That's certainly one way to create space on the perimeter. And as Harden told Tim MacMahon of ESPN, consistent innovation and improvement remain his goal:
"I'm always trying to be creative. I'm always trying to get better—at basketball, life, business-wise. I'm always trying to find ways to be impactful. With basketball, you have to be creative. This is my 11th year, and every single year I want to get better. I don't want to stay the same. You've got to find ways to keep growing."
Harden is still perfecting the move, however, and told MacMahon he isn't sure he's confident enough in the shot to bust it out in an actual NBA game:
"I'm not sure; it's something that I work on. But you know how Mike [Jordan] has his fadeaway and Dirk [Nowitzki] has his one-leg and [Kareem Abdul-Jabbar] had the sky hook, I want my stepback to be one of those moves that last forever. So when I travel around the world and I see little kids that [say], 'Hey James, I got a stepback!'—I love to see that.
"It's me being a creator and me being an innovator and paving the way in basketball in my own way, doing it how I want to do it, and that's what it's all about. As a little kid playing in these parks, that's what I imagined, that's what I dreamed of. Now it's coming to reality, so it's pretty cool."
Harden's step-back is the stuff of legend, even if it sometimes veers into the realm of blatant traveling violations.
The fact that Harden is fine-tuning even more ways to create open looks for himself is scary news for the rest of the NBA. Harden was already borderline unguardable, averaging 36.1 points, 7.5 assists and 6.6 rebounds per game in the 2018-19 season, shooting 44.2 percent from the field and 36.8 percent from three while taking 24.5 shots per game.
In most seasons, he would have been the no-brainer MVP selection, though Giannis Antetokounmpo was brilliant in his own right and snagged the award. But if Harden starts dropping one-footed step-back threes on teams, well, he may end up claiming his second MVP trophy in the process.