Prose: Jake Sittler (@jtsittler)
Despite the general release getting pushed back initially, I was finally able to get my hands on Damian Lillard’s second adidas signature. The Blazers have been a pet favorite team of mine (and Finch’s) since the Brandon Roy days. He was one of the best all around players on the planet at one point and it’s a tragedy that his knees simply didn’t work correctly. I’ve always been a big fan of Terry Stotts too – an excellent Xs and Os guy that has drawn up some beautiful sideline out of bounds game winners over the years. Now, led by Lillard and CJ McCollum, the Blazers have two gifted off-the-dribble scorers and shooters and are scrapping for a playoff spot in the West.
I was pretty excited for the release of the Lillard 2, despite the poor performance from the 1. adidas listened, made some key updates, and created a shoe fit for a tough-as-nails Oakland PG. I’ve gotten several runs in with the shoe and in fact will get one more into tonight, but I’m convinced that this is one of the best shoes on the market for its price. adidas continues to knock out great performers.
The Lillard 2 runs a little wide and I went down a half size to get the fit I prefer. It will take some time to break in and it took me probably 3 wearings before they really felt good. The first time I wore them, there was some slippage at the heel. I believe it was due to the full bootie not yet conforming to my foot (it’s thicker and padded at the heel) but by the middle of the second wearing it started to improve.
The base for the upper is the Techfit bootie, which runs the full length of the shoe. I have been and continue to be a fan of Techfit when it’s used in this way – as a sock-like base layer or like a neoprene upper (as in the Crazyquick 1 and adidas running’s Energy Boost 2 ATR).
The shell, in the black “Away” colorway, is a textile mesh with synthetic leather accents. The mesh provides more containment than traditional open cell types but is more flexible than a fused synthetic. In other words, it’s a great compromise. You get synthetic for the heel portion and along the eyestay.
The midfoot is actually locked by two TPU pieces – one on each side of the upper. These are more stiff than lacing through the traditional eyestay, and the lockdown is evident once you get them laced tight. A nice touch that works both functionally and visually. The inner bootie has more padding than the Lillard 1 and the prominent external heel counter really locks the heel in place. It’s an area much improved over the first shoe.
For me, there’s a little extra volume on the inside. I have a narrow foot and the shoe is built a little wider than most, but I think for most hoopers it will fit without issue.
The Bounce cushioning setup is a dual-density compound that gives you a pretty consistent feel from heel impact to toe off. It’s not quite as flexible as others (this is especially noticeable coming off the Kobe XI and HyperRev 2016) and takes some time to really feel natural. It is a consistent feel underfoot and after a couple weeks, the midsole will break and be just fine.
I passed on the opportunity to snag the Primeknit/Boost version because I really haven’t ever been a fan of heel Boost-only setups. I was also stoked to play in Bounce for the first time and I’ve loved it so far. It’s firm with good impact protection and very stable. It’s not as plush or responsive as Boost, but I like it better than most Lunarlon/Phylon setups. It seems more dense than Micro G/Charged and is going to come down to personal preference for most. I’d probably put it just behind Micro G and Boost, but it’s very good and I’d take it over most foam setups.
It provides a ton of support, but it does lack some response and court feel. It’s very stable, but the feedback through the floor is a little muted. It’s definitely more stiff, solid, and heavy (in a good way) than a lot of shoes I’ve recently played in.
Overall though, I think it’s a really good platform and a good alternate to Boost. As I said, I’d rather play in Bounce than the half-Boost setups out there, thanks to the support and consistent feel from the Bounce midsole. It’s tough to compare to Zoom because those setups vary so much, plus Zoom is usually a unit placed in a cored out midsole – the feel just isn’t the same. Compared to recent shoes I’ve tested, I like it better than the Kobe XI but not quite as much as the HyperRev 2016 cushioning.
The outsole, a Continental rubber-sourced compound, is used to highlight some of Dame’s background and personality, and I’m always a little skeptical of sacrificing performance for that (a la the Kobe VI). The grooves are fairly close together and not overly deep, so the shoes did pick up dust when the floors were less than perfect. If the grooves are spaced too closely, it basically creates a flat surface to pick up dust on – the Kobes were bad partly because of this – the slightly stiffer midsole on the DLillard 2 means it won’t flex and bite quite as much either.
On the second wearing, the floor was a bit better and traction was fine – no squeaks though. Traction could be better, but I didn’t find it to be a deal-breaker.
Just know that these things are tanks. I can’t imagine too many issues with a rock-solid build like this. There’s not a lot that’s built to go wrong with these, and it’s a pretty straightforward build overall. Two things that especially stood out: the Contintenal rubber outsole is beefy and the heel counter is absolutely rock solid. I look forward to many games in these.
Overall, the Lillard 2 proved to be a very good shoe in all aspects. The fit, cushioning and materials are all high points – though I wouldn’t say it’s elite in any category. It’s a bit like Chris Paul’s line from Jordan Brand and should settle in nicely in the slot behind Rose and Harden’s shoes.
The improved inner bootie, external heel counter and effective lockdown system are a huge step forward from the previous model. adidas’ Bounce setup should be here to stay and hopefully become a staple of adidas’ budget-minded lines.
Make no mistake – it’s not a budget shoe. It’s as good or better than shoes that cost $50-80 more. I’ll definitely be keeping these in the rotation going forward.