Nike KD 9 Performance Review

How does Kevin Durant's ninth signature model hold up on court?

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The concept of value defined the early days of Kevin Durant’s Nike signature line. Each of the first three models were outstanding performers, yet they all rung up for less than $90.

The line next entered a period of performance decline. As more bells and whistles were added, it took away from the no-frills effectiveness of the first three models. Meanwhile, their prices were increasing at a steady pace.

Durant recently explained that the reason his line got more expensive was because he’s “not a $88 player.” On some levels, that’s a very true statement. Nike was simply able to charge more for his shoes as his standing as a superstar in the league grew.

The timing of that statement is conspicuous though considering the fact that his newest model, the KD 9, has actually dropped in price. This seems to imply that he’s not a $180 player either if we’re to believe his level of play coincides with the price of his shoes. In reality, the price drop likely has more to do with the state of the market than a reflection of Durant’s skills diminishing, but it puts him in the awkward position of justifying the pricing decline.

For the rest of us though, that price drop is undoubtedly a positive thing, especially when the shoe packs in more current technology than ever thanks to its Flyknit upper and brand new Zoom Air unit. But innovation doesn’t always equal better performance, as the line has previously shown us. Does the latest addition to the line deliver?

Hover over the dots below to find out.

FIT

ankle support

CUSHIONING

TRACTION

As a shoe to keep next to my door and replace my trusty Prestos, the Nike KD 9 could have a long-term place. I’m a huge fan of its design, and its casual comfort is fantastic (outside of being a pain in the ass to get off and on). As a performance sneaker however, it just didn’t work for me. Above all else, the one thing I need to have in a shoe is confidence, and I didn’t have it in the KD 9. It never felt as secure or stable as I need to play all-out. It may work better for guards and smaller players, but larger players may have issues.

Despite its shortfalls, the shoe represents a step forward for the KD line. The price is falling, the innovation is there, and with some performance tweaks, it could return to the glory days of the earlier models where it represented the best performance value on the market by a longshot.