As is often the case, Larry Bird was right. With the 10th pick in the 2010 NBA Draft he landed Paul George. For the past two seasons, George has been the best player from that draft. It has been a very quick elevation from rookie to star to NBA All-Star, and collectors who loaded up with George cards in his rookie season were as wise as Larry Legend. There was a time when a collector could get ten or even 20 Paul George rookie cards for the price of one John Wall from the same set, and now that George card often sells for more than the Wall. However, it isn't too late for collectors to jump on the bandwagon for the 6-8 swingman for the Indiana Pacers.
"Fresno? No one goes to Fresno anymore." In the Airplane! movies they didn't have a high opinion of Fresno, and card collectors didn't expect a lot from George after being drafted out of Fresno State. The Pacers had Danny Granger scoring 20.5 points per game as well as Mike Dunleavy and Brandon Rush and so in a part-time role, George’s hobby value was similar to that of Patrick Patterson and Wesley Johnson. George did get into the last spot on the NBA's All-Rookie Second Team in 2010-11, so there were some in the NBA who were impressed by his play.
With Dunleavy and Rush out of the picture in 2011-12, George started every game and averaged 29.7 minutes per game. Some collectors started to notice, but not enough to send his prices very high. Injuries hit Granger the next season. The Pacers made a transition and basically became George's team. He was up to the challenge as he was named to the All-Star team and was the NBA's 2012-13 Most Improved Player.
George also showed something that caught the attention of card collectors, and all NBA fans: he could match it with LeBron. The Heat and Pacers developed a rivalry in the 2013 NBA Playoffs, and a huge part of that was the contest at small forward between James and George. In Game 6 in a win at home against the Heat, George scored 28 points while shooting 57.9% from the field.
One card that shows how George has eclipsed John Wall among NBA card collectors is their autographed card from 2010-11 Gold Standard, which is numbered to 299. Wall cards have been selling for around $75. George cards have been at $120 and might be moving up to over $150. Sometimes the best rookie cards to collect for a player are those from a set that also debuted that season, like Kobe Bryant and Topps Chrome or LeBron James and Exquisite Collection, and the Gold Standard George might become one of the best cards to have from George's first NBA season.
Collectors have many Panini releases to search through from 2010-11 for quality George rookie and insert cards. Totally Certified was a very popular set that year, especially with the various parallel cards in different colors, and George has several cards in that issue. 2010-11 Rookies and Stars, Limited, Threads and Classics also provide some quality George cards to collect from his rookie season.
George's 2010-11 National Treasures will be one of the more expensive cards that a collector will want to track down. With autographs and memorabilia, the low numbered cards in this high end product have produced some of the biggest recent eBay sales.
Card #160 in 2010-11 Absolute Memorabilia is another George rookie card with a great design. That card includes an autograph as well as jersey and relic.
One of the most inexpensive George rookie cards is from 2010-11 Donruss. A collector can also look to this old school brand for a nice group of George parallel cards to assemble. There is a Press Proof parallel as well as Emerald, Sapphire and Ruby die cuts.
From 2011-12, Panini Preferred has some amazing George cards to consider. Gold Standard also has a couple of autographed cards.
2012-13 brought the arrival of Flawless Basketball, the $1200 per pack product and its little brother Immaculate, both of which feature some of his most sought after cards. Even Flawless Emerald base cards, numbered to 5, are valued at about $900 at present. The 1 of 1 base card parallel of George in 2012-13 Immaculate sold on eBay for $299.
When collectors are deciding which George cards to acquire from current releases, there are many options and one of the fun goals to have is assembling all of the parallel cards that George has in a product. That could mean looking for a 1 of 1 George, like the 2013-14 Hoops Artist's Proofs Black #59, while his 1 of 1 Black Mosaic from Prizm has been found and sold for $700. There are many affordable George cards available from 2013-14 releases, including those with game-used jersey pieces, while his Jamfest die cut card from Pinnacle is a card with a fun design.
Many card collectors build their collections on the best dunkers of the game. Michael Jordan, Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady, LeBron James have all been popular. George may have elevated to a higher level among collectors with one play against the Los Angeles Clippers last month. After a steal, George was out in front of the break with an easy score coming up, but he gave a little extra to the home fans with a 360 job that Dominique Wilkins would have been proud to perform in a dunk contest.
While George does play for a proverbial "small market team", he has helped position the Pacers as a perennial contender and with many more Indiana games on national and international television he is also positioning himself as one of the game's newest superstars. If he can avoid catastrophic injury, it would seem that George basketball cards can only go up, especially if he leads the Pacers to a series win over the Heat and then brings the first NBA championship to Indiana. Click here to see all of George's cards currently available on eBay.