We spent 200 hours shooting hoops to conclude that the best all-round basketball hoop on the market today is the Silverback Ground Basketball Tempered Backboard. For the price, you can’t do better than Silverback’s hoop. With this beauty in your backyard, honing your basketball skills will become a real pleasure. This pick is aimed at keen basketball players who take the sport fairly seriously, and want a really good quality hoop that’s suitable for home use. Assuming that you fit this profile, you’ll really love this hoop. It’s a proper piece of equipment that you’ll love playing with for many years.
Top Pick: Silverback Ground Basketball Tempered Backboard
Our Top Pick spot is reserved for the hoop that stands out above the rest in all areas, giving the best performance and value for money. This accolade goes to the Silverback Ground Basketball Tempered Backboard. This really is a terrific hoop, giving a great range of features at a mid-range price. Spending a little extra for the bigger backboard really puts this hoop near to a pro-level setup. In any case, whether you’re using it for practicing throws, dunks and layups, or for tournament play, the SB60 and SB54 offer an unbeatable playing experience at this price. Silverback have created a wonderful product, that makes good on its claim to be the best value in-ground basketball hoop on the market today.
Step-up Pick: Spalding Beast Portable Basketball System
Step-up Pick: Spalding Beast Portable Basketball System
If you are in the market for a higher-end hoop, this is an excellent choice. ‘The Beast’, produced by a long-standing giant of sporting goods, achieves an all-round balance of great quality. Overall, although its structure is portable rather than in-ground, it is close to a professional quality hoop, due to its extra-heavy base that keeps it stable and rigid.
Budget Pick: Lifetime 1529 Courtside Height Adjustable Portable Basketball System
Lifetime 1529 Courtside Height Adjustable Portable Basketball System
This is a portable hoop. For this affordable price, the Lifetime 1529 gives you terrific bang for your buck, with a range of features that are generally found on more expensive hoops. This hoop is durable, well-made, quite easy to assemble, and hard to beat at this price range.
Table of Contents
- A bit of background on basketball hoops
- Types of hoop
- History of the basketball hoop
- Criteria for our picks
- Our top pick
- Flaws but not deal breakers
- Step-up Pick
- Budget pick
- Specialized picks
- The Competition
- Frequently asked questions
- Wrapping it up
A bit of background on basketball hoops
To help you make an informed choice, here’s some general information on basketball hoops. It’s helpful to consider the hoop in general before we get back into comparing specific attributes of individual models.
Types of hoop
Hoops on that are suitable for use at home come in three categories: portable, in-ground and wall-mounted. Each type has its own advantages and disadvantages. Portable hoops can be moved easily, but tend to be less rigid as they are not anchored in the ground. Wall-mounted hoops are the simplest option, if you have a suitable wall space, but do not give the best quality of play; they don’t give the necessary space for good lay-ups, for example. For this reason, we have tended to avoid wall-mounted hoops in our picks, though one or two are included for your consideration. In-ground hoops give the nearest thing to a pro-level playing experience, but involve more of a commitment ‘ they have to be installed permanently in the ground, requiring a more intensive process.
A history of the basketball hoop
As you install your new hoop in your backyard and get ready for some slam dunking joy, it might interest you to find out a little about the basketball hoop’s rich and varied history. From the game’s inception in the 19th century to the present day, the hoop has evolved from a crude, basic piece of apparatus to a sleekly constructed design, specifically engineered towards performance and durability.
The first basketball hoops were used at the YMCA Training School in Springfield, USA, where James Naismith invented the game in the 1890s. They were makeshift items, made from peach baskets fixed to a piece of track. This primitive hoop was used in the first basketball games.
By the turn of the century, the game was beginning to spread and the peach basket was replaced by a metal rim with netting attached, which looked a bit more like the hoop we know today. However, it was not until 1906 that the bottom of the netting was opened up so the ball could fall through. Until then, players had to pause the game and climb up to get the ball back every time a basket was scored!
The American Basketball League was the first professional basketball league, and with its appearance in 1925 the game’s equipment became correspondingly more advanced, including the introduction of the backboard. The breakaway rim feature appeared after the formation of the National Basketball Association in 1948. This feature reduced damage to the hoop, by allowing the rim to bend when a player executed a slam dunk. The official size of the backboard was also increased by the NBA.
The NBA’s regulations regarding the parameters of basketball equipment continue to define the hoop today. They were laid out when the NBA was created, and although they are updated annually, the structure and dimensions of the hoop have not changed greatly since then. According to the 2011 NBA rules, hoops should be 18 inches in diameter, and the net must be not less than 15 inches, but not more than 18 inches. The backboard should be 6 feet wide, and 3.5 ‘ 4 feet tall. The hoop’s rim should be elevated 10 feet above the ground. Full information about these NBA regulations can be found here:
Criteria for our picks
Choosing the right hoop means taking a lot of factors into consideration. Our picks are based on how well each hoop performs, according to the following important criteria:
There is a huge and potentially bewildering array of options to choose from when it comes to basketball hoops. You could spend under $100 on a basic hoop, which might be fine for children playing at home, but would not be suitable beyond this. At the other end of the scale, pro-quality hoops can cost upwards of $2000. As such, our picks are focused on mid-range hoops, with price tags between these two ends of the spectrum, that will meet the needs of keen, fairly serious players while remaining suitable for use in a home environment.
Our picks have focused mainly on portable hoops and in-ground hoops. Portable hoops are relatively easy to install and, as the name suggests, can be moved easily from one location to another. However, in-ground hoops offer increased stability and durability ‘ the right in-ground hoop will give you great play for life.
Is the hoop good to play with? Does it give an authentic playing experience for serious players? This factor depends heavily on the materials used in the hoop.
The backboard is of key importance in choosing a hoop. The material used to make the backboard determines its rigidity, which is important for rebounds and lay-ups, and its durability. Glass backboards are the best of all, but also the most expensive, and thus tend to be found on premium, pro quality hoops, although sometimes you can find one on a mid range hoop. Polycarbonate and acrylic backboards perform very well, and are much more affordable. Polycarbonate is the more durable of these two materials. The cheapest material is molded plastic, also known as eco composite; however, this material gives a much poorer rebound. For our picks, we have searched for the best quality backboard materials at the best prices.
The size of the backboard also determines the quality of the hoop. A larger backboard means that you can perform a greater range of moves and shots. Backboards range from a width of 72 inches, found in NBA regulation hoops, down to 44 inches, or less in the case of junior hoops. Obviously the price varies accordingly, with the biggest and best backboards found on premium, high-price hoops. For our purposes, we have singled out hoops that offer the best size of backboard within a reasonable budget.
The hoop’s pole is also important. Poles of regulation height are found across the market, but the width varies between 3.5 and eight inches. A bigger pole gives more stability to the hoop, but also tends to be more expensive. Square poles are usually more stable than round ones. With this factor, we have also looked for a balance between quality and value in our picks.
Ease of assembly
All hoops require some assembly and installation, but how user-friendly this process is depends on the manufacturer, and varies widely.
We have chosen for our picks the hoops that achieve a good balance of these factors, and perform well in the areas of size, material, convenience and value for money, while giving a great playing experience.
A Our Top Pick
You can’t do better than the Silverback Ground Basketball Tempered Backboard if you want an in-ground hoop for a mid-range price. Opting for an in-ground hoop obviously means sacrificing portability, but in return you gain a significant advantage: anchoring the hoop in the ground gives increased support and stability. This allows extra weight to be carried in other parts of the hoop. With both the Silverback 60 and Silverback 54, you get a backboard made of 5/16th inch thick tempered glass. This is the best material for backboards, as it gives the best rebound. Tempered glass backboards can be found in portable hoops, but an in-ground system like the Silverback can support more weight and so features an extra-thick backboard.
What all this means in real terms is excellent playability for the Silverback. Layups slam dunks and rim shots will all slide in smoothly as the hoop’s anchored rigidity allows for barely any vibration, and rebounds will bounce back smoothly and authentically, just like in a pro-level game.
An anchor bolt mounting system is used to anchor this hoop in the ground, with concrete and rebar steel rods. You start by installing the separate anchor kit in the ground, and then the rest of the hoop bolts to it. In this way, the Silverback retains some degree of portability ‘ if you need to move it, you can get a replacement anchor kit, detach the rest of the hoop from the old anchor and re-bolt the pole to the replacement anchor in a new location.
The Silverback also comes with some notable safety features. A backboard pad and a pole pad are included, which create soft surfaces around the backboard and the pole. This prevents potential injury when play is happening right under the hoop. Also featured is a spring-activated breakaway rim, similar to those found in pro-level hoops, which is great for slam dunks and reduces injury if a player collides with the rim. More information about slam dunks.
Another great feature is an overhang of 2.5 feet between the pole and the backboard. This allows play to happen right under the hoop, and reduces potential collision injuries by allowing some space for players to guard and do layups.
The pole is height-adjustable between 7.5 and 10 feet, in keeping with ASTM safety standards ‘ a lower height could be dangerous as the risk of head injuries is increased, whereas the top end is the regulation height for pro-level play. The pole itself is a 4 x 4 inch square steel two-piece, which adds to the stability and rigidity of the hoop.
It’s clear that this is a really solid, sturdy hoop. The Silverback also comes with a seven year warranty, guaranteeing it against manufacturing defects and establishing it as a great long-term option. Extra durability features include UV resistant coating on the backboard, and protective zinc coating on the steel components.
It’s one of the most popular hoops at this level, and throughout a series of laudatory reviews, a majority of customers state that it gives the best value for money of any mid-range hoop and that they would gladly recommend it to others.
Flaws but not Deal breakers
The main flaw of the Silverback, and indeed of any in-ground hoop, is its lack of portability. The Silverback does tackle this issue by featuring a separate anchor system, making it possible to move it if necessary. Even so, choosing an in-ground hoop is obviously a very different matter from opting for a portable hoop, which can be wheeled around with a minimum of fuss. But if you can commit to one long-term location for your hoop, you really will feel the benefit. It’s not for nothing that the pro-level game uses in-ground hoops; the Silverback’s extra sturdy structure and rigidity means that you will enjoy authentic, satisfying games for years to come.
In-ground hoops also require a more involved assembly process than portable ones. With the Silverback, you have to cement the anchor system in the ground, before bolting the pole to the anchor. This takes several days, as the cement has to solidify once you have laid it down. Also, components such as the backboard are very heavy, and you will need two or three people to work together to get the hoop up and running, once the cement is ready.
All of this might seem daunting, and the option is there to pay for professional installation if the job seems like too much for you. However, installing a high-quality hoop is bound to take a little work, and however you get there, once your Silverback is ready, you’ll find the effort was worth it.
Our Step-up Pick
Silverback Ground Basketball Tempered Backboard may come with a high price tag, but this really is justified by what it offers. This hoop’s principal selling point is its backboard, which is very close to professional quality. Its width is 60 inches, which is close to NBA regulation size, and it is made of ‘ inch thick tempered glass, giving a great, authentic rebound. It has a very high rigidity and stability for a portable hoop, due to its heavy, 50-gallon base and 5 inch square pole, which can easily be adjusted to a height of 7.5 ‘ 10 feet. It also features a breakaway rim, allowing for fantastic slam dunks. ‘The Beast’ gets top scores for playability, due to its premium quality materials and construction.
A handy extra feature is that this hoop’s front cover also serves as a handle, which makes it much easier to move around when you want to change its location.
The downside of ‘The Beast’ is its assembly, which is none too easy. The hoop weighs 300 pounds before the base is filled with liquid or sand. Assembly needs at least two people, and will take three to four hours. It’s important to be very careful with the parts, as Spalding doesn’t include many spares in the kit. However, the assembly instructions are good, and as long as you read them carefully you will reap the rewards once you’ve faced the challenge of assembling ‘The Beast.’
Our Budget Pick
Lifetime is the manufacturer to go for if you want a decent hoop without spending too much. They specialize in affordable hoops, with a range of models that give relatively high quality given their low cost. The Lifetime 1529 Courtside Height Adjustable Portable Basketball System is our pick from their range. It’s an absolute steal, able to hold its own with much more expensive hoops. Its materials and construction guarantee a great playing experience. One of the greatest strengths of this hoop is its Slam-It rim, which really does seem like it belongs on a much higher-end hoop. The rim features double compression springs, as well as a nylon net fastened with welded steel hooks. This breakaway rim gives strong bounce, and allows for great slam dunks as well as taking shots easily from any part of your court.
The backboard of the Lifetime 1529 is another strong feature. It’s composed of Makrolon polycarbonate, which makes it very strong and tough, as well as giving a great rebound. The backboard has a width of 50 inches, which is adequate for residential play, though significantly smaller than pro regulation. Extra strength and stability is provided by the hoop’s heavy duty pole, which is 3 inches wide, round, and can be easily adjusted to a height between 8 and 10 feet.
This hoop is fairly easy to assemble. The instructions are especially clear, with diagrams for different parts presented in life size, for ease of identification, and assembly should take less than three hours. Once you’ve got it up, you’ll enjoy some great basketball action for a long time to come.
One weakness of the Lifetime 1529 is its base. Its volume is perfectly adequate at 27 gallons, which can be filled with liquid or sand, and it features wheels so it can be easily moved. However, the base could be less durable than the rest of the hoop, since it is made of plastic ‘ you’re likely to see some wear and tear on the base over a period of several years.
Higher grade bases tend to be found on more expensive hoops, and the Lifetime 1529 is still the one to get at this price. It’s also worth pointing out that the hoop comes with a 5 year warranty; you can’t do better than that without spending a lot more money.
Specialized Pick: Little Tikes Adjust and Jam Pro Basketball Set
If you want to get a hoop that’s suitable for young kids rather than older players, there’s a whole other range of junior hoops on the market. Our pick for young children is Little Tikes Adjust and Jam Pro Basketball Set. It features five height adjustments between four to six feet, making it suitable for different ages or continued use as your child grows. The set includes a kid-sized basketball as well. The backboard is quite large for a kids’ hoop, and there’s even a breakaway rim so kids can enjoy slam dunking!
Specialized Pick: Lifetime 90022 Youth Height Adjustable Portable Basketball System
For older kids, our pick is the Lifetime 90022. It has a 30 inch Youth Impact backboard and height adjustability between 5.5 and 7 feet – perfect for your kids to enjoy in the garden.
Specialized Pick: JustInTyme Sports Wall Mounted Mini Basketball Hoop
Indoor hoops also tend to be suitable for kids, rather than adults and serious players, unless you have a space like a big garage where you can put a proper portable hoop. Otherwise, an indoor hoop generally means a small wall-mounted hoop that allows kids to play indoors. In this category, our pick is the JustInTyme Sports Wall Mounted Mini Basketball Hoop. Its dimensions are small, with an 18 inch backboard. However, this backboard is made of polycarbonate, which will give a great rebound even on the mini scale. The Mini Pro 1.0 also features a breakaway rim, and includes a mini basketball that fits in the hoop. This hoop’s big advantage is its sturdiness. Customers report that the Mini Pro 1.0 is still standing after their kids have put it through a lot of punishment!
Of course, arriving at a final decision for each pick was far from easy. There are a lot of great hoops out there, and giving top status to our three main picks doesn’t mean that others should be discounted entirely. Here are some other contenders for ‘Best Basketball Hoop’:
Competition Pick: Lifetime-1269-Adjustable-Basketball-Backboard
The Lifetime 1269 Adjustable Basketball Backboard is a really low-cost option from Lifetime. This portable hoop features a 44 inch Impact backboard and a convenient height-adjustment mechanism. The Lifetime 1269 is not a hoop for serious players, with its compact backboard that gives a limited rebound. However, it’s a good option for family play and casual recreational home use.
Competition Pick: Goalrilla GS In-Ground Basketball Systems with Tempered Glass Backboard
Goalrilla GS In-Ground Basketball Systems with Tempered Glass Backboard
This is a high-end hoop for really serious players. Its features include a 72-inch (professional regulation size) high quality backboard, a single piece, 6 inch wide pole, and a lifetime warranty. This might be more hoop than you really need for home play, but if you’re in the market for a premium hoop, the Goalrilla GS is the one to beat.
Competition Pick: Spalding 888 Series In-Ground Basketball System
Spalding 888 Series In-Ground Basketball System This premium hoop’s price is on a level with the Goalrilla. Sporting a comparable range of features, the ‘888’ is also a great hoop that approaches pro-level quality.
Competition Pick: Spalding 54 Inch Backboard and Rim Combo with Acrylic Backboard
This is a great wall-mounted hoop. We’ve focused mostly on in-ground and portable hoops for the purposes of this review, but if you need a wall-mounted hoop, perhaps due to space limitations, this is a really good one to go for. Also, if it becomes suitable for you to switch to a pole-based system later on, the Spalding Combo can be fixed to a pole instead of mounted on a wall. This hoop features an acrylic backboard and an Arena Slam breakaway rim.
Frequently Asked Questions
Many frequently asked questions about basketball hoops are concerned with assembly and installation: How difficult is my hoop to install? Will I be able to manage it myself, or should I hire a professional? These questions can’t be answered objectively, but it should be said that a good hoop will need at least a couple of people, with some aptitude at building things, to install it. Hoops generally come with clear instructions; you will have to make a decision as to whether you feel confident in following these properly, or should hire a professional to avoid problems later on.
Another FAQ area is durability, with questions relating to rust, fading due to sunlight and so on. The overall answer is that, although hoops from reputable manufacturers such as Silverback, Spalding and Lifetime have features such as weather-resistant coating and UV inhibiting paint, there is still inevitable wear and tear that will occur over several years. You can reduce this by taking proper care of your hoop, for example by tackling rust spots as they occur rather than allowing them to spread.
Wrapping It Up
This review of basketball hoops has focused mainly on mid-range equipment, suitable for keen players who want a good quality hoop for home use. This quality does of course come with a price tag attached. Our Top Pick, the Silverback Ground Basketball Tempered Backboard, sets you back six or seven hundred dollars, whereas our Step-up Pick, Spalding’s ‘The Beast’, costs just over a grand. Our Budget Pick, the Lifetime 1529, comes at a relatively affordable two hundred and fifty dollars. Of course, if you’re keen to spend less than this, a range of cheaper options are available, whereas you’ll have to spend thousands if you want a truly pro-quality hoop for tournament or club play. But if what you want is a great hoop for home use, then hopefully our recommendations are suitable. Here’s hoping you find the right hoop for you!