Nike KD 12 Review: The Definitive Performance Breakdown

The KD basketball sneaker line is very strange. Sometimes we get amazing performers from all aspects, sometimes we receive a sub-par attempt to revolutionize tech that’s supposed to blow everything else out of the water. Today, I’m bringing you my KD 12 review – the supposed 2019’s performance sensation.

I was extremely excited to play in these since I heard a ton of good things about them. I’ll be taking a look at the shoe and how it holds up in the performance, comfort, and overall value for the money aspects.

I’ll also try to answer the question of whether you should upgrade if you currently have a previous KD model.


#3 in Best Shoes of 2019

Nike KD 12 Review: SidePin
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Model: Nike KD 12

Build: Mid Top

Weight: 14.5 oz / 411 g.

Retail Price: $150

Cushion: Full-length Zoom Air, Hex Zoom Air heel unit, Phylon midsole

Get the KD 12:


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Nike KD 12 Review: TopPin
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Right away, I do want to mention that pretty much all KD’s shoes fit pretty narrow as they got a slick and narrow construction of the tooling.

So the space where your foot sits is extremely compact. Some people like this, some don’t. I’ve had experience with KD’s shoes, so I happened to know this before I got ’em.

I’m a wide footer, so I went up half a size and they fit me near-perfectly. Regular/narrow footers will want to go true to size.

Expect a pretty snug and condensed fit if you have a regular-sized foot. That’s not necessarily a bad thing but it comes down to personal preference.

Thanks to that type of construction though, the overall fit is very well-contained, secure, and stable.

Foot mobility is out of this world and it seems that Nike really used every single inch to make the shoe as mobile, secure, and precise as possible. Amazing work here.

The KD 12 is also comfortable. Nothing to really boast about as I’ve experienced more comfort in a hoop shoe but definitely nothing to complain about – the package works.


Nike KD 12 Review: OutsolePin
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Funny enough, I’ve just recently tested Adidas’s Dame 5 and the KD 12 brings a very similar performance from the traction aspect – the translucent outsole might not promise much but it works really well.

I did not experience any major slipping or gripping issues in these. Wiped the outsole here and there, and I’m good to go.

I’d say these are probably a bit more prone to collecting dust than the Dame 5, especially outdoors. But again, that didn’t affect my game at all, as I didn’t find myself slipping or having bad traction because of it.

I’ve played in these outdoors for quite a bit and can say they’re holding up pretty decently. Realistically though, this is a $150 shoe and it does not look like it has the most durable outsole in the world, so you might want to consider something else as your effective outdoor beater.

Overall though, very solid, no complaints at all.


Nike KD 12 Review: CushionPin
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Full-length Zoom Air is back and it’s sitting directly under your foot now. On top of that, we got an extra Hex Zoom Air unit in the heel for added impact absorption, and a Phylon midsole for a stable, responsive ride.

The setup works extremely well, and I think it’d work for just about any player/position.

Unless you want an extremely prominent and straight-up bouncy ride. The KD 12 doesn’t do that.

While the setup might not be extremely springy and as much fun to play in as, for example, the KD 9 – this model brings all the critical components that a quality cushioning setup should bring.

I felt explosive, all my jumps, cuts, and landings definitely did not feel like a problem but I was also really quick and did not feel like full-length Zoom slowed me down or sunk me in the midsole for no reason.

The setup works really well and it’s well thought out – every style is accompanied as much as possible.

If you’re looking for an extremely fun and pillowy ride – this isn’t totally it (even though you can still really feel it and it’s awesome).

However, if you’re looking for a very balanced option or you’re not sure what to go with – this one’s the one.


Nike KD 12 Review: HeelPin
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I generally haven’t had any major complaints in the support department on any KD shoe. This one looks to be more of the same.

What ain’t broke – don’t fix it.

We got our traditional implementations – there’s a heel cup for heel containment, the midsole is very nicely contained in a TPU cage for a stable ride and Quad Axial Flywire does a good job locking down the foot, no matter the movement.

I don’t really know how much the fancy named “Quad Axial Flywire” helps with the shoe’s marketing, but I don’t honestly care.

All I know is that these are Flywire cables done right and I really did feel that they’re working while I’m playing.

During more aggressive moves such as quick cuts or when extremely bent-over, while driving to the hoop, there wasn’t a single second where I’d feel I’m not secure.

And that’s more than enough for me.


Nike KD 12 Review: UpperPin
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We got a conventional upper here – it’s mainly textile with synthetic mesh, plus Fuse for extra durability and stability.

That’s definitely not a pretty or by no means premium setup for a $150 price tag which felt a bit fishy at first but after playing in them for a while – it’s not too bad.

This is surely not in my top 10 best uppers or anything, but it worked well – support wasn’t compromised and it looks like the shoe will hold up well for a while.

I am not noticing any major tears or chipping, despite playing outdoors a lot (minus the outsole).

So if you can live with the materials not being fancy and don’t mind paying $150 for a basic mesh & Fuse upper – the KD 12 will get the job done for you from performance and comfort aspects.


Nike KD 12 Review: OverviewPin
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I think this is my second favorite KD shoe ever, right behind the KD 9.

I think the 12th model really thought about all the scenarios players could come across, and it deals with those very well.

I’ve found myself liking the fit after going up half a size, traction is great, full-length Zoom Air is brilliant, while the support and lockdown areas are straight-up savage locking down my foot like that.

Bravo! If you can afford it – the KD 12 is a very nice addition to a balanced basketball performance sneaker rotation.

The rating breakdown of the shoe is below!




As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Also, if a user clicks on any other product links and purchases a product, I earn a small commission.


Thanks for staying all the way to the end of the KD 12 review! I hope you enjoyed it and found at least something of use!

The new KD 13 is out – make sure to check out my review of it here! SPOILER: it’s a TON of fun!

If you got any questions, like to share your thoughts, or just want to chat…



Nike KD 12


Fit & Comfort


On-Court Performance


Value for the Price




Main Takeaways

  • Narrow platform: wide footers go 1/2 size up!
  • Best for indoor play
  • A versatile choice: everyone should be satisfied

Recommended For

  • All positions
  • All play styles
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2 thoughts on “Nike KD 12 Review: The Definitive Performance Breakdown

  1. What a good looking pair of trainers. I absolutely love these. When I go for a pair or trainers, the first thing I want is comfort and cushioning. From your review, I see that these provide both in abundance. Are they just for basketball? Or would you say they can be worn casually too?

    1. If you dig ’em – you can where ’em wherever you want :))) Today’s sneaker culture is amazingly diverse and as wide as it can get in terms of the kicks worn casually. Basketball shoes worn casually is nothing new today and these KD 12’s definitely do the trick if you’re liking the look!

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