Any collector who has opened product in the past few years knows that most hobby boxes are not going to be financially rewarding. Generously, only one or two boxes per case will yield a positive return on your investment or offer a card the box ripper, if a collector, actually wants to keep. The thrill of the chase is part of the fun but the cost of participation isn’t trivial for most average collectors.
So here’s my premise with this new series…
Instead of chasing the rainbow (literally) of hit or miss prospects and trying to beat the long odds of advertised scarce inserts and hits, we offer to help you get your hands on and spend your hard-earned money on a handful of pretty sure things.
Superstar single cards of your (or my) choice.
For those for whom the box break has become a little bit of a grind, I think our picks have a chance to make you much happier, less broke and much more satisfied with the way your collection grows.
For the price of a low-end hobby box, say 2022-23 Hoops Basketball for this argument’s sake (around $140), I’ll spend about that same number on a nice starter collection of a superstar player. I’ll include a rookie, a serial numbered card, some color and maybe even a game used card or two.
First up is Portland Trailblazers superstar point guard Damian Lillard. Dame Dolla is one of the faces of the league.
The 2013 NBA Rookie of the Year has spent his entire career in Portland, earning seven NBA All-Star Game appearances, six All-NBA Team nominations and is climbing the ladder into the upper tier of all time three-point kings. One of the NBA’s most clutch players, the former Weber State Wildcat was named to the NBA’s 75th Anniversary Team. Lillard is a lock for eventual Hall of Fame induction.
The Rookie Card
The rookie card in my collection will be the 2012-13 Hoops graded BGS 9.5. This is a great lower end flagship Hoops rookie card of the Blazers superstar. Lillard is found in his classy draft day suit, a new black and red Blazers hat and Blazers logoed up Spalding basketball in hand.
Grab a nice BGS 9.5 for the $40-$50 some have sold for recently and we’re off and running with a great addition to the PC.
The Autograph Card
The autograph card in my selection comes from the relatively new 2023 Leaf Pro Set. It’s not an NBA licensed product so you won’t see all of the Blazers logos or insignias anywhere. Some consider that a deal breaker, but Leaf has a longstanding relationship with Lillard and where else are you going to find a Lillard auto this far south of a hundred bucks?
You wont get logos but what you do get is a legit Dame autograph for this far south of $100 There are some really cool acetate style technologies used on this colorful card. It’s a great entry level auto of a legendary player.
The Memorabilia Card
The memorabilia card of choice is a nice second year 2013-14 Totally Certified gamer of Dame, numbered to 99 copies and featuring a piece of game-used memorabilia. A red version recently sold for $9.99 and a blue for double that. We always appreciate “game worn” or “game used” material over much of the stuff that comes out of packs today.
The Shiny, Numbered Card
You need a shiny, serial numbered card to complete the quartet and I chose a fan favorite in Select Basketball, specifically, the 2015-16 version. This offers the classic chrome stock, and the thick Select border. As an added bonus, this numbered card happens to be a Red Prizm parallel, which is a nice jersey match/team color match for Lillard and the Blazers, numbered to 199. Two of these have sold in recent weeks–for $5 and $10, which keeps us in line with our alternative to a hobby box price point.
The beauty of this series is that in each particular case, the choices could go a thousand different ways. Many cards, many products, many price points and many options. The idea is that there are great options for single cards or lots to add your collection outside of spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on a new box of nothing.