Most of you have already seen the Nike KD9 performance review done by none other than Nightwing2303. I’m coming at you with a different point of view: a big man perspective. I naturally play a point forward (Lebron-esque), what Duke4005 likes to call Nowitzki/Ibaka range since I can shoot from the outside (Duke4005 and Nightwing2303 have jokes).
This KD9 performance review will determine whether or not this shoe is a good option for a big man of my play style. Enough small talk, let’s get into it.
Traction – I was initially suspect of the traction based upon the look. Boy, was I wrong. The traction on the KD9 superseded my expectations on court. At times the rubber traction handled more than I wanted it to. The traction was super sticky which at times caused my foot placement and movement in place to stop when I wanted to go. Not saying it’s necessarily a negative, however, when I want to go….I want to GO!
As with every shoe you’ll have to wipe, but not as often as you think you should have to. Even at moments when I had constant fast breaks, I just kept going without even having to think of wiping because slippage was minimal. As good as the rubber traction compound was, it can be used outdoors, but I don’t see the traction lasting very long if you choose to do so.
Cushion – Zoom, Zoom, Zoom! Full length articulated Zoom Air at that. That cushion is completely amazeballs. Impact protection — check. Foot transitions — check. Responsiveness — CHECK! This cushion setup is everything anyone can want and ask for. For the nostalgia, Nike had previously utilized this visible Zoom back in the day on a basketball shoe called the Nike Air Viz Zoom (retro this please), and it was amazing.
Later on down the line, full length Zoom returned to the Nike Lebron X and the KD6 Elite. While the cushion was great, it felt heavy and too bouncy. We’re glad designer Leo Chang went back into the books and applied his knowledge to fix this issue by articulating the cushion. Whether I was posted up in the paint or leading the fastbreak, the low to the ground feel you get with this setup keeps you confident and provides more than adequate energy retention on impact.
There were some slight issues that Nightwing experienced which I dealt with too, namely with the TPU bumps located towards the forefoot where the Zoom unit is segmented to provide flexibility.
I had some instability starting out in the KD9 which caused me to stumble a little upon landing laterally. Once you get the hang of the shoe, in regards to foot placement and flexibility points, you should be good to go. It’s just something to be aware of.
Materials – KD wanted Flyknit. He got Flyknit. The material is natural Flyknit. What do I mean by that? Even though the Flyknit is backed by nylon, it isn’t backed by glue like the Flyknit on the Kobe XI. The natural flexibility of the material gives it its acute support while allowing the material to react the way it’s supposed to when in motion.
This absolutely isn’t the type of Flyknit that was utilized on the Nike Kobe 9 Elite or even the Nike Hyperdunk 2016 Elite. Those particular pairs have a heavy backing with the glue for durability. That creates unnecessary dead space at the forefoot. Is it the best material utilized to date? Not really, but it’s a step in a positive direction.
The rear section is textile mesh, foam, and Fuse, and it’s nothing fancy. The rear section should provide enough structure and support for the foot so this setup works perfectly even though it doesn’t look as pretty as the forefoot area. We can only hope that future shoes can eventually develop into full Flyknit without the heavy glue, but we’ll just wait and see.
Fit – Fit is where this shoe gets a little sketchy. Unlike the KD5 or KD7, which fit great, the previous iterations of the KD line were shaped like KD’s foot, not the core customer (hence why I don’t own a pair of the KD8 — I can’t even get my foot in). It is definitely recommended to try these bad boys on in-store. For anybody that has a wide foot, then stay true to size; I recommend narrow footers to go 1/2 size down. These shoes were kind of a pain to get on but once you’ve got your feet in you’re locked down perfectly. There were some pinching issues where the fused materials are located.
The shoe almost felt like it didn’t need laces. Hear me out: there are five nylon lace loops on each side but the only one that mattered and locked down the whole foot was the top-most lace loop. It’s almost like you could have used a strap and called it a day. The top lace loop is stranded all the way downward towards the heel so when you lace the shoe up tight, the lace loops and lacing system tighten down on the base of the foot to prevent your feet from falling out of the shoe.
The heel is heavily padded to sculpt to the back of your heel to prevent heel slippage. That’s where trying on the shoe in-store comes into play — you want the shoe to fit you one-to-one. I’ve also tried this pair on with different types of braces such as the adidas AdiZero Speedwrap and the McDavid ankle sleeve. The only one to work was the ankle sleeve but even then the KD9 fit super snug.
Support – The KD9 support comes directly from the fit. If you were able to stay true to size, then your support will be fine (particularly wide-footers). If you have narrow feet and tried on the shoe that proceeded to have heel slippage, then you need to 1/2 size down. Ultimately, I was able to have a one-to-one fit without losing support while being mobile. The padded heel collar, internal TPU heel counter, and the articulated Zoom Air is the extent of the support and they provide a stable platform.
Overall – Swoosh did a superb job with the Nike Zoom KD9. For $150 you’re getting solid rubber traction, awesome cushioning, nice materials, and hopefully a size that fits you. Although $150 is a price drop from this shoe’s predecessors, the KD8 and KD8 Elite, this is a price point that shouldn’t be pushed above for a signature model. If you have $150 lying around, have older knees, and don’t want to feel pain after balling, then absolutely. Whether it be boxing out down low to get rebounds, pivoting on the top of the key, or posting up on the low block, the shoe does its job and then some.
The Nike Zoom KD9 is a step in the proper direction on the future of basketball shoes and innovation. We hope the steps taken continue to move considerably forward because we know the Lab is cooking up something for the next iteration. In the meantime, enjoy the KD9, because it’s definitely a shoe that I’m keeping in my rotation this year.
If you’re interested in purchasing your own pair check these links:
Nike.com – (USA): Link | (Oreo): Link
Champs – (USA): Link | (Oreo): Link
Footaction – (USA): Link | (Oreo): Link
Footlocker – (USA): Link | (Oreo): Link
Eastbay – (USA): Link | (Oreo): Link
Finishline – (USA): Link | (Oreo): Link