NBA Prospector: Top Rookies, Breakout Candidates

Which cards might be worth finding–and keeping–as the NBA season plays out?

The NBA’s 82-game marathon begins this week with an influx of new players, but which ones will make an impact? And which players might be good sleeper candidates as you open those packs of 2009-10 cards?

Collectors can guess but the NBA’s general managers are the ones in the know and it’s nearly unanimous that this year’s top draft pick will not be a bust.

In a story for, 79% of the league’s GMs said Blake Griffin of the Clippers will win the Rookie of the Year award and over 65% felt he would be the best player in the lot five years down the road.

Griffin was taken by LA after a stellar career at Oklahoma. He’s the cover boy for Panini’s initial NBA trading card products, providing autographs and marketing help.

Beyond Griffin, the GMs believe Jonny Flynn has the best shot at being the league’s best rookie this season. The Syracuse product was named on a little over 10% of ballots. Tyreke Evans of Sacramento was third.

As for who will be the best player from this year’s rookie class when we get to 2014-15, the league executives think Griffin, Evans, James Harden of Oklahoma City and Stephen Curry of Golden State will make those who invested in their cards happy with their performance.

Harden, Denver Nuggets’ guard Ty Lawson and Milwaukee Bucks’ point guard Brandon Jennings are considered the rookies with the best ‘sleeper’ potential. All three earned 11.1% of the first place votes with Rodrigue Beaubois of Dallas and DeJuan Blair of San Antonio next on the list.

International players continue to play a huge role in the NBA and 22% believe Portland’s Rudy Fernandez will be the player from overseas who is most likely to have a breakout season. The Knicks’ Danilo Gallinari was second with Toronto’s Andrea Bargnani and Marco Belinelli were runners-up.

The best international player not in the NBA? It’s not a shock to see Ricky Rubio at the top of the list. Rubio spurned the Minnesota Timberwolves and will continue to play in Europe this season.

2009-10 basketball cards on eBay