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In a recent interview with basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal, ESPN reported about the five men Shaq believed could beat Kobe’s record of 81 points scored in a single game. You can read the article for yourself here. The record comes in second for most points scored, trailing only Wilt Chamberlain’s 100 point game. What we’ll be looking into here is the cards of the five men who have the highest potential (according to Shaq) to beat Kobe’s record and which ones have the potential for the most significant returns.
Before we get too far in, let’s recognize that none of these players are guaranteed. This is just who Shaq believes has the capability to do so. Here are the 5 men in no particular order.
That’s it! No Luka, no Zion or Ja, not even Lebron James makes Shaq’s list. And three of them are on the same team! Let’s dig into the graphs and stats of each of these players.
It’s interesting to note that Kyrie’s card prices sank to their lowest shortly after James Harden was traded to the Nets. But with their current success, he has started to rise again. There is a ridiculously low population count on Kyrie’s rookie 2012 Hoops card (163), and even his Prizm PSA 10 card count of 678 is but a tiny blip if we compare that to the number of Prizm PSA 10’s Luka Doncic has on the market (16k+). From an investment point, it’s also good to take note of the lack of fluctuation in prices for Kyrie’s Hoop’s card. As Kyrie and the Nets take a more dominant role, being among the top teams favored for a championship win, I expect we could see more attention shift to the lower population count card. It will probably never become equivalent in price to Prizm, and we don’t expect it to, but eventually, could we see it jump that would equate better in comparison to Prizm? I believe so.
James Harden’s cards are also in that “low pop” category. His most desired rookie card, the 2009 Topps PSA 10 has a population of 174! Even his PSA 9 is under 600! If you look at his Bowman rookie card, there are only 125 in PSA 9 and 10 COMBINED!! And while it isn’t as valuable as it’s Topps variation, look at the chart below and you can see that the fluctuation by percentage is almost identical between three out of the four cards.
After a game recently, ESPN asked Kyrie Irving what he thought of James Harden getting his 7th triple-double in Brooklyn. Here’s his response,
“When James is being James,” Irving said, “it makes our job a lot easier. And so we got to get used to somebody special like that, things like that in terms of breaking records. So, I can’t wait to be right alongside of him, my name in Nets history — and all the guys on our team where we’re just breaking records as a team, and then individually we’re stacking up with some of the best to ever play.”
Since then, Harden has had another triple-double, beating his former team, the Houston Rockets, in another consistent performance.
The second most expensive card on this list, Kevin Durrant cards are not easy to come by in the high grade either. It’s hard to tell, but the PSA 9 is currently selling for just under $1500. Perhaps one of the biggest questions about KD is his health. Coming off of a big injury and a shortened COVID season, will he be ready for the second half of the season? Already he has had to sit the bench with a hamstring injury this season. We’ll have to watch as the season goes on.
Topping the list as the most expensive card on the list here. This season, he already got into the highest single-player list, single-game scoring, with 61 points. It’s pretty easy to see what Shaq sees in Steph. There isn’t much he can’t do. His cards though are pretty high and if you don’t think he will be putting up record-setting numbers any time soon, you can keep a close eye on his card and hope this graph continues in a downward direction until you can find a safe place to hop on and snag a few of his cards. Luckily there are a few more of these than any of the previously mentioned cards. But!… If Steph comes out any time soon and starts slapping points up real fast and getting back into the high numbers again, you can bet these cards will jump again.
The youngest player on this list by a few years, Devin Booker is still no rookie. At the young age of 21 and in only his third season, Booker put up the most points of anyone since Kobe’s record of 81. In that game Booker put up 70 points by himself! It’s been about 4 years. Could he go that high again? Lots to debate. As you can see, he is the only card listed here that has trended down, albeit very little, in the past 90 days.
This graph takes each player’s top card from the last 60 days and puts them side by side measuring the percentage of change in prices over the past 60 days. With 8 triple-doubles since moving to the Nets, it is no wonder why James Harden has the largest spike of anyone on this list. If we continue to see this level of play from the Nets, I expect to see KD’s card angle up at a little steeper incline, and I believe we will see Kyrie’s cards spike as well.
Steph will be Steph and I would wager we see his cards start creeping up a little more as we near the playoffs. Especially if the Warrior can keep in good enough standing and make the playoffs in this modified playoff year.
Devin Booker and the Suns are looking pretty well set for the playoffs if they can stay steady through the second half of the season.
You can get a better look at current prices by checking this sheet out. Looking at this, the two obvious cards to note are the lower prices of Kyrie and Booker. Even though Booker has the highest-scoring single game of any of these guys, I would say he is the highest risk of all of them. If I was looking for the card that I expected to see the biggest returns on, I would go with Kyrie.
The fact that the only game the Nets have lost in the past 11 games was when Kyrie was benched with a shoulder injury demonstrates to me the role he plays on the court. He’s scoring the most points per 40 minutes than at any point in his entire career. Rebounds? This is currently his 3rd best season for rebounds per 40 minutes. If the Nets are settling in, and as Kyrie said earlier, they’re “get[ting] used to it,” perhaps we will watch the Nets take it all the way to a championship. If that’s the case, I would expect to see Kirie’s card jump up a lot closer to Harden’s and KD’s.
That being said, if this really is a “new normal” for James Harden, it might be a good time now to jump in on some of his cards. If we’re just getting ready for the second half of the season, and Harden has already broken the highest number of triple-doubles since Jason Kidd, we could be watching the early incline in his card values. Could his cards come up to the level of Steph Curry? Only time will tell. But he is moving in that direction.
Ultimately right now, I would say 3 of the 5 are pretty much guaranteed for the Hall of Fame. And the other two have potential. So you can’t go wrong with owning these cards. The only card I would be worried about seeing big returns on is Devin Booker, but the Suns are playing good ball right now. Every one of these players’ cards will likely go up at least a little before the season winds up.
Editor’s comment: These five players are all top-tier NBA players and all highly sought after by collectors. Do you have any thoughts on a few NFL, NHL or MLB players that match or are similar in the trend as these five NBA players? Who could be record breakers over the next three to five years?