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A Penny For Your Thoughts

January 30, 1998

Penny Hardaway's price has soared from $3.4m at the beginning of this week to $7.7m following today's repricing. I've been trying to figure out what he should be worth, and where his value may go over the near term. I usually try to avoid printing opinions that are likely to push a player's price in a certain direction, but in this case, I think there are enough conflicting indicators that my analysis will not suggest a move in only one direction. However, I'm going to stop short of telling you my prediction, just to avoid any indication that I'm trying to move the market for my own gain.

What are the facts?

  1. In his thirteen games played earlier this season, he averaged 29.2 SWP/G. Three of those games were over 40, and three were under 20.
  2. Last season, he averaged 36 SWP/G (for the 59 games that he played).
  3. Prior to today, his highest price this season was his opening price of $7.2m, although he rose back to $7.1m in late November. When he got to $7.1, a selling wave triggered a big price decline, and then two games later, he was injured.
  4. He is a high profile player. He was voted onto the All Star team this year by the fans, in spite of his injured status. Players with big name recognition often trade at prices slightly higher than others with comparable stats.

So, what other players have comparable stats, and what are their prices? If last year is a reasonable indication of his expected average (36 SWP/G), then other comparable players this year are Drexler, Iverson, and Abdur-Rahim. All three of these guys currently trade in the $9m neighborhood.

However, some guards had higher SWP averages last year than this, presumably due to moving back the 3-pt. shooting line. If his early season average of 30 SWP/G is more indicative of expectations, then comparable players are Steve Smith, Isaiah Rider, and Antonio McDyess. These guys trade in the mid-$6m range.

So, all of this "point-related" analysis suggests a price in the range of $6.5-$10m, with the upper end assuming that his name recognition is worth a million or so. With his current price in the middle of that range, he's not obviously rich or cheap for now.

What about the short term? We've seen a number of players' prices overshoot their ultimate equilibrium points, especially when the player is returning form injury. The closest parallel is probably Scottie Pippen, who surged to $12.25m upon his return before settling in $10m range. I surveyed the 2nd Chance League rosters this afternoon, and Penny now appears on 88 of them (about one-third of the teams), whereas he was on only 8 of them at the beginning of the week. While that is a big increase, other players have appeared on more than half of the rosters at times, so this evidence doesn't suggest that he is "overbought" yet. Consequently, it sounds like he should still be on the rise, eh?

Not necesarily. On the flip side, he has already appreciated $4m in value this week, and he is probably very susceptible to some profit taking. Usually, when a player surges past his previous high in price, he is ripe for harvesting. For example, every time Donyell Marshall tops the $6m mark, he reverses course. Brevin Knight shows similar action just north of $7m. Sam Cassell recently took the plunge when he got up to $8.9m, which was still $0.3m short of his prior high. These guys have all been heavily watched, and heavily bought. So has Penny. It may be that, regardless of the rationale for higher worth, he just won't be able to top his current level without a few profit-taking bounces along the way. Coincidentally, I have a line in my article posted on the Smallworld site today that says "bulls and bears make money", but pigs get slaughtered. I'm sure the bird in the hand will be very tempting for many managers to take, especially this soon in Hardaway's recovery. After all, who knows how he will actually perform after surgery and an extended layoff?

So, you've now heard compelling cases for both sides. Which is the best course of action? I don't know, and I won't guess here. You - along with thousands of other Smallworld managers - will all get the chance to cast your votes over the weekend , and in the coming weeks as well.

Now, as for Hakeem..... you're on your own. Work out your own logic. I've given you a blueprint here. And the tools to help you are readily available elsewhere on this site. Good luck.

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Hoop Pointers is written by Dave Hall (a.k.a. the Guru), an avid fantasy sports player. He is not an employee of any of the fantasy games discussed within this site, and any opinions expressed are solely his own. Questions or comments are welcome, and should be emailed to Guru<davehall@home.com>.