Basketball players are especially prone to shin splints, or pain along the inner edge of the shin bone. Luckily, shoe manufacturers realize this and are constantly developing support and cushioning technology to help combat the vibration that causes the pain. If the right shoes don't help, your shin pain may be caused by stress fractures or tendinitis, so see your doctor for a definitive diagnosis.
Shin splints are caused by inflammation of the muscles and tendons of the lower leg, and the thin layer of tissue that cover the tibia, or shin bone. The combination of repetitive motion and impact involved in basketball is the main culprit, but it can be exacerbated if you have flat feet or rigid arches or if you have just returned to practice after off-season. Fortunately, the right pair of basketball shoes can mitigate the effects of most of these factors.
Cushioning helps absorb impact, preventing the vibration from traveling up your legs. Choose a pair of shoes that has a thick layer of cushioning, even though you may have to sacrifice some lightness. Polyurethane cushioning is the densest, most durable option, but it may add too much weight for some players. Regular EVA cushioning is lighter but not as durable, but it can be compressed to make it last a bit longer. Many higher-end shoes also include maker-specific cushioning in the heel and forefoot, which can provide extra protection.
Whether you have flat feet or high, rigid arches, your foot doesn't naturally absorb impact correctly. Flat feet tend to roll too far inward, and high arches don't roll at all -- the end result in either case is that the vibration travels up your leg, where it contributes to your shin splints. Try on as many pairs of shoes as you can, and choose a pair with adequate arch support. If you have flat feet, look for motion-control shoes that include a stiff panel on the inside of the foot to prevent overpronation. If you have very high, rigid arches, consider investing in a pair of custom orthotics that are made specifically for your personal arch. Orthotics can be expensive, but they last a long time and you can transfer them to different shoes.
Look for shoes with a wide base for extra stability, especially if you have flat feet. A wide, square sole helps prevent rollover and contributes to the motion control of the shoe. If you play indoors only, most basketball shoes are fine for you -- gym floors are designed to absorb some shock, leaving less of the impact-resistance responsibility to the shoe and your leg. If you play outside, look for shoes with extra-thick rubber soles because asphalt and concrete transfer more vibration than gym floors, and typical indoor basketball shoes may not be adequate.