10 Best Basketball Rookie Cards to Invest in 2021

Basketball card prices skyrocketed during the global COVID-19 pandemic and attracted lots of new and hold investors to the once dormant sports card market.

Even as the global economies open back up, basketball card are still rising as we speak.

The 2020/21 NBA season has begun and many sports fans are buying up rookie cards of the top current & retired players as a sound long term investment.

Top NBA Basketball Rookie Card Investments

Below is a list of the best NBA basketball rookie cards to invest in right now.

1996/97 Topps Chrome Kobe Bryant

The Late Kobe Bryant passed away in January 2020 and his card remain my top overall target for investment.

Kobe Bryant’s most valuable rookie card, 1996-97 Topps Chrome PSA 10, increased from around $5,000 in February 2020 to $15,000+ currently.

His official HOF enshirement will take place in 2021 and many NBA fans are eager to watch the Los Angeles Lakers win the NBA championship to honor the late NBA legend.

1996-97 Topps Chrome Kobe Bryant Rookie Card

2013/14 Panini Prizm Giannis Giannis Antetokounmpo Rookie

Gianni’s top rookie card has seen a big increase after he won the NBA Regular Season MVP 2 seasons in a row.

The 2013-14 Panini Prizm Basketball set features arguably Gianni’s best base rookie card.

eBay auction prices increased from just $3,000 in June 2020 to around $6,500 in August. That’s almost a 100% ROI in just a few months.

The 2-time NBA MVP signed an NBA record contract extension and this will drive a lot of fans to invest in his cards.

There are several variations of this card with different print runs: Red, Blue, Green, and Orange.

2013-14 Panini Prizm Giannis Antetokounmpo Rookie Card
2013/14 Panini Prizm Giannis Rookie Base Card

2019-20 Panini Prizm Zion Williamson

Zion Williamson didn’t have the best rookie campaign due to injury and his cards fell in price throughout his first NBA season.

The New Orleans Pelicans revamped their team and Zion has the potential for a monster sopohmore season.

Now is a great chance to buy Zion’s premier rookie card while prices trend lower.

The 2019-20 Panini Prizm Basetball set features Zion’s top rookie card and you can grab the PSA 10 gem mint version for just $700 on eBay.

If Zion remains healthy, he will become a force to reckon with the NBA for years to come.

2019-20 Panini Prizon Zion Williamson Rookie

1986-87 Fleer Michael Jordan

The 1986-87 Fleer Basketball set is one of the most iconic sports card sets of all time.

Michael Jordan headlines this jam packed set and is still one of the best basketball targets for sports card investors.

Netflix’s The Last Dance brought a huge spotlight on the Chicago Bulls destiny and caused MJ’s rookie cards to skyrocket in price.

While a lot of the hype setlled since its launch, Michael Jordan card will carry premium investment value for years to come.

A PSA 10 gem mint version sold recently for $75,000 and makes for a wonderful long term investment.

Be carefuil when purchasing any 86 Fleer Michael Jordan rookies because this card is the most counterfeited basketball card of all time. Check out this 1986-87 Fleer Michael Jordan Guide to avoid getting scammed.

1986-87 Fleer Michael Jordan Rookie Card
1986 Fleer Michael Jordan

2003 Topps Chrome Lebron James

The 2003-04 Topps Chrome set features several some to be HOF players including the king himself, Lebron James.

Lebron James is an iconic global personality and his cards increased a lot during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Los Angeles Lakers won the 2019/20 NBA championship and Lebron took home another NBA Finals MVP award. With just 2 years left on his contract, Lebron could retire as one of the greatest NBA players of all time.

2012-13 Panini Prizm Kawhi Leonard

The 2012-13 Panini Prizm set features Kawhi’s top rookie card for investors.

Kawhi Leonard won the NBA championship 2 seasons ago with the Toronto Raptors but decided to play for the Los Angeles Clippers in his hometown of LA.

Whether the Clippers win the championship or not, Kawhi is a guaranteed first ballot HOF whose card should grow in value over time.

Kawhi is just 29 years old with a lot of basketball left in the tank so this card could appreciate a lot in the next few years.

2012-13 Panini Prizm Kawhi Leonard

2018-19 Panini Prizm Luka Doncic

The 2018-19 Panini Prizm Basketball set features Luka’s top rookie card as the 2nd year All Star took a big leap in production during his 2nd stint in the league.

Luka Doncic led the NBA in triple doubles this season and he took over the Mavericks’ franchise after Dirk Niwotzki’s retirement quite nicely.

The Dallas Mavericks ran the most efficient offense in NBA history this season thanks to Luka’s dynamic scoring and playmaking.

At just 21 years of age, Luka will continue to fill up the stat sheet if he stays healthy.

2018-19 Panini Prizm Luka Doncic

2009-10 Topps Chrome James Harden #99

James Harden is one of the best NBA scorers of all time whose rookie cards are quite undervalued when compared to other superstars.

While James Harden doesn’t have the championship rings to bolster his HOF resume, he may be considered the best scorer in NBA history.

2012-13 Panini Prizm Damian Lillard #245

Damian Lillard turned heads with his 61 point performance during the NBA bubble and his rookie cards continue to climb in price due to his impressive play.

It’s unlikely that the Portland Trailblazers defeat the Los Angeles Lakers but Dame is still one of the best players in the league.

The 2012-23 Panini Prizm Basketball set features his top rookie card and it’s priced considerably below other NBA stars.

2009-10 Topps Chrome Stephen Curry

The 2008-09 Topps Chrome Basketball set features Stephen Curry’s top overall rookie card for investors.

Coming back from a serious wrist injury, Stephen Curry only played a few games during the 19/20 NBA season.

His rookie cards moved up slightly in price but can still be bought for reasonable prices.

Curry should be 100% healthy for the upcoming 2020/21 NBA season, which his rookie card prices may increase again.

He’s definitely a contratrian investment but will be a first ballot HOF as his career winds down from last decade’s Warriors dynasty.

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Tarik Pierce is the founder of InvestorTrip.com and regularly contributes articles to this website. He studied Economics at Dartmouth College and invests in a mix of dividend stocks, high CAGR tech stocks & cryptocurrencies.