KICKZ Performance Review: Nike Air Zoom BB NXT

Photo by Albi Quito (2020)

One of the most anticipated sneakers of this year. For me at least 🤷‍♂️. Ever since seeing Nike’s press release a few months back, I was looking forward to this drop. Could the tech setup ⚙️ in this one be the new standard for basketball shoes? Let’s find out.

Design

Nothing too special when it comes to the overall look. The Nike Air Zoom BB NXT features a classic low cut silhouette. What separates it from other models though, is that thick midsole. That’s definitely something that caught my eye and immediately got me thinking about that raised stand and the potential loss of court feel. But I will get to that later. Regarding the current color variations, those are more or less basic team options. I would have liked for Nike to give their potential new flagship a little bit of an edge compared to their regular team shoe lineup. From a technical standpoint, what really surprised me was the weight. Despite all of that foam and tech, the BB NXT “only” weighs 418 g, which makes these a middleweight. Good job with the technical design 👏. From a visual standpoint however, I would have preferred to see a little bit more 🎨, given that this could be Nike’s new go-to basketball performance line.

Materials

Nike describes the material as a lightweight mesh and I would agree. It feels soft, thin and on top of that, it is quite comfortable and feels durable. Break-in time was not really required. Performance wise, the material selection gets the job done. Without a doubt. However, as these are higher end sneakers, a more premium touch would have been nice.

Traction

The bite on this one is incredible. Very likely to be the best I have experienced all year. The BB NXT uses a wavy multidirectional pattern that provides great traction for all kinds of movements, stops, cuts or whatever else you may be doing on the court. These have you covered in all directions. No wiping, no fraying, no complaints. Very impressive and one of my personal highlights on this model.

Cushion

Nike advertises this cushioning setup to be game changing. Personally, I have to admit that this is a very strong feature of the Nike Air Zoom BB NXT. Rarely have I had a setup as responsive and soft as this one. Those three layers of React? You will simply feel them in every step. Especially in the heel. In addition to that, Nike also implemented two Zoom units underneath the ball of the foot, which make them even more comfortable. Not too much more you can ask for. However, the downside of this setup is definitely the lack of court feel. The thick midsole just takes you way high-off-the-ground, which impacts this particular feature a lot actually. But not only that, it also affects some other elements, which I will talk about in the Support section. You definitely have to get used to that higher ride and also to that bottom-heavy build. All in all, this was really fun to play in and definitely is a very nice cushion setup.

Fit

True to size is the way to go here. Lockdown was nice and kept my foot on the footbed at all times. No slipping or any other major disruptions. Just some minor snugness around the fore- and midfoot and occasional pinching that came from the lacing system. For some reason I could occasionally feel some pressure from the laces or cables, that needed some lacing adjustments from time to time. Overall, the shoe felt comfortable though. The padding in the tongue and achilles areas just added to that. So yes, great first step-in experience that lasted throughout all other training sessions. And as mentioned above, none to minimal break-in time needed. Nice.

Support

Unfortunately the most challenging part on this very enjoyable shoe. Don’t get me wrong, the Nike Air Zoom BB NXT has lots of good support features that you would expect from a legit performance shoe (lockdown, containment, heel counter, torsional support, etc.). And all of those are great and work well together. However, one of the sneaker’s strongest aspects, also gives it the biggest support issues. I am talking about the cushioning setup here. As mentioned above, you will be standing a couple of millimeters higher above the ground than you may usually be used to. That in combination with the very soft cushioning system can be a problem and leads to instabilities and occasional collapses of the React foam, when you apply too much pressure to it. Especially the sides tend to give in to lateral movements. That made me feel a bit uncomfortable at times but honestly, it never got to the point where I rolled my ankle or anything. It‘s just something to be aware of. So quite frankly, there is cushioning that is too soft, as it can affect other areas of the shoe.

Bottom Line

The Nike Air Zoom BB NXT is fun to play in but comes with a trade-off. Because in order to unleash one of the game’s best current cushioning, you will have to sacrifice some of the shoe‘s stability and support. Not too much to deem them unplayable but enough to have that certain aspect in your mind while playing in them. Regardless of that, this shoe’s cushioning simply is top notch and makes this a very comfortable on foot experience. Additionally you will get insane traction that has you covered everywhere you go. When it comes to the overall price-performance ratio, keep in mind that with a price of EUR 180,- these move in the same realm as the Jordan flagships or the LeBron line. So this definitely comes down to individual preferences. What speaks for these are the two main features mentioned above and those can be enough to get good value out of these.

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