NIKE PG 1 Performance Review

NIKE PG 1 Performance Review: How Good is It Actually?

Paul George plays small forward, and is for the Oklahoma City Thunder what LeBron James is for the Lakers.

He currently has one of the most popular sneaker lines in the NBA. A Paul George signature shoe is a big deal, and the very first one was the Nike PG 1. 

For a person who wants to purchase a pair of basketball sneakers, it can be hard to see through the marketing and branding and decide if a shoe is truly good.

We did our own research and testing of the popular shoe and this Nike PG 1 review is what we came up with when we were done!


  • Durable, flexible uppers with ventilation and good support
  • Responsive cushioning
  • Stability
  • Great lockdown
  • Snug fit: true to size


  • Too snug if you are wide-footed
  • Not much ankle support since it’s a low-cut shoe

Features and Benefits

Mesh and Leather Upper

Shoe design, Nike itself has said, is a process that fuses art with science. They strive to maintain a delicate balance between a) breakthrough form and b) proper function that can deliver excellent performance. Take the uppers of the Nike PG 1, for instance.

As an aesthetic product, the shoes work. They look fantastic, and can be worn just for their aesthetic value. They will add coolness to any outfit. A big part of this coolness can be traced to the look and feel of the uppers.

However, these are, after all, basketball shoes, and they must remain practical and true to the pragmatic needs of the sport. They do not disappoint in that regard either: the uppers consist of mesh and leather, a formidable combination that ensures ventilation and durability.

The first Nike shoe to feature this combination was probably the iconic Air Force 1. That alone should be a testament of the value of the PG 1.

Before all the technological advancements in shoe design changed the game, the top choice for basketball sneakers was all-leather uppers. The attraction of leather is its durability. If you have a leather shoe, you are confident that it will give you long-lasting use, even in tough conditions.

The other advantage of leather is the stability it provides, a feature which is particularly useful when you are playing a sport. As you bound up and down the basketball court, the leather easily molds itself to the shape of your feet.

Mesh is also a durable material and offers good stability, but it has its own unique advantages too. For instance, mesh is lightweight, which ensures your feet are not weighed down by your shoes. This enables you to run quite fast, and to make sudden starts or stops with minimal lag.

Mesh is also flexible, and it is breathable. Breathability is a big one. It means your feet get some ventilation. With all the running one does in a stuffy auditorium, or outside in the sun, naturally you are going to perspire. Breathable materials like mesh give you an advantage.

Now combine the advantages of these two materials – leather and mesh – and you can see why we’ve called it a formidable combination.

Durable Rubber Outsole

This depends on the colorway, but the outsole of the PG 1 can either be solid or translucent rubber. We recommend the solid outsole since it is less likely to slip than the translucent one.

The translucent outsole is see-through to showcase the Zoom technology incorporated in the shoe’s midfoot area. That’s pretty cool and can be something to show off, but if you strictly want something practical for the court, the solid rubber sole is a better choice.

The outsole features a multidirectional traction pattern which doesn’t pick up much dust. The shoes are suitable for the outdoor court thanks to the solid rubber and the good traction.

Zoom Technology

The PG 1 has Zoom technology and a phylon foam midsole, and this ensures responsive cushioning and stability. The cushioning absorbs minimal impact in the forefoot area – because of the Zoom bag.

Anyone who has ever landed on the balls of their feet from a jump knows how painful the impact with the hard court can be. Landing with the PG 1 on feet is a better experience because of the ergonomic design.

The responsiveness of the PG 1 is another attractive feature. If you are a player who uses your forefoot a lot, this shoe is perfect for you: for instance, if you play guard or small forward. Unsurprisingly, Paul George, the name player and inspiration of the shoe, plays small forward for the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Small forwards, like LeBron, are expected to be quicker than power forwards and centers. Theirs is considered the most versatile among the five main basketball positions. The PG 1 is great for this position as it provides a more responsive ride and greater reaction speed.

The Zoom Air is bottom-loaded in the forefoot. When you land or stamp on the ground, your foot will not sink into the cushion and you won’t feel the bounce-back you would feel if it was directly underfoot.

At the heel, there is no cushioning – it has Phylon at the heel. If you are looking for a shoe with lots of cushion, clearly the PG 1 is not for you. However, if you want a sneaker that gives you excellent court feel, this design makes the PG 1 a worthy investment.

As mentioned, another benefit derived from the phylon foam is stability. This comes in handy when you are landing from a jump, or when you make abrupt starts and stops. It prevents you from rolling your ankle.

Excellent Fit

The Nike PG 1 sneakers fit true to size. If you have wide feet, you know that these words are double-edged. On the one hand, it means that they may fit you perfectly. They won’t be too large or too small. The nice fit is quite like the Zoom Kobe 5.

On the other hand, if you have wide feet, you might find them a little too snug. If it were other shoes, you could break them in after a game or two, but the PG 1’s have a one-piece bootie construction that doesn’t allow much stretch.

For everyone else, the fit is amazing – so snug. They also have wonderful lockdown, so your midfoot feels secure. The shoe has four lace loops.

Thanks to the one-piece bootie construction, your foot is so snug that it won’t shift while in motion. The lacing also ensures firm lockdown. As if that’s not enough, to enhance lockdown, there is a strap to help contain your forefoot.

This enables you to bring your A-game when you are playing since you aren’t distracted (annoyed) by your feet constantly shifting inside your shoe as your run.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Will they last long?

They should. The uppers of the shoe consist of leather and mesh, both of which are durable materials.

2. I’m looking for a size that will fit me and can’t afford to make a mistake; do they fit true to size?

Yes, they fit true to size. They have one-piece bootie construction that makes them quite snug. They also have excellent lockdown, so you can rest assured that your feet won’t shift annoyingly within the shoes while you are playing.

The only problem is if you have wide feet because the shoe does not allow for much stretch.

3. Are they for indoor or outdoor playing?

The shoes have most of the qualities you look for in outdoor shoes. For instance, the rubber sole (the solid rubber version, not the translucent one) is pretty hard, and it has a thick traction pattern which does not pick up a lot of dust.

After testing it on wooden courts, we saw that the grip just isn’t good enough for indoor courts. Indoor sneakers tend to have soles with softer rubber and a more spaced out traction pattern. The PG 1 has a compact pattern and the rubber is hard enough to withstand the conditions of outdoor play.

4. Are they bouncy and cushiony?

The PG 1’s are not bouncy at all. They are also low on cushioning. If you are looking for shoes that have more cushion, the PG 1’s are not the right fit for you as their priority is to give you quick response and uncanny court feel. These qualities are what make the shoes appropriate for players who value speed.

Final Verdict

 Let’s finish this Nike PG 1 review with this simple question about the shoe: buy or not buy?

We say buy if you want to play on an outdoor court. The design of the traction pattern and the hardness of the rubber make the shoes unsuitable for indoor basketball.

Buy if you are looking for shoes that will give you the best court feel, quick responsiveness, and enhance your speed. Do not buy if you prefer shoes that have more cushioning.

Other than the exceptions we have mentioned, our answer is overwhelmingly: buy!

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