For being such a large man posting even larger numbers as a number one overall NBA draft pick, its hard to imagine Deandre Ayton’s rookie cards being overlooked but here we are.
Born in the Bahamas, Ayton was a standout on the hardwood from a very early age. He was being recruited and looked at by local teams and media outlets as early as 12 years old.
The former tuba player and soccer player moved to the San Diego area to play high school basketball, attending Balboa High School for his freshman and sophomore seasons. Prior to his junior season, he transferred to Hillcrest Prep Academy in Phoenix. During his two seasons in Arizona, the big man averaged nearly 30 points and 15 rebounds and quickly became a recruit that had nearly every college coach in the country buzzing.
He committed to the University of Arizona and played one eventful season under coach Sean Miller. At the end of his only college regular season, Ayton was named both the Pac-12’s Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year. The awards and honors didn’t end there, as he was also named All-Pac-12 First Team and winner of the Karl Malone Award. He was also voted a consensus first-team All-American.
It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows, as Ayton was involved in a seedy pay for play scandal, and after one turbulent season in Arizona he entered the 2018 NBA Draft and was selected first overall by the Phoenix Suns, again staying close to home.
Although his rookie season was cut short due to injury, the campaign would be considered a success by any measure as the former Wildcat averaged a double-double, pouring in over 16 points and grabbing 10 boards per contest, all while being named NBA All Rookie First Team.
No stranger to off court issues, Ayton was suspended for violating the league’s performance enhancing drug policy after the opener of the 2019-20 season. That coupled with the pandemic and alteration of the season, Ayton’s play during his sophomore season in the league was limited. But when he was on the court he showed flashes of star potential, averaging over 18 points and nearly 12 rebounds including an incredible 20-20 game in which he recorded 26 points and a career high 21 rebounds versus the Knicks in Madison Square Garden.
As the future unfolds and the Suns appear ready to make more positive strides, some are expecting big things from the Suns’ big man, who is still a very young player.
Below you will find a list of potential Ayton rookie cards to target, ranging from the super high end to the very affordable, lower end and everything in between.
All-NBA Rookie Tier
2018-19 Panini National Treasures #118 Deandre Ayton JSY AU RC
Rookie Patch Autographs from one of the highest end products on the market each year are a favorite target of those who like to buy in hopes of positive future returns. It features a large jersey swatch accompanied with an on-card signature and a picture of the Suns big man in full uniform ready to pass the rock. This is the Deandre Ayton true rookie for the most serious of collectors with the deepest of pockets. Expect to pay well over $2,000 entry level and expect to pay far more for copies with nicer jersey swatches.
2018-19 Panini Impeccable #111 Deandre Ayton JSY AU RC–
If you are looking for a stylish Ayton rookie, this might be it. With a bright and textured look, it’s an artistic design that offers a jersey swatch and a hard-signed autograph serial-numbered to just 99. This card looks the part of a high-end offering. Expect to skip a car payment to purchase one.
2018-19 Panini Opulence #89 Deandre Ayton RC #/75
As we continue our play on high-end terminology to describe our high-end card sets, the Opulence debut card makes an appearance on our list. Although there are a number of Ayton options in this set with autographs and jerseys, this one just offers a nice action image, an on-card auto and the gold background that really sets it apart.
You’ll pay a fairly strong price for this one but with only 75 copies, it’s understandable.
First Overall Pick Tier
2018-19 Panini Prizm #279 Deandre Ayton RC
In a Prizm rookie class where he is overshadowed by Luka Doncic and Trae Young, don’t sleep on Deandre Ayton’s flagship Prizm rookie card. This could-be classic is very affordable at the moment but that won’t last long if the former Arizona Wildcat big man continues to average 20 and 10 for the surging and newly revamped Phoenix squad.
2018-19 Absolute Memorabilia Uncirculated #56 Deandre Ayton RC
In a product that offers very few cards per box it became evident that these were tough to track down. So much so that the LeBron James base card was going for hundreds of dollars,. This is a nice mid-tier Ayton with no real frills. It’s a nice, not too busy design with real eye appeal. Considering how few are typically available, the price is more than right.
2018-19 Panini Encased #119 Deandre Ayton RE AU RC
Simplicity, thy name is Encased. A very straightforward, uncluttered design paired with a low serial number but not among the most avidly chased Ayton rookie cards, it’s pretty appealing. At a price point usually much lower than other signed Ayton rookie cards of similar production, it might be a viable option for many collectors.
Pay to Play Tier
2018-19 Panini Prizm Mosaic #18 Deandre Ayton RC
Is it Prizm Mosaic or is it Mosaic Prizm? Now two separate iconic brands, this was the best of both worlds a few years ago…kind of. In actuality, they weren’t very well received. It’s a very busy, shiny, almost unrecognizable card but it makes this list just for the coolness factor of combining two now legendary brands. There are several parallel versions, too, but most all of them aren’t very pricey.
2018-19 Donruss Optic #157 Deandre Ayton RR RC
This is a great lower tier option from a player and a product that can catch fire in an instant. Optic, the shiny, more suave version of Donruss, offers the same nice, clean timeless rookie card as its lesser counterpart. At the moment, this one can be had for $10 or less which is an absolute steal. Grab as many as you can as quickly as you can.
2018-19 Select Concourse Level #2 Deandre Ayton RC
Select is yet another great low to medium end product with definite growth potential, much like the subject of this particular card. It’s has above the rim appeal but with a below the rim price point, making it very attractive to any collector in any budget range.
You can check out the most watched Deandre Ayton rookie card auctions below.