ronnymac2 wrote:Well let's start with the perimeter players since it's easier to compare. What makes you say KD and T-Mac are so much better than peak Penny? Penny was the best post player, passer/playmaker, and decision-maker out of the 3, and he was a devastating scorer, too.
I think that Durant's scoring volume/efficiency combination, which is one of the very best of all-time, makes him a clearly better overall player than Penny. Also, Durant is the better rebounder (well, that's obvious, he's a 6'10''/6'11'' SF compared to a 6'7'' combo guard), and while Penny was a much better ballhandler/playmaker, KD isn't bad in these areas anymore (speaking of 2014 Durant). Defensively, I don't think there's any significant gap, to be honest. Penny was a bit better, but not by much, and he wasn't really a game changer on D. Above average, also got 2 steals per game, but that's about it. Durant has a really big edge in stats like PER and WS/48 (29.8 to 24.6 PER, 29.5 to 22.9 WS/48).
I think that Durant is already roughly in the same ballpark as peak Wade, Kobe and T-Mac (top 15-20 level), while Hardaway to me is on the very same level as Drexler (about top 25-30) - still really great, but more like a second tier superstar, not top 3 level, like Kobe/Wade/T-Mac/Durant.
Now, how about T-Mac? He's IMO at the same level as Durant, in terms of peak. He's a much less efficient scorer than KD (although still very efficient, +4.5% league average TS, +3.2% eFG in 2003), but he also played on a worse team, where he had to create a lot more for himself on a consistent basis, and a lot more of Durant's shots were assisted on. McGrady was a better ballhandler and playmaker than Durant, in fact his AST/TOV% ratio was clearly better than Penny's, despite the fact that McGrady was a SG (T-Mac's assist/turnover ratio was +3.57, compared to +2.39 for PH), so combined with his advantage in terms of scoring/USG% (Penny was a bit more efficient as a scorer than T-Mac, but their volume and usage% isn't even worth comparing), I think it's very clear that McGrady was the better overall offensive player. Penny was better defensively, but that's largely dependent on team structure - McGrady had to carry his team offensively, all by himself, so he couldn't give consistent effort defensively, while Penny played on a strong, winning team, so it was much easier for him to play well on both ends (even with Shaq missing a ton of RS games in 1996, Penny's team was still clearly better than T-Mac's, as Hardaway had Horace Grant, Nick Anderson and Dennis Scott - don't even get me started on Tracy's teammates in 2003...). Also, McGrady's advantage over Hardaway in PER and WS/48 is very similar to Durant's (really big).
It's true that Penny was the best post player of the 3, but how valuable is that in the grand scheme of things? I don't think it's all that important, to be honest. As a decision maker, I think that T-Mac easily rivals Penny, seeing his overall efficiency (on a bad team, which is IMO a pretty important notion here).
I wouldn't call Penny a "devastating" scorer. He was certainly a very, very good scorer, but "devastating" applies to Durant and McGrady (32 PPG on great efficiency is devastating, not 21-22 PPG on a very similar efficiency)