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Value Plays Rise for James, Curry, Bryant Amid Declining NBA Market

Value Plays Rise for James, Curry, Bryant Amid Declining NBA Market

Ben Burrows

While the modern NBA sports card market continues to dip, collectors and investors appear to be focusing on adding modestly-priced rookies of all-time greats rather than more speculative plays, according to recent Market Movers data.

According to recent price movements, low-end rookies from LeBron James, Steph Curry, Kevin Durant and Kobe Bryant are all among the biggest risers in percentage growth over the last month, while key short-printed ultra-modern rookies from Ja Morant, Zion Williamson and Luka Doncic are among the biggest decliners in terms of dollar amount.

Read about this trend and news from other categories in this week’s NBA Market Movers update.

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


1. De’Aaron Fox 2017 Optic Shock PSA 10 πŸ“ˆ 119%

2. Zion Williamson 2019 Prizm Draft Picks Silver PSA 10 πŸ“ˆ 106%

3. Jayson Tatum 2017 Hoops Base PSA 10 πŸ“ˆ 97%

4. Klay Thompson 2011 SP Authentic Base PSA 10 πŸ“ˆ 89%

5. Giannis Antetokounmpo 2019 Prizm Base PSA 10 πŸ“ˆ 89%

TATUM SURGES: Jayson Tatum and the Boston Celtics had a disappointing end to last season with a loss in the NBA Finals, but they’ve rallied back in a major way to start this year with a 21-5 record. Boston currently has the best offensive rating in NBA history, and Tatum has been a major reason why while averaging 31-8-4 on 48% shooting from the field.

Tatum’s prices have adjusted accordingly so far with his PSA 10s tracked by Market Movers up 11% collectively over the last 30 days. His key rookies have helped carry some of that, too, with his 2017 Optic Base PSA 10 up 45% over the last month. Tatum’s 2017 Select Concourse PSA 10 is down some over that same period, though it doesn’t have the volume of some other key cards, and his 2017 Prizm Base PSA 10 has managed to remain even despite averaging over two sales per day, which is relatively difficult to manage.

Source: Market Movers

1. Keldon Johnson 2019 Prizm Silver PSA 10 πŸ“‰ 64%

2. Luka Doncic 2019 Prizm Silver PSA 10 πŸ“‰ 58%

3. Brandon Ingram 2016 Prizm Mosaic Base PSA 10 πŸ“‰ 55%

4. Bol Bol 2019 Prizm Green PSA 10 πŸ“‰ 53%

5. Zach LaVine 2014 Prizm Base PSA 10 πŸ“‰ 50%


1. LeBron James 2003 Upper Deck MVP PSA 10 πŸ“ˆ $260

2. Kobe Bryant 1996 Skybox Premium Base PSA 10 πŸ“ˆ $143

3. Michael Jordan 1996 Fleer Decade of Excellence PSA 10 πŸ“ˆ $134

4. Kevin Durant 2007 Topps Factory Set (White) PSA 10 πŸ“ˆ $97

5. Stephen Curry 2009 Upper Deck Base PSA 10 πŸ“ˆ $88

VALUE PLAYS UP: Things seem pretty normal at first glance in this space, but a second look shows us that these five cards are all value options for some of the NBA’s all-time greats. Outside of Michael Jordan’s Decade of Excellence, these cards are all considered key rookies, but aren’t the primary targets for most collectors.

For LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant and Steph Curry, many collectors prefer the flagship paper Topps and Topps Chrome releases, or in Durant’s case many prefer the Black variation over the White. It should be noted that these cards aren’t exactly cheap for most collectors, with the cheapest of the group still averaging over $200, but this latest trend shows us that, despite a down market, collectors and investors are still putting a priority on the game’s greats but with a more conservative approach.

Source: Market Movers

1. LeBron James 2003 Topps Chrome Base PSA 10 πŸ“‰ $865

2. Ja Morant 2019 Prizm Silver PSA 10 πŸ“‰ $349

3. Zion Williamson 2019 Prizm Silver PSA 10 πŸ“‰ $299

4. Luka Doncic 2018 Prizm Silver PSA 10 πŸ“‰ $232

5. Michael Jordan 1989 Fleer Base PSA 10 πŸ“‰ $182

HIGH-END SPECULATION: Based on some of the data shown in the key risers, one can probably come to the conclusion that if collectors and investors are targeting value plays of proven players, we’ll likely also see money shift out of higher-end speculative plays.

In this group, major declines to Ja Morant, Zion Williamson and Luka Doncic all make sense — all three are extremely popular in the hobby, but the reality is that they still are far off of reaching more stabilized levels that the market often sees with stars like James, Curry, Bryant and Durant. It also makes sense that the more expensive Silver variations of their key Prizm rookies are the cards being hit the hardest here. The market is in a steady decline, and collectors will, in general, be less likely to spend big on players with most of their careers still ahead of them.

Source: Market Movers

1. Zion Williamson 2019 Prizm Base PSA 10 πŸ“ˆ 242 sales

2. Luka Doncic 2018 Prizm Base PSA 10 πŸ“ˆ 228 sales

3. Ja Morant 2019 Prizm Base PSA 10 πŸ“ˆ 208 sales

4. Zion Williamson 2019 Optic Base PSA 10 πŸ“ˆ 138 sales

5. Trae Young 2018 Prizm Base PSA 10 πŸ“ˆ 128 sales


1. 2022 Chronicles Draft Picks Basketball πŸ“ˆπŸ“‰ 0%

2. 2021 One and One Basketball πŸ“ˆ 13%

3. 2021 Select Basketball πŸ“‰ 5%

4. 2021 Topps Inception OTE Overtime Elite πŸ“ˆ 15%

5. 2022 Prizm WNBA Basketball πŸ“ˆ 3%

Source: Market Movers

Basketball 2018-2020: πŸ“‰ 10%

Basketball 2010-2017: πŸ“‰ 9%

Basketball 2000-2009: πŸ“‰ 8%

Source: Market Movers

Basketball 1990-1999: πŸ“ˆ 2%

Basketball 1980-1989: πŸ“‰ 2%

Basketball 1979 & Older: πŸ“‰ 6%

Source: Market Movers

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