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Nike GT Cut Academy: One of the Best Budget Basketball Shoes of the Year?

Nike GT Cut Academy

The Nike GT Cut Academy is a solid, guard-specific budget model from Nike that has little in common with its “sister” shoe, the Nike GT Cut 3.

Price: $95

Release Date: 2023

Total Score

The Nike GT Cut Academy is the take-down version of the Nike GT Cut 3, the first Nike basketball shoe to feature their popular ZoomX foam cushioning. Traditionally, take-down models share performance features with the flagship shoe they are associated with. This allows the brand to reuse tech, saving on production costs, and allowing them to offer a less expensive product and reach a different segment of consumers. Well, this is not the case with the Nike GT Cut Academy.

This is a completely different shoe that has little more than looks in common with the GT Cut 3. There is no Zoom X, the upper is completely different, and even the traction, which looks similar, is different. This means, first, that Nike had to invest money into creating the shoe, making the $95 price tag surprising, and second that in terms of performance, they are nothing like the GT Cut 3.

Nike GT Cut Academy Review

Nike GT Cut Academy Specs

Nike GT Cut Academy Traction

Nike GT Cut Academy traction

Traction is the one aspect of the Nike GT Cut Academy that is somewhat similar to the GT Cut 3. The pattern is almost identical: aggressive full-length herringbone. But that is where the similarities end. The GT Academy features solid rubber, and not translucent rubber like the Cut 3 and the coverage is slightly more complete on the Academy. One thing that both have in common is the wide gaps between the lines of the traction pattern.

This is a nice little design detail Nike took into consideration. The wider gaps help the shoe to not accumulate dust and debris on dirtier surfaces, which is important when the rubber of the sole is as sticky as it is on this shoe.

The GT Cut Academy should offer top-notch grippy traction indoors and should work equally as well outdoors. It won’t, however, be a very durable traction setup on the blacktop. It might be slightly better than the GT Cut 3 because of the use of solid rubber, but only slightly.

Nike GT Cut Academy Cushion

Nike GT Cut Academy Cushion

The cushioning on the GT Cut Academy is the weirdest part of the shoe. Not bad, just weird. For starters, there is no ZoomX to be found, which would have been the logical move as the takedown of the first hoop shoe to feature the foam. Secondly, there is a traditional Zoom Air in the forefoot of the shoe, but the implementation is… well… weird. It is a rectangular Zoom unit, but instead of spanning the width of the shoe, it runs length-wise.

This doesn’t make much sense in terms of performance, as this orientation does little to cushion impacts in that area of the foot. Then there is the midsole itself. Nike describes it as a dual-density setup but does not specify the 2 foams they used. Our best guess is that it’s a lightweight Phylon carrier that houses a Lunarlon-style foam within.

The good news is that as weird as it might be, it does feel good underfoot. The Nike GT Cut Academy offers a nice blend of compression and comfort while keeping the shoe springy and reactive as you play.

Nike GT Cut Academy Materials

Nike GT Cut Academy materials

Materials are, once again, completely different from what is featured on the GT Cut 3. What we have is an all-synthetic, no-nonsense build which is the farthest thing from being premium, but it is tremendously functional, which is all you can ask. For added containment, we have some heat-welded portions and rubber reinforcements in the forefoot, and some synthetic overlays along the midfoot and heel.

There is one lace cable that runs over the top of the forefoot of the shoe, and that’s it. No frills, just a simple inexpensive build that will get the job done. For the price, you can’t ask for much more.

Nike GT Cut Academy Support

Nike GT Cut Academy support

Support on the Nike GT Cut Academy is minimal. There is no shank plate, containment is completely dependent on the upper build, and there’s a very run-of-the-mill heel counter. That doesn’t mean that support or containment is lacking, but this is not the best option if you enjoy or need beefy torsional support or elite lockdown. It’s just ok.

Nike GT Cut Academy Fit

Nike GT Cut Academy fit

Another aspect of this shoe that’s nothing like the GT Cut 3. Where the GT Cut 3 offers a more forgiving true-to-size fit, the GT Cut Academy provides a much more snug ride on court. So, go with whatever size you usually use with Nike, but if you have issues with this more snug style of fit, try these on in-store before purchasing.

Nike GT Cut Academy Overall

Nike GT Cut Academy overall

The Nike GT Cut Academy is a very solid budget option from Nike. It’s nothing like the flagship model it emulates, the Nike GT Cut 3, but it’s a very decent basketball shoe nonetheless. If you consider its price it might even be a better performance model than the GT Cut 3. What you are going to get with the GT Cut Academy is a guard-style shoe with great grippy traction, a very well-balanced cushioning system, and a basic but effective all-around build.

At $95, this might be Nike’s best budget basketball shoe right now, and one of the best budget basketball shoes overall in 2024. It’s more of a niche performance model, but, if you are in that niche, and you are looking for an inexpensive basketball shoe, look no further.

Buy Nike GT Cut Academy

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