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NBA MVP Candidates’ Card Market

NBA MVP Candidates’ Card Market

Carter Fillman

With the NBA Playoffs coming in hot, it’s time for everyone’s favorite part of the year: awards-debating season. And in 2021, we might have the most contested campaign in recent memory, with a handful of players making their case for Most Valuable Player, Rookie of the Year and Most Improved. As early media votes trickle out, Denver’s triple-double machine, Nikola Jokic, looks primed to repeat as the league’s MVP. But that’s not to say that extraordinary years from Giannis Antetokounmpo and Joel Embiid won’t force a close vote. While we wait for the official winner to be announced in early June, let’s look at where some of these superstars’ cards stand today.

Nikola Jokic

Starting with the current favorite, there’s no question Jokic turned in another MVP-caliber performance. Despite a Nuggets team riddled with injuries to Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. throughout the season, the Serbian center put up a massive nightly line (27.1 PPG/13.8 RPG/7.9 APG) on great efficiency, all while continuing to be an advanced statistics darling.

Surprisingly, over the last 30 days, the market for his 2015 Prizm Raw RC (roughly $125) has stayed relatively flat. Digging into the tougher-to-find Prizm Silver, though, does show some solid price movement over the last 90 days. PSA 10s are up 25% over the last three months. PSA 9s have jumped nearly 11% over the same span.

If you’re jockeying for a Jokic, the Prizm Raw or a PSA 9 could be a great buy heading into the playoffs, especially if the Nuggets have a long run in them. Additionally, Jokic’s 2015 Donruss (around $500) may not have the allure of a Prizm, but it has certainly picked up some steam. Definitely worth looking into for those with a tighter budget.

Joel Embiid

I can already hear the flack from Bucks fans as they come to defend Giannis, but I’m letting my Philly bias influence this decision for MVP runner-up. Despite the narrative that his numbers have come down since the James Harden trade (they really haven’t), Embiid has dominated all season long, becoming the first center since Shaq to take home the league’s scoring title. But the Sixers stumbled with integrating Harden into the lineup — that’s to be expected when you trade midseason for a player of his caliber, right? — and Embiid has fallen behind Jokic in the MVP race as a result.

Unlike Jokic, though, Embiid’s market has been hot since the start of the season. At its low point around Christmas 2021, a PSA 10 2014 Prizm RC could have been had for a touch under $200. As we head into the playoffs, the same card is floating around the $400 mark, a solid 100% return.

Looking for something a bit less? How about some 2014 Hoops love? Embiid’s base rookie PSA 10 is hovering around $150 with a surprisingly low pop of 147.

Giannis Antetokounmpo

A late Milwaukee surge caused The Greek Freak’s name to be firmly inserted into the MVP conversation. It’s not that he was bad at any point; it may have simply been a case of voter fatigue to cause the two-time MVP to lose some of his luster despite his continued dominance.

Giannis’ card market reflects that sentiment as well. His 2013 Prizm Base RC raw has stayed consistently around the $500 mark, but PSA 10s are down considerably from last season. On April 15, 2021, a gem mint sold for $3,005. On April 14, 2022, the same card moved for $1,555, down a whopping 48%. The PSA 10 Prizm Silver, however, has not had a similar slide. Easily one of the most coveted basketball collectibles of the last decade, the card has generally stayed around the $30K threshold.

While on the low end, the Bucks star’s 2013 Hoops Rookie remains a strong option with an easier entry level of around $90 raw. Giannis’ 2013 Pinnacle ($70-80 raw) is another budget-friendly option, but be wary of edge/corner issues with this one due to its black border and flimsy card stock.

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