The NBA “offseason” is officially here. Regardless of Summer League heroes like Moses Moody, Paul Reed, and perhaps even Bol Bol, these months of July and August are about as “off” as the NBA could possibly season. If you’re collecting or investing in Basketball cards, you know that the 2021-22 Prizm Basketball Hobby Boxes finally released last weekend, perhaps breaking any and all records for “latest release after a season where the rookies have already played and now I don’t really want to invest in any of them.” Thanks, Panini.

Card collectors still want to buy, prospect, invest, strategize, and dream about the next big deal in Basketball Cards. Some of us might have our iPhone notifications linked to whatever Woj-Bomb might drop about Kevin Durant’s future or Paolo Banchero’s post moves.

For now, we all can speculate where the future card profits could come from. Are you feeling risky? There ARE some plays out there where you could make money in the next 2-4 months while Jaren recovers from surgery, Chet lifts weights, and Miles Bridges tries to clear his name.

Here are FIVE deals for those in the room who love risks, the thrill of the chase, and the high-potential rewards…

#5 – BASKETBALL CARD WAX BOXES – Yes, in the Hobby Box breaks and big spender purchases, some investors are hoping to score that Cade Cunningham 1 of 1 or that ever-elusive Logan card that will make that sealed wax purchase a profit. Personally, I’ve almost-never had good luck with opening sealed boxes of basketball cards, but I still try it every single year. I’ll eventually buy a blaster box (or three) of Prizm, Mosaic, and Optic if I can get my hands on them. But when I do that, I know it’s for the experience and the video footage of me and my son hoping to score an Evan Mobley silver. It’s not happening. The odds aren’t in your favor. Savvy investors wait and buy single cards that they want at reasonable prices. Serious money people might buy sealed wax and hold it for a year or three – and then sell it! But those with the audacity to open sealed wax boxes and packs? You’re taking a gamble and you’re probably not going to get more than 20% of the value you paid for the box. “So you’re saying there’s a chance!”

#4 – LUKA DONCIC – The Joker has two MVP awards. Tatum has an NBA Finals appearance. Andrew Wiggins and Jordan Poole have championship rings. Khris Middleton has been to more all-star games. Somehow, Luka’s cards are higher-priced than them all, even after the base-crash and the slump in cards. I know the Mavericks, the NBA, and all global basketball fans respect Luka’s talent, competitiveness, and big game heroics. But his team appears less interested in winning championships and more interested in “team chemistry.” Imagine having one of the most talented players in his generation and thinking it’s enough to support him with Spencer Dinwiddie and Christian Wood. Mavs fans, spare me the local love for DFS, Hardaway Jr, and Maxi. Luka’s cards are still overpriced for a guy who has yet to start an All-Star game or appear in even a Conference Finals.

#3 – LAMELO BALL – Like Doncic, I’m telling you that it’s a risk to buy LaMelo Ball at this specific moment? In similar fashion, he’s lost one of his supporting cast (Miles Bridges) and his team doesn’t look like a conference contender. And yet, Ball is still usually the most pricey rookie from 2020. Why roll the dice on big money Lamelos when you could get virtually the same player for half the price in Tyrese Haliburton? Why focus on non-playoff names when you could lock in offseason deals on Anthony Edwards or Tyrese Maxey? Long-term, LaMelo has awesome potential and perhaps Hall-of-Fame futures. But I’m talking about the next 6-12 months, and unless he somehow elevates to Luka stats and a playoff run, I’m taking my money elsewhere.

#2 – PORTER JUNIORS – I’m not talking about the AAU team from Portland, I’m talking about Kevin and Mike. KPJ and MPJ. Problem guy and injured guy. Will they ever be cardboard relevant? And that’s the risk. Am I totally wasting my money on an RPA of these guys while it looks like a bargain under $150? Or will both guys make the All-Star team THIS year? In his last FIVE games, Kevin Porter Jr averaged 29 points, 6 rebounds, and 6.6 assists a game, leading his teammates to give him the nickname, “Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.” Michael Porter Jr., on the other hand, could return to a serious contender alongside Jokic, Jamal Murray, and yes, Bones Hyland. Rewards on either “PJ” could be great!

#1 – ZION WILLIAMSON – Yep. No surprise here. The guy who dazzled everyone in his second season didn’t see any court action in his third season. Zion “couldn’t wait to sign the extension” from the Pelicans. With big Z, card investors are looking at the next Greg Oden or the next Joel Embiid. Injured bigs don’t always stay injured. Some of them become superstars that the world remembers with that iconic mononym. “Zion.” In six months, he could be starting in the All-Star game and helping Brandon Ingram lead the Pelicans to the top seed in the West. But the 284-pounder hasn’t played in an NBA regular season game since May 4th. of 2021. If you’re buying Zion rookies soon, there’s a chance you’ll be crowned a genius this season and writing your own basketball card blog. But there’s also the chance your friends will say you fell for the Zion hype all over again.

As you can probably tell, I’m usually not a risk-taker. I don’t own any cards of these players and I will try to avoid Basketball wax. But I wouldn’t be surprised if any and all of these big-name players or products will make some of my friends a lot of money in the next six months and in the years to come. As for the players, I hope they all get healthy and play really well. But I don’t see any of these guys hoisting a championship or MVP trophy at any point in the next three seasons. Perhaps the biggest risk in buying any of these cards is the greater chance you’re missing out on the legends of the game writing their next chapters, like Steph, Bron, Giannis, and Kawhi.