Best Basketball Cards to Buy in 2023 From Jordan to Doncic

Panini is the hottest brand of NBA basketball cards. But which players and packs are the best to invest in 2023?

Darry Port

Updated Jan 30, 2023

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You know what they say: money follows eyeballs. And basketball has plenty on it. It's one of the most popular sports in the world with around 2 billion fans, according to Sports Browser. Since many sports cards have low investment minimums and potential slam-dunk returns, they’ve become a preferred asset class among basketball enthusiasts.

Rookie cards in good condition will fetch higher prices than worn-out ones.

For instance, a 1986-87 Michael Jordan Fleer rookie card sold for a whopping $840,000 in July 2021. It's not just vintage cards that attract dollars, either. In 2020, a 2003 Upper Deck Exquisite Collection LeBron James Rookie Patch sold for a staggering $900,000. Not to mention the cardboard rectangles that have cleared $1 million.

Every year, basketball card collectors worldwide seek out these rare gems. And the 2022-2023 NBA season is no exception. With promising young rookies like Paolo Banchero and Jaden Ivey entering the league, and stars like LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Steph Curry still ruling the court, you can bet that some of the cards released today will be prized for years to come.

If you haven’t already started building your collection, there's no better time to buy the best basketball cards that 2023 has to offer. But with so many options, you may be left scratching your head at which cards might fetch the highest premiums. This guide covers the best basketball cards to buy in 2023 and why they’re expected to rise in value. We'll also give you the alley-oop with a list of popular sites where you can buy your top picks.

What is the best brand of NBA basketball cards?

Before investing in any NBA basketball card, you should be confident in its brand. The quality and scarcity of a card greatly impact its value, and some brands are known for turning out collectibles in high demand. Panini, the largest and leading sports card manufacturer in the world, is the gold standard in sports cards.

While some of the most expensive sports cards were manufactured by Topps, they lost their license to produce NBA cards in 2016 and left a gap for Panini to fill. Founded in 1961, Panini has since grown to become a billion-dollar company. With their focus on quality, artistry, and prestige, most people agree that the best basketball cards to buy come from Panini.

The brand made its mainstream basketball card debut after signing agreements with the NFLNBA, and MLB to become their exclusive trading card licensees. Those deals allowed Panini to buy up its competition and offer cards under multiple lines. Some of the most popular sets of NBA cards from Panini include National Treasures, Prizm, Donruss Optic, and Select. With all of those options, there's a Panini card for every collector.

If you're building a collection that will impress people in and out of the hobby, National Treasures cards are the way to go. This high-end brand offers limited edition cards that come with enhanced artwork and holographic foil. They also feature photorealistic player depictions on the front of the cards that will wow any viewer. The base cards in this line are already highly valued, and their memorabilia cards include extra large patches of game-worn jerseys.


Panini's Prizm is a favorite among NBA card collectors who want a good variety. Their base sets feature rookie cards as well as sought-after veterans. Their extensive rainbow of parallels makes them perfect for collectors who like to hunt down complete sets. One base card can have up to 22 parallels in a given set. The colorful and playful patterns on Prizm cards, plus the images of top players in action, are an instant draw. They also feature several creative inserts, like Fireworks, Fearless, and Prizmatic, with over-the-top designs. These short print inserts are often some of the most expensive basketball cards up for sale.

Many collectors love Donruss Optic as well because of its eye-catching use of color and design. Donruss Playoff was the second oldest trading card company in the US, but it was acquired by Panini in 2009. Under Panini, Donruss Optic is still a great choice for those looking for limited edition cards. They have rare, short print cards that are usually retired players or those known in the league for their outstanding performance on and off the court. Their price point is lower than Panini Prizm, but their quality, content, and shiny foil finish are similar, so they make a decent budget investment for collectors who are starting out.

Finally, Select is another great NBA trading card pack to buy. Panini Select features a lot of parallels and autos to give collectors a good shot at pulling their favorite player cards. Unlike the robust sets of Panini's other lines, Select sets consist of a more limited roster of 100 base cards. By comparison, Prizm sets have around 300 cards. Select is also more exclusive in its availability—the only way to get their newest releases is by purchasing a hobby box. This means Select cards are short prints of the league's most impressive players, which makes these boxes a great jumping off point for a valuable collection.

Best basketball card packs to buy  in 2023

Basketball cards have become a hot collector's item in recent years, and they're not just for kids anymore. Collectors of all ages and interest levels enjoy chasing down basketball cards. You might be in it for the cool designs featuring your favorite players or the opportunity to monetize your passion for basketball. In either case, here are some of the best basketball card packs you can buy in 2023.

2021-22 Panini Prizm hobby box

Panini Prizm cards are an affordable way to get into the world of NBA trading cards. These are official NBA cards that are known for their bright colors and sharp designs. You can easily fish out world-renowned NBA stars like Kobe Bryant and Zion Williamson with beautiful Prizm parallels. The 2021-22 hobby box pulls from a set that includes 22 parallels and 10 unique inserts. Just like previous boxes, this season gives you a shot at several prized autographs, including the Rookie Signatures line. Cade CunninghamScottie Barnes, and Evan Mobley are among the most anticipated rookies to join this already illustrious pack of NBA stars. Be sure to keep an eye out for these top rookies in your hobby boxes.

2022-23 Panini Chronicles Draft pack

The Chronicles Draft set is the go-to for cards featuring the latest rookies in the league. You'll get a sampling of upcoming cards from the Prizm, Donruss, and Mosaic lines, among others, and you'll see the 2022-23 draft class in their pre-NBA glory. These flashback packs can hold valuable cards—the 2021 Panini Chronicles Draft Picks basketball best card was Scottie Barnes, which sold for up to $1,000 after the pack was released. For this season, keep your fingers crossed for a Paolo Banchero card in your pack. 

Panini Select

Another great option is Panini Select. These cards come in sturdy, thick cardstock and the set contains an array of inserts and parallels to bring out the best of the NBA. Select provides a wide variety of valuable cards with favorite rookies and veterans. A 2021-22 Panini Select hanger pack comes with 15 cards and an average of four insert cards or Prizm parallels (not to be confused with the Panini Prizm line) per pack. Scoring one of those rare parallels or autographs can make this pack a worthy investment. 

National Treasures

National Treasures are rare and highly-desired sports cards, and their NBA cards are no exception. Unfortunately, that quality is reflected in their price. But while your wallet may be wincing, your portfolio could be sitting pretty with the right NTs in your collection. These limited edition cards feature intricate designs and high-quality artistry that will make you the envy of basketball collectors all around the world. National Treasures hobby boxes come with four autograph cards and four memorabilia cards, giving you good odds of pulling some valuable collectibles.

Best basketball cards to buy in 2023

When investing in basketball cards, you need to look for a few things. First, rookie cards are always desirable among collectors. But that doesn't mean you should only collect the latest rookies. There’s always a market for star players' rookie cards, and card packs regularly include throwbacks to the early days of the greats. This holds true for LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, and Kevin Garnett.

Second, be sure to check the condition of the cards, usually in the form of a PSA grading. A high grade can make or break your investment. Rookie cards in good condition will fetch higher prices than worn-out ones. Let’s explore the best basketball cards to buy in 2023:

1. 1985 Michael Jordan Nike Promo

  • Valuation: $25,000
  • Highest sale price: $203,000 ($54,000 for PSA 10)
  • Gem Mint supply: 171
  • Dimensions: 3⅛ in. by 5¼ in. 

The Michael Jordan Nike Promo card is one of the first-ever basketball cards to feature Michael Jordan. The iconic Jumpman pose captured here was used for advertising the original Air Jordan 1 sneaker. In June 2021, this card was bought for $203,000 from Collectable

Jordan is a six-time NBA champion who won MVP at every Final. He also became the first billionaire player in NBA history after ending his career as a 14-time All-Star. His rookie cards and autographed memorabilia are still highly sought after—even his 1991 baseball card

1985 Michael Jordan Nike Promo card.

His rookie cards are the most valuable among all sports cards, beating out even LeBron James and Steph Curry. Though you can't invest in Collectable's 1985 Michael Jordan Nike Promo card anymore, you can still access other Jordan basketball cards and memorabilia on their platform. All you have to do is sign up for an account and buy some shares, then sit and wait for them to rise in value. When an asset's price increases, so will the value of your shares.