Nike KD 9 Elite – Performance Review

Elite = Upgrade?

Today we’re going to be doing a performance review on the Kevin Durant’s latest signature model, the Nike KD 9 Elite. This model re-works the Flyknit upper but also brings back the same cushioning (Max Zoom Air) and traction from the original KD 9’s, but is it a performance upgrade? Let’s find out…

Buy the Nike KD 9 Elite – $150


Traction: The overall traction experience is pretty consistent, despite this colorway using a translucent rubber outsole. It really doesn’t matter what condition the floor you play on is in because the honeycomb pattern that Nike has reused from the original KD 9 is going to keep you covered in all directions. If your floor is extremely dusty all you’ve got to do is wipe a few times and then you’re good to go.

As far as outsole durability goes, the rubber compound Nike uses isn’t very durable and the outsole started to show signs of wear after four or five hours of use. So while these won’t be your first option for outdoor ball, the KD 9 Elite’s traction is a top-tier performer in just about every other situation so if you need some consistency in your life, feel free to pick these up.

Cushion: Here’s another category where Nike didn’t change anything from the original KD 9 — and we’re perfectly okay with that. The full-length articulated Max Zoom Air setup Nike uses here is one of the most versatile cushion setups on the market today because every player of any play style can find something they like about it. Explosiveness? Check. Responsiveness? Check. Court feel? Check. Impact protection? Check. Sure, there may be other cushion setups out there that excel and surpass the KD 9 Elite in each of these categories but the KD 9 might just be the only one that provides an above average experience in all of them.

Materials: This is where the Elite version of the KD 9 starts to switch things up from its original version. Nike re-worked the Flyknit upper to make it a little more true to what we see on popular Nike running models (like the Flyknit Racer) with a more pliable and forgiving knit construction. The midfoot area is where the Flyknit material really starts to come into its own as it’s a fully breathable zone that is as true as Flyknit is going to get. However, the toebox uses a tighter knit and feels a little stiffer than the rest of the upper; but when you compare it to the toebox on the Kobe 9 Elite, the KD 9 Elite feels far superior and quite frankly, a lot more comfortable.

The heel panel also differentiates from the original KD 9’s with a neoprene sock-like construction that is honestly more of an aesthetic look than a performance feature; it’s hard to notice during use and hardly effects the overall feel of the KD 9 Elite.

Fit: At this point in the review you’re probably thinking, “Wow, the KD 9 Elite is perfect, this is just too good to be true”.  Yes, it is too good to be true because this is where the KD 9 Elite starts to fall off. Listen carefully as it really is just this simple: if you don’t have a long, narrow foot like Durant himself, you’re going to have some issues with the fit. I had to go down half a size to compensate for the extremely long fit and by doing so the width became uncomfortably narrow. This forced me to loosen up the lacing, but by doing so the support and lockdown were negatively affected.

Overall, I just found the fit to be too specific and not versatile enough to cater to a wide range of foot shapes and sizes, so again, unless you’ve got KD-like feet, you may want to pass on the KD 9 elite.

Support: Because of the KD 9’s fit, I couldnn’t take advantage of the advanced and extensive lacing system that utilizes six Flywire-like cables; they couldn’t do their job properly because I couldn’t lace them up to full strength. As a result, my foot was sliding in every direction within the shoe with minimal effort and I just didn’t feel secure.

The lack of an extended lateral outrigger also caused some problems because my foot would roll over itself on hard cuts and aggressive jab steps — and since the laces weren’t tied up to full strength, my foot would slam into the front of the shoe, forcing me to manually snap my foot back into place after said movements. Had the lacing system gone a little higher in the collar area, maybe the lockdown would have been a little more secure. However, as the KD 9 Elite sits right now the support system is all show and no substance.

Overall: Fit and support are two very important categories and while the KD 9 Elite doesn’t perform well in either category, the rest of the shoe performs like a top tier on-court model. The traction, cushion and materials all bring out the best of Nike’s technology, and the KD 9 Elites best feature is that it’s a shoe that can provide high level performance for all players and play styles. We highly recommend you try these on in-store for yourself to ensure that you get the right fit. We also recommend that if you don’t feel 100% comfortable with how the KD 9 Elite fits, save your money and cop something else; there are a lot of great options out there and fit is just too important to be this much of an afterthought for the average consumer.



  1. I don’t get why Nike has to make the KD9s so narrow. I get that KD has narrow feet but, most people don’t. At least the proce stayed the same. Good performance review by Jarron.

    1. they make the shoes narrow because it’s kd’s signature shoe. it was tailored to fit his tastes.

    1. Yea, also wondering about that. What’s your favorite Nike shoe right now in terms of cushioning?

    2. Starting 5 is solid. It’s up there among the best cushioning right now. The only way to get HoF is if it is the best of the best or changes/innovates shoe tech.

      IMO, we might be at a plateau as far as cushioning systems go right now. FL zoom and Boost will be duking it out for awhile.

  2. I think you could have been more objective about the Fit and Support. I understand that this is about personal opinion, but I think more than anything these reviews are used as buying guides. I just think there’s a better way of discussing a shoe than to conclude a shoe has no support after admitting they weren’t laced properly. Someone may miss out on a shoe they’d love just because 1 person’s foot didn’t fit. Everyone has different feet, so try to be more objective with the info/ratings you give.

    1. I found the review to be objective and more than enough informative. so I’m not sure what you are trying to suggest other than not liking the rating !
      furthermore, I agree with the review, the fit and support sucks !

      1. Jarron was speaking appropriately in the context of the fit being very particular in general. In their favor, he did say to try them on in-store and act on them if they do fit.

        I can see how attributing the personal fit issues to his support rating makes things more subjective, but it’s up to the reader/watcher to make sense of it. Objectively says more about how dependent this shoe’s performance is on its specific fit.

        And he probably did account for the materials/construction in general being too soft. Consequences seem more severe compared to taking up the wrong size in other shoes.

        1. to be honest, the shoe itself leans towards being specific and does not cater a general consumer market like WB when it comes to fit and support, so I can understand Jarrod going in that road. myself for example despite loving the cushion of this shoe, the fit just doesn’t work for me. I think the problem with Nike/JB nowadays is that they are going that road of specifying certain shoes to certain people. the bias though is inevitable especially the shoe itself makes it so. I would have love to have this shoe but the fit is just terrible, if I go up size+, the toe room is just terribly long.

    2. This is why you have to know YOUR game and which reviewer YOU resemble. If you are a bigger post player, don’t follow Jarron’s review like gospel – your games don’t match. If you are a high flyer, don’t follow mine – follow me if you are a Kyrie sort. If you want homogenized, subjective reviews, go read the product descriptions and decide.

  3. I wanted to like these, but I had to return them. No matter what, I couldn’t get the heel to really lock down. The worst part, though, was that the way they shaped the sole, it has a big arch in the middle which pushed up into the middle of my foot and caused me a lot of pain after just 5-10 minutes. This is not normal for me, as I can wear pretty much any shoe without discomfort. Dope shoe, but just didn’t work for me on the court.

  4. Anyone else’s bubble pop due to the forefoot separation? That airsole path way rips its RIP & $150 down the drain..

  5. Why doesn’t Nike ever use soccer technology on their basketball shoes? I’m sure if the indoor traction on soccer shoes works, it would work for basketball shoes. Plus the sock on Nike soccer shoes works, so why not give it a try on basketball shoes? Or maybe Nike should use boa lacing to get a better wrap and fit on shoes. Maybe team with vibram to give their traction an extra kick. Maybe study hand textures to get better traction. Just a thought

    1. Visuals, especially basketball players need(want) to see most of what they’re getting, and they’re very specific, almost religious in what exactly they want to see, soccer-technology would translate almost 1-on-1, both sports have a ‘helix’ movement pattern(in comparison running has a back-2-front pattern, and tennis side-2-side), so add some cushioning, and you can play basketball in indoor-soccer shoes, but they ‘look narrow’, and that will be seen by many as unstable, which will lead to people blaming the shoe if anything happens.

      The Kobe-line used some soccer-tech though(the SkinWire on the Kobe 5 for example), mostly because Kobe can do it, and not lose too many fans. In others it would be a very hard shoe to sell.

  6. Is the fit any different than the regular kd9 is the real question? Probably my favorite shoes of all time and I imagine most sneakerheads have tried them out by now… Is it a safe bet I’ll feel the same in the elites?

  7. I have the original KD 9’s and I love them. I have a narrow and skinny foot, and the elites just went on sale for $90 on Should I get them?

  8. Hi Steve, I have the KD 8 EXT (Black/Gold) size 9 US. The fit just fine, with minimal space in the toe area. Just for causal wear.
    I would like to buy the KD 9 Elite TS. Should I go half a size down? (I’m from Portugal and have no means to try out the shoe)?

  9. Okay so I bought a pair of these not sure what’s the colour way called but it’s pink and on my left shoe the top lace loop on the inside comes out more than the lace loop on the outside my right shoe is fine but I’m guessing my left shoe has a defect do you think there’s anyway to fix it??

  10. Hi I bought this a couple of months ago but the outsoles came off? Do you know any glue to fix it?

  11. I know it’s a late reply, sorry for that, but I got these and I found a way to lock these bad boys down, and it’s something Jarron nor you probably did, which is why you probably found some issues. If you take each of the laces, and put them into the opposite holes/sockets, and you tie it down, it locks down the ankle really well.(Take the right lace and then put it to the opposite loop(the left loop. Do both sides When you do both sides the laces will be crossing, which is what you want) At first, I was thinking of returning these as well, then I found this technique and now it’s my favorite hoop shoe other than the curry 4.

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