2018’s LeBron 16 Review: Performance Analysis in 2020

I always had an eye for getting out a LeBron 16 review sooner or later. So I guess it’s later then. Or should I say two years later?

Anyway, you might be wondering why a review for a two-year-old shoe, when the LeBron 17 is out for a while and the 18th is just around the corner?

I feel like the 16th LeBron is among the rare group of shoes that are still really good in 2020, it has one of the greatest cushion setups EVER and despite the hefty retail price – it’s a premium shoe with premium specs, and you can find these under retail now, so a total win for those who are looking for a new pair of quality ball shoes.

In my ~1.5 years of experience in these, let me explain why they’re worth your time.

We’ll be taking a look at the shoe’s comfort & performance aspects, examining the value for its price, and also evaluating who is the shoe best recommended for.

Let’s begin!

SPEC SHEET

#2 in Best Outdoor Shoes

#4 in Best Shoes that Make You Taller

LeBron 16 Review

Model: Nike LeBron XVI
Build: Mid-Top
Weight: 17.2 oz / 488 g. (size 10)
Retail Price: $185
Cushion: Full-length Max Air & Zoom Air units
Best Offer On: Amazon

I. COMFORT & FIT

LeBron 16 Review: Pair

Battleknit 2.0, a nice flat base + tons of internal padding – these are mad comfortable. At least when you properly break them in.

Yes, it’s a knit but it’s reinforced for more structure, so you’re going to have to play in these for a bit before the upper, the lacing system, and internals fully mold to your feet. Not a long break-in period at all though – it took about 6-7 days for me (and I have a VERY wide foot).

For anyone with narrow/regular-shaped feet, you’ll want to go true to size, no issues should occur. As for wide footers, you’d most likely need to try them on in stores but I doubt you’ll find much on the shelves today as the 17th model is the main attraction at the moment.

No worries though, I personally went true to size and even though I likely needed more time to break them in than most, it was still a great experience afterward.

I don’t have any dead space I wouldn’t need, though the fit is tight and snug. If a looser, more roomy fit is your preference and you’re a wide footer – going up half a size will be a good idea.

The shoe is premium to the touch and feel, there are tons of internal padding inside, and I like the way the higher ankle collar cups your heel. It was a bit iffy at first but everything stabilized in a short period of time.

I have no complaints about the shoe’s fit or comfort aspects, simple as that. I guess you could call them heavy based on an average weight of a hoop shoe but the difference doesn’t bring up anything bad at all.

Do they feel and play heavy? Not really. You would feel a difference between a 12.5 oz Zoom Freak 2 and a 17.2 oz LeBron 16 but I really don’t mind that.

My usual preference is comfort, security, and proper supplementation to my game other than shaving off a few ounces and having something lighter on your feet.

They’re very comfortable and you’re pretty much running on a mattress – the experience nicely blends together with the shoe’s performance and we get a great package in result.

II. TRACTION

LeBron 16 Review: Outsole

I’ve briefly talked about the shoe’s outsole in the outdoor shoe guide – so guess what, the LeBron 16 is a beast in terms of traction.

Durable rubber, a near-perfect curved line traction pattern that fights the dust issue very well and they grip the floor on all surfaces. That would basically be everything you need to know, which is a huge compliment for a shoe these days.

I think this is one of those instances where a traction pattern with storytelling elements actually performs and holds up really well. How about that? I thought that day would never come.

Alright, I’m exaggerating but the point is you’re getting pretty much everything good that can be done on a basketball shoe outsole.

Excellent bite on all types of courts – check. A pattern that doesn’t make you wipe your outsole to prevent dust – check. Durable rubber that’s good for outdoors – you got it.

Don’t sleep on the LeBron 16’s traction – it’s as good as you can get, even in 2020.

III. CUSHION

LeBron 16 Review: Angled

Full-length Max Air with a bunch of Zoom Air units underneath? Sign me up.

Those who played in the LeBron 15 or the 17 will be right at home with the 16 in terms of cushion. What’s awesome about this one is it’s the perfect blend of both of those shoes.

The midsole is no longer unstable and the Zoom units don’t contort as much, as they did on the 15, making it feel like something’s not right doing lateral movements.

And, the midsole and the Zoom units are just a tad bit firmer and quicker than the LeBron 17’s implementation, making you still responsive and not losing 100% court feel like you did on the 17.

So what happens as a result? We get a more balanced ride that nearly every player would enjoy and find sufficient for their playstyle.

It’s stable, despite it might not look that way, there’s still a tiny bit of court feel, and even though you sit high off the ground, the units have a very fast spring back rate that balances out the ride beautifully.

Don’t get me wrong, the setup is still A TON of fun to play in – it’s not dead or anything, and far from feeling firm. You’re still running on clouds, tons of impact protection even for the heaviest of players. But importantly, all that while keeping you fast and precise.

Not as fast is it gets though – if you’re looking for something that’s strictly made for low profile players, I think you won’t enjoy what the LeBron 16 has to offer but for those who are cool with a balanced ride, go for it!

A legendary job by Nike and LeBron on this setup – not a lot of better setups these days.

IV. SUPPORT

LeBron 16 Review: Midfoot

One of the key advantages the LeBron XVI has is the ability to properly support a player while still maintaining high levels of comfort and mobility.

So yeah, support on the shoe is great. Not the most features packed ever but the package works nicely overall.

A double internal outrigger, adjustable lacing system with Flywire cables for more containment, a flat base to maintain stability, and every single Zoom unit you see on the outsole is slightly extended, acting as small outriggers to further extend lateral protection.

The biggest chunk of support and containment comes from the upper itself. The knit upper isn’t just raw knit – it’s reinforced with nylon to prevent overstretching.

You feel comfy and mobile while you’re idle since knit is what’s mainly felt. But during more aggressive movements – nylon comes into play, preventing the knit from stretching too much.

Just as most people that I’ve seen comment on the shoe, I did feel some heel slippage at first but that went away even quicker than the break-in process itself.

I loved the way the shoe supported me without taking away the benefits of a knit. It’s awesome. Period.

V. BUILD & MATERIALS

LeBron 16 Review: Toebox

The upper is what’s called Battleknit 2.0. It’s basically a knit material stitched with nylon for containment purposes, as I’ve mentioned above. There is also a nubuck piece at the rear of the shoe and at the tongue.

I take my hat off to Battleknit 2.0 though. Even though we’ve seen similar concepts before, this upper works really well with the way the LeBron 16 plays. Knit and nylon are best friends here and I feel like their relationship blossoms every time I make a movement inside the shoe.

Think of it like the way a race car is set up. You start driving at normal speeds but when it’s time to take off, you see a spoiler and other aerodynamic features enable themselves, pushing the most out of the car.

The shoe’s upper acts in a similar way – nylon doesn’t really do much when it’s not needed but when it’s time to drive to the hoop, it comes into play, ensuring you have maximum containment.

Ventilation isn’t the shoe’s strong suit – thanks to the layered upper, there’s barely any airflow going in and out. I don’t personally care much about that but felt like you should know.

Lastly, the shoe is durable. It really is. It’s my #2 contender for the best outdoor shoe for a reason – this iteration of a knit really works wonders in terms of performance but it’s also very strong, and since stretching is heavily controlled by the nylon backing, these should last for a while even outdoors.

VI. OVERALL

The Nikey LeBron XVI is a treat for us hoopers. It’s comfortable as hell, they fit great after your feet get accustomed to them, cushioning is god-like (if you’re into that sorta thing), traction is fantastic AND they’re ready for outdoors. You’ll be supported without sacrificing much of anything really. And since you can get them under retail, it’s a solid deal.

Even at retail, I would consider them a good buy since they’re durable.

The shoe ticks a lot of boxes many different players would need ticked, which is both awesome and unexpected from a LeBron sneaker, which are usually player-specific.

Is it better than the LeBron 15? Yes. Is it better than the LeBron 17? Yes, I think it’s better than both of them.

It strikes a nice balance and does it in a very comfortable way. 2018 or 2020, it doesn’t matter – a shoe is a shoe, and the LeBron 16 is a good shoe.

—Get the LeBron 16 on Amazon here—

Why buy on Amazon? Click to find out!

WHY AMAZON?

I’ve been ordering a solid 70%-80% of my hoop shoes from Amazon and can confidently say it’s almost always the most trustworthy and convenient option to buy your shoes.

Why Amazon?

Yes, it’s great to find the shoe you’re looking for on an original retailer such as Nike or Adidas but the reality is a bit different – a lot of times, especially for shoes older than 1-2 years, it’s a very small chance you’ll find the shoe or better yet find it in your size & color.

You’ll mostly find the latest releases directly from the brand’s store but the period is usually pretty short until they’re out of stock.

This is where Amazon comes in.

Amazon is not strictly one retailer giving you the products, it’s a whole chain of thousands of different sellers, all supplying different products, including basketball shoes. You will mostly find more color and size options on Amazon for your desired shoe than on an original retailer or even a general sporting goods store.

Sure, there will be exceptions where Amazon won’t have a particular shoe but that’s on the rare side.

And the best part is the pricing – you can find older shoes and at times new shoes priced under retail, sometimes at crazy low prices, which is something you’ll never see on Nike.com, adidas.com, and other retailers (except during discounts/sales of course).

To sum things up and give you a generalized idea of why Amazon beats other stores more often than not, I’ve compiled a shortlist of the most notable advantages the massive store chain has over its competitors.

  • Usually, higher stock, size & color/edition availability compared to other stores
  • Blazing fast shipping times (sometimes delivered the SAME DAY if you’re close to the seller’s stock)
  • A good chance to find shoes priced under retail
  • Extremely convenient return/refund policies

Still not sure? I’ve made a comprehensive guide and compiled some general tips on where to buy basketball shoes online. Check it HERE!

THE VERDICT

LeBron 16 Review

Comfort Rating: 9
Performance Rating: 9.5
Value for the Price Rating: 8
Suitable for Outdoors: Yes
Recommended for: All players | explosive/athletic playstyles

Overall Rating: 9

 

Thanks a lot for staying all the way to the end! I hope you found it useful for your future basketball shoe ventures!

For me, the LeBron 16 is currently at number 2 among the best outdoor shoes. Find out what’s my top pick in the outdoor basketball shoe guide!

Did you play in the LeBron 16? What do you think about it? Also, if you have any questions I might not have answered in the review, be sure to let me know!

Leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you as quick as I can!

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