Nike KD 11 Review: Still Among THE BEST in 2020?

We’re in 2020 but I wanted to check out KD’s 11th major release that launched back in 2018 since I’ve never had the chance to do so. So welcome to my in-depth Nike KD 11 review!

Why am I putting this out now? I think better late than never is the right choice of words here. The shoe has some extremely promising specs as well.

React & full-length Zoom cushion combo, a full-on Flyknit upper, and other stuff that just might put the KD 11 over the newer 12th and 13th. On paper. We all know specs is one thing, while actual experience on the court is another.

THE REVIEW BREAKDOWN

After roughly 2.5 months of playing (mainly outdoors), I’ll break down the shoe’s:

  • Fit & comfort experience & wide footer-friendly?
  • On-court performance & outdoor-ready?
  • Build quality & value for the price in 2020
  • Decide if it’s worth over the 12th or the 13th

Let’s go!

SPEC SHEET

Nike KD 11 Review

Model: Nike KD 11
Build: Mid-top
Weight: 15.62 oz / 443 g. (size 10 US)
Retail Price: $150
Cushion: Full-length Zoom Air & React midsole

I. COMFORT & FIT

Nike KD 11 Review: Top 1

So KD’s general preference when it comes to basketball shoes on the court can be summed up in three words: light, soft, and roomy.

This is exactly what the KD 11 tried to accomplish and in some ways (some more than others), it does just that. Not without the downsides though. More on that later.

SIZING: ROOMY AS HELL!

Let’s talk about the sizing and fit first.

KD’s shoes have a nack to run super damn narrow and sometimes a bit long. Not with the KD 11.

I have very wide feet and I’ve seen countless recommendations to go half a size down with these for most. Well, being the circus-footed individual that I am, I went true to my size and hoped for the best. While the fit still isn’t perfect to this day, I think I made the right choice.

HOWEVER, regular/narrow footers and even certain slight wide footers should all go down half a size. Hell, narrow footers might even consider going a full size down if you’re looking for a condensed & very snug fit.

It’s best to try these on in a store but chances are, you won’t see a lot of these anymore on the shelves, so sticking with that 1/2 size down is your best bet.

COMFORT: DO YOU LIKE WEARING SOCKS?

So you get the idea – the KD 11 is super roomy, it’s loose and it feels that way while playing. Me being a wide footer and going true to size, I’m still not feeling as secure as I’d like to at times due to some extra length and the way the upper is built. It feels like a damn sock.

A comfortable sock but almost every time I jump or cut, I feel like there’s something to be desired in terms of foot containment. My feet didn’t roll out of the footbed that often but almost every quick movement felt like they were about to, and that’s not a good thing to think about while playing.

Just a bit less extra space and more structure would’ve been welcome.

With that being said though if you don’t have a nuclear-athletic playstyle or you’re someone who prefers a very loose, free, and “all over the place” fit that should feel like a sock – the KD 11 is EXACTLY for you. No other way to put it.

It’s light, fast, and soft as a baby’s bottom. It feels like Nikey went all-out comfort and freedom for this one. It’s always good to prioritize comfort but you gotta make sure your shoe is secure and feels that way while playing.

I didn’t feel secure at times while hooping in the KD 11 and that’s single-handedly its biggest drawback for me.

II. TRACTION

Nike KD 11 Review: Outsole 2

Certain colorways of the KD 11 come with a solid rubber outsole, while the initial release colorways come with a translucent option. Don’t get scared now – gone are the days where the word “translucent” is suddenly a red flag when it comes to trusty traction.

With that said though, I never felt like the KD 11 had phenomenal traction but it never failed me to a point where I’d want to stop playing.

I was mainly playing outdoors (yes, quarantine) and the shoe gripped the concrete and a synthetic rubber court fairly well. A few slips here and there, nothing crazy.

This particular translucent outsole doesn’t have the typically sticky rubber a 2020 model would have so the bite wasn’t as aggressive as some would like. I never had an issue with it though, and I love driving to the hoop a lot, so consistent bite is something I require.

There is one caveat though. This pattern picks up dust quickly due to the extremely dense pattern, so after a couple of hours, you really start to feel the bite fade.

Wiping will be needed to preserve good traction and cleaning the outsole after every couple of games/sessions is something you’ll need to do or you’ll end up wondering what the hell happened to the shoe.

OUTDOOR DURABILITY: DECENT

As for outdoor durability, the rubber is on the mediocre side in terms of tackiness. The grooves are dense and there’s a lot of them but they’re very thin.

On paper, I wouldn’t recommend these for outdoors but hey, I’ve been wrecking these outdoors for over two months now and while the traction isn’t at 100% anymore, it’s still more than acceptable. I wouldn’t put it in my heavy-duty outdoor rotation but for occasional outdoor play, I think these will be fine.

III. CUSHION

Nike KD 11 Review: Cushion

Easily the best part about the KD 11 is its cushion setup. It’s a full-length Zoom Air unit on top of a plushy React midsole. Talk about a dynamic combo.

While React isn’t known for bounce or heavy impact protection – this particular midsole is awesome.

It’s not extremely plushy or Zoom Rize-like but there’s enough to propel your movements with some solid energy return, provide competent impact protection and not slow you down in the process.

It’s really awesome and I’d love this combo return in 2020. Step transitions are smooth, I never felt the shoe lacked impact protection and you don’t sink into the midsole too much, even though the KD 11 does ride pretty high off the ground.

So not a lot of court feel but I can confidently say that nearly all players or playstyles would appreciate this setup. It’s just so well-balanced and never feels too firm or too in your face.

Stability is improved from the KD 9 and 10 thanks to the TPU cage that holds the midsole and prevents it from over contouring. Be sure to give these some time to break in though. This is one of those shoes where you step ’em in for the first time and feel kind of disappointed.

But in time, game after game, you soon start to realize Nikey & company hit you with the SETUP. You’ll really start to feel that Zoom & React goodness in is full glory shortly!

IV. SUPPORT

Nike KD 11 Review: Angled

Some of you might’ve seen this one coming…

The KD 11 isn’t a very supportive shoe. I do believe a huge part in this is intentional – KD simply loves his hoop shoes loosy goosy.

For just about anyone who requires a more supportive platform to accommodate their playstyle – this shoe just fails to offer any of it.

Sure, we got a heel counter, you could say there are small outriggers in place for lateral stability and Flywire cables for lockdown are also utilized. But that’s not going to work when the upper doesn’t hold your foot properly.

I heard several users report they feel lacking support even for shooters/less athletic players. So you can imagine how a high-flyer will feel like in these. Unless you’re like KD.

You have to put a set of expectations in place before getting the KD 11. It will not offer tank-like support a LeBron sneaker would, nor does it promote great stability.

Everything’s focused on weight reduction, freedom of movement, and feeling ultra-comfortable. That’s about it.

If you’re prone to ankle injuries, you’ve got an athletic playstyle or you simply require a good foundation of support – look away.

Otherwise – you might find the KD 11 a fun shoe to hoop in or for those casual shooting sessions with your homies.

V. BUILD & MATERIALS

Nike KD 11 Review: Upper

Even though Flyknit always sounds like a good idea – its implementation & what it’s structured with matter just as much.

The forefoot area of the shoe is Flyknit backed with nylon and everything’s glued together pretty aggressively which makes it feel anything but Flyknit.

It’s not as soft as you’d expect from Flyknit, it doesn’t stretch much and feels more like some sort of plasticy synthetic.

The midfoot & heel area is where the real Flyknit resides. It’s pure knit with no real backing, so you can really feel how soft and stretchy that part is.

That’s where most of your comfort comes from but also where the lack of any real support or foot containment stems from as well.

The upper does feel premium, it’s stitched well and the KD 11 doesn’t look like it’s breaking down any time soon. Take that with a grain of salt though – it’s still mainly a knit, so durability (especially outdoors) won’t be as good as leather/nubuck/suede or other materials with more structure.

You can get these for under $150 now, so I can’t say it’s a terrible deal. If you love Flyknit and your shoes to feel like compression socks, go for it. Durability-wise – mediocre.

VI. OVERALL

The Nike KD 11 seems like a fantastic idea that wasn’t realized to its full potential. Sure, I bet Kevin Durant likes playing in these as it’s specially made for his preferences.

But for us mortals out here, there are definitely going to be people who won’t like this shoe. Quite a few I believe.

The KD 11 has a very roomy fit, so be sure to go down 1/2 size. They’re comfortable as hell though but any real containment is lacking. Traction is fine, it’s got a fantastic cushion setup but all else fails when it comes to support & security.

If you love Flyknit or knit materials in general – you’ll appreciate the KD 11’s upper.

So should you get these over the newer KD 12 or 13? Nah.

Those are more versatile options that offer what a lot of different players would enjoy. Not just KD.

Head to the KD 12 review

Head to the KD 13 review


THE VERDICT

Nike KD 11 Review

Comfort Rating: 9
Performance Rating: 6.5
Value for the Price Rating: 7
Suitability for Outdoors: Fair
Recommended for: less athletic players | lighter players | casual sessions

Overall Rating: 7.5

 

I hope you found the review useful! I really wanted to enjoy the KD 11 as it looked so damn promising. But reality is reality – specs on paper never really define how you’ll do on the court.

As always, I’m curious to hear what you have to say. Do you have the KD 11’s and have a different experience? Perhaps you got any questions?

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

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2 thoughts on “Nike KD 11 Review: Still Among THE BEST in 2020?

  1. Hey Julius, a great review on a brand that I always go for.

    Nike is my first choice when it comes to running shoes but I tend to stick below the $100 mark mainly because running shoes tend to not last very long.

    The shoes that you review do look great and trendy but then again most of the Nike shoes look trendy anyway.

    I’m not really the one who wears trainers to go out and socialise but why not because they are definitely more comfortable than traditional shoes.

    Thanks for Sharing

    Mick

    1. Yeah, this isn’t my favorite sneaker in terms of pure performance on the court but I do see a lot of guys rocking these casually. These were actually pretty popular among sneakerheads for wearing casually backed when they released. It’s a little tougher to get a pair now but surely possible!

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