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Have the Lakers Accelerated LeBron James’ Card Decline?

Have the Lakers Accelerated LeBron James’ Card Decline?

Ben Burrows

With most of the sports card hobby experiencing declining prices, it’s no surprise to see an expensive player like LeBron James see a dip. James’ dip has outpaced the basketball market as a whole, however, and some of his key rookies have seen massive declines over the last year.

Along with a declining market, has Los Angeles’ horrific start to the season pushed James’ dip along faster? We examine that and more in this week’s NBA Market Movers.

Cards listed below are PSA 10s with a minimum average of $30 and 10 sales over the last 30 days.

PRICE GROWTH PERCENTAGE RISERS

1. Lauri Markkanen 2017 Optic Base PSA 10 πŸ“ˆ 200%

2. Lauri Markkanen 2017 Optic Shock PSA 10 πŸ“ˆ 190%

3. Lauri Markkanen 2017 Prizm Base PSA 10 πŸ“ˆ 153%

4. Donovan Mitchell 2017 Prizm Mosaic Base PSA 10 πŸ“ˆ 152%

5. Bol Bol 2019 Prizm Silver PSA 10 πŸ“ˆ 126%

WAIT, IS THIS BOL BOL REAL? Bol Bol has been an NBA meme on the court and in the sports card hobby since entering the league back in 2019 — the 7-footer has been someone fans have wanted to root for, but he just hasn’t produced anything meaningful. Until now, at least.

Now in his first year with Orlando, Bol is averaging career-highs in pretty much every category. The former Oregon standout started just two of 53 games during his three seasons in Denver, but has started seven of 12 with the Magic. The stats are surprisingly there, too, with 11-7 averages in just 23 minutes per game so far.

An early candidate for Most Improved Player, Bol’s cards have adjusted accordingly after spending the better part of three seasons as little more than buy-low options. His PSA 10s tracked by Market Movers are up 25% collectively over the last 30 days, however, and his 2019 Prizm Silver PSA 10 is back up over $100. Bol’s 2019 Prizm Base PSA 10 has also jumped from about $15 to $25, and has been selling over twice per day over the last month.

Bol will obviously have to prove he can continue to play well across more than just a 12-game sample, but this is arguably the best he’s ever looked on the court, and his card prices are slowly trending toward their highs over the last year.

Source: Market Movers
PRICE GROWTH PERCENTAGE DECLINERS

1. Anthony Edwards 2020 Select Concourse Blue Prizm PSA 10 πŸ“‰ 72%

2. Josh Giddey 2021 Prizm Base PSA 10 πŸ“‰ 67%

3. Zion Williamson 2019 Prizm Draft Picks Silver PSA 10 πŸ“‰ 66%

4. Kawhi Leonard 2012 Past & Present Base PSA 10 πŸ“‰ 61%

5. Anthony Edwards 2020 Mosaic Base PSA 10 πŸ“‰ 59%

GIDDEY’S MARKET COOLS: A regular triple-double threat, Josh Giddey remains extremely popular among rookies from the 2021 NBA Draft, though it’s worth noting that his limited graded population is continuing to cool. From that 2021 class, only Cade Cunningham, Jalen Green, Scottie Barnes and Evan Mobley have seen more total sales tracked by Market Movers over the last 30 days than Giddey, but those cards are down 27% overall and his PSA 10s are down 18% collectively over that period, too.

Why the drop in prices? Well, an overall sports card market dip could be pulling his key cards down. Low populations could also make his cards more volatile to these types of dips. Another reason could be the increased focus on his teammate, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who is having a superstar breakout this season.

Gilgeous-Alexander is currently torching teams for 32-6-5 on 54% shooting from the field, and his key cards have been trending up over the last month. Comparing Gilgeous-Alexander’s two most popular PSA 10s in sales volume to Giddey’s, we see two players heading in different directions. Giddey’s market could certainly recover soon, but it’s worth wondering if the Thunder might be limited to only one hobby favorite right now without any expectations for a deep playoff run.

Source: Market Movers
DOLLAR GROWTH RISERS

1. Ja Morant 2019 Prizm Silver PSA 10 πŸ“ˆ $268

2. Nikola Jokic 2015 Donruss Base PSA 10 πŸ“ˆ $110

3. Donovan Mitchell 2017 Prizm Mosaic Base PSA 10 πŸ“ˆ $91

4. Michael Jordan 1992 Stadium Club Base PSA 10 πŸ“ˆ $75

5. Kobe Bryant 1996 Upper Deck Base (Hardwood Prospects) PSA 10 πŸ“ˆ $65

DOLLAR GROWTH DECLINERS

1. LeBron James 2003 Topps Chrome Base PSA 10 πŸ“‰ $1,400

2. Zion Williamson 2019 Prizm Ruby Wave PSA 10 πŸ“‰ $517

3. Zion Williamson 2019 Prizm Silver PSA 10 πŸ“‰ $513

4. LeBron James 2003 Topps Base PSA 10 πŸ“‰ $449

5. Kevin Durant 2007 Topps Chrome Base PSA 10 πŸ“‰ $341

LEBRON JAMES’ ROOKIES ARE TANKING: By all accounts, LeBron James‘ play is declining, but is still considered exceptionally good. Unfortunately for fans of James and his card market, his key rookies are tanking in a bad way amid Los Angeles’ horrific 2-9 start.

James’ PSA 10s tracked by Market Movers are down 12% collectively over the last month, and his key Topps Chrome and Topps Base rookies are among the biggest decliners in dollar amount over the last 30 days and beyond. Once averaging $14,500 and $4,000 a year ago, those cards are now down to $6,700 and $1,800. The Basketball 2000-2009 Market Pulse Index is down 46% over the last year, so declines like this aren’t isolated to James, but his key rookies have also outpaced that dip.

Much like Tom Brady in the football market, James is suffering a massive card price decline despite being considered one of the safest long-term purchases by many collectors and investors. His cards likely recover long-term, but the sting of the current dip likely doesn’t feel good for anyone holding.

It’s been mentioned in this space before, but it still doesn’t look like there’s a clear path for James’ market to recover this season either. The Lakers aren’t getting better, massive contracts for Russell Westbrook and Anthony Davis have handicapped LA’s ability to make significant improvements, and the reality is starting to set in that, despite still playing at a high level, James’ final years in the NBA might be wasted due to poor roster construction.

SALES VOLUME LEADERS

1. Zion Williamson 2019 Prizm Base PSA 10 πŸ“ˆ 199 sales

2. Ja Morant 2019 Prizm Base PSA 10 πŸ“ˆ 162 sales

3. Luka Doncic 2018 Prizm Base PSA 10 πŸ“ˆ 127 sales

4. Anthony Edwards 2020 Prizm Base PSA 10 πŸ“ˆ 125 sales

5. Zion Williamson 2019 Optic Base PSA 10 πŸ“ˆ 115 sales

POPULAR SEALED WAX (HOBBY BOXES WITH MIN. 10 SALES OVER LAST 30 DAYS)

1. 2021 Select Basketball πŸ“‰ 21%

2. 2021 One and One Basketball πŸ“‰ 11%

3. 2021 Spectra Basketball πŸ“ˆπŸ“‰ 4%

4. 2021 Optic Basketball πŸ“ˆπŸ“‰ 10%

5. 2021 Chronicles Basketball πŸ“ˆπŸ“‰ 21%

Source: Market Movers
MARKET PULSE INDEXES OVER LAST 30 DAYS

Basketball 2018-2020: πŸ“‰ 16%

Basketball 2010-2017: πŸ“‰ 15%

Basketball 2000-2009: πŸ“‰ 13%

Source: Market Movers

Basketball 1990-1999: πŸ“‰ 8%

Basketball 1980-1989: πŸ“‰ 8%

Basketball 1979 & Older: πŸ“ˆπŸ“‰ 0%

Source: Market Movers

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