Just when you think he couldn't be any more impossible to guard, James Harden broke out the latest addition to his offensive repertoire.
Marvel at the sight of The Beard's three-pointer off one leg:
Like a fictional basketball anime character, the 2018 NBA MVP hit unsuspecting defenders with his new technique during a recent Rico Hines pick-up game at the University of California, Los Angeles.
This video from Houston Rockets reporter Alykhan Bijani proves that the one-footed side-step three was no fluke:
Harden revealed last month that he will be unleashing a special move in the upcoming season, after a young fan brought up his infamous traveling step-back.
He told ESPN, "This year, I'm going to come up with something more creative, and it's gonna look like a travel but it's not. Honestly! Even when I was on a tour, in Europe or China, or even when I'm here in the U.S., I see kids your guys' age that are working on step-backs, working on moves, because it's going to gain you an opportunity to be better than the rest of your peers. And that's what I’m going for."
Whether he's referring to this crazy maneuver or something even more ridiculous, the seven-time All-Star is about to wreak havoc on opposing defenses.
The basketball world has witnessed Harden's rapid evolution from Sixth Man of the Year with the Oklahoma City Thunder to franchise superstar for the Houston Rockets. The crafty innovator has spent a decade in the league bending the rules, introducing cheat codes, and trying to break the game.
Name another player who is better than Harden in drawing fouls. (You can't.) The combo guard has led the NBA in free-throw attempts in the last five seasons and six of the past seven because of his uncanny ability to manufacture contact. The way he gets the referees to blow their whistles is the stuff of legend.
Of course, those bonuses if Harden can't convert — which he does at a high level (85.7% career foul shooter).
The missed traveling call above always comes to mind when talking about Harden's step-back, but don't get us wrong — he has mastered the art of separation. Even in the face of the Patrick Beverleys of the world, the iso king can effortlessly create space using his deceptive strength, handles, and change of pace.
This is probably also the same reason why he wasn't satisfied with the original move and took it to another level.
The lateral lunge is basically an upgrade of the step-back that mixes the elite skill level and sensibilities of Curry's off-the-dribble threes and Harden's separation. Instead of backing off, the player springs to his side to throw the defender off balance and avoid the three-point shot contest.
What The Beard has been doing isn't just mere basketball improvisation. One has to understand the nuances of the game before developing a competitive advantage, and his innate talent has made Harden great.