One of the smoothest and versatile guards from the ’90s is, without a doubt, Penny Hardaway. He immediately impacted the Orlando Magic and the entire league with an incredible combination of skillset, athleticism, and the ability to make the right play at the right time. Penny was the epitome of an absolute NBA superstar from the ’90s and is perhaps one of the greatest “what if” players in recent history. Unfortunately, injuries affected his career, but true fans know how great Penny was in his prime.
The narrative of whether a particular player would fit better in a different era is also always compelling. When you think about Penny and his playing style, you wouldn’t be wrong to assume he could fit better in today’s NBA. Penny was a fierce slasher to the rim, with an explosive first step that could leave anyone behind, and over the years, he developed a reliable jump shot. Today’s game is more spread out, which means there is more room to maneuver inside the basket, and Penny’s playing style would benefit tremendously from that.
In a recent interview for Hoopshype, Penny talked about several things from his playing and now coaching career. He also shared his thoughts about the NBA today and whether he would be able to fit in. Penny believes that today’s trend of shooting threes and the fact that there are no more big guys in the paint would benefit him the most.
“Man, it would’ve been so different for me in this era because the floor is open. Back in the day, fours and fives plugged the paint because they wanted to post, but nowadays, everything is about the three-point shooting. The fours and fives are on the perimeter now, so everything is more spread out, and the lanes are wide open. For my game, that would’ve been great.”Penny Hardaway, via HoopsHype
After his playing career was over, Penny wanted to stay close to basketball, so he started coaching. He soon realized that the game has changed because kids nowadays are keener on shooting the ball from deep than drive to the basket. Penny was surprised by the fact the game evolved, so that big guys who should dominate the paint are pulling out to shot threes.
“Yeah, I do remember that moment. When I was coaching, I realized, “Wow, this game is going from big men that wanted to post (which are non-existent now) to all threes and layups.” I started noticing when warm-up lines went from layups to all threes. I was like, “Wow…” I never thought the game would evolve to this level, where the big man doesn’t want to post up anymore, and the mid-range shot is almost obsolete because it’s either threes or layups. I remember it happening.”Penny Hardaway, via HoopsHype
When healthy, Penny was a unique talent and a real franchise player. Standing at 6’7, he was highly versatile and could play multiple positions, perfectly fitting today’s positionless basketball narrative that became popular in the last couple of years. Now he is trying to pass on his knowledge to younger generations coaching the Memphis Tigers and building his coaching career.