Hobby Musings: Rookies Making Their Mark in Current NBA Card Market – The NBA regular season carried its fair share of excitement on the court and in the hobby. Some of the league’s big stars like Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant saw their cards hold strong values. Newcomers such as Luka Doncic and Trae Young carved out impressive beginnings as well, resulting in steady demand for their rookie cards.
This upcoming rookie class includes a strong set of prospects like Zion Williamson and Ja Morant. Because of the star-studded draft, there is a heightened anticipation from the collecting community for the 2019-20 NBA card market. To find out more about the past season and what they have upcoming, I had the chance to catch up with Panini’s Keith Hower. The following interview was conducted via email.
KS: Keith, with the NBA regular season all wrapped up, how do you evaluate the 2018-19 year from a trading card standpoint?
KH: 2018-19 was successful on multiple fronts. First, the timing on Luka hitting couldn’t have been better. NBA trading cards are expanding in foreign markets right now-most notably China, Australia, and New Zealand. Luka provides a global NBA appeal and personality to usher in that expansion. On top of that, Trae Young had a solid year, and we have yet to see guys like Jaren Jackson Jr. and Michael Porter Jr. scratch the surface of their hobby potential.
KS: We saw some pretty big rookies from this past season? Overall though, who would you say won the 2018-19 NBA trading card rookie of the year?
KH: Luka Doncic. Trae Young made quite a push in the second half of the season, but in terms of demand and secondary market value, Luka is far and away the leader of the class.
KS: Which veteran player do you think made the biggest leap in his cardboard market this past season?
KH: Giannis Antetokounmpo is an easy answer here. We saw his Rookie Prizm Silvers debut at next to nothing in the price guide. Gem Mint graded versions are now routinely trading between $2k and $3k. Honorable mentions are Dirk Nowitzki autographs and Khris Middleton RC’s.
KS: Zion Williamson recently declared for the 2019 NBA draft. How does the level of anticipation for Zion cards and autographs compare to other recent prospects?
KH: The Zion hobby buzz is right there with what we saw for LeBron James in 2003 and Shaquille O’Neal in 1992. It’s loud.
KS: When you have a rookie like Zion who is seemingly so transcendent, how does that affect your preparation for an upcoming card line?
KH: We take great care to make sure that Zion is featured in all of our programs, but not at the expense of delivering value and building the equity of our brands.
KS: Who’s an under-the-radar rookie in this year’s class that collectors should be keeping an eye on?
KH: P.J. Washington. He’ll need to develop his body for the NBA, but the skill set is there.
KS: This is a ways away, but when can we expect to see this year’s rookies on trading cards in their new NBA uniforms?
KH: The first cards in new uniforms will be 2019-20 Hoops Basketball, which releases in October for the start of the NBA season.
KS: Vlade Divac was among those recently announced as part of this year’s Hall of Fame class. What plans does Panini have to commemorate the new members?
KH: Each year we do a super short-printed Hall of Fame class set, and we have the players sign a limited number of items for use in our promotional sets like Black Friday.
KS: With a number of basketball products already released for this season, what does Panini have coming up in the near future for basketball releases?
KH: Coming in 2019, look for at least one new high-end program, and some surprises at the beginning of the release year concerning the 2019-20 NBA Rookie Class.
For more from Kelsey Schroyer, follow him on Twitter @KelSchroy75.