Nike Zoom Freak 3 review

Giannis Antenakoumpo starts the 2021-22 NBA season with his third signature sneaker, the Nike Zoom Freak 3 which was teased at the end of last year's playoffs.

The basketball shoe feels like a runner on foot, and plays best on indoor hardwood gyms but is still capable outdoors with much less longevity.

Who should buy the Zoom Freak 3

Do buy the Zoom Freak 3 if you are a quick-footed player looking for a light shoe with good lockdown that delivers a bouncy step.

Who should NOT buy it

Do not buy this shoe if you are a player who

  • plans to utilize these outdoors (the Lebron 18 model is praised for having a reliable traction even on outdoor courts)
  • needs stable midfoot support (the Nike Zoom Freak 2 is better)
  • prefers shoes with strong heel cushioning (in this case, consider the Nike Kyrie 7)

Snug, comfortable, true to size fit

One of the main positive points of the Zoom Freak 3 is the fit. Both the upper, heel, and forefoot felt right in cohesion to hold my foot in place, and based on the combination of the medium width and textile/mesh materials I think most people will find a satisfactory fit in their true to fit sizing. True to size is my recommendation!

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Bouncy forefoot cushion step

The cushion on the Freak 3 was fun - a bouncy and propulsive step centered in the forefoot. The tech implemented was a dual zoom pod unit in the forefoot that was immediately felt when first wearing the shoe. Compared to a more common single zoom unit setup, this implementation felt to be a bit more bouncy with more coverage across the foot.

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Great traction but lacks durability

The Nike Zoom Freak 3 had outstanding indoor traction - gripping the floor superbly in all directions with little wiping needed throughout gameplay. The outsole round grooves are reminiscent of both the traction on the Nike PG 5 as well as the legendary Nike Kobe 9 and it did live up to expectations. 

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The traction should hold up nicely for at least several months indoors, but if you’re the type of hooper looking for a pair of shoes that will safely last you a year or more I would choose a shoe with a harder outsole.

Fully performant right out the box

The fit, lockdown, traction, and cushion all worked well right away and felt the same in subsequent hoop sessions. The upper textile material, like most textile materials, served to be supportive and nicely plush out the gate and felt nicely molded to my feet. The dual forefoot cushion was also nicely felt from the first few steps in these.

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Feels like a runner

Being someone with decent experience with running shoes (owning a number of Nike, Asics, & Brooks running shoes), this shoe felt much more like a running shoe than a basketball shoe, especially in the upper textile material.  This was not necessarily a bad thing by any means, but I did think it was an apt way to describe how the shoe felt - a light supportive upper connected smoothly with a light but springy cushion.

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Keep the Zoom Freak 3 on the hardwood

I would solely recommend the Zoom Freak 3s for indoor play, due to the very soft flimsy grooves used on the bottoms. Even if only kept indoors, the traction on these shoes might not have the same lifespan as some other basketball models, such as the Nike Lebron 17 Low or Jordan Why Not Zer0.4 so do consider this strongly if a tortoise-like lifespan is something of utmost importance.

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Weighs slightly light for a basketball shoe

The Zoom Freak 3 weighs 13 ounces, on the light end for basketball shoes. Besides the two Zoom forefoot pods, everything else implemented in the shoe felt very minimal/light so this comes as no surprise. 

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On foot the lightness of the shoe was very pleasant, and never in any of my basketball games did I notice the weight of the shoe. 

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Ventilation served decently

The Zoom Freak 3 uses a textile upper which was satisfactory in terms of ventilation. It may not have, say, the same flawless ventilation as some of the knit or fuse materials out there but it more than got the job done. Through multiple hour-long games I never felt any noticeable sweat or heat buildup!

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Reliable stability and lockdown but midfoot strap was ineffective

Lockdown and stability were good for me all throughout the shoe, barring the midfoot area. Due to the hollowed midfoot piece and architectural separation between the forefoot and heel, the midfoot support did not feel ideal with the impact being absorbed more at the midfoot than other shoe shapes.

This was not a big deal for me while playing but is good to note for those who have had midfoot arch issues. There is also a midfoot strap on the upper, but the band was not long or elastic enough to provide any tangible lockdown.

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Nike Zoom Freak 2 vs. Nike Zoom Freak 3

What got better

  • Better forefoot cushioning
  • Material is softer & friendlier towards more foot shapes
  • No break-in time needed

What got worse

  • Less durable outsole for outdoors
  • Midfoot stability & support weakened
  • Midfoot strap is ineffective

 

Overall, the Zoom Freak 3 was a definite upgrade over the Zoom Freak 2 for me. The most notable upgraded aspect was the cushion, particularly in the forefoot, with the dual zoom unit pods. This modification changed the ride from a minimal low cushion setup to a propulsive bouncy step. The materials used are also more accommodating to different foot shapes and should be less of a pain in finding the perfect fit.

Facts / Specs

Top: Low
Lockdown: Strap, Lace-Up
Collection: Nike Zoom Freak
Colorways: Red / Black / Grey / White / Blue / Green / Yellow / Orange
SKUs: DA0694002 / DA0694003 / DA0694006 / DA0694101 / DA0694401 / DA0694500 / DA7845300 / DA7845600 / DA7845700 / DC9364300

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Author
Austin Sun
Austin Sun

Software Engineer by day, basketball player by night. I’ve played in a diversity of environments, including high school varsity games, corporate recreation leagues, and college intramural games. I have enjoyed exploring a variety of basketball shoes throughout my basketball journey. I am always on the lookout for a shoe to add to my game-day rotation!