James Harden is undeniably one of the best players in the league today. His resume speaks for itself. He’s an MVP, a multi-time All-NBA, All-Star, and Scoring Champ. The eye test backs it up as well. But beyond the step-back threes and alley-oop passes, there’s a lot of subtle nuances to his game that needs to be understood better to be really appreciated.
The Harden Vol. 5 is the same. On the surface, there’s a lot to like about it. But the more you play with the shoe, the more you break into it. That’s when you really appreciate the subtle nuances of the Harden Vol. 5
1. Steady Build
James Harden is one of the most durable and dependable players in the league. He will carry a team the entire regular season and do even heavier lifting during the postseason. He’s built to last. He has deceptive strength and his body is solid enough to handle the rigors of an entire season.
His newest signature aims to bring that same solid build to a hoop shoe. adidas Basketball used their new Futurenatural process of pressing the sneaker from all angles to create a seamless basketball shoe. That seamless design contributed to a more solid fit all around. With the footbed meant to be embedded into the shoe, combined with the strength of the mesh and rubber molded together, my foot wasn’t tipping over on hard cuts and side-to-side movements. The Vol. 5 also slowly conformed to my foot, the more that I wore it, helping create a more one-to-one feel with the sneaker.
The Vol. 5 also has a torsional plate under the cushioning, a feature most wouldn’t even know about unless they inspect the sneaker more closely. That plate also helps with the stability of the shoe, as it prevents the shoe and your foot from bending awkwardly during diagonal steps and other sharp movements.
2. Uncanny Control of Speed
It’s easy to speed up. It’s more difficult to slow down, fast. One of the hallmarks of Harden’s game is his ability to control his speed, accelerating and decelerating when needed on certain moves. That superior control makes Harden’s game unique.
Because of his need to control his speed, Harden signatures always prioritized traction. They went with dependable herringbone in the Vol. 3 and multi-directional webbing for the Vol. 4. For the Vol. 5, adidas Basketball analyzed athlete data to create a new traction pattern. Just like the previous versions, the traction is top-notch. It gave me the proper bite when I needed to stop my movements, but also released smoothly to ease into my next move on the court.
The cushioning set-up also helped with transition of movements. The drop-in Boost encased in Lightstrike wasn’t as plush as previous set-ups but was definitely more responsive. My foot sunk less into the cushion and the immediate bounce back helped propel me into my following movement.
3. Flashy, Splashy
Don’t let his stoic demeanor fool you. Hidden behind the beard is one of the most creative basketball minds in the game today. Harden will whip out his between the legs pocket pass or cock the ball back for a photo-worthy fast break slam.
Harden is also one of the flashiest dressers off the court. His sense of style can only be matched by a few players. He’s always got an eye-catching combination of clothes ready for that runway walk into the arena.
The Vol. 5 brings that same unique flair in its design. The seamless construction not only helps with performance, but helps with the sleek silhouette of the sneaker. This is a throwback to his first two signature sneakers which just like the Vol. 5, looked as good off the court as on it. Harden and the adidas Basketball design team also made sure that their logos are integrated well into the sneaker, another way their design is seamless.
adidas Basketball could have called it a day with the silhouette and it would have turned heads. But they took it a step further by adding colorful leather overlays, which helps give the sneaker a premium feel and also opens up creative color-blocking opportunities for future colorways.