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Top 50 NBA Rookie Cards Statistics

May 20, 2021 8 min read

Top 50 NBA Rookie Cards Statistics


If you are looking for my spreadsheet on the Top 50 NBA Rookie Cards.  HERE IT IS.


If you are a basketball card stat junky then today’s video is for you!  I took the Clutchpoints.com Top 50 NBA all-time player list that was compiled in December of 2020 and looked at the average rookie card price and PSA pop reports from those players listed to see if I can find some interesting statistics.  Today, I will share all those with you.

 After we talk about some general statistics on the teams, players, and pop reports, I will get into some specific cards at the end of the video and see if we can find some opportunities.

Before we get started, yes, I do realize any Top 50 lists like this are completely subjective and where a player ranks doesn’t necessarily mean it is a better rookie card to collect in most cases.  However, this list was the most current I could find and does have all the top guys I would consider on there and they were ranked fairly consistent to where I would have them.  And, it also has Michael Jordan as #1 so it’s got to be good right?

In regards to the cards selected; the older guys are easy because they only have 1 rookie card in most cases.  However, the newer guys in some cases have multiple rookies and can be difficult figuring out which one is the card to add to this list. 

I added the card that I though most collectors would want in their collection, not including any refractors or color parallels.  It had to be a base card from a set, for example Topps Chrome base, but not a Topps Chrome refractor.

Also, I went with the highest graded card that sold within the last 90 days.  While some cards do have a PSA 10 that has been graded, if it hasn’t sold in the last 90 days I then went to the next lowest grade, and so forth until I found a grade that sold.

Only PSA grading cards were considered to keep the list consistent.

All this data comes from eBay and Sports Card investors software program Market Movers.  Very easy to pull data from them.  If you want to get access to data like this and be able to track your sports card investments, I highly suggest getting a membership with them.  I do have a 20% off discount code in this video description.  Again, only purchase if you plan on using it and it fits in your budget not just because some guy on YouTube says to.

Lastly, like any statistical study, I will mention the possible shortcomings.

  • In regards to the data on eBay, occasionally, a buyer may not pay for an order or returned it at a later date. eBay does not remove that info from its listings so a few of those are probably factored in to this data.  However, typically 90% + of orders are paid for a legit.
  • Since not every card listed is a PSA 10 simply because one has not sold in the last 90 days, some cards aren’t an apples to apples statistical analysis. I can only go off of the data that I have available to me.
  • Yes, there are sales outside of eBay’s platform that have sold for higher prices that were not included in this data, such as Goldin Auctions sales for example. To keep the data consistent, I only used eBay data.

My goal of this video is to hopefully help you maybe find some undervalued cards or look at them in a different statistical way.  And also have some fun looking at these numbers.

Without any further wait, let’s take a look at what I found.


The Teams

Let’s talk about the teams that were found on this list.  Note, if a team is no longer around, such as the Seattle Supersonics, I combined their stats with the current team they became, such as the Oklahoma City Thunder in this case.

The team that most appeared on this list was the Boston Celtics, 6 times, followed by the Lakers 5 times, and the Warriors and 76ers 4 times.


Out of the 50 players listed, 10 were centers, 23 forwards, 17 guards.   That’s about what I expected since forwards and guards make up 80% of the positions on the court and 80% of the players on this list.

Guards averaged $42,747 per card, $19,380 when you take out Jordan.

Forwards averaged $12,133

Centers averaged $81,292.   Stunning right?  Only $14,038 when you take out Russell and Chamberlain.  Take out O’Neal who is the lowest on that list and the number jumps to $15,913.  I was expecting Centers to be the lowest since generally people say big guys don’t sell.  Very interesting to see them ahead of the forwards even without Russell and Chamberlain.  However, if you take out Abdul-Jabbar and O’Neal they do drop about $3500 below forwards. 

Most popular brand was Topps with 20, followed by Fleer with 14, then Topps Chrome with 12.  Topps brand if you include Bowman since they own that now made up 68% of the cards on this list. 

Average value of cards.  Fleer was $81,040, Topps base, $26,929, Topps Chrome $12,845.

Most popular set was the 1986 fleer averaging $60,895, although only $8,332 when you take out the Michael Jordan.

1957 Topps another popular set averaging $46,769 per card, $13,308 when you take out Bill Russell.

1969 Topps averaged $20,268, $9,180 when you take about Abdul-Jabbar.

Average sales price per card, the lowest was Jason Kidd 1994 Topps Finest at $370, highest, was actually Wilt Chamberlain with a $500,000 sale.

10 cards on this list only sold once over the last 90 days, highest was Shaquille O’Neal’s 1992 Topps with 223 sales.  Average card sold 17 times over the last 90 days, once every 5 days.

In regards to the Pop reports. The lowest on this list was Willis Reed’s 1969 Topps PSA 8.5 with a pop of 6.  Highest, Shaquille O’Neal’s 1992 Topps with 2,407.  Average pop report was 353 for the grade of that card sold in the last 90 days.

For grading, 58% of cards had a PSA 10 sell in last 90 days, lowest grade was a PSA 5 of George Mikan.

Retired players made up 90% of this list with an average selling price of $38,108.  Current players $19,740.

Deceased players make up 16% of the list with an average price of $75,366 and living players of $28,825.

Top 5 most popular cards when taking average sales price x total # of sales are the following…

From #1-5, Jordan, LeBron Kobe, Kareem, Durant.  Interesting to see Kevin Durant on that list, but I guess not surprising since he has been a popular pickup in the last year or so with a potential title run in the works.

Hardest cards to get from this when factoring total sales and average sales price?  Here are the Top 5.

Chamberlain 1961 Fleer, Russell 1957 Topps, Robertson 1961 Fleer, Erving 1972 Topps, and Cousy 1957 Topps.

Easiest?  Shaq, Duncan, LeBron, Durant and Stockton.

When looking at $ per pop count, so average sale divided by current pop report, the top 5 players rookie card from this list commanding the highest value are…

Wilt Chamberlain

Oscar Robertson

Bill Russell

Michael Jordan

Stephen Curry


Bottom 5?

Jason Kidd

David Robinson

Gary Payton

Tim Duncan

Shaquille O’Neal



In relation to his player ranking, Stephen Curry has had some massive sales.  Ranked #32 overall in his player rank, but #7 when it came to average sales price.  Ahead of Kobe and LeBron.  Much of that has to do with them extremely low pop report of his Topps Chrome which is currently at 60.  But very surprising to see Stephen Curry so high on the sales chart.

Another interesting note when it comes to pop reports is how high Shaquille O’Neal is in regards to his overall player ranking at 8, but 47th in average sales price.  Either extremely undervalued or hindered by his pop report of 2407 and the lack of a Topps Chrome rookie card.  Where do you think Shaq would be on this list had he had a Topps Chrome rookie?

Dominique Wilkins another interesting one.  43rd on player rating, however 16th in overall sales.  This being due to his rookie card being part of the 1986 Fleer set.  Whenever you see a popular set like this, picking up other Hall of Famers from that year is always a good idea.  2003 Topps Chrome comes to mind.

Tim Duncan, 9th on overall player list, yet 35th on sales.  High pop report of 2,360 hurt him despite it being a Topps Chrome rookie.

Let’s touch on this for a second, players that have their sales ranking a fair amount below their player ranking.  Here is that list.

LeBron James, 2 on player, 13 on sales.  Undervalued still?  Probably.

David Robinson 17th as a player, 46 in sales, pop 711 on his hoops card.  Is he undervalued or just not a cool enough player?  Only guy with a Hoops card on this list.

Jason Kidd.  28th as a player, yet dead last in sales.  1994 Finest with a pop of only 207.  Average sales price of $370.  I know Kidd isn’t the most popular player, but he is still in the limelight as a Lakers assistant coach.  10 x All Star.  Flashy player too.  I think it would be worth picking him up just to hold long term and see what happens.  At this price it isn’t too much risk.

Players I was shocked to see not ranked higher on the average sales price.

Kevin Garnett.  Very popular player, however, only $1,479 average sales price for his Topps Finest. Could be the lack of a Topps Chrome card and that he has a million rookie cards out there.  Only 449 pop report though.  His Topps Finest is just an odd looking card of his face.  Not in uniform.  Not my favorite looking card.

David Robinson.  Again, just a player people aren’t into collecting.  Not a flashy player.  $1023 average sales with a 711 pop.  Hoops brand might have hurt him.

John Stockton.  42 in average sales price.  How is this guy not higher?  Dream Teamer.  Hall of Famer.  Definitely one of the best point guards of all time.  I loved Stockton.  Watching him and Malone was just iconic.  That series vs Jordan when he pushed off Bryan Russell was such a fun series to watch.   Didn’t win a title or any significant awards though.  Could be his lack of appearance in the media.  Very reclusive person.

Non “popular” players.  Guys like Dave Cowens.  Dolph Schayes.  Guys that were great players just aren’t at the level of the main guys people mainly collect. Very interesting to see their low pop numbers, but very low average sales.  George Gervin PSA 10 with a pop of 4 sold for $1,000!  Dolph Schayes $1,444 PSA 8 pop 39.  Bob MacAdoo $2,376 PSA 9 pop 67.  Will these lesser name players catch up to the bigger names?  Are they under appreciated?  Definitely see an opportunity with players like this.

Dominque Wilkins was an interesting card stat on his 1986 Fleer.  While a great player, the human highlight, 15th in sales at $18,333 for his 1986 fleer PSA 10.  Very low pop of 92.  Is that card inflated due to it being part of the 1986 fleer set?

Speaking on the 1986 fleer set, let’s look at Isaiah Thomas.  Part of the iconic set.  183 psa 10 pop.  $4,541 average sales price. Is Wilkins worth 4 x as much as Thomas?  Thomas only double the pop.

Ranking the 1986 fleer cards in average sales…

Jordan, Wilkins, Barkley, Olajuwon, Malone, Ewing, Drexler, Thomas.

In order of lowest Pop…

Wilkins, Ewing, Thomas, Malone, Barkley, Drexler, Jordan, Olajuwon.

Seems to be to some value available for guys like Ewing, Thomas, and Malone.  Ewing played in the biggest market in the world for basketball.  Thomas won 2 championships on one of the NBAs iconic teams, and Malone is one of the best of all-time to never win a championship.  To me, while Wilkins was a great player, he is the lowest in the player rank at 43, Malone and Thomas are Top 25.  Ewing #30.

One player that has been hot in the card news lately has been Russell Westbrook.  Lots of discussion if he is undervalued.  Many collectors aren’t too keen on collecting him despite his impressive stats.  Hasn’t won anything, not extremely likeable.  41 in player ranking, 42 in sales.  $1501 for a Topps Chrome PSA 10 with a very low pop of 116.  Is there an opportunity there?  Possibly, but I think a lot has to be done to see that card get above $3,000.



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