Zion Williamson’s signature line has been very inconsistent up until now. The Zion 3 might be the best shoe in the line but it’s nothing like previous models.
Release Date: October 2023
What is going on with Zion Williamson’s signature line? The Zion 1 was a light-weight, plastic-y, shoe with decent cushioning, but little else. The Zion 2 was a great performance model, it was a robust, grippy, well-cushioned tank of a shoe and seemed well-suited for a player as physical as Zion Williamson. If Jordan Brand had decided to build upon this design and maintain its focal performance features, that would have made sense for Zion’s playing style going forward.
Jordan Brand DID NOT do that.
Instead, they created a low-profile, lightweight, Kobe-adjacent hoop shoe. This is by no means a bad thing as far as the shoe’s on-court performance goes but it is odd. It breaks all ties with the Zion signature line-up to this point, and, simply put, this shoe doesn’t feel like it was built for a 6’6″, 284 lbs power player like Zion.
All this being said, it’s a shoe with a lot of interesting performance features, that should be more than enough for the rest of us. Let’s check it out:
Jordan Zion 3 Tech Specs:
Jordan Zion 3 Traction
The Jordan Zion 3 features a mix of translucent and solid rubber on the outsole, as well as a mix of radial and herringbone traction patterns. The solid portion of the sole is etched with a herringbone pattern and the translucent portion with a radial pattern. This setup should work great indoors, but on dusty surfaces especially, the jordan 8 solefly underperforms.
The rubber is grippy and there are no inconsistencies between the two rubber compounds, and the radial and herringbone patterns should offer great multidirectional coverage for any move you are going to make on court, but it never seems to kick in.
As far as outdoor use goes, the Zion 3 should hold up pretty well. The rubber is above average in terms of toughness and the pattern is pretty deep. To be clear, this doesn´t make them a great outdoor option, but if you take these out to the blacktop once in a while they should hold up just fine.
Jordan Zion 3 Cushion
One of the reasons why the Jordan Zion 3 is so reminiscent of a Kobe shoe is that it’s equipped with drop-in midsoles as the cushioning setup. In this case, the midsole features the most comfortable iteration of Formula 23 to date and a thick forefoot Zoom Air Unit. The Formula 23 feels like a dense version of Cushlon and combined with the Zoom air, it feels great underfoot.
The midsole is also equipped with a substantial, bottom-loaded TPU shank plate, similar to the ones we’ve seen on the drop-in midsole of the Serious Player Only Player 1.
This setup is more on the reactive side of the cushioning spectrum, but it does provide a good amount of impact protection and compression. Maybe a player as heavy as Zion needs a bit more cushioning in his shoes, but for the rest of the hoopers out there, this is more than enough.
Jordan Zion 3 Materials
The Jordan Zion 3 is constructed almost entirely with textiles and relies on overlays to give the shoe structure and containment. The mud splatter print on either side of the shoe is not only a design feature. It’s actually a haptic print that’s super thin and lightweight but adds a ton of structure and containment to the shoe. Enough to contain a guy like Zion? We’ll see.
Aside from that, we have some TPU portions along what would be the midsole of a more traditional shoe, that will help add torsional rigidity and lateral containment. Lastly, the tongue is decently padded which will help relieve lace pressure and the heel features some synthetic leather and some embroidered details.
Nothing on the shoe can be considered “premium” but the design is well thought out and will perform well on court. If you’re going to use textiles on a hoop shoe, this is the way to go.
Jordan Zion 3 Support
The support features implemented in the Zion 3 are very well thought out to be able to offer a safe and supportive ride on court while keeping the shoe as lightweight and low-profile as possible. As we mentioned, the drop-in midsoles come with a built-in TPU shank plate, and the rubber wrapping the outer shell of the shoe will offer containment and some torsional support as well.
This should prevent the shoe from over-twisting on more torque-heavy moves. Then we have that haptic printed upper, and the overlays we mentioned will help keep your foot on the footbed on hard stops and changes of direction. The heel of the shoe is very well padded, which again will help to keep your foot in place and help avoid heel slippage.
The one issue the Zion 3 may have faced is stability. The shoe is very narrow which is not optimal for a basketball shoe. The way Jordan has tried to solve this issue is by equipping the shoe with a forefoot and midfoot outrigger. This should help to create a stable base for the shoe from which to make your moves while playing.
Jordan Zion 3 Fit
The Jordan Zion 3 technically fits true to size, but it’s a very snug 1 to 1 fit. This is what you want in terms of performance, but keep in mind that the shoe is built on a very narrow last, and this shoe fits like a glove. If you enjoy this type of fit, you’re in luck, but if you don’t like that fit or have a wide foot, then unfortunately, this is not the shoe for you.
Jordan Zion 3 Overall
Even though the Jordan Zion 3 does not feel like a Zion shoe, or even be enough to keep up with his playing style. The Zion 3 is more than enough shoe for us mere mortals and is actually an actually might have been an exciting performance model, especially if you are looking for an affordable Kobe substitute. Still, the fit and the traction make it hard to recommend.
With the Zion 3 you are getting…well…a Kobe with mediocre traction (at best), a very nice drop-in midsole cushioning system, encased in a light, sleek package all for $140. If you play exclusively on pristine surfaces, and you can get the traction to bite the court, then these might be worth a pick up, but if not, there are better options out there.