Basketball collectors have had it rough this year. After a strike cut products short last year things seemed to be stagnant this year as well. All this cash in the pockets of high end collectors and nothing to pull it out of their pockets with. Even with a combined rookie class, nothing seemed to be able to gain momentum. You had your Kyrie Irving and Anthony Davis autographs in threads, and those saw some action but nothing really moved the hobby interest needle.
The Upper Deck company saw some success by introducing a modern version of a legendary Fleer insert run from the 1990′s that resulted in a few collectors chasing precious metal gems. The rarer versions had basketball product moving in hobby shops but the boxes soon had collectors out priced as they hit $450 a box. One of the worst things about the hobby is that when product is bad you can’t give it away but if a product is too good it gets so inflated that collectors can’t find or afford it.
The Leaf Trading Card Company stepped in with signature series and Ultimate basketball. The big deal with this product is that it was the only place to find the only rookie autographs of Damian Lillard. As Lillard became the stand out player from both rookie classes his cards became the most sought after even out pacing former #1 picks Davis and Irving. His Leaf autographs without NBA logos were selling for ridiculous amounts as one inscription card topped the $1000 mark. As nice as Lillard stuff is he’s the only rookie draw in the product and a lot of the veteran content although it looked nice isn’t something that high end basketball collectors were willing to chase.
Almost out of no where Panini Prizm steps into the market and gets rave reviews right off the bat. The rare gold parallels are limited to 10 copies and have become the high end insert of the year for basketball collectors. Without autographs or game used swatches these cards out pace nearly everything Panini has made this year combined on the secondary market. The appeal of the gold inserts has trickled down to the rest of the product as nearly everything you can hit has better resell value than cards in other products. It is the only product in basketball this year where base cards of stars are worth sticking in your ebay store as they will probably get bought. Base cards have been cast aside in recent years only seeing secondary market action in lots making this an impressive accomplishment for this product.
From a sealed product perspective this has been the hit of the year as well. Although because it was such a surprise card shops did not order very much of it. Most stores around the country are sold out. My store only had two cases as we were cautious in our ordering due to slow basketball sales across the board. Those that were aggressive and saw the value in this brand reaped the reward as boxes are legitimately trading at and above Panini’s minimum advertized price policy.
Going forward I see this product having tons of longevity. The high end hits are probably near the top of their market value, but there is plenty of room for the mid range stuff to appreciate. This product has some good under the radar rookie autographs in it as well. Keep in mind that before former Syracuse center Fab Melo fell out of favor with the NCAA he was the brightest and most talked about player in college basketball. Players like him in this product could make for a fun ride down the road.