He’s putting a jolt into what had become an increasingly wobbly basketball market. Victor Wembanyama cards will come in waves as his promising career plays out but thanks to the recent trend of draft products and print-on-demand issues, the market is establishing itself.
A duel between two trading card rivals who’ve both started pushing them out hasn’t hurt.
The 7’4″ Frenchman has had card collectors in a frenzy, all of whom are attempting to get their hands on anything Wemby.
Since the arrival of his first cards last spring, more than 62,000 Wembanyama cards have sold on eBay alone, with more than $6.3 million spent. Eighteen have sold for $10,000 or more. Just in the last month, as he launched his NBA career, over 27,000 sold for more than $2.6 million.
eBay says when he made his highly anticipated NBA debut on October 25, searches for “Wembanyama” memorabilia and trading cards increased nearly 300% compared to a week prior.
One of the five 2022-23 Bowman Chrome University Red Refractor redemption cards netted early $20,000 in August. A PSA 10 Gold Refractor autograph from 2022 Bowman U (# to 50) went for $15,850.
The past two years have been nothing short of a whirlwind for Wembanyama, who has become perhaps the most talked about young player since LeBron James went from high school to the NBA 20 years ago.
Wembanyama’s professional career began in France at the age of 15. Fans and scouts alike marveled at his shot-blocking ability, deft footwork in the paint, and an outside shooting range that belied his size. Moving through the pro ranks in France, his NBA ready game became apparent during exhibition games against the G League’s Ignite team when he scored 73 points in two games. After a full season with Metropolitans 92, was on his way to America, joining the Spurs after San Antonio won the NBA Draft Lottery.
Wembanyama’s game is a fusion of the traditional and the modern. His shot-blocking and rebounding prowess in the paint are reminiscent of classic big men, but his ability to step outside and drain three-pointers is a testament to his adaptability to the modern game. He can guard the rim with authority and then transition seamlessly to the perimeter, creating mismatches that confound opponents. His unique combination of attributes allows him to play both as a dominant inside presence and a stretch forward, making him a nightmare matchup for opponents.
Wembanyama’s basketball IQ is also well beyond his years. He has a deep understanding of the game, reads plays exceptionally well, and has the ability to make smart decisions under pressure. His passing ability is a testament to his court vision, and he often sets up his teammates for easy baskets.
On the court, Wembanyama is already showing flashes of brilliance. He’s the third teenager all time to record 35+ points, 10+ rebounds and 2+ blocks in a game (since blocks were tracked in 1973-74). Kevin Durant and the aforementioned LeBron James are the only two others players to accomplish that feat. Pretty good company.
His first pack pulled rookie cards arrived with 2023-24 Panini Hoops, a product that included two Wemby cards in its base set along with numerous insert cards. Those are the first to picture him wearing an NBA uniform and as such, were hot out of the gate (see some for sale and auction here). His autograph deal with Fanatics, however, means Panini has not ben able to include any signed cards in its products.
Here’s a look at some of the top early Victor Wembanyama cards available and a look at the most watched auctions.
2022 Bowman University Inception
2022 Bowman University Inception was the first chance collectors had at pulling a Wembanyama card. He does not have a base card in the set, and his autograph is a redemption, so this may end up being one of the rarer Wembanyama cards to exist in the long run. Expect to pay a four-figure price–more for one of the serial numbered versions.
2022 Bowman University Chrome
In 2022 Bowman University Chrome, Wemby got his first true base card and true chrome autograph (another redemption). Featured in the 2022 Topps Chrome design that we saw in all of the releases that year, Wemby’s base card was an SSP. Collectors also noticed that it had an almost dull look to it, as if there was a lack of normal sheen we were accustomed to seeing on chrome cards. Nevertheless, these cards should have lasting value since the 1st Bowman moniker always appeases collectors. Most who pull the base card are immediately grading them. Both have been increasing in value.
2022 Bowman University Best
2022 Bowman University Best features Wembanyama’s first widely available non-shortprinted base card in a product. It also features Wembanyama’s first live autograph, though they are sticker autos. All three of the products on the list so far have Wemby sporting his Metropolitans 92 threads.
The base cards remain relatively affordable at the moment.
2023 Topps Now
Topps has released a couple print-on-demand Wembanyama NOW cards, which are cards that were only available for a short time on Topps.com. One features Wemby in his draft day attire, while the other showcases him throwing out the first pitch at a New York Yankees game. The event-worn jersey relic version of that Topps Now card is numbered /499 or less. The standard versions were purchased in big quantities and even graded versions are still within reach of most collectors.
2023 Panini Instant
The pictured Panini Instant card is the first that features Wembanyama sporting his Spurs gear, with the team logo and rookie card logos toward the top right of the card. Much like Topps Now, this card was only available on Panini’s website for a short time. Panini, though, currently has the NBA license, so they will be crafting licensed Wembanyama cards all year via that platform. He will not have autographs in Panini products, however, as his signature is a Topps exclusive. The Draft Instant card is among his least expensive cards to date.
2023 Topps Allen & Ginter
Everyone’s favorite yearly oddball product, Allen & Ginter, featured Wemby as a surprise chase in 2023. Not only did Wembanyama have base cards and parallels, he also has autographs in the product. You can also find him in Ginter X. The image is pretty generic but Topps doesn’t have a license to use NBA logos. Hundreds are always available for sale, which has kept prices at least somewhat modest.
You can find the big man in 2023-24 Prizm Draft Picks, on an SI For Kids card and a few others. You can monitor the list of the top 100 most watched Wembanyama cards for auction on eBay via the feed below and see all of his cards currently for sale and ending soon via this link.