When it launched as a new product not long after Panini took over as the NBA’s exclusive trading card licensee, the company couldn’t have imagined that Prizm basketball cards would be one of the top searches in all of eBay’s sports memorabilia category. Specific product lines become a big deal for a variety of reasons, but it’s clear that Panini Prizm is here to stay and the rookie cards from this annual autumn release are among the most actively traded in the entire hobby.
Prizm became the unofficial replacement for Topps Chrome after the latter was knocked out of the basketball card market. While it’s now been spread across the company’s entire sports product line, basketball is where the hottest action and history is.
Debuting in 2012-13 following the 2011 lockout season, Prizm’s shiny look certainly appeared to be an attempt by the company to capture the interest of those who enjoyed Chrome’s long run, which included some landmarks like rookie cards of LeBron James and Kobe Bryant. Prizm is now building a rookie card ladder of its own and has become one of Panini’s Cornerstone brands with a run from Giannis Antetokounmpo (2013-14) and Kawhi Leonard (2012-13) to Luka Doncic (2018-19) and Zion Williamson (2019-20),
The appeal of Prizm is a little hard to put a finger on and the widespread appeal took a while to take hold. The aesthetics generally get mixed reviews, but it’s been a relatively accessible mid-range product in past years, with packs available for around $3 and the availability of both hobby boxes and blasters and other options sold at stores like Target and Walmart. The exploding interest in basketball cards has changed that recently, with both hobby and retail versions disappearing from inventory almost as quickly as they’re stocked—and often relisted at higher prices online or at shows.
In recent years, collectors seem to have realized the solid value Prizm was providing, no matter the intention of the person buying it. Prizm’s appeal seems to be universal. It’s a popular product with collectors but also for those who buy and hold, buy and grade or buy and flip. It’s also somewhat rare in that while autographs are certainly part of the product, it’s the base cards and parallels that tend to be the larger driver.
The appeal of certain years directly correlates to the rookie card class, of course, and 2019-20 was a perfect storm of hot rookies, no live sports from late winter through a good part of the summer.
Prizm basketball’s Silver parallels are among the most actively traded cards in the basketball market. Interestingly, collectors and those who analyze odds have deduced that Silver cards in the early years of the product were printed in far less quantity that those in recent years, with as little as a few hundred of each.
The market for Prizm basketball cards on eBay plays out on a daily basis and you can get a look at the current ‘most watched’ auction listings via the list below.
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