believe the 1221 Pro Court is the model worth considering as a hoop to wheel out into the driveway or cul-de-sac, have some fun with the little ones, and then tuck away in the garage until needed again. The 44-inch backboard is made from UV-protected high-density polyethylene so it’s durable and virtually unbreakable, there’s a standard (not breakaway) solid steel braced rim and a nylon net. The Pro Court’s pole is powder-coated steel, the wheelable base takes 27 pounds of sand or liquid to hold it in place, and the rim height can be adjusted between 7½ and 10 feet.

The Lifetime 1221 isn’t for serious basketball players, but it more than fits the bill for everyday, casual play. It will stand up a lot better than most hoops you’re going to find anywhere near this price.

Details of the Lifetime 1221 Pro Court Portable Basketball System

Style

Portable

Backboard / Rim

44” width, polyethylene, standard steel rim

Support

Round steel pole

Base

27 gallons, fillable with liquid or sand

Height

Adjustable, 7 ½-10 feet

Weight

54 pounds

Warranty

Five years



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