Prospecting. Projecting. Forecasting. Like penny stocks for the investor, there are NBA "futures" - players who aren't well known right now, but they have flashed hints of greatness and have the potential to become impact players. These are the sleeper picks, the fliers, and the fantasy basketball "late round steals," and their Basketball card markets act very much the same.
If you're collecting and investing on a smaller budget, these are some of the "less famous" Rated Rookies and young players you might find in the dollar box this weekend. Or the fifty-cent box. Hey, you have to start somewhere, and in previous years, the "guesses" included late draft pick types like Jalen Brunson, Nikola Jokic, Desmond Bane, Jordan Poole, and even Austin Reaves.
Who are some of our favorite "GUESSES" for this 2023-24 NBA season? Check them out...
Jaden Hardy, Dallas Mavericks - We like players who can score, play with energy, and step into more minutes and usage this season. Hardy will do all of those things and is super fun to watch. If we can anticipate Kyrie Irving missing his annual 15-25 games, guess who steps in and shows off? It's Hardy, one of the cheaper Prizm Silver RC cards from the 2022-23 Rookie Class.
Keegan Murray, Sacramento Kings - Now that the Kings are loaded, they need a third scorer to step up and help them to a deeper playoff run in 2024. Murray is a tremendous 3-point shooter, but enters year two with a sense of urgency and more prime time games. His autographed cards are too cheap and his PSA pop counts are too low for a guy who could start averaging 20ppg as soon as, um, Tuesday.
Malaki Branham, San Antonio Spurs - Much like Hardy, Branham has shown what he can do and has tremendous ability as a three-level scorer. Fans will focus on Victor Wembanyama (of course) and Devin Vassell (who scores), but don't be shocked if Branham runs the show for Gregg Popovich in the months and years ahead. He's worth a few dollar box pulls for numbered, parallels, and autographs.
Santi Aldama, Memphis Grizzlies - Don't know his name yet? Aldama started a ton of games for Memphis last season and played like a stretch-four who with twelve good NBA years ahead.
Shaedon Sharpe, Portland Trailblazers - One of the best young athletes in the NBA, Sharpe flashed some exciting scoring potential last season. Sharpe and Scoot Henderson could both be multiple-time all-stars for Portland, and both will be regulars on SportsCenter highlights all season.
Payton Pritchard, Boston Celtics - If you believe what you're seeing in the preseason, Pritchard is the reason the Celtics won't miss Marcus Smart or Malcolm Brogdon this season. In Boston's guard-heavy rotation, we expect the 3rd-year point guard to have a major impact in May playoff games.
Jabari Smith Jr, Houston Rockets - Jabari is one of the purest, longest outside shooters to come into the league since... Kevin Durant. The Rockets are building around Jalen Green and Jabari Smith's incredibly-athletic talent and plan to give Smith some "starters minutes" this season. Perhaps you've heard Smith was taken right after Paolo Banchero and Chet Holmgren in last year's draft?
Others we like for Various Reasons: Scoot Henderson, Jaden Ivey, MarJon Beauchamp, Quentin Grimes, Kenneth Lofton Jr., Paul Reed, Amen Thompson, Dyson Daniels.