Nike KD V Elite - Hyper Blue/Volt/Blackened Blue

The Nike KD V Elite

Introduction

Dispatched by the Memphis Grizzlies in the second round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs, Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder failed to meet their high expectations of another trip to the NBA Finals.  All signs pointed to a possible NBA Championship for the team in the pre-season, but the Thunder were not able to overcome an injury to star Russell Westbrook.  As one of the premier bonafide superstars in the league, Durant had a great year and would have captured the MVP award if not for Lebron James.  This season looked to stamp his greatness and Nike would confirm his Elite status with a revamped shoe for the playoffs.  Last season, the Kobe and Lebron lines saw an expansion with the Elite versions.  The shoes were made with higher quality materials and modified cushioning set ups to give a different take than the standard editions.  Now, the KD line gets the Elite treatment for the first time.  In this Performance Review, the low cut Nike KD V Elite takes center stage.

The first Elite model released for the KD line, the V looks to begin a move to a low cut for the series.  The features include the following:

  • Hyperfuse upper with Dynamic Flywire cables reinforced with kevlar for light weight performance and strength
  • Cushioning provided by a Phylon midsole and Nike Zoom units in the forefoot and heel
  • Rubber outsole with special KD-inspired traction pattern
  • Mid foot stability plate
  • Carbon fiber heel clip for support

Aesthetics and Styling

The IV can be looked at as the tipping point for the Nike KD series, catapulting it to the casual masses.  Styled more as a standard basketball shoe, the V did not have the impact as the IV.  What did not take a hit was on-court performance.  New performance features included a Max Air unit and a unique foam heel counter which resulted in very high performance, outdoing the IV.  The Elite V takes away the two newest elements from the standard V for a streamlined look.  Replacing the foam counter is a carbon fiber heel clip, while the Max Air at the heel is taken out for a Zoom unit.  Gone is the high collar, chopped off for a very low cut, while stability comes in the form of kevlar Flywire strands and a very large stability plate.  Released for the playoffs, the Elite was a permanent fixture on the feet of Durant for each game.  Now known for eye catching color schemes, fans can expect a slew of color schemes for the duration of the playoffs, into the summer.  Hyper Blue, Volt, and Blackened Blue make up this “Superhero” edition of the Elite V, which is the choice for this Performance Review.

Nike KD V Elite - Hyper Blue/Volt/Blackened Blue

A change to a low cut looks to be the future for the KD line

A very low cut is revealed from a side profile.  The shoe has smooth & simple lines, and looks more like a tennis shoe than a high performing basketball shoe.  As a more efficient version of the V, the rubber outsole for the Elite is separated into forefoot and heel areas.  The forefoot area has the same traction pattern as the V with a few new signature features (a Kevin Durant mock signature towards the mid foot, “HARD WORK BEATS TALENT WHEN TALENT FAILS TO WORK HARD” in between the traction pattern, and “NOW IS THE TIME” on the toe cap).  At the mid foot, the carbon fiber stability plate is visible in black.  Surrounding the plate is a clear plastic casing, extending all the way to the heel.  Here, the heel is translucent with the “kd” logo in the middle and the star traction pattern.  Rounding out the foundation is a very slim Phylon midsole.  This midsole has two layers – smooth on top and textured towards the outsole.

Aesthetically, no real changes have been made to the upper.  The Hyperfuse layer has the seamless construction, with the kevlar Flywire bands running from the eyelets down to the midsole.  Volt Nike swoosh logos stand out bright at medial forefoot, which is printed, and a large plastic logo on the lateral side.

One of the major pieces of the standard V is seen on the back end of the shoe.  Here, the bulky foam heel counter makes way for a carbon fiber heel clip.  The signature carbon fiber weave has the new “35” star logo embossed in the center.  Above the clip is a V-shaped Achilles notch.  The low cut of the shoe swoops down from the Achilles notch, rounding out to keep the ankles exposed.  Padding is very light and the inner lining is a textured synthetic.

Just like the upper, the lacing system is basically the same as the standard V.  The oval laces run through five lace hoops on the Hyperfuse upper and a single eyelet towards the top of the shoe.  And like the standard edition, the tongue is fixed through the first 3 lace holders.  The tongue is very thin and not as padded as the original.  A plastic “kd” logo stands at the center, while the inside lining matches the collar.  Finally, a thin, but padded insole, with the “Nike Basketball Elite Series” logo printed on the heel rests on the footbed.

Comfort and Fit

A very low cut makes for simple entry into the Elite V.  The fixed tongue limits how tight you can bring the laces together,  just like the standard V.  This allows the Hyperfuse upper to fit close, but not tight and cumbersome.  Fitting is true to size, and for some, there might be some room do go a half size down.  The shoe has a somewhat flat feel at the toe box, although the shape is rounded.  There is ample room for a relaxed feel.  At the back end, the low cut sits just below the ankles, leaving them exposed.  This is where most of the lace pressure is felt.  In lieu of ankle support and protection, the low cut collar does grip tight with the top of the tongue adding slight support.  The carbon fiber heel clip brings very good heel lock down.  Lock down does not come with tight pressure so the back end feels very comfortable and agile, especially with the notch above the Achilles.  For cushioning, the dual Zoom unit set up is flat and stiff.  The sculpted mid foot support system (carbon fiber and plastic plate) not only feel solid, but brings very good arch support.  With a solid foundation and a light weight upper, the Elite KD V feels more ready for a tennis court than the hardwood.

Nike KD V Elite - Hyper Blue/Volt/Blackened Blue

Zoom cushioning replaces the Max Air at the heel

Performance

Just like the standard KD V, the Elite has excellent court feel.  The profile of the shoe is not the lowest, but the forefoot and heel sections of the outsole feel right on the court.  Getting into motion, the shoe may take a break in period.  The Hyperfuse upper will will need to be eased in to bend with the foot, while the large mid foot plate may take a second to get used to as it does give off a somewhat stiff feel out of the box.  That said, heel to toe transitions are tight.  The forefoot/heel set up makes it natural for the player to run perfectly from heel to toe and the curvature of the forefoot helps to push the player forward.  Weight wise, the balance of the shoe leans towards the outsole.  That is, the upper does have an airy feel, but the weight of the sole is prevalent because of the stability system at the mid foot.  For performance, the Elite V is fit for the perimeter player who values speed.  Like most KD shoes, playing off the forefoot is what the shoe does best.  The curved forefoot area is tailor made for working on the perimeter. First steps, jab steps, and pull ups in transition flow nicely.  Once the player puts the shoe in motion, moving forward, the shoe feels fast and aggressive.  The Zoom units have a more solid feel, which brings out the very good responsiveness of the shoe.  On defense, the forefoot area is great for lateral movement.  Again, the shoe does play on the fast side, and with the low cut, some will find the added ability to move and break out of cuts more quickly.  Moving on, one of the other aspects that has changed is the heel Zoom unit.  In this instance, the heel has a more solid feel (mainly due to the stability plate).  What this allows for is the player to be more aggressive off the heel.  Whether it is playing in the high post or pushing on the heel laterally, the player can feel the support.  The Zoom unit brings the ability to push off comfortably over the Max Air unit.  And since the Zoom unit is more stiff than other Zoom set ups, the responsiveness is very good.  Next, jumps are performed with good feel and responsiveness.  The player can push off the Zoom unit comfortably and rise easy.  Landings are handled very well with the stiff Zoom set up, allowing the player to get out in transition fast.  Just like the standard V, the Elite V excels with excellent court feel and fast play, but plays with a bit more aggression.

As a low cut shoe, the Elite V brings some interesting advantages over the standard version.  Of course, the shoe does lose a lot as far as ankle support and protection is concerned.  Players who need ankle support will have to use tape or a brace, as the shoe is completely devoid of support.  This also affects the Achilles area, where the lack of a high rise may not be suitable for hard play.   So, the shoe works best for the perimeter player and this is where the mid foot stability plates shine.  The carbon fiber plate has a plastic cage which supports the mid foot to the heel.  Pushing forward off the forefoot is what the shoe leans towards but, the stability system is excellent for lateral slides and cuts.  The player can take hard jabs and really push the shoe on offense with the plates holding the shoe intact.  On defense, moving laterally and changing directions, the player can really feel the shoe holding.  For all that the shoe lacks in other areas, the mid foot stability is simply solid.

Traction performance is very similar to the standard V.  The all over star pattern does a great job of providing sticky grip, and since the shoe mainly plays off the forefoot, the curvature here helps to keep movement a bit more fluid.  One aspect that may affect traction is the large stability unit at the mid foot.  Because of this, the player can only use the two areas to find traction on the court.  Some issues come when moving laterally or making quick cuts, where the player finds him/herself looking to land on either pod for traction.  This is not a major problem, but a small issue noticed when the player looks to push hard with agility.  Otherwise, traction is great for stop and start play, and well as just moving up and down the court.  For ventilation, there are no major issues.  The low cut of the shoe and somewhat relaxed fit naturally keep heat to a minimum.  And although the inner lining is not made up of moisture wicking material, the fact that the upper is so thin keeps moisture levels down.

Conclusion

The Elite series gives the designers at Nike a chance to offer multiple takes on a signature shoe within a season.  Upgrades with upper materials and cushioning set ups characterize the Lebron and Kobe lines with their respective Elite models the past two seasons.  What would be the boldest, and perhaps the most surprising, move can be observed with the KD going from a full mid cut to a very low cut shoe.  The Elite KD V can almost be seen as a completely different performer from the standard version, as the few elements that feel the same on the court are the upper materials and feel of the outsole.  By making the shoe a low cut, the Elite KD loses some versatility (mainly in stability) and sometimes plays like an uninspired low cut shoe.  Still, those who feel comfortable in a low cut shoe that offers good court feel, traction, and a stable foundation can consider the Elite KD V as an option.  A change in focus from mid to low looks like the direction the KD series is following.  The Elite V is just the introduction, as the KD VI looks to go even lower.  This seems somewhat puzzling as a low cut shoe does not seem conducive to the post play that Durant has made an effort to improve at.  With all this said, the on-court performance will be the defining factor and fans will not have to wait until the Fall as Nike has pushed up the release of the VI to the Summer.  Before then, fans can check out the Elite KD V, available now at the Official Nike Online Store.

This shoe is comparable to:

Nike KD V