Jordan Why Not Zero.2 Performance Review

The Jordan Why Not Zero.2 Performance Review is here. Spoiler alert: They’re awesome.


Traction performed just as I had initially anticipated: they just gripped. Dust was never really a huge problem unless the floor at 24 Hour Fitness hadn’t been cleaned all week — yes, that actually happens at my 24 Hour Fitness. However, when the dust build up was that bad, the shoes still held its own on the floor.

I still prefer slightly larger circular patterns, like the Air Jordan 1, but if we’re just talking about what works, this is it.

The Why Not Zero.2 gripped outdoor courts just as well as they did indoor courts. However, thte rubber is on the soft side so if you were expecting a long-lasting outsole, then you may end up disappointed. While the outsole lasts, you’ll receive very good coverage but the blacktop will chew up the rubber sooner rather than later.

Forefoot Unlocked Zoom Air is in place, the same setup as the forefoot in the Air Jordan 33. The under-foot feeling is a bit different as the Phylon used between the two is not the same. Injected Phylon is what the Why Not Zero.2 midsole is made of and Injected Phylon is on the fluffy/bouncy side compared to the stuff used on the AJ33 — which may have been compression-molded Phylon and that is a much more dense foam compound.

With this model, you’ll get all the forefoot impact protection with the large volume Zoom Air unit that you did in the Air Jordan 32 and 33 but without the break-in time. Thank goodness.

The heel, despite just being Phylon, feels very comfortable and will help with minor impact. Do I miss the full-length Zoom Air setup found on the original Why Not Zero.1? Yes. I really do enjoy full-length Zoom Air, not just because it’s full-length, but because you sit a little closer to the floor. That obviously won’t be the same for all players, but my preference between the two leans towards the original setup. The Zero.2 is a little bouncier so if cushion and feedback from the cushion is your thing, then these might be exactly what you’re looking for.

Mesh and knit are found along the upper and there isn’t much to be said about it; it works. It requires zero break-in time. It’s moderately durable and it’s comfortable. Is it my first option? No, I’d have gone with a mix of textile and leather. However, for this being the new modern standard, the build gets the job done nicely.

The shoe fits true to size. I’ve been told by a friend that is wide-footed that he also went true to size, but if you happen to have a wide foot, then trying the shoe on is the best option to ensure they fit to your liking.

Lockdown, while nowhere near as awesome (suffocating) as the first model, is very good. There are overlay straps/panels in place that wrap around the foot at the forefoot, midfoot and rear. When you use textile, this is the way to enhance the experience; these areas can be customized to your specific foot shape as they’re fairly independent from the main build.

The only time I ran into any real issues with the lockdown was in the rear section of the shoe and it was only with certain socks. For whatever reason, the lining inside the shoe and some of my socks don’t get along very nicely. Once moisture is involved, things get a little slick. Luckily, the heel has an exaggerated TPU heel counter which is what really helped keep my foot onto the footbed whenever this would occur.

Support is good, but not as good as the original.

The original Why Not Zero.1 sat on a very wide flat base. These do not. This model is a bit more tipsy up front like the Air Jordan 33. It’s not something I prefer, but it is something you get used to. However, as a direct comparison, I preferred the stability on the Zero.1 much more than this setup. The Why Not Zero.2 feels like it was designed for speed whereas the original definitely wasn’t. A wider base and a more flat forefoot area, maybe an outrigger, would have been my ideal setup but I never had any issues with the shoe in terms of lateral stability so it might just be a placebo.

Midfoot and rear heel support come from the TPU plates that makeup the FlightSpeed system. These are two areas that are much better than previous renditions featuring decoupled tooling. The TPU keeps the area strong but not heavy. It also allows for some flex up front at the toe.

Again, my only real complaint is the width in the forefoot. I loved the really wide setup we had on last year’s model, but I know there were plenty that didn’t. If you were one of those players, then this setup might be the right one for you.

Overall, the Jordan Why Not Zero.2 is a badass shoe. They’re quick, comfortable, supportive where you really need it and they don’t need a ton of break-in time. The price point is perfect and the tech specs are all there. Yes, there are some things I preferred a bit more on the last model, but the Why Not Zero.2 is a shoe built for Russell Westbrook — the Why Not Zero.1 was a team model with his name put on it. It wasn’t really made for him but they made it work. These are truly Westbrook’s shoe.

If you’ve enjoyed the Air Jordan 32 and 33 but disliked the bulky feeling they had, the Why Not Zero.2 will give you what you enjoyed out of those models without the restriction.

15 Comments

  1. I was looking forward to this review every since they released the shoe! Can’t buy a shoe without looking at your reviews first. That said, I know you said the rubber was too soft for outdoors but how about for indoors? I’ve seen a couple reports now that say that the circular patterns were fraying easily. Did you have this issue at all?

  2. These really excite me, but I’m a left a little confused by this review. It seems that while Chris really, really likes the Zero.2 overall, its cushion, fit, and support are a step back compared to the Zero.1, and its not superior to the Zero.1 in any way. For most of the categories, I get a distinct “it’s good, but I wish it was different” feeling. Chris: am I reading too much into the words on the screen, or is this an objectively great shoe that you subjectively felt didn’t work as well for you as its predecessor? Or alternatively, is it one of those shoes that holistically is significantly better than the sum of its parts?

    1. Sorry for the confusion. I was trying to compare the two — doesn’t sound like I did a good job of it lol. Both shoes are very good, but very different. One is a stability shoe while the other is a face paced shoe. The Zero.1 was a team shoe originally and they put Russell’s name on it last minute. This definitely feels like its his shoe based on what we know he likes to play in. It just comes down to preference. If I could take the traction of this shoe and put it on the Zero.1 then I’d go with that. But there are others that felt the Zero.1 was too constricting & to bulky — this shoe fixes those things for those people. Hope that helps a bit more.

      1. Got it. Thanks for clarifying. In all fairness, I like the design concept of this shoe so much that I very much want it to be an awesome performer, too, so there’s probably some confirmation bias seeking on my part. LOL I’ve got a pair of Zero.1 lows sitting in a box that I found for $50 last week, so I’ll keep them there until I can try on the Zero.2 for comparison. Thanks again!

  3. Thanks for the review. For wide footers: I went a full size up on the zer0.1 and I still don’t like wearing them because of how suffocating they are, but I went true to size on the zer0.2 and they feel great. The forefoot on these feels nice and roomy laterally, and of course since it’s a traditional lacing system, it’s easier to tweak.

    Oh and for the ankle guys- yes, you can wear Zamst braces with them, but the laces are a bit short.

  4. Had to wait for the review to cop. Anyone know where to purchase the release colorway in SOCAL. Need a size 9. Thinking about heading up to the LA jumpman store. wondering if they still have it.

  5. First time in a long time I’ve found a shoe that I want to just wear to the ground. Kinda takes me back to having sneakers as a kid, where yeah, they’d get beat the ground until I grow out of them.

    There are other shoes out there that will be more exceptional at one more multiple aspects, and I’m sure a fair share of people will say there are/have been completely better performers. This one for me is just fun. The upper feels broken-in off the bat. There is a Flight Plate/Speed system, but to me it’s just working cushion. Not necessarily focused on response or softness, just cushion I know is there no matter how hard I step. I personally liken it to a ….worn-in And 1. I had this cool pair with a textile upper and was shaped similar to the Tai Chi. The upper broke in fast, and the cushion was likely plain EVA, but kinda had a lasting sweet spot with wear. The Zer0.2 reminds me of that shoe.

  6. Hi NightWing
    first of all I would like to say that your site is the best sneaker testing website … but you already knew it!
    I am French, so excuse my approximate English.
    Currently I have D-Rose 7 and I really appreciate these shoes (cushion, heel lockdown, confort, style ..). I will reproach them only a slight lack of stability on the front of the foot (sole not wide enough in the front) and a foam very comfortable but maybe a little far from the ground?
    Do you think Why not zerO.2 can bring me comfort and cushion equivalent (i am 40 years old) with more stability? (afraid of the sprain of the ankle !!, bad memories)
    thank you in advance for your response NightWing!

    1. If you’re looking for stability the Why Not Zer0.2 may not suit your needs. While I never experienced major issues, they were noticeably wobbly in the forefoot — esp compared to the first shoe.

  7. After a few sessions playing in these, some thoughts from a big man:

    – Nightwing knows. That rear Phylon is really great on impact protection compared to other Phylon implementations I have tried in the past, ie, PG2 amd Kyrie 5.

    – Forefoot zoom is just okay for me Not as bouncy as I like.

    – The fit is a bit sloppy for me in the forefoot. Some serious room in the toe box. I would drop a half size myself, but as no one makes a 15.5, I just double up on socks.

    It’s a solid shoe. Prefer the Zero.1 model for cushion, stability, lockdown, but as an overall experience, i think the Zero.2 performs better for guards and quick players, as the transition heel to toe is smooth, traction improved. For bigs, its likely going to be hard to decide preference.

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