The Best Sports Cards to Invest in 2021: Investment Outlook — The Best Sports Cards to Buy in 2021

The Best Sports Cards to Invest in 2021: Investment Outlook — The Best Sports Cards to Buy in 2021. Highlighting the top basketball cards to buy — welcome to our October “best buys” list.


Welcome back sports card collectors, investors and hobbyists to another one of our “best buys”articles. In this article we highlight several different basketball cards that we feel are undervalued and/or solid buys for the month of October, 2021. But, before we get to those, let’s revisit the card picks featured in our previous article


In our last article we recommended picking up some of the undervalued Allen Iverson, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony & LeBron James rookies cards & refractors, some of which are still in buying range. The ones that haven’t seen a significant price increase, make our list again. There’s still ample opportunity to pick up some of these at a significant discount. We also highlighted a specific set: The 2003 Topps Contemporary Collection.


2003 Topps Contemporary Collection LeBron James #1

Featured in our June “Best Buys” and again in one of our first ‘Best Buys” articles in 2020 — The 2003 Topps Contemporary Collection made our list yet again. Not only is a great example of how scarcity and eye appeal affect demand over time.

The 2003–04 Topps Contempory Collection — upon it’s release, didn’t get anywhere near the respect or attention that some of the more recognized sets (like Topps Chrome for example) for the standout rookie class of 2003.

Keep in mind this was an incredible draft class that featured future Hall of Famer’s like LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. That being said, key rookies from this set have already began their ascent into the stratosphere, as this is one of the best looking sets (my opinion) in recent memory.


The 2003 Topps Contemporary Collection LeBron James #1 is perhaps my favorite LeBron James Rookie card, outside of a few of the Topps Chrome Refractors and some of the more rare LBJ parallels/RPA’s. But many of those are already $100,000+ cards and completely out of my spending range.


As a surprise to many — the 2003 Topps Contemporary Collection Lebron James #1 is currently worth more than the 2003 Topps Chrome LeBron James #111. Had you mentioned that this would be the case back in 2003, you probably would have been laughed out of the room by other collectors.

But, due to both the extremely low pop count (scarcity) and it’s eye appeal (demand), the Topps Contemporay Collection LBJ Rookie card has surpassed the more widely known, recognized and definitely the more respected set — Topps Chrome.

The Topps Contemporary Collection #1 will only continue to increase the gap between the two rookie sets. And in time (in my opinion, will only continue to increase in value. Eventually becoming worth considerably more than the Topps Chrome Lebron James #111 Rookie card in down the road.


In one of our “best buys” articles prior to that — we highlighted some of the Michael Jordan refractor basketball cards. In just 3 months since the article was published — Michael Jordan refractors were up over 500%. Keep in mind that this was during a significant sell off in the sports card market as a whole.


We never claim to be “sports card gurus” but we do have a proven track record of success — winning picks that have sold 10X even 20X the value at time of recommendation. These include some of the highest % gains on card picks in our niche. We stick to what we know best — and that is the basketball card market.


In another one of our “best buys” articles before that, we recommended the 1996 Flair Showcase Kobe Bryant Rows 0, 1 & 2. For those of you that are new to our blog, the article can be found HERE.

Long story short, we picked up Kobe Bryant Rows 0–3 for under $1300 at auction. We went on to sell them just a few months later for $30,100.

We aren’t your typical card flippers solely looking to make a quick buck. We’re collectors first and foremost. Most of the cards that we have recommended (and purchased) have been long term holds. But, occasionally the market offers premiums that are just too good to pass up — as was the case with the 1996 Flair Showcase Kobe Bryant Rows 0–2.


In this edition, our “best buys” card picks for the month October 2021–we list several cards that we feel are great buys and/or extremely undervalued. There’s ample opportunity right now to pick up some of these excellent additions to any collection at a steep discount.

Whether your goal is to add to your personal collection (PC), buying low and selling at a profit (flipping) or even purchasing cards for someone else like a son or daughter — regardless of the how and why — these are cards that we believe are great buys right now. Sports cards we believe will be worth several times more in than they are right now in the not so distant future.


Please understand that card collecting is speculative in general. The market could crash tomorrow. Selloffs happen in any market, and especially so in speculative markets like the sports card market.

Never spend or invest more than you cannot comfortably afford to lose.


In this edition, we highlight the players and cards to make “best buys” list for the month of October, 2021. Each of the cards Featured in this list are cards that I have personally purchased over the past month. First we’ll start off with some extremely undervalued rookies of players from the 2017–18 NBA Draft class, working our way up to the 2020–21 Draft Class.

Obviously there has been a more recent NBA Draft with a lot of talent— but Panini doesn’t release the majority of products that feature these rookies until mid-season.



How quickly we forget… Donovan Mitchell has fallen off most collector’s radars after missing significant time due to unfortunate injury. But, before the injury, Donovan Mitchell was a ‘Dark Horse’ candidate to win MVP. Mitchell had season averages of 26.5 points, 4.4 rebounds and 5.3 assists for the Jazz in 53 games played. Some even went as far as having him as a favorite to win the League MVP had he remained healthy and the Jazz finishing with the best record in the NBA.

While he’s already established himself as the best player on a championship-contending team, he is still scratching the surface of his potential, which is reason enough for Jazz fans to be excited about his and their future.

2017–18 Panini Opulence Donovan Mitchell

Remember, this is 24 year old kid.. If Donovan Mitchell remains healthy and reaches his full potential — he could end up having a Hall of Fame career.

While he may have been “out of sight out of mind” due to injury — there’s no real justification for his rookie cards to be this cheap.

  • 2017–18 Panini Opulence Donovan Mitchell
  • 2017–18 Panini Opulence Donovan Mitchell
  • 2017–18 Panini Opulence Donovan Mitchell

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While not truly “under the radar” Jayson Tatum is a budding Superstar.

It’s clear to see that Jayson Tatum has made an impressive leap forward in his third NBA season. But diving into the numbers truly shows how remarkable Tatum’s performance has been to this point in his young career.

Jayson Tatum’s numbers through the first three years of his promising career are beyond impressive. But when you put those numbers into perspective and compare them with what some NBA legends did at such a young age, it’s truly remarkable what he’s accomplished already.

These crazy stats emphasize Jayson Tatum’s superstar potential:

Only players ever to tally at least 3,400 points, 1,100 rebounds, 425 assists, and 150 blocks before age 22:

  • LeBron James
  • Kevin Garnett
  • Kevin Durant
  • Tracy McGrady
  • Jayson Tatum

Jayson Tatum currently has 3,476 career points.

Age when scored 3,476th point:

Jayson Tatum — 21 years / 346 days
Michael Jordan — 23 years / 298 days
Wilt Chamberlain — 24 years / 102 days
Larry Bird — 24 years / 112 days

Jayson Tatum is the only NBA player ever to notch at least 400 points, 100 rebounds, and 50 assists in the playoffs before turning 21.

Let’s fast forward to the play-in tournament. For Tatum, this was his third 50-plus point game in 39 days. No other Celtics player had scored 50-plus twice in a single season. Tatum put up 53 points against Minnesota on April 9, tied Larry Bird’s single-game record with 60 points against the Spurs on April 30, and produced only the sixth 50-point game in Boston’s postseason history with his big night against the Wizards (even if the NBA suggests that play-in stats won’t count towards any postseason stats).

Three 50+ points games in a 39-day span for Jayson Tatum.

In 19 games in that span, he’s averaging 30.9 points per game.

No amount of Tatum heroics could propel the Celtics against the Nets. But we did get a glimpse of just how scary good Jayson Tatum can be. And when you consider that he’s only 24 years old and hasn’t reached his full potential — Jayson Tatum is a nightmare for anyone not wearing a Celtics jersey.

Pick up Jayson Tatum’s key rookie cards while you still can.

  • 2017–18 Panini
  • 2017–18 Panini
  • 2017–18 Panini
  • 2017–18 Panini
  • 2017–18 Panini

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Jaren Jackson Jr. is another player who’s rookie cards have seen a significant drop in price due to injury. Jackson Jr. was limited to only 11 games last season after returning from a torn meniscus in his left knee.

Let’s rewind. Let’s go to August 8, 2020 in the NBA Bubble to be exact. Jaren Jackson Jr. is arguably having the best three game stretch of his career, as Grizzlies fans watch the future develop in front of their eyes. During this three-game stretch, Jaren Jackson Jr. averaged 25.3 points on 48/35.7/75 shooting splits with his improved jump shot.

Then after the Grizzlies August 8th loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, it was announced that Jackson Jr. had torn his meniscus and was going to be out for the remainder of the season. He underwent a successful surgery later that month and placed all eyes on his road to recovery.

While recovering from injury, Jackson Jr. was far from out of sight and out of mind as the third year forward kept plenty busy.

He dropped two songs on his birthday.

He got involved in local elections.

Oh and he grew two inches over the course of the offseason to be a “true 7-footer.”

Yes. You read that correctly. Jaren Jackson Jr. is now a 7 footer that can shoot the 3.

Heading into this season healthy, of the NBA executives polled — Jackson Jr. is a top breakout candidate for this season. The 2020–21 season allowed the Grizzlies to grow around Jaren Jackson Jr., as questions loomed around him, and he became a “forgotten” and overlooked member of his draft class.

In 2021–22, with a full offseason under his belt and injuries behind him, now is the time, we could very well see Jaren Jackson Jr. unlock his full unicorn potential.

  • 2018–19 Panini
  • 2018–19 Panini
  • 2018–19 Panini

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Deandre Ayton’s career thus far has been an exercise in patience.

Phoenix’s center was selected with the №1 pick in the 2018 NBA draft, and he faced significant scrutiny from his first moments in the NBA out of Arizona. As Luka Dončić sprinted out to a dominant rookie season with the Mavericks, Ayton took the usual baby steps.

His strong scoring totals belied his production. He relied too heavily on his admittedly smooth jumper, and, defensively, the young center was a relative disaster. Phoenix was quickly pilloried for its draft mistake, one that could have haunted the franchise for years to come.

Fast forward a couple of years, and Ayton looks like a completely different player. He may never catch Dončić as the jewel of the 2018 draft, but it’s certainly possible to see the two sharing All-Star appearances throughout the 2020s. Ayton is a more purposeful player on both ends in 2020–21.

His physicality is making an impact on both ends of the floor, and the timidity present throughout his rookie year is now firmly in the rearview mirror. If it feels as though Ayton made a significant leap this season, well, that’s because he has.

He’s met every task thrown his way this season, and his growth as a complete center seems to accelerate by the week. Ayton could prove to be a playoff x-factor in the coming months. He could become an All-NBA talent in the coming years. Despite his improvement and sky-high potential, his rookie cards are at an extreme value.

Pick up Deandre Ayton rookie cards at these levels and thank yourself later.

  • 2018–19 Panini Opulence DeAndre Ayton

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Count former MVP and two-time NBA champion Kevin Durant as among those impressed by Kevin Porter Jr. of the Houston Rockets.

After the talented third-year guard tallied 25 points and 5 assists in just 29 minutes during Tuesday’s win by Houston in its preseason opener, including 5-of-9 on 3-pointers, the Brooklyn superstar and future Hall of Famer wrote this on Instagram beneath Porter’s highlight video:

A special, special talent

Now just 21 years old, the lanky lefty (who says he’s 6-foot-6) earned talk this past offseason as a potential Most Improved Player candidate for the 2021–22 season. Houston’s decision to make veteran John Wall a healthy scratch for the foreseeable future was reportedly made to give Porter more repetitions as the primary point guard, so the 2019 first-round pick should get plenty of opportunities to build on his early success.

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One of the young, rising stars in the NBA is Ja Morant of the Memphis Grizzlies. Last season, Morant took home the honors of Rookie of the Year over the likes of Zion Williamson and Kendrick Nunn and this year, Morant has continued to expand his game and improve as an overall leader of the Grizzlies.

Without Jaren Jackson Jr. by his side throughout most of the year, there were a lot of questions of how the Grizzlies would find success, yet Morant has elevated his play and has been the best player on this team all season long.

On the year, Ja Morant is averaging 19.1 points, 3.9 rebounds, 7.3 assists and is shooting 44.9% from the floor. While he has struggled shooting from deep this year, only shooting 29.8% from long-range, the growth Morant has made since he entered the league has definitely been impactful not just to the Grizzlies’ chances to succeed moving forward, but for Morant’s chances to be a special player in this league.

While he is not an All-Star talent quite yet, Morant has all the potential to not only grow into an All-Star guard, but to potentially be the best point guard in the league. His athleticism is off the charts, his playmaking ability and creation is truly special and he possesses both the killer instinct and work ethic to eventually become an MVP caliber player.

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The 2020 draft class was labeled a weak draft class by many experts and surprisingly, 80% of players drafted in the first round saw solid playing time and were productive on NBA rosters this past season. We also saw some glimpses of potential stars. This was a draft class that surprised many, including us.

The premise behind this is pretty simple — find future star players, all-stars, solid contributors on winning teams, underrated players etc. and pick up their rookie cards before they hit their full potential and everyone is after them. That’s when you sell. This method can be a bit of a gamble, as some players will surprise while others disappoint. But it can pay in dividends for the players you get right.

Do your own research, watch highlights of summer league games, read scouting reports, watch videos on YouTube, see what young players are playing well. Or don’t.. and piss in the wind and see what happens. Just because we think certain young players have potential, doesn’t mean they’re the best players cards to invest in. You may find a hidden gem, an over-looked player, or one that didn’t fully showcase their talent in their debut season do to injury.

Pick up rare, low-numbered parallels at a discount and sell them when they’re hot, or keep them as part of your personal collection (PC).

  • LaMelo Ball
  • Anthony Edwards
  • Cole Anthony
  • Immanuel Quickley
  • Saddiq Bey
  • Patrick Williams
  • Killian Hayes
  • Desmond Bane
  • Kira Lewis Jr
  • Deni Avdija
  • Xavier Tillman
  • Kenyon Martin Jr.

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High-End Rookie Cards


The Air Jordan Collection: High-End Basketball Cards



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