Without a doubt, the Houston Rockets' James Harden is one of the greatest offensive talents that the NBA has ever seen. His go-to move, the stepback jumper, is not his own invention. Yet he has utilized it to the extreme, even more than any other NBA team.
As observed by Ben Cohen of The Wall Street Journal, Harden has more stepback 3-point jumpers than any other NBA
player team. The Rockets, excluding Harden, have attempted 60 step-back 3-pointers. The Denver Nuggets have 113. Harden alone has attempted 157 stepback threes.
Mike D'Antoni, Rockets head coach and offensive wizard noted that Harden is simply a step ahead of the game:
“He’s a step ahead of the game. Not many people can do that,” D’Antoni said, “and that’s not what a lot of people think you should be doing.”
There's a reason why not many players and teams go to the step-back three. It's not the easiest shot to take. There's also a good chance of messing up your shooting mechanics if you haven't practiced enough. Yet for Harden, he's in his comfort zone when he's sizing the defender up for that dreaded stepback.
Out of the league-leading 157 stepback threes he has attempted, he has made 45.9 percent of them. On catch-and-shoot 3-pointers, he's shooting just 32.5 percent. While on wide-open threes, he's made just 39.1 percent.
“When you see something every day,” Harden said, “it becomes routine. Most defenders want to back up and not allow me to drive,” he said. “Which is fine. But I’m more confident in the stepback than ever.”