Li-Ning Turningpoint (Porcelain - Year of the Dragon)

The Li-Ning Turningpoint (Porcelain - Year of the Dragon)

Introduction

Li-Ning made great strides last season in pushing their two featured models – the BD Defend and Conquer – giving them an admirable introduction into the US market.  For whatever reason, their second year has seen the company take a small step back in terms of visibility in the market, although 3 basketball models have been released (Hero, Villain, and Turningpoint).  Their current NBA rosters prominently features Jose Calderon, and their brightest young star Evan Turner.  Without a signature model released to the public last season, there are many questions surrounding what the company has in store for the young star.  And with a disappointing rookie season, the high expectations for the second overall pick with a relative newcomer in the sneaker world could have meant disaster.  Looking to make a statement, Turner has had a strong second season as a major contributor to the 76ers.  Ready for the playoff run, the Evan Turner signature Li-Ning Turningpoint gets a shot for this Performance Review.

The first officially released Evan Turner signature shoe, the Li-Ning Turningpoint looks to make a statement with bold aesthetics and aggressive performance.  The features include the following:

  • Synthetic leather upper
  • Cushioning provided by CushioN™and BounSe™technologies
  • Custom lacing option with added eyelets punctured into the upper
  • Rubber outsole with raised herringbone traction pattern and mid foot stability plate
  • First officially released Evan Turner signature model in a limited edition Year of the Dragon color scheme

Aesthetics and Styling

It would be hard to argue, from a aesthetics and design standpoint, that Li-Ning would have a hard time competing with the established giants in the basketball sneaker market.  The BD Defend and Conquer gave the public a taste of something different and exciting, while the Hero and Villain do as much to continue the trend.  Likewise, the Turningpoint is no slouch when aesthetics and design are evaluated.  The lower half of the shoe has the Li-Ning stealth look, while the upper harkens back to the old days with an extremely high, but efficiently looking collar.  In a sense, the shoe has old-fashioned ideas designed with a modern look.  The choice for our Performance Review is one of the most unique color schemes of the season.  Entitled the “Porcelain Edition,” this blue and white color scheme is inspired by the designs of ancient Chinese vases and is part of the limited Year of the Dragon series.

Li-Ning Turningpoint (Porcelain - Year of the Dragon)

As the first official signature shoe for young star Evan Turner, the Porcelain Year of the Dragon Turningpoint is one of the boldest color schemes this season

The push for low cut and light weight basketball sneakers has made the high cut shoe extinct these days, but the Li-Ning Turningpoint makes no apologies.  A high collar comes with a bulky look, given flow by the sole, which has a cradle like appearance from the side.  The Year of the Dragon graphic gives the shoe a flash but fitting look to match the bold and aggressive silhouette.  Our look begins with a aesthetically pleasing contoured rubber outsole.  At the medial forefoot, a raised pivot circle has the Evan Turner signature logo molded in and represents the starting point of the pinwheel designed outsole.  The triangular shards stemming from the circle are raised running throughout the sole diagonally, all the way to the heel.  Each shard is marked with the herringbone traction pattern, and in between each triangular shard is a matching shattered pattern.  The lateral side of the sole has a forefoot outrigger, with a small Li-Ning check appearing on the side.  Stability comes in the form of a sculpted mid foot stability, which has a four dot pattern and forms a deep cavity.  Last, the heel has three raised areas of the herringbone, with a Li-Ning check logo on the center piece.  Above the outsole, an expansive Phylon midsole rounds the shoe.  The top portion is designed with the shattered pattern and has portions extending up the heel and forefoot area for added support.  The back heel area has a square rubber insignia with Chinese characters and the year “2012” printed on.  Last, the lower half of the midsole sees the “BounSe” logo on the medial forefoot, and the thick heel area marked with “CushioN” on the lateral and “turningpoint” on the medial.

An almost seamless leather upper sits stiff and rigid.  With raised areas all around, the upper is thin, but has a bulkiness to it.  This Year of the Dragon has an all over dragon print, giving the shoe a theme and personality on the court.  The toe box area has a raised area from forefoot to forefoot, and a stiff plate caps the toes.  A faint row of perforation holes is placed at the center of the toe box.  The sides are simply done, with dual purpose perforation holes placed close to the laces.  These holes are punctured into a raised portion of the upper on each side, and not only serve as ventilation outlets, but also as eyelets.  Finishing off the upper are two Li-Ning checks – a large rubber one on the lateral, and small embossed one on the medial.

Heel support is provided by the synthetic leather material.  The counter is covered by another raised section of the leather with a hang tag stitched through the center.  A low rising Achilles area leads to a dramatic ascent for the high collar.  Integrated neatly from the leather upper, the collar is somewhat detached and has two triangular cut outs on each side.  Padding on the interior is slight down the ankles and the material used for lining is a rough diamond textured synthetic.  An Achilles notch is added for support and lock down.

The lacing system consists of 9 eyelets with dotted flat laces.  Reinforcement for the first two eyelets and two collar eyelets comes in the form of plastic portions added to the upper.  A mesh tongue resides beneath the laces, and is connected on the inside to form a simple bootie system.  The top of the tongue is flares outward and is made with a leather patch.  This leather portion has a large lace holder and is designed with the all over graphic.  The Evan Turner logo is plaster at the center, with a plastic “turningpoint” piece sitting below.  Behind the tongue the years “1988” and “2012” are printed on each, signifying the Year of the Dragon and birth year of Turner (which is also a Dragon year).  Perforation holes complete the top section of the tongue.  To cap off the Turningpoint is a dual-density EV insole.  With PU at the heel, the contoured insole is littered with perforation holes and is given life by the all over dragon graphic.

Comfort and Fit

Long and narrow, the foot is housed nicely into the slight inner bootie.  Fit is true to size, with the upper sitting very close.  Lace pressure is tight and mostly felt around the forefoot, but the grip around the middle of the foot brings little to no discomfort.  Up front, the toe box area leaves little room to move and has good width.  Ankle support is, as expected, very high but does not bring the most protected feel.  The tongue does a great job of wrapping around the front to help grip the upper portion of the foot, while the collar sides effectively cover the ankles.  Heel lockdown is excellent, and the Achilles notch surprisingly brings a protective feel.  Below, cushioning is very comfortable.  Teetering on the stiff side, the CushioN™is not plush but feels comfortable.  Arch support is very good, and overall, the shoe does have a good contoured fit.  Simple in terms of comfort and fit, the Turningpoint is close & snug, with comfortable ankle support and exceptional lock down.

Li-Ning Turningpoint (Porcelain - Year of the Dragon)

Snug and supportive, the Turningpoint is prime for aggressive play

Performance

The Turningpoint on the court has a very low profile despite the thick and bulky look.  Especially in the forefoot area, a feeling of great responsiveness is felt.  Running reveals an aspect not common in the basketball landscape today.  The upper has a rigid feel to it, which can be worked in after a couple of minutes, and the weight of the shoe is on the heavy side.  Regardless of weight, the balance of the shoe is not affected, and heel to to transitions are smooth, running forward.  The heel area is a bit raised compared to the forefoot area, but is not overly felt in a static position.  However, in motion, the sole acts like an aggressive cradle, easing the transition.  Overall performance points towards the aggressive and active player.  With a rigid set up, one would assume flexibility would be a major problem, but that is not the case.  The placement of the throat line is very high making it easy and comfortable to bend through the toe box.  Scrambling and fighting for loose balls, and getting set up quick on defense, the player can push the shoe hard.  Another aspect that does help with the agility of the shoe is the collar design.  Thin and somewhat detached, the collar holds in congruence with the tongue, but restrictions on movement is not limited.  That is, the player has the sense of free movement even with the high ankle support.  Perhaps the highest performing aspect of the shoe comes with the responsiveness.  The sole set up is not only low to the ground, but is very responsive.  Moving side to side aggressively takes little effort, and there is very little response time lost for any harsh plants or movements.  The cushioning set up is also great for taking impact in stride.  Taking off and landing are both done with the same feeling, and the impacts on the midsole are taken evenly, with good comfort.  At the end of the day, the Turningpoint is a versatile, aggressive, and responsive performer on the court.

A shining aspect of the Turningpoint is found with outstanding stability.  From the stiff leather upper, to the supportive inner sleeve & Achilles notch, down to the solid foundation, there are few negatives to be said when evaluating stability performance.  Aggressive players will find the upper holds tight for the most pressing of movements.  Focusing on the forefoot area, moving violently laterally, the leather upper holds the foot in place, while the outrigger acts as a solid stopper.  More support is observed from the collar down, as the upper almost feels like sidewalls, especially on the lateral side.  Those who may think flexibility is lost need not worry, as the lack of overall padding, as well as the slight detachment of the collar, help while dipping and bending.  On the inside, there is minor slippage, but overall, the inner sleeve & Achilles notch work in tandem to hold the foot snug with comfort.  Below, the quality of the sole is excellent for playing hard, while the stiff mid foot plate only helps matters.  In the end, those who like the push a shoe to the limit will find the shoe as a blessing.

Fitted with an outsole that screams aesthetics over function, traction performance for the Turningpoint is great.  Providing both grip and comfortable movement, the design of the sole allows the shoe to grip comfortably.  The raised portions of the outsole are marked with the herringbone pattern, which favors those who play with a heavy step.  Digging into the court when planting hard and moving laterally, the shoe holds comfortably.  Loosing a foothold is rare, and getting out of a cut or stop, response time is minimized.  Again the raised and sectionalized areas of herringbone serve to keep the player from getting stuck in place, and although the shoe is not the most fluid, changing directions from a stop is done freely.  In all, getting the most out of the Turningpoint requires hard and aggressive play.  For ventilation, the shoe is has no big issues.  Even with the snug fit, the circular holes on the sides of the upper, as well as the cut out sections on the collar do a good job of allowing hot air to flow out.

Conclusion

When Evan Turner signed an exclusive sneaker deal with Li-Ning there was both excitement and high expectations.  After a lackluster rookie season, which saw Turner struggle a bit to find his place within the Sixers line up, the future of both the company and second overall pick had to be in question.  This season, in what seems like a new start, Turner has found his way, and Li-Ning has brought an exceptional first effort to the table for their young star.  Not fitting into the light weight, low cut movement, the Turningpoint is definitely an outlier in the market.  The bold design and aesthetics do translate from a performance stand point, and those looking for a very stable and sturdy shoe that brings great court feel and responsiveness can look no further than the first signature Evan Turner shoe.  At the end of the day, Li-Ning has crafted a performer that does bring new aspects to the table.  The design is bold, and the performance separates it from other established brands.  A fitting name, the company can only hope the Turningpoint will also mark an upswing in what is to come in the future.  The Year of the Dragon Porcelain Turningpoint was released last month in very limited numbers, but other color schemes (including the Year of the Dragon Emperor’s Robe) of the Turningpoint are available now at the Official Shop Li-Ning Online Store.

This shoe is comparable to:

Li-Ning Hero
Li-Ning BD Conquer
Li-Ning BD Defend