15 Best Basketball Rookie Cards to Invest in 2022

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

Things have cooled off but that doesn’t mean you cannot find some solid basketball cards to invest in right now.

The 2022/23 NBA season kicks off in October and many sports fans will begin up rookie cards of the top current & retired players as a sound long term investment. Here’s a list of the best basketball rookie cards for sports card investors to buy for the upcoming season.

New to the sports card industry? Read my sports card investing guide for beginners to learn the basics.

Top NBA Basketball Rookie Card Investments

  • 1986-87 Fleer #57 Michael Jordan
  • 1996-97 Topps Chrome #138 Kobe Bryant
  • 2013/14 Panini Prizm #290 Giannis Antetokounmpo
  • 2019-20 Panini Prizm #248 Zion Williamson
  • 2003-04 Topps Chrome #111 Lebron James
  • 2012-13 Panini Prizm #209 Kawhi Leonard
  • 2018-19 Panini Prizm #280 Luka Doncic
  • 2009-10 Topps Chrome #99 James Harden
  • 2012-13 Panini Prizm #245 Damian Lillard
  • 2009-10 Topps Chrome #101 Stephen Curry
  • 1957 Topps #77 Bill Russell
  • 2007-08 Topps Chrome #131 Kevin Durant
  • 2017-18 Panini Prizm #17 Jayson Tatum
  • 2012-13 Panini Prizm #203 Klay Thompson
  • 2014-15 Panini Prizm #251 Andrew Wiggins

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

1986-87 Fleer #57 Michael Jordan Rookie Card

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $288,000

Michael Jordan was drafted 3rd overall in the 1984 NBA Draft by the Chicago Bulls and won 6 NBA championships as well as 6 NBA Finals MVP awards with the team.

He is widely known for his scoring ability and many consider him the greatest basketball player of all-time.

Jordan’s success earned him a fortune over his career and he is now a billionaire and principal owner of the Charlotte Hornets.

Jordan’s rookie cards were overlooked for a long time until Netflix’s The Last Dance film showcased the Chicago Bulls destiny and caused MJ’s rookie cards to skyrocket in price.

While a lot of the hype settled since the film’s release, Michael Jordan rookies card will carry premium investment value for years to come.

The 1986-87 Fleer #57 Michael Jordan is considered his top rookie card and is the most iconic basketball card in the world.

This card is extremely rare and cannot be purchased on sites like eBay. Most PSA 10 Gem Mint Jordan rookies are sold on popular auction houses such as Heritage Auctions.

In February 2022, A PSA 10 Jordan fleer rookie sold for $288,000.

This card can be obtained in lower grades and still sell for a substantial amount of money. Try PSA grades 5 to 9 if you’re looking to invest.

Be careful 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

1996/97 Topps Chrome #138 Kobe Bryant Rookie Card

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $10,000

Kobe Bryant was drafted 13th overall in the 1996 NBA Draft by the Charlotte Hornets but was immediately traded to the Los Angeles Lakers.

He spent his entire 20 year career with the Lakers and won 5 NBA championships with the team. He was also an 18-time all star who won NBA MVP in 2008.

Sadly enough, the Laker legend passed away in January 2020 from a helicopter crash and left millions of fans around the world in shock. His death also marked the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic that caused millions of deaths and forced lockdowns throughout the world.

Nonetheless, Kobe Bryant is considered one of the best NBA shooting guards of all-time, making his rookie cards a top target for savvy basketball card investors.

The 1996-97 Topps Chrome #138 Kobe Bryant rookie card is Kobe Bryant’s most valuable rookie card and comes in two different variations: the regular base rookie and rookie refractor.

The PSA 10 version is currently selling for around $10,000 on eBay.

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Kobe Bryant was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2021 and remains one of the most collectible players in the hobby.

1996-97 Topps Chrome Kobe Bryant Rookie Card

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2013-14 Panini Prizm Giannis Antetokounmpo Rookie Card

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $1,300

Giannis Antetokounmpo was drafted 15th overall in the 2013 NBA Draft by the Milwaukee Bucks and won 2 NBA Regular Season MVPs and the NBA championship in 2021 since joining the league.

Putting on nearly 50 lbs of muscle since his rookie season helped Giannis become one of the best current NBA players and thus caused his rookie cards to soar in value.

The Greek Freak turns 28 this year and still has a few years left to play basketball in his physical prime. The Bucks struggled in the 2022 NBA playoffs without fellow All Star Kris Middleton but I expect them to make a serious playoff run with Middleton now healthy.

Giannis has fallen a bit out of the spotlight recently but he is a first ballot hall of famer and could see a sharp rise in his rookie card value if the Bucks make a serious run at the 2023 NBA championship.

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

PSA 10 eBay auction prices are selling for around $1,300 right now.

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

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2019-20 Panini Prizm #248 Zion Williamson Rookie Card

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $200

Zion Williamson was drafted #1 in the 2019 NBA draft by the New Orleans Pelicans and set numerous rookie records during his 1st season.

He became a 1st time All star during his 2nd season but injuries have limited his potential throughout his young NBA career

The good news is that the New Orleans Pelicans revamped their team with the addition of C.J. McCollum and Zion has the potential for a monster 3rd season after fully recovering from foot surgery. The only thing holding Zion back is his weight.

Heading into the 2022/23 NBA season, Zion is working closely with personal chef Christian Green who believes he will be the face of the NBA once Lebron James retires.

Lebron James is turning 38 this year and it’s only a matter of time until he passes the torch to Zion. Now is a great chance to buy Zion’s premier rookie card while prices are low.

The 2019-20 Panini Prizm Basetball set features Zion’s top rookie card and you can grab the PSA 10 gem mint base version for just $200 on eBay.

This card also comes in different Panini refractors variations that have smaller print runs:

  • Base: Zion’s standard rookie card
  • Red Prizm #/299
  • Silver
  • Silver Prizm
  • Red, White, and Blue
  • Hyper Prizm
  • Gold
  • Black
  • Orange Ice

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

2019-20 Panini Prizm Zion Williamson Rookie Card

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2003 Topps Chrome Lebron James Rookie Card

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $8,000

Lebron James was drafted #1 in the 2003 NBA Draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers and has won 4 NBA championships with 3 different teams during his career.

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James is the all-time leading playoff scorer and 2nd all-time in career points. Many basketball fans compare him to Michael Jordan as arguably the greatest basketball player of all-time.

James turns 38 this year and signed a 2 year, $97.1 million contract extension with the Los Angeles Lakers through the 2024-25 season. It’s safe to assume that Lebron James will retire at 40 years of age as the all-time leading scorer in NBA history.

After missing the playoffs last season, Lebron James rookie cards have fallen a bit in value but still maintain plenty of long term value. Now is a good time to invest in Lebron James cards while they are reasonably cheap.

The 2003-04 Topps Chrome #111 Lebron James is his most valuable rookie card and comes in two different versions: regular base rookie and rookie refractor.

A recent PSA 10 base version sold for nearly $8,000 on eBay.

Best Prices for 2003-04 Topps Chrome Lebron James Cards

2012-13 Panini Prizm #209 Kawhi Leonard Rookie Card

ConditionValue
PSA 10 Gem Mint$600
PSA 9 $224
PSA 8$93
Raw$95

Kawhi Leonard was drafted 15th overall in the 2011 NBA Draft by the Indiana Pacers but was traded to the San Antonio Spurs on draft night.

He won 2 NBA championships and 2 NBA Finals MVP awards during his hall of fame destined career.

After winning the 2019 NBA Championship with the Toronto Raptors, Kawhi Leonard signed as a free agent with the Los Angeles Clippers to play for his hometown city.

Injuries have slowed down his career over the past season but he looks as ready as ever to bounce back and complete for an NBA championship alongside Paul George this season.

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

The 2012-13 Panini Prizm set features Kawhi’s top rookie card for investors and comes in different variations including the base Prizm and Silver Prizm refractor.

A recent PSA 10 base version sold for $600 and the PSA 10 silver refractor sold for

Kawhi is just 31 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 Rookie Card

Luka Doncic was drafted 3rd overall in the 2018 NBA Draft by the Atlanta Hawks but was traded to the Dallas Mavericks in exchange for Trae Young and a 2019 first round pick.

Luka has risen to superstar status by leading the Dallas Mavericks to the 2022 NBA Western Conference Finals only to lose to the eventual champions, the Golden State Warriors.

At just 23 years old, Luka has a long career ahead of him and should experience a massive increase in his rookie card value.

The 2018-19 Panini Prizm #280 Luka Doncic is his main rookie card and comes in several different variations.

  • Base version
  • Silver
  • Ruby Wave
  • Red White Blue
  • Hyper
  • Red Ice
  • Green
  • Fast Break Purple

A recent PSA 10 base version sold for $370 and a PSA 10 silver version sold for $2,275 on eBay.

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2018-19 Panini Prizm Luka Doncic

2009-10 Topps Chrome #99 James Harden Rookie Card

James Harden was drafted 3rd overall in the 2009 NBA Draft by the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Harden was once one of the NBA’s most prolific scorers during his stint with the Houston Rockets but has now transitioned to a facilitator role alongside Joel Embiid on the Philadelphia Sixers.

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

The 2009-10 Topps Chrome #99 James Harden is his main rookie card and comes in several different variations:

  • Base version
  • Black
  • Chrome superfractor
  • Gold
  • Gold superfractor
2009-10 Topps Chrome James Harden

2012-13 Panini Prizm #245 Damian Lillard Rookie Card

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.

2012-12 Panini Prizm Damian Lillard Rookie Card

2009-10 Topps Chrome #101 Stephen Curry Rookie Card

Stephen Curry was drafted 7th overall in the 2009 NBA Draft by the Golden State Warriors.

He won 4 NBA Championships with his team and is considered one of the greatest shooters of all-time.

He led the Golden State Warriors to the 2022 NBA Championship and was named NBA Finals MVP as a result.

As long as the Splash brothers remain healthy, Curry could win 1 or 2 more NBA titles with the help of Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green, and Klay Thompson. The Golden State Warriors destiny still has plenty of gas left in the tank.

The 2008-09 Topps Chrome #101 Stephen Curry is his main rookie card and comes in several different variations:

  • Base version
  • Gold
  • Refractor
  • Superrefractor

1957 Topps #77 Bill Russell Rookie Card

Bill Russell was drafted 2nd overall in 1957 by the St. Louis Hawks and went on to win 11 NBA championships with the Boston Celtics.

He played a huge role as center for the Boston Celtics dynasty and is considered one of the best NBA players of all-time.

Russell passed away in 2022 at the age of 88 and became the first player ever to have his number retired across the entire league.

The 1957 Topps #77 Bill Russell is his main rookie card but you may have trouble finding it in a high PSA grade.

1957 Topps Bill Russell Rookie Card

2007-08 Topps Chrome # 131 Kevin Durant Rookie Card

Kevin Durant was drafted 2nd overall in the 2007 NBA Draft by the Seattle Supersonics.

Durant won 2 NBA championships and 2 NBA Finals MVP awards during his stint with the Golden State Warriors.

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He is a first ballot NBA hall of famer and could see a massive increase in his rookie card values once he retires from the league.

2007-08 Topps Chrome Kevin Durant Rookie

2017-18 Panini Prizm #17 Jayson Tatum Rookie Card

Jayson Tatum was drafted 3rd overall in the 2017 NBA Draft by the Boston Celtics and helped lead his team to the 2022 NBA Finals.

Mentored by the late Kobe Bryant, Tatum has a bright future ahead of him and should continue to improve at just 24 years old.

He established himself as one of the league’s best players and his rookie cards have risen in demand as well.

The 2017-18 Panini Prizm #17 Jayson Tatum is his main rookie card and comes in several different variations:

  • Base version
  • Silver
  • Ruby Wave
  • Green
  • Red White Blue
  • White Sparkle
  • Hyper
2017-18 Panini Prizm Jayson Tatum

2012-13 Panini Prizm #203 Klay Thompson Rookie Card

Klay Thompson was drafted 11th overall in the 2011 NBA Draft by the Golden State Warriors and won 4 NBA championships alongside Stephen Curry.

Thompson is known for his accurate shooting and lockdown defense, often guarding the opposing teams point guards while giving Stephen Curry a break on the defensive end.

Michael Jordan relied on Scottie Pippen just as much as Stephen Curry relies on Klay Thompson to win NBA championships.

2014-15 Panini Prizm #251 Andrew Wiggins Rookie Card

Andrew Wiggins was drafted 1st overall in the 2014 NBA Draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers but was traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

He rose to prominence during the 2021-21 NBA season and played a crucial role in the Golden State Warriors 2022 NBA Championship run.

Wiggins served as a reliable scorer and often took on the task of guarding the opposing teams’ best player.

If he remains with the Warriors, it’s possible he could add another 1 or 2 NBA rings to his resume.

2014-15 Panini Prizm Andrew Wiggins Rookie Card

Where to Buy Basketball Rookie Cards for Investment

eBay is the #1 place to find a wide selection of basketball rookie cards. You can buy ungraded raw cards and submit them for PSA/BGS grading if you’re on a budget.

If you have more to invest then consider buy PSA/BGS 9’s or 10’s because they have the highest resale value. Several players on this list will be retired within 5 years so it’s a good time to invest now before they approach HOF induction.

COMC is another option for buying and selling basketball rookie cards. You can find some decent raw ungraded deals on the site although many hobby shops use COMC as an outlet for rookies that won’t receive a high PSA/BGS grade.

Managing & Tracking Your Basketball Card Investment Portfolio

Market Movers is the best way to track and manage your basketball trading card collection. You can organize your entire collection and track price changes in real-time using the application.

Market Movers Sports Carding Investing Portfolio Management Tool

Market movers offers 3 different subscriptions based on the size of your collection and data needs:

  • Starter: Manage up to 10 cards (no wax) and get price movements over last 30 days
  • Premium: Manage up to 50 cards (wax included) and get price movements over last 90 days
  • Unlimited: Manage unlimited cards and get price movements over the last 365 days

The Starter plan is a good choice for beginners if you invested in a few basketball cards and want to track your collection.

The premium plan is the best choice for most basketball card investors with a decent sized collection.

If you have a big collection like me then go with the Unlimited plan to unlock all the perks and fully managed your basketball card investments.

Summary

That’s it! I hope you enjoyed this article. Please refer to my complete guide on how to invest in basketball cards if you are new to the industry.

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