After nearly two years of thoughtfully buying and selling basketball cards, I can say I haven’t cornered the market on understanding the market. “Big names” like Zion Williamson have card prices and hype and attention that soars off the charts, making wax releases far too expensive for normal collectors. The unsteady and always-changing hype for vintage… or for GOATS… or for “grails”… sends people chasing after Kobe, Michael, Lebron… and anticipating an entire decade’s value of Luka Doncic before he ever played a playoff game.
Meanwhile, a guy like Zach Lavine has three years of incredible stats, wins, and building a playoff team around him in one of the largest markets in the USA.
We could say the same for Julius Randle, a player who started this NBA season with three-game averages of 28.7 points, 11.3 rebounds, nearly 7 assists, and some enormous wins on National TV.
Or should I mention Khris Middleton here? Without Khris, Giannis has no rings. No sharpshooting initiator for the Bucks offense. No “perfect complement” to his inside muscle game. No 21 points, nearly 5 assists and 5 rebounds a game this season. When Giannis doesn’t play, Khris’s performances are legendary and Luka-like.
But nobody pays attention.
Their card values just seem to sit there.
The card market hasn’t really erupted for these guys who are playing like Superstars, starting to act like Hall of Famers.
Nope, we are too busy focusing on Tyler Herro for whatever reason. We ask questions about Coby White and RJ Barrett as if they will matter in five years. We chase after whoever might be “next” and we are missing the guys in front of us who “already” are fulfilling their superstar potentials.
I’m talking about CJ McCollum.
I’m talking about Domantas Sabonis.
I’m talking about Paul George, Jimmy Butler, Rudy Gobert, and Jrue Holiday. In the near future, I could be talking about Brandon Ingram, Caris LeVert, Jerami Grant, Derrick Rose, and even Bradley Beal!
What will it take for their card values to even begin to rise to their level of play? Or at least to give them some respect?
I can acknowledge that maybe they never will. Maybe we will always focus on GOATS like Lebron or maybe GOATS like Luka and Zion. But, as the sparkle on Luka and Zion and whoever else starts to fade – missing games and playoffs seem to have that effect on guys – will investors and collectors turn our attention and spending to the actual superstars in the Association?
IF or WHEN that happens, some people will turn their attention to the “next maybe superstars” like Lamelo Ball, Anthony Edwards, and Jalen Green. They already have our attention!
But what if the Bulls make a legit Finals Run led by Zach Lavine scoring 30+ for a full season?
What if Julius Randle has another MVP-type year?
What if Khris Middleton wins another ring?
What if Paul George single-handedly carries the Clippers to the Finals?
I would love to have any ONE of those guys on my team or in my collection. Each one of their graded rookies can be had for less than $100 in the right market right now. Some of their cards would be worth buying raw and holding to grade in the future when they ARE recognized by the hobby.
Some of us remember how Jimmy Butler’s rookie cards went crazy during the Finals run not so long ago. What will they do if Jimmy and the Heat do it again?
As it stands right now, I think ALL of these guys see an increase in their card values over the next 6-9 months. But they also have the potential to achieve superstar status in the “hobby,” as slow as it is to embrace whatever is happening on the court.
On the court, these guys are superstars already.