James Harden keeps inventing unstoppable offensive moves. This offseason, he developed a one-legged jump shot, but would the Houston Rockets benefit from him using it regularly?
James Harden is undeniably a top-five player in the NBA. Whether it be his passing, shooting, penetration or a move from his endless bag of tricks, his offensive skills give the Houston Rockets all kinds of advantages against any type of defender. He can use his 6-5, 220-pound frame to overpower smaller challengers, and his handles combined with deceptive speed allow him to drive past bigger ones.
Last season, Harden’s best offensive move was his step-back 3-pointer. Despite the controversy it created, the move propelled the 2017 MVP to lead the league in scoring by more than eight points per game last season. The move makes him virtually unstoppable when he has it going.
The Beard has also been able to use the step-back in clutch situations as a way of closing out games since there is essentially no way to block the shot if he wants to take it. There’s nothing more devastating than thinking you’re playing good defense only to see a long-range bomb buried in your face.
This offseason, to add to his signature step-back, Harden developed a one-legged jump shot. He teased the move throughout the offseason and even practiced it in pickup games with fellow NBA players, as shown by a tweet from the team in August:
On Monday night, Harden used the move for the first time in NBA action during the first quarter of the Rockets’ 140-71 win over the Shanghai Sharks. He did not make the shot, but the bench, especially newcomer Russell Westbrook, fully supported the attempt.
Although the shot is quite unconventional, when you examine it closer, you see his body still faces the basket and his hips are square, both essential elements to taking a jump shot. The one-legged attempt is a combination of a floater and a step-back, both universally accepted NBA shots, just from a much farther distance.
The shot looks absurd, but Harden has proven in his offseason videos that he is committed to making it work. Like any basketball move, it just may need practice. Rockets Head Coach Mike D’Antoni fully supports Harden’s new trick, even if he doesn’t think it’s necessary, as Rockets Insider Alykhan Bijani shared:
Coach D’Antoni on James Harden’s one-legged shot: “He’s always trying to put something in his game, and we’ll see. He’s so good – the other stuff, I don’t know if he needs it or not…His game is pretty complete, although he keeps trying to get better, which is pretty cool.”
— Alykhan Bijani (@Rockets_Insider) October 1, 2019
James should definitely continue to take one-legged shots if he proves he can make them. He has carried the team to countless victories over the last seven seasons and adding another move to his already loaded arsenal will only improve his game and lead to more success for the team.
The move deters defenders from forcing Harden right. Last year during his streak of 32 games with 30-plus points, teams began forcing Harden to his right, making it easier to stop him from shooting. By doing this, defenders were able to get close enough to Harden that they could reach for the ball and stop his shot when he tried to bring it back to his left hand to shoot.
With his new one-legged jumper, Harden can jump away from defenders and easily get off his shot. While it may not be the most normal way to shoot, Harden’s career with the Rockets has proven that he excels at difficult, unnatural shot attempts, as he did at the end of this matchup with the Warriors last January.
Harden perfected his step-back 3-pointer last season and it has become one of the most effective moves in the NBA. What is stopping his one-legged jump shot from becoming one of them too?
If James Harden wants to incorporate this new shot into his arsenal, no one will be able to stop it, and the rest of the NBA better brace themselves.