Taking Stock of NBA’s Rookie Rising Stars

As the second half of the NBA season gets underway, it’s a good time to take stock of the 2013-14 NBA rookie card class.  Here are nine players who participated in the Rising Stars game during All-Star weekend and what the future may hold.

Michael Carter-Williams 

2013-14 HOOPS MICHAEL CARTER-WILLIAMS RC AUTO MCW landed in the right situation.  The 76ers had just traded away their starting point guard, Jrue Holiday, so Carter-Williams had all the playing time he wanted in 2013-14.  Philadelphia is also a place where basketball card collectors are looking for someone new to collect, as they haven’t had a big-name since Allen Iverson.

Carter-Williams has the ball in his hands a lot, he leads all rookies in points, rebounds and assists, and turnovers too.  He is also a a promising defensive player and would seem to have the potential to lead the NBA in steals down the road.

The 76ers are poised for rapid improvement in the future, and Carter-Williams will be in charge of the team on the floor.  With room in the salary cap, the introduction of a healthy and athletic Nerlens Noel  and two high picks expected in the 2014 NBA Draft, the 76ers could quickly become a power in their division and Carter-Williams could maintain his spot as the rookie from his draft class with the highest card prices.

Victor Oladipo 

Oladipo autograph Panini PrestigeThe Magic couldn’t hide how excited they were to draft Oladipo and they quickly changed their lineup so he could get minutes to develop.  Aaron Afflalo would be shifted to small forward to open a spot for Oladipo at guard.  While Oladipo isn’t at Dwyane Wade’s level yet, plenty of people see similarities in their size, skills and versatility.

He’s charismatic and has the ability to put his stamp on a highlight reel now and again, which never hurts.

If the Magic trade away Jameer Nelson it could mean Oladipo has the basketball in his hands a lot more.

Giannis Antetokounmpo 

Giannis Antetokounmpo Many card collectors can’t spell his name, and really struggle with his last name, so some like the rhyming nickname “The Greek Freak”.  He has freakish athleticism, length, skills and could still be growing.  The Bucks hope they have a player who will be similar in height and build to Kevin Durant, and really wish that Antetokounmpo can develop his shot to be like Durant’s.

Antetokounmpo has found a role  at small forward and shooting guard for the Bucks.  This was a surprise as the trades for Butler and Knight and the signing of Mayo looked like relegating Antetokounmpo to the bench but injuries, and inconsistent play from the veterans  have opened up minutes for him.  In those minutes he has filled up the stats sheet, he is able to block shots and hit outside jumpers.

While Milwaukee didn’t intend for it to happen, the Bucks now seem like a lock for a top 5 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft.  That could mean Antetokounmpo is on the same team as Wiggins or Parker next year  and that would make the Bucks more relevant.  His cards have been heating up this season, and if the number 1 pick in next draft joins him it could make many more collectors interested in his cards.

Trey Burke black autoTrey Burke

A huge college career, a draft night trade, a bad summer league, an injury, then some great games as a starter for the Jazz.  Some card speculators might have ignored his cards early in the season but they are being bought now.

Playing in a small market won’t help but being a scoring point guard is a big positive, as many of the most popular players with card collectors play that role.  Burke has a chance to join Westbrook, Wall, Irving and Rose and when they are playing at their best it makes their cards very expensive.

Next year has to mean more assists for Burke.  Not only will he have a year of experience but he will have someone new to pass to, picked with Utah’s high lottery pick.

Tim Hardaway jr.Tim Hardaway, Jr. 

There are a couple of reasons why he has a high profile.  Playing for the Knicks means a lot more media coverage, and there are plenty of basketball fans who already know the name due to the exciting way his father played the game.

Tim Hardaway Sr. was very popular, a small point guard who could beat defenders off the dribble and score in the paint.  Famous for his “UTEP two-step” and being a major part of the high-scoring “RUN-TMC” trio for the Warriors, Hardaway passed for more than 7,000 assists in his career.  He also had five seasons when he averaged over 20 points per game.  The NBA’s second Tim Hardaway is half a foot taller, and might have a better outside shot.

With half his games in MSG, and getting some of the spotlight that is always concentrated on Carmelo Anthony, Hardaway is a player who is seen by more fans than many other rookies.   Something exciting about Hardaway is how well he shoots the ball, no rookie has Steven Adamsnumbers like Hardaway does with his 46% from the field, 40% from long range and 82% from the free throw line.

Steven Adams

Card collectors in New Zealand have a lottery pick to collect now.   Something that is giving Adams more exposure than many rookies is that he was a lottery pick who went to a team that was far from being a lottery team.  As part of the James Harden trade with Houston, the Thunder received the pick they used on Adams, which was originally owned by Toronto.  There is a chance that Adams could be the starting center for a championship team soon, which for card prices could make him equivalent to players like Bill Cartwright, Luc Longley and Kendrick Perkins.

Pero AnticPero Antic 

While he did hit a miraculous shot to tie a game at the buzzer only a few weeks ago, Antic is unlikely to have many collectors after his cards as his basketball career is more than half over.  His impact has been unexpected, his NBA.com biography page says “No Biography Available” and Panini didn’t include him in some of its basketball card products.

There will be some collectors in Europe who want his cards, and a few Atlanta Hawks fans too, but his card prices should remain low even with a starting role due to Horford’s injury.

Kelly OlynykKelly Olynyk 

On the same night that the Celtics were trading away their past, sending Garnett and Pierce to Brooklyn, they were trading with Dallas to get Olynyk in the draft.

More trades could be the difference between Olynyk playing a lot of minutes in 2013-14 and just having a bench role.  With the trade deadline approaching, the Celtics could look to move Humphries, Bass, Green or Wallace and if that happened it could open up more minutes for the rookie.  If Olynyk does average over 30 minutes per game in March and April it could mean more stats and higher card prices.

Olynyk wears number 41 as Dirk Nowitzki was his favorite NBA player.  His cards may never match Dirk’s in value but their games do have some similarities and Olynyk may even have more passing ability as he learned the game as a point guard.

Mason PlumleeMason Plumlee 

Playing in Brooklyn will get him noticed, but his playing time isn’t high enough at the moment for him to do as much as his brother is in Phoenix.  Mason has real center size and can already block shots like a veteran NBA player.  But blocks, or rebounds, don’t get many card collectors interested in a player.

For his future card prices, they could be linked to how long Garnett plays, if the Nets keep Blatche in the future with a bigger contract, and the health of injury-prone Lopez.

Click here to see 2013-14 NBA rookie cards on eBay.