Like the stock market, the collectibles marketplace is not immune to wild swings that can make some collectors regret ever taking an interest in the hobby. Even worse, trading card values don’t always reflect overall economic conditions that determine the price of food and unemployment levels. When the global pandemic forced people to stay home and other businesses suffered, we found refuge in purchasing collectibles online leading to a historic surge in the collectibles market.
Collectors who purchased the already most expensive basketball cards at record-high prices in 2021 instead of selling what they own suffered the consequences of a temporary surge in demand. As life has gradually returned to normal, basketball card values have steadily dropped to the levels that they were before a virus limited our options for spending disposable income. That presents card fanatics with an opportunity to invest in the top NBA legends and rookies and have more confidence that they can make a profit again in the next 3 years. The following 10 cards have either proven themselves as smart long-term investments or represent players who are likely to achieve more national recognization in the years to follow.
10 Basketball Cards Most Likely to Rise in Value in the Next 3 Years
2022 Panini Instant Draft Night Jaden Ivey RC
Paolo Banchero is the consensus top pick for this season’s NBA Rookie of the Year, but Jaden Ivey has a future that’s arguably just as bright. The 5th overall pick in the last draft is one of the best overall athletes in his rookie class and has the size and wingspan to be an effective combo guard. Ivey has hard work and dedication in his DNA, with a basketball-coaching mother and a father who is an NFL veteran. There isn’t a huge selection of Jaden Ivey cards to collect yet, but his Panini Instant Draft Night card is one of the best basketball cards to buy for recent rookies, especially in gem mint condition.
1970-71 Topps #123 Pete Maravich RC
Pete Maravich not only broke numerous records in the NCAA but went on to become an NBA Hall of Famer, playing the game with a carefree style that earned him a huge fanbase. His 1970 Topps rookie card is the most expensive basketball card in the set known as Tall-Boy for its oversized dimensions. Basketball card values for Maravich now are far from the pandemic boom that saw dramatic rises in demand for basketball legends. Still, after bottoming out in October of 2022, his Topps rookie is on the rise again. With the card selling for 7 times or more than it did in 2004, investing in Maravich should payoff even in the next 3 years.
2018-19 Panini Prizm #184 Shai Gilgeous-Alexander RC
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander may suffer from being on a team that doesn’t get a lot of attention, but there is no doubt that he has improved every season since his overall 11th selection in the 2018 draft. Shai is now averaging over 30 points per game and the wisest card investors have started to catch on. Prizm base rookie cards in high grades continue to pay off as solid purchases for top rookies. Values of Shai’s best basketball cards are now higher than at any point in their history, but there is still time to cash in before he receives more national media attention.
1989-90 Hoops #310 David Robinson RC
The “Admiral” David Robinson felt out of place in the Navy due to his height, but he soon found a home with the San Antonio Spurs and quickly emerged as one of the most dominant centers of all time. From Rookie of the Year to league MVP to NBA finals champion, there was little the Hall of Fame big man didn’t accomplish during his NBA career. For card collectors, his 1989 Hoops rookie card is sold for as little as $40-50 in gem mint condition and is a great card for first-time investors to start off with. David Robinson’s basketball card values have peaked and dipped a few times since 2020-2021, and right now they are as inexpensive as they will probably be for several years to come.
2003-04 Topps Photo Shoot Carmelo Anthony RC Auto
Following his NCAA heroics carrying Syracuse to their first National Championship, the ceiling for the third overall pick in the 2003 draft seemed limitless. Much of the criticism of Carmelo Anthony relates to him never leading a team to an NBA title. However, his playoff stats have largely mirrored his regular season numbers in which he was consistently a leading offensive weapon for more than 12 seasons. As Carmelo approaches the end of his career, a Hall of Fame induction seems likely though not guaranteed. Whenever there is any doubt about a HOF candidacy for a player who eventually makes it in, there is an opportunity to invest before there is a huge demand for their cards. Overall, Carmelo’s cards are selling at their lowest point in history, yet despite this, his most expensive basketball cards like the Topps Photo Shoot autographed rookie card continue to increase in value.
2013-14 Panini Prizm #290 Giannis Antetokounmpo RC
A funny thing about first-time NBA titles is they tend to make everything about a player more desirable, including their trading cards. That was certainly the case in 2021 when the Greek Freak led the Milwaukee Bucks to their first title in 40 years. Since then, Giannis Antetokounmpo collectibles have become more affordable again, but that may not last long the way Giannis and his team are playing. Giannis is scoring more than 32 points per game this season, the highest in his career, and the Bucks have enough talent around him to make another run at an NBA title. In BGS 9.5 gem mint condition, his rookie year Panini Prizm card sells for over $600 but even at lower grades is one of the best basketball cards to buy to see a profit over the next 3 years.
2022 Panini Instant #5 Paolo Banchero RC
The first overall draft pick always brings with it sky-high expectations, but Paolo Banchero has come out of the gates proving why he was worthy of the selection. Banchero is an all-around offensive talent on the level of any NBA rookie in recent years with an ability to accurately pass and make plays for his teammates. Things finally look up for the Orlando Magic, who have a talented young crop of players around Banchero to keep them from the basement of the NBA standings. Like with Jaden Ivey, there is only a small selection of NBA products that include Banchero’s cards, but once again Panini Instant is one of his best basketball cards, best obtained in gem mint condition.
1996-97 Topps Chrome #138 Kobe Bryant RC
Kobe Bryant is an unfortunate example of the reality of the collectibles marketplace when an NBA star passes away much sooner than expected. Combined with the Covid-19 collectibles explosion, a perfect storm of circumstances saw Kobe’s basketball card values rise to astronomical levels. Now, his collectibles are more reasonably priced again at levels close to late 2020. Don’t expect them to stay at these prices for long, however, since his Topps Chrome rookie cards are still selling for 6-7 times as much as 10 years ago. A more affordable but still safe investment is Kobe’s non-chrome Topps rookie card which sells for around $150 in mint grades.
1986-87 Fleer Sticker #8 Michael Jordan RC
Every collector must have a Michael Jordan Fleer rookie card of some sort in their collection. Plenty of great NBA stars have come and gone since Jordan retired for the final time in 2003, but his cards remain the most searched for and bought in the hobby. The Last Dance documentary in 2020 was so popular that it managed to drum up even more interest in Jordan’s collectibles even before the pandemic fully took hold. Since then, his cards have fallen to values slightly more in reach to collectors willing to spend several hundred dollars. While Michael Jordan cards are some of the most expensive basketball cards for sale, his 1986 Fleer Sticker is more affordable than the regular Fleer card, especially in lower grades.
2018-19 Panini Prizm #280 Luka Doncic RC
Luka Doncic just keeps finding ways to step up his basketball game, and he recently secured his 4th All-Star appearance in only his 5th season. Scoring at a career-high level of more than 33 points per game, Doncic has also improved his ball-handling and decision making committing fewer turnovers than in prior seasons. Amazingly, the collectibles market has not yet responded to Luka’s MVP-worthy campaign and you can buy his Panini Prizm rookie, one of his best basketball cards, at all-time low prices. Doncic has proved that despite frequent injuries, he usually recovers before he misses significant stretches of time. Of course, the next factor that would see his cards skyrocket in value is if the Mavericks could win or at least contend for an NBA title.