Basketball card collectors have been waiting, and saving up their money, for the upcoming season’s NBA releases and they are now here. The biggest draft class since 2003, for those who invest in rookies, has arrived in cardboard. Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins lead a deep group that could make 2014-15 Panini Hoops a popular brand, one which is still loaded with young superstars like Wall, Rose, Durant and Irving and also has fan-favorites LeBron, Carmelo and other older superstars. It’s the first product to picture players in the uniforms of their NBA teams, including rookies.
Each box of Hoops, currently priced at around $65-75 online, contains 24 packs with 12 cards per pack. Panini put Parker on the front of the packs and boxes but the “i” in Jabari is missing on the box,an ‘oops’ moment collectors will be glad to overlook if the young Buck becomes a superstar.
Don’t look for Hoops at your local Target or Walmart for at least another ten days.
There are two autographs per hobby box as well as one memorabilia card. The base set contains 300 cards, which come with several parallel versions, and Hoops is also full of many different insert sets. As well as all the expected superstars, like LeBron James and Kevin Love in Cleveland uniforms, Hoops goes deeper into the rosters than other card releases so team and player collectors will find cards of players who are sometimes overlooked. Hoops has cards of lesser-known players like Shelvin Mack, Chase Budinger and Raptor Tyler Hansbrough.
Player collectors will be able to fill up a nine-pocket page with the many base card parallels, which include a 1 of 1. Panini has added more parallels this season to Hoops, and have given some of the parallel cards a finish similar to their Prizm and Cracked Ice cards. The parallels this year for the base cards are Red Backs, Gold, Green which is new, Silver which is another new addition, Blue, Red, Artist’s Proof and the Black Artist’s Proof 1 of 1.
Twelve months ago, one of the few big cards to look for was a signed Hoops Michael Carter-Williams. Now there are many more hyped rookies with autographs, and they can be found in the Hot Signatures and numbered Red Hot Signatures insert sets.
Panini says that a rookie autograph will be in every box, and while collectors will really want to find a card of Wiggins or Parker they may also find a future star with power dunker Aaron Gordon, double-double machine Julius Randle, sharpshooter Doug McDermott or athletic Zach LaVine. That’s a pretty strong selling point when you have what appears to be a deep first year class.
Among the veteran players with autographs are Durant and Bryant and some of the retired players in the insert set are Dan Majerle and Earl Monroe.
A cheaper rookie collectors will consider is center Joel Embiid. Just as collectors had to speculate on how 76ers’ center Nerlens Noel’s cards would be valued as he missed with injury, collectors can repeat that with Joel Embiid. Before his injury, Embiid was in the conversation with Wiggins and Parker for going with the top pick of the draft.
The Rise and Shine set has rookie players and memorabilia pieces. Veteran players are featured in the Authentics memorabilia cards, while players in the Blast from the Past set are shown in jerseys they used to wear with former teams. Joe Johnson’s card has a piece of his Atlanta uniform, while Amar’e Stoudemire and Vince Carter have Phoenix Suns cards.
Something different for collectors are the insert sets with two players featured on each card. Trading Places shows the two main parts of some of the biggest NBA trades on one card, with everything from the recent Jrue Holiday and Nerlens Noel deal to the perplexing Dennis Rodman for Will Perdue trade. The Matchups Set has cards of two of today’s stars going against each other, like Kevin Durant versus Kobe Bryant, as well as cards with rivals of the past.
The Kobe’s All-Rookie Team insert set will produce some of the most expensive insert cards among those without signatures. Using a design that emulates the past Magic Johnson and Grant Hill All-Rookie sets, there are 12 rare cards in the set to search for. The 2014-15 Hoops cards also bring something extra for San Antonio fans, not just cards of versatile rookie Kyle Anderson but cards that commemorate all the playoff action and the title win by the Spurs with the Road to the Finals and Champions Trophy Portraits inserts. There are also Spurs Championship cards and one Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard card.
Big words on a card can create a great design, like Upper Deck’s Flight Team cards, and Class Action in 2014-15 Hoops has that going for it as well as the inclusion of Yao Ming. The Shining Stars and Picture Perfect inserts have close-up shots of the league’s biggest stars and the Lights, Camera, Action as well as the Courtside inserts feature in-game photography. Other insert sets in Hoops include Fast Lane, End 2 End, High Honors, Moments of Greatness, Shining Stars, Rookie Remembrance, Highlights, Faces of the Future and Dreams. Many of the insert sets also have a numbered parallel version.
Hoops is a product that tries to bridge the gap between fans who want a strong base set with a lot of players and those who like a shot at some autographs and interesting inserts. It is one of the affordable NBA products while also giving older collectors a familiar set that has been around, on and off, since 1989-90. If the rookie class can come close to the LeBron, Carmelo, Wade group then those who bought Hoops boxes will have a good investment. There will be plenty of people who decide to start a player collection with someone from the 2014 NBA Draft and the Hoops cards will be the start of a Wiggins, Parker, Dante Exum or Julius Randle collection that could keep a collector busy for the next 15 years.
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