Contributor: John Dudley
Slow starts in the NBA are frustrating, but a bad beginning can also lead to some of the best buying opportunities of the year. The NBA market is fickle with even established legends like LeBron James and Kevin Durant not being immune to large drops based on a few games. The good news is that the see-saw goes back up meaning you can snag some great players on the cheap.
My absolute favorite buying season for any sport is the first few weeks of the season. I love picking up guys that have a few games for 25-50% off. I’m going to make this column a regular feature for each sport as I think the bargains are worth highlighting. For baseball, I only featured platers I thought would improve. I think it would be useful for basketball to divide players into players I’m looking to buy, hold, or sell.
There’s Hope (Buy Low Opportunities)
1. Anthony Edwards- Edwards’ numbers are similar to last year. Unfortunately, he was pegged to make a leap this year based on his late-season run last year. His Prizm RC is selling for roughly half of what it was before the season. Currently, it is going for $60-$75. It sold for as much as $200 a month ago. Edwards is young and getting used to playing with a new star in Rudy Gobert. Enjoy the discounts while they are available.
2. The entire 2021-22 Class- Well actually, they aren’t doing that poorly overall. They are just getting overshadowed by the new rookies. Consequently, singles and wax prices are soft currently. I normally don’t collect wax (no willpower), but I love the idea of betting on the field with this deep class. Prizm blasters at retail price (and even discounted) have not been easy to come by the past few years and once one or two of these guys pick up a bit, it won’t be easy for this year either. I’m going to take advantage of the availability and stash a few for a rainy day.
3. The Legends (Curry, Durant, James)- These guys go on a short list of guys that shouldn’t be subject to wild swings in the market. Their card values don’t swing quite as wildly, but they do move substantially with both individual and team performance. The last three base Topps Lebron James PSA 10 rookies have all sold for under $2000. The card sold for as much as $2800 a few weeks ago. Durant’s PSA 10 base Topps rookie has also dipped to $230 down from $280 or so. I normally just assume LeBron rookies are out of my price range (and they are), but it might be time to start looking at some affordable copies with the price drops.
4. Collin Sexton- The youngster got traded to the Jazz and is performing decently in limited minutes. The fact that he is limited is not great, but he is scoring at a decent clip averaging 14 pts in only 22 minutes. As he continues to get acclimated back from injury and to a new team expect those numbers to grow. I don’t expect Sexton to go all an All-NBA run, but I expect enough production to get value out of his PSA 10 Prizm rookies which can currently be found under $10 if one is patient.
These are players whom I am currently avoiding but not looking to dump. Their cards even seem attractive as the prices have dipped. I love buying cards on a dip, but ONLY if I can foresee a logical point for an increase in the near future. All of these guys might improve, but I am not confident in that at all. Consequently, I’m staying away.
1. Kyle Lowry- Ok. He’s probably not on many hobby hot lists to begin with. Still, he is likely headed for the Hall of Fame. Sadly, he looks like he did in the Playoffs last year, so one should be looking toward his retirement announcement instead of any more career highlights. I actually like Lowry as a pickup later in the season as his cards will have long-term value when he makes the Hall. I just think they will drop more.
2. Klay Thompson- I don’t feel good writing it, but it might be time to stop looking for major improvements from Thompson. He remains a very good player that can contribute to a championship run. The guy that looked like he could carry his own team to a championship isn’t coming back though. Like Lowry, I like the idea of picking up Thompson cards later in the season, but I want them to drop more first. His PSA 10 Prizm RC is down to $200 from $260 a few months ago. A few more weeks of average games along with the hobby money chasing the big performers and this should drop further.
3. LaMelo Ball- Why is Ball here and Edwards at the top of the buy list? Simple, I think that Minnesota can put together a run eventually with the core they have in place. I also think Charlotte can be a perennial eighth seed. While I love Ball, I just am not sure he is in the right spot to grow as a player. All that is a mere gut reaction though. The real reason Ball is here is that his cards haven’t dipped much, if at all. I’m waiting for his prices to drop at least 20-25% before targeting Ball again. I’d much rather buy Edwards on a dip than Ball without one.
1. Ben Simmons- His performance has been bad, but my real question is what it would take for Simmons to regain hobby relevancy? Even if he becomes a key contributor on a championship team, I don’t think his cards will rebound that much in value. He’s lost too much production in what should be his prime already. His cards aren’t pricy though, so collectors will keep buying them as lottery tickets. For me, he’s my only member of my avoid list this early in the season.
I was surprised to only have one player make my stay-away list. The NBA might be in flux as to who the alpha dog is, but there is a ton of talent in the league presently. What underperforming players are you hoping to snag for pennies on the dollar? What players are you dumping ASAP? Let me know in the comments.
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