Yesterday, at our local card show, a lot of dealers had moved basketball cards to the corner. It's almost September, and that means the NFL takes center stage, and every single table had hits from the usual suspects - Burrow, Lawrence, Hurts, Fields, Herbert, Brady, Pickett, Mahomes and Purdy. They were everywhere.
I went from table to table, showcase to showcase, looking for anything uniquely Basketball that might jump out at me. Like many sports card collectors, the past few years have forced us to focus on cards that have a "standout" quality like an on-card autograph, a short-print, a "gem mint" grade, or the rare variation. Personally, I find myself chasing after cards of superstar prospects - guys who could become All-Stars for the first time this season or lead their teams deep in the playoffs. With the NBA waiting until late October for regular season games, I've learned that most of these next few months are lower-priced buying opportunity months for Basketball Card collectors and investors.
With that in mind, here are a few things I need to remember when I'm tempted to buy every rookie, every variation, and every superstar at NBA rock-bottom prices...
#1 - Don't buy what you already have! That's right. I've focused on Basketball and superstar prospecting, and my stash overflows with Maxey, Bane, Simons, Darius, and Jaren. Though I'm seeing ridiculous deals on all of those names now, I'm telling myself "enough is enough." I love the cards I already have, and I bought many of them with the intent to sell as they climb to superstardom.
#2 - Don't buy the first deals you see! Walk around the room. Look around on eBay or Discord or Facebook groups. Your budget has its limits, and the better cards are worth waiting for. Anthony Edwards and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander will be here for you, but you can shop around for the right card.
#3 - Don't buy guys from losing teams. Card prices for Basketball jump as the NBA playoffs approach and during the first few series. If it's about having a chance at profit or that a player will elevate his game, I'm currently not buying guys from Orlando, Houston, or any other team that isn't playoff bound. If you think Paolo or Jabari or Franz are future All-Stars, maybe wait till next summer to buy them.
#4 - Don't buy players you don't like. Investors make a case for Jordan Poole's upside in Washington, with the chance to score 30 a game. I don't care. I'm not interested in owning cards of Poole, Draymond Green, Kyrie Irving, or Kevin Durant. It's my life, and I'll collect what I want to! Fortunately in the NBA, we have options! In my case, that's Lebron James, Donovan Mitchell, Khris Middleton, and Grizzlies!
#5 - Don't invest without a selling strategy. Even your collection won't last forever. When I buy a card, I often have a plan of when and how to sell it. Like the Austin Reaves "Sensational Signatures" Prizm Auto I got yesterday. The plan is to sell it before Christmas in an eBay auction that ends during a primetime TV Lakers game - or to keep it till the Lakers make a deep playoff run in June!
#6 - Don't pay their asking price. During buying season, cash is king. Buyers have the leverage. That card dealer has put his basketball treasures in front of us because he would rather recoup some money to chase T-Law or Pickett. With trends that Basketball cards are still going down, you have got to make an offer that makes sense for you. Don't be afraid to offer 50-75% of most asking prices. It's your money, your budget, and your market right now.
#7 - Don't give in to FOMO. The fear of missing out on Wemby? The fear of losing a stellar buying opportunity? The fear of missing out on an auction? Most of us are old enough to remember the booming sports card market of 2020. I thought I'd never be able to afford a Zion Prizm rookie. I stocked up on gradable SGA's like a pile of Halloween candy after Trick-or-Treat. I overpaid to win auctions or rip wax or get Ja's before they would hypothetically soar out of my budget range forever. It's embarrassing to recount a lot of our "impulse buys" from those days, hoping to catch lightning in a hobby box. Deals will come, and deals will come back to you. But there's literally no rush.
No rush, of course, unless we're talking about Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.