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Nike KD 17 Review: Worth Upgrading From The KD 16?

Nike KD 17

The Nike KD 17 is very similar on paper to the KD 16, with some tweaks here and there, but is it worth upgrading to the new model?

Release date: 2024

Price: $150

Total Score

Kevin Durant’s signature line has been absolutely elite since the Nike KD 12 wich coincided with the introduction of the full-length Zoom Air Strobel to Kevin Durant’s signature line. The KD 12, 13, 14, and 15 have all been great all-around basketball shoes. They leveled up thanks to the plush yet responsive cushioning that the great Zoom Air Strobel provides. 

Well, the Nike KD 16 switched things up in a big way. Instead of the setup that we have come to know and love in the past years, the KD 16 brought us something very comfortable, but very different. In fact, the KD 16 was one of the best basketball shoes of last year. All of this to say that the Nike KD 17, on paper at least, is very similar to the Nike KD 16.

Both shoes feature a lot of the same tech integrated into two different packages. But, implementation is everything when we are talking about performance basketball shoes, so let’s dive into the review to see how the Nike KD 17 performed on court.

Nike KD 17 Review

Nike KD 17 Tech Specs:

Nike KD 17 Traction

Traction on the KD 16 was great. It worked great indoors and was above average in terms of durability, so it was also a decent outdoor option. The KD 17 features a very different traction setup but it offers similar, top-notch, on-court performance. In this colorway of the shoe the rubber of the outsole is translucent and is etched with a radial, heatmap-style traction pattern (reminiscent of what was on the KD 7).

This setup worked great on even the dustiest of indoor surfaces. The rubber is grippy and bites the hardwood very well. There’s enough space between the lines of the traction pattern so that debris doesn’t accumulate to a point where it affects performance and it provides excellent multi-directional coverage.

Another positive of this setup is that the rubber feels firm enough to withstand moderate outdoor use. We wouldn’t suggest making the Nike KD 17 your go-to for the blacktop but it can handle a couple hours outdoors here and there. If you can get your hands on a pair that features an XDR rubber outsole, then the KD 17 could be considered a great outdoor option.

Nike KD 17 Cushion

The Nike KD 17 features the same exact setup as the KD 16. Instead of a full-length Zoom Air Strobel, the KD 17 again features a dual-density setup. From the midfoot to the heel we have an Air Strobel, very similar to the one that was featured in the Jordan Zion 2. In the forefoot, we have a large Zoom Air unit that covers most of that area.

These two units are housed within a lightweight foam midsole. As in the KD 16, this is a very comfortable setup with a considerable amount of compression. Is it as comfortable as a KD model with a Zoom Air Strobel? No, but it’s still a very nice, smooth, and well-balanced configuration.

This setup is another reason why the KD 17 will be a good outdoor option as it provides enough impact protection and compression to offset the the lack of shock absorption that you find on the blacktop.

One issue Chris ran into was that the insole on the left shoe of his pair did not adhere correctly to the Air Strobel. So, every time he went to play in the shoe, the insole would roll underneath his foot. We are going to chalk this up to a fluke, but keep an eye out just the same.

Nike KD 17 Materials

The materials on the Nike KD 17 are what we have come to expect from a KD shoe. We have a combination of a textile mesh and “leather”, all of which are synthetic. The build flexes well, it conforms and contains your foot, it’s very well-ventilated, and requires little to no break-in time. Nothing is premium on the shoe but everything should perform well.

The shoe features a TPU wrap on either side of the shoe (inspired by the Nike Air Max Plus) to boost lateral containment. The mix of synthetic leather in the heel and mesh in the mid and forefoot give the KD 17 a nice in-hand feel and a very 2000-ish vibe all around.

Nike KD 17 Support

The most prominent support feature on the KD 16 was the Penny 2-esque TPU panels on either side of the shoe. These two pieces provided very solid lateral containment, and, as you can see, they aren’t featured in this year’s model. This is one aspect where the KD 16 outperforms the KD 17. There were situations on court where these portions of the shoe were overstretched, which didn’t happen in the KD 16.

You can fix this to a certain extent by tightening the laces on the shoe, but it’s an issue, especially for heavier players who generate a lot of force when they play. If your foot sat within the midsole this might not have been a problem.

We get a very wide base and a super stable cushioning system that creates adequate all around support on the KD 17.

Nike KD 17 Fit

The KD 17 fits very similarly to the KD 16, so go with whatever size you used in last year’s model, and, if you didn’t play in the KD 16, go with whatever size you usually use with Nike and you should be good to go. It is a nice snug 1 to 1 fit which is optimal for performance but if you have had issues with this type of fit in the past, we suggest trying these on in-store. 

Nike KD 17 Overall

To keep things short and sweet, the Nike KD 17 is basically the same shoe as the Nike KD 16. If you like that shoe, you’re going to enjoy this one. The Nike KD 17 is a top-tier and super versatile performance basketball shoe that will work well for almost every playing style and position on the floor. The KD 17 also gets extra points for being a “better than average” outdoor option, especially if you can find an XDR version.

Now, is it worth upgrading from the KD 16 to the Nike KD 17? Not really. If you already have a pair of 16 that are still in good condition or you can find the KD 16 on clearance, that will give you more bang for your buck. But, if you want to rock the “latest and greatest” on court, the KD 17 will be a great performance model.

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