Why are there so many songs about rainbows and what's on the other side, and why are there so many collectors who want to go after a Prizm rainbow of parallel cards? The answer has to be that collectors enjoy the challenge, or the chase, which is why it's quite appropriate to call these 'chase cards'.
Released a few weeks ago, 2013-14 Panini Prizm Basketball is about much more than just parallel cards and has a nice mix of rookies, vets and legendary players from the past but it is the lower numbered cards featuring key rookies and stars that are the main target for collectors. Finding all parallel cards for a player last year was tough with the Gold Prizms which were numbered to 10, but now it is nearly impossible with several 1 of 1 versions. Not everyone loves the dizzying number of parallel cards but basketball collectors seem to like it more than most.
It's those Black and Gold versions that have been ringing up sales for those lucky enough to pull them out of '13-14 Prizm. A pair of Kobe Bryant autographed Gold cards numbered to 0 have been offered on eBay recently but the non-autographed cards of major stars and rookie have brought strong prices, proving again that basketball collectors are not always all about the autograph. The Kevin Durant and Paul George Black Mosaic were sold for best offer prices that were likely north of $1,000. The biggest autograph prize offered right now is a 1/1 Black Refractor of Bill Russell which is priced at $4,000. While Bryant autographs are plentiful at various price points--some selling for under $150--Durant's autographs are all redemptions in this product.
One of the rookies who has been very popular in 2013-14 Prizm is Victor Oladipo (#276) with 11 parallel versions there for the chasing. His refracting Prizm Prizms card won't be too hard to find, but it won't be cheap. Oladipo Prizms have sold for between $20 and $50. The Green Prizm is in retail packs while the Red Prizm can be found at Target and the Blue Prizm at Walmart, which is similar to the Hoops parallels that Panini previously made in different colors for the two discount stores. The retail multi-packs will have a Red, White and Blue Prizm parallel which have been popular, although it would have been even better in last season's Prizm with its Team USA cards.
If an Oladipo collector can find all those parallels they have only completed half the battle, as there are also the many numbered Prizms. The Gold Prizm parallel returns, and is numbered to 10 once again. The Purple Prizm Die-Cuts, which are numbered to 49, also have followers. They are in Hobby Base, along with the 1 of 1 Black Prizms. Hobby Jumbo boxes have Light Blue Die-Cuts which are numbered to 199, Orange Prizms numbered to 60 and the 1 of 1 Black Mosaic.
With so many different colors among the various Prizm parallels, team collectors can use their imagination and find a mini set to collect. Fans of the L.A. Lakers could start with the Purple Prizms of Kobe Bryant, Nick Young, Pau Gasol, Steve Blake, Steve Nash, Robert Sacre and Ryan Kelly before going after purple cards of retired Lakers, like Shaq and Kareem, or Lakers in the insert sets. A collection of Clippers or 76ers cards could use a bunch of Red, White and Blue Prizms. Green Prizms for the Celtics, red for the Bulls, orange for the Knicks, a collector could have a lot of fun with this team-specific chase.
Guard Duty, not surprisingly, is an insert set dedicated to the best guards in the NBA. Post Season gives the big-men of the NBA some overdue recognition, although the Marcin Gortat and Marc Gasol cards are unlikely to start any bidding wars. Dominance features 25 of the NBA's elite players, and also includes some of the younger stars like Bradley Beal, Harrison Barnes and Damien Lillard, and Prizm is full of cards for Lillard collectors to pursue. The Brilliance insert set has a wide variety of players, from veterans like Pierce and Garnett to underrated stars like Chandler Parsons and Jimmy Butler.
Fans of the old NBA will want to collect the cards, and their parallels, of the Hall Monitors insert set, featuring 25 cards of Hall of Famers. As well as the usual players, like Mikan and Magic, there are also cards of Arvydas Sabonis and Gary Payton. There are also a few unexpected appearances by old stars of the NBA in the autographs in Prizm, with Charlie Scott, Dikembe Mutombo, Bobby Jones and Norm Nixon some of the retired stars to look for. Panini even managed to get Dennis Rodman to sign.
The rookies of the NBA are part of the HRX set. But this isn't the HRX of the past which was a redemption for a giant card that played a video. Just like the HRX cards in Panini's Prizm football release they are cards that can be scanned and then a video can play on a phone.
While Oladipo and Michael Carter-Williams are the two main rookies that collectors and investors want to find, there are also other rookies in Prizm who could be worth a lot in the future. Giannis Antetokounmpo has been called "The Greek Kevin Durant" and Dennis Schroder might be "Germany's Rajon Rondo". Nerlens Noel was a high risk and possibly high reward acquisition by Philadelphia and collectors will need to buy his cards now and wait to see how he plays next season. Noel could be someone who plays like Anthony Davis, and Davis' cards are valuable. The best-value rookie to collect in Prizm could be point guard Trey Burke of the Utah Jazz. Collectors like the small, quick, exciting players plus Burke could be teamed with a huge talent, like Wiggins or Parker, next season which could make Jazz cards more popular. A Black 1/1 Burke autograph card sold this week for $915 but other non-signed parallels are much more reasonably priced.
Prizm is an affordable product that will give collectors a parallel card chase not seen since the many different colors of refractors in 2004-05 Topps Finest. The base set is something that many will try to complete, and it also includes cards with pictures of some of the players who changed teams in their new uniforms in game action, like new Nets Pierce and Garnett and the Boston Celtics' Gerald Wallace. Several hundred players have signed autographs for Prizm as well but the main reason to open packs of Prizm is to assemble player or team sets of many of the Prizms parallels. There is also the chance of getting a Gold, or Black, Prizms card that could be worth more than the cost of a box.
Hobby boxes have settled at around $80-100 and have two autographs with jumbos carrying four autographs as well as some exclusives and selling at around $180-200.
Editor's Note: We opened a box of Prizm and here are the highlights of what we pulled:
- Purple Refractor Die-Cut Guard Duty Rajon Rondo
- Purple Refractor Die-Cut Amar'e Stoudemire
- Autographs: Shabazz Muhammad, Greg Stiemsma (stickers)
- Prizm Parallels: Tony Parker, Nene', Jeff Green, Aaron Afflalo
- Dominance: Russell Westbrook
- Brilliance: Ricky Rubio
- Hall Monitor: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
- Guard Duty: Dwyane Wade
Prizm is one of the sharpest designs out there for the money and has gained a following. There aren't too many inserts to chase down and there are some nice Hall of Famers on the autograph checklist. It's at a decent price point that won't scare away too many people, yet still delivers a decent bang for the buck.
You can see 2013-14 Panini Prizm cases, boxes, singles and sets on eBay here.