New Balance Kawhi 2
The New Balance Kawhi 2 is a sneaker that will work for most positions. It’s stable and supportive, which lets you play without worry. One of the best basketball shoes of the year.
Colorway: Gray Mist with Pale Gold
Release Date: 2022
New Money, new performance? Let’s see how the launch colorway of the New Balance Kawhi 2 stacks up among the 2022 basketball releases.
I was slightly skeptical about how this pattern would fare in the forefoot, but thankfully it’s angled just good enough to provide lateral coverage for movements on both sides of the floor. Given the shoe is made for someone tasked with a lot of responsibility on both sides of the floor like Kawhi, this makes perfect sense.
The rubber, both translucent and solid, is thick with well-spaced grooves and just barely enough pliability to flick dust and debris away most of the time. For me, this was a win as I rarely needed to touch the soles for cleaning.
While the rubber is thick and relatively durable, tread-depth is not the best, so this could potentially be an offset for those that are looking for outdoor play in the Kawhi 2. Given the price and next category to talk about, I wouldn’t recommend outdoor play in these anyway.
Once again we get full-length FuelCell foam underfoot with the New Balance Kawhi 2. This setup has been a constant since New Balance’s return to the performance basketball market, though that will change soon.
Like the Kawhi predecessor, the nitrogen-infused midsole feels a little denser than New Balance’s team models that utilize FuelCell. In addition, the thinner profile of the Kawhi 2 cushion makes the less plush feeling more noticeable even after the break-in period. In my opinion, the OMN1S and Two-Wxy models provide more balanced comfort with their versions of FuelCell.
Overall, the cushion feels average at best, however, the impact absorption, smooth transition (as the torsional plate breaks in), and connection to the floor isn’t lackluster, so long as you limit playing time to around 1-2 hours per session.
The New Balance Kawhi 2 sheds the bulk of its predecessor by using Fitweave Lite, a thin textile mostly covered in fuse for additional strength. While I’d prefer more premium touches somewhere on a signature shoe retailing for $160, I can’t complain about the performance.
Break-in time is minimal and support hasn’t been compromised at all as far as the upper goes in my experience. The inner-lining material is comfortable and the thinner fuse layers proved to hold up pretty well from damage, so all is solid in my book.
From initial try-on to playing a few weeks in the New Balance Kawhi 2, I would recommend true to size for most foot types. I’ve heard some wide footers go true to size as well, but you may want to give them a shot in-store if you’re on that end of the spectrum.
In my true size, I get a snug fit throughout the midfoot and just enough wiggle room at the toe without any noticeable shifting within. Overall, a very solid fit.
Don’t let the visual of the ankle collar flaring out fool you, the heel lockdown from the internal cup is great. I wouldn’t mind a little wider of a base up front, but the small section of the outsole wrapping up the lateral side is effective in combating rollovers. Like the original New Balance Kawhi, there is a generous amount of torsional support provided by the near full-length shank.
While none of the support features are extreme or overly unique, they all combine to make a secure setup that will undoubtedly hold up for the average hooper.
New Balance Kawhi 2 Summary
The New Balance Kawhi 2 is very representative of what we know Kawhi Leonard to be on the court: Not flashy in terms of technical specs, but it takes care of business nonetheless. It’s near the top of hoop sneakers I prefer to play in, but the denser cushion keeps it from being the overall favorite of mine.
Also, representative of The Klaw, this shoe is a good option for two-way players across multiple positions, especially those with a more grounded game. While I would say the less expensive New Balance Two Wxy would be my preferred option, I will say big Kawhi fans who purchase this shoe will not be disappointed.
How to Buy the New Balance Kawhi 2
The New Balance Kawhi 2 is Kawhi Leonard‘s second signature sneaker, although he’s been rocking with the brand for a few years now. Right off the bat, these feel a lot less stiff and more comfortable than the New Balance Kawhi. We want to see progress and improvements from a brand and its signature line and New Balance delivered. The colorway is attractive, especially for an initial release, but it shouldn’t matter that much as long as it performs well. Right? They did make our list of the best New Balance shoes of the year for what it is worth.
What’s in the video?
Chris provides detailed information from all the usual categories in the video, providing the in-depth data you need. He supplies expert-level opinions on the materials, cushioning, traction, support, and fit. Here’s some of what he discusses:
- Neat interior box design
- “New Money” colorway
- Thick rubber outsole like the OMN1S
- Torsional shank plate
- Comfortable FuelCell foam midsole
- See-through FitWeave Lite upper
- Overlays for structure
- Felt sections
- Well-padded tongue
- Lace cables eyelets
- Planets easter eggs
- “Your Fate is in Your Hands”
- Sizing recommendations
As a bonus, Mrs. Wing and Chris talk about the exciting design choices all over the shoe.
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