Most Valuable Basketball Cards to Invest 2023
Most Valuable Basketball Cards to Invest 2023

Most Valuable Basketball Cards to Invest 2023

Are you looking for a slam-dunk ROI in 2023? Get the scoop on the most sought-after basketball cards on the market and discover how your hobby can make you money.



Updated Feb 11, 2023

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Sports Cards

Sports Cards



Long Term Growth

Long Term Growth

Basketball cards are hot commodities these days, and it’s no surprise. These coveted cards, which feature everyone from Michael Jordan to Lebron James, just keep going up in value year after year.

The Stephen Curry Autographed National Treasures Logoman Rookie Card…has recently been sold for a staggering $5.9 million, making it the most expensive basketball card ever sold.

Whether you're an experienced card collector or a first-time investor, if you're looking to make some money off basketball cards in 2023, you're in the right place. We've done our research and compiled a list of the most valuable basketball cards to shoot for in 2023.

From top brands like Panini to vintage and modern rookies, we'll show you what basketball card collectors are investing in—they could give you a slam-dunk return on your investment.

Why basketball card collectors pay so much for them

From Scottie Barnes's 2021-22 Rookie Autographed Cards selling for upwards of $7,000 to Cade Cunningham’s 2021-22 Rookie Card going for more than $10,000 in 2022, it’s safe to say that basketball cards are some of the most valuable trading cards currently available.

But, like other sports cards, what has caused this boom in the basketball card market?

NBA’s popularity

Basketball spiked in popularity among fans, giving them a much-needed adrenaline fix after live games were paused during the pandemic. The ripple effect of that was an influx of investment in basketball cards.

Collectors entering new markets

Entrepreneurs who made a fortune flipping sneakers have now entered the equally lucrative basketball card market. Rare and one-off cards are becoming increasingly desirable, prompting collectors to pay higher prices to get their hands on the most unique sets.

Reputation of players

Basketball cards are often valued based on player performance, with the best examples being Steph Curry, Lebron James, and Michael Jordan’s cards, which all sold for millions. Autographed basketball cards are extremely expensive because collectors take pride in owning something with exclusive provenance.

Basketball cards are a great investment if the player continues to perform well and demand for their cards keeps increasing. That’s the major reason why Stephen Curry’s Autographed National Treasures Logoman Rookie Card sold for $5.9 million.

So who says you can’t join the trend? Do some research and start investing in basketball cards wisely. You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.

Most expensive basketball cards to invest in

From legends like Michael Jordan and LeBron James to rising stars like Trae Young and Tyrese Maxey, the 2023 season presents a potentially lucrative return on investment (ROI). Try looking out for rookie cards of early draft picks, vintage cards of superstars, and cards of current players commentators can’t stop talking about. 

The most valuable basketball cards to invest in would be those featuring basketball royalty like Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and LeBron James. Michael Jordan's red-hot 1986-87 Fleer rookie card sold for $840,000 in July 2021 while Kobe’s 2003 Upper Deck Exquisite Collection Rookie Patch sold for $900,000. And then there are LeBron James rookie cards from Panini and Topps that can easily bring in the thousands. 

But the most sought-after cards are ones released before 1990—Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jerry West, and Oscar Robertson cards have seen a historic rise in value in recent years. So if you’re trying to find valuable sports cards, basketball cards from these long-revered greats certainly make the cut.

A collage of some of the best basketball cards from the late 80s and early 90s.

1. 1986 Fleer Basketball Michael Jordan RC #57

  • Price Range: $336 to $250,000
  • Highest Sale Price: $237,000
  • Brand: Fleer

The Michael Jordan 1986 Fleer Basketball Rookie Card #57 is arguably the most recognizable basketball trading card in the hobby. It features a young Michael Jordan, soaring through the air and delivering a one-handed slam dunk in his trademark red away Chicago Bulls jersey.

As the leading card of the influential 1986 Fleer basketball set, this iconic rookie card is often the centerpiece of any basketball card collection. Part of the card’s popularity stems from Michael’s illustrious NBA career which cemented him as the GOAT.

Jordan won six NBA championships, eight scoring titles, five regular season MVPs, six Finals MVPs, three All-Star Game MVPs, a Defensive Player of the Year award, nine All-Defensive First team selections, and was the 1985 Rookie of the Year.

Michael Jordan rookie cards are among the most valuable in the hobby and can be worth up to $250,000 in pristine condition. Given the fact that it’s one of the most counterfeited cards in the hobby, be on your guard if you’re in the market for one. With its multi-colored borders, the card is also susceptible to chipping and edge wear.

2. 2009 National Treasures Stephen Curry Autographed Logoman RC #206

  • Price Range: $180,000 to $264,000
  • Highest Sale Price: $5.9 million 
  • Brand: National Treasures

2009 Stephen Curry Autographed National Treasures Logoman Rookie Card #206 was sold for $5.9 million in July 2021, making it the most expensive basketball card.

The Stephen Curry Autographed National Treasures Logoman Rookie Card is a testament to Curry’s greatness and the pinnacle of basketball card collecting. It’s the only one in existence and sold for a staggering $5.9 million. That makes it the most expensive basketball card ever sold and the second most valuable sports card after the Honus Wagner baseball card.

The card was purchased by an investment fund managed by alternative asset platform Alt, which acquired a 51% stake in the card. Though the card is only graded a PSA 8, Curry’s autograph is rated a Gem Mint 10, the highest grade possible grade issued by PSA.

For professional basketball fans, this card is the ultimate prize and a reminder of Steph Curry’s accomplishments on the court. It's a collectible to be treasured, and the proud owner of this gem will have bragging rights for years to come.

3. 2013-14 Panini National Treasures Giannis Antetokounmpo Autographed Horizontal Rookie Patch #130

  • Price Range: $85,000 to $110,000
  • Highest Sale Price: $1.8 Million 
  • Brand: Panini National Treasures

In September 2020, an extremely rare basketball card featuring Giannis Antetokounmpo sold for a record-breaking $1.8 million. This one-of-a-kind autographed 2013-14 Panini National Treasures card was graded BGS 9, making it the most expensive basketball card ever sold at the time.

Furthermore, the card’s sale proves the strength of the hobby and collectibles economy. It also cements Giannis’s place as one of the most highly valued basketball players of the modern era. With its sale, it became the third most expensive basketball card ever.

As the value of Giannis’s cards continues to increase, we can look forward to many more record-breaking sales.

4. 1996 Kobe Bryant Topps Chrome RC #138 

  • Price Range: $4,000 to $8,100
  • Highest Sale Price: $1.8 million (PSA 10 Refractor)
  • Brand: Topps Chrome

The 1996 Kobe Bryant Topps Chrome rookie card #138 stamped its place as one of the most valuable basketball cards ever after being auctioned for $1.8 million.

The 1996 Kobe Bryant Topps Chrome RC #138 is a piece of basketball history, hardly ordinary. Before Kobe Bryant was an 18-time All-Star, 12-time member of the All-Defensive Team, and 15-time member of the All-NBA Team, he was a high school phenom, a 1996 Naismith Prep Player of the Year with an otherworldly thirty point average. 

Drafted into the NBA in 1996 by the Charlotte Hornets, Kobe was transferred to the Lakers later that same year and continued to prove everyone right in their hopes for him as a basketball star. His rookie card found in the 1996 Topps Chrome set is valued at an already sky-high price and, after Kobe Bryant’s untimely death in 2020, its prestige has only risen. 

The card was auctioned for an insane $1.8 million, solidifying it as one of the most valuable basketball cards of all time. The card celebrates Kobe's rookie year, as well as his impressive performance during the playoffs, capturing his star power and immortalizing it for many years to come. 

Whether you're a collector of Kobe memorabilia, an avid fan of his skills on the court, or just a curious onlooker, the 1996 Kobe Bryant Topps Chrome RC #138 is an item you won't want to miss. Its value unparalleled, it’s a tribute to a basketball legend that will be remembered and celebrated worldwide.

5. 2012 Panini Prizm Anthony Davis RC #236 

  • Price Range: $20 to $3,000 
  • Highest Sale Price:  $24,875  (PSA 10 Silver Prizm)
  • PSA 10 supply: 1,648
  • Brand: Panini Prizm

A 2012 Anthony Davis Panini Prizm RC #236.

Anthony Davis is the New Orleans Pelicans #1 player, and he earned that title the hard way. Rising to the occasion while still in college and maintaining momentum when drafted by the Pelicans, it was clear that he had the potential to become one of the best in the NBA.

Davis is currently on the Los Angeles Lakers, but it's his 2012 Anthony Davis Panini Prizm #236 rookie cards that’s making waves in the basketball card community. As a rookie card in one of the most iconic basketball card sets of the decade, the 2012 Panini Prizm #236 perfectly captures Davis intensity and determination.

Want to get a hold of one? The price of a high grade card can range from $20 to $3,000 in the aftermarket. Green Prizm parallels are the best choice for those looking to nab this one at a lower cost, but a Gold Prizm card can fetch upwards of $181,200, like a PSA 9 did at Goldin Auctions in 2021.

All of this points to the rising collectability of this card, making it a great investment for those looking to appreciate a young Anthony Davis.

6. 2012 Panini Prizm Kawhi Leonard #209

  • Price Range: $82 to $660
  • Highest Sale Price: $4,500  (PSA 10 Silver Prizm)
  • PSA 10 Supply: 1236
  • Brand: Panini Prizm

A 2012 Panini Prizm Silver Kawhi Leonard #209 sold for around $4,500 in a December 2022 eBay auction.

Kawhi Leonard is easily one of the most impressive and valuable players in the NBA right now. Possessing an incredible physique—a huge wingspan and massive hands beyond his height—and fearsome defensive capabilities, Leonard is a force to be reckoned with. 

On top of that, Leonard has significantly improved his offensive talents, becoming one of the top all-around shooters in the league. Leonard has a strong connection with the San Antonio Spurs and Toronto Raptors, having won championships with both teams. 

It's no wonder why the 2012 Panini Prizm of Leonard #209 is highly sought after. This card perfectly encapsulates Leonard's incredible feats from both before and after he was drafted and would make an amazing addition to any NBA fan's collection.

7. 2018 Panini Prizm Luka Doncic RC #280 

  • Price Range: $50 to $510
  • Highest Sale Price: $650,000 (PSA 10 Gold Prizm)
  • PSA 10 Gold Prizm Supply: 3
  • Brand: Panini Prizm

A PSA 10 2018 Panini Prizm Gold Prizm #280 Luka Doncic Rookie Card was auctioned at Goldin for $780K (including $130K buyers premium) in January 2021.

Luka Doncic is the modern-day basketball superstar who’s shattering records and swiftly climbing the ranks as one of the NBA's most valuable players. And the Luka Doncic 2018 Prizm Silver Rookie card is shining proof of his talents.

This iconic card shows off Luka in a classic Dirk Nowitzki-like fadeaway pose, and it's easy to see his potential for greatness. The Silver Prizm is the most popular parallel in the Panini Prizm Basketball set and will almost certainly keep increasing in value (just like Luka), as he establishes himself as one of the top players in the league.

And just like the rest of the impressive 2018 draft class (Trae Young, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, DeAndre Ayton, Jaren Jackson), This card is already climbing the ranks in value, reaching over $3,000 in some cases. 

So, if you're looking for a special piece to add to your basketball card collection, look no further than Luka Doncic's 2018 Prizm RC #280 as it could have a high ROI in the coming years.

8. 2003 Lebron James Topps Chrome RC #111

  • Price Range: $800 to $7,900
  • Highest Sale Price: $750,000 (PSA 10)
  • Brand: Topps Chrome

LeBron James is not only one of the greatest basketball players of all time, but also a global icon who has left an indelible mark on the sports world. LeBron’s career began in high school where he quickly rose to the top of his class and helped lead his team to three state championships and won numerous awards, including Ohio’s Mr. Basketball three times.

From a young age, LeBron captured the hearts of fans and earned his nickname “The King” for his extraordinary talent. LeBron continued to rise to the top when he was the number one draft pick for the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2003. Throughout the next seven seasons, LeBron won awards like the Rookie of the Year, All-Star MVP, All-Rookie Team, and several All-NBA First Teams. 

A PSA 10 Topps Chrome card of James shooting an iconic shot is, hands-down, the most sought-after and popular first-year collectible of the four-time NBA Finals champion. Demand is always higher than supply for the highest-grade cards, so if you can get your hands on one, you can be sure of the bragging rights that come with it.

Its value has held strong, selling as high as $750,000 (plus a $250K premium) in September 2022. For those fortunate enough to own one, it's a must-have in their collection. LeBron James has truly proven himself to be one of the greatest players of all time, and the 2003 Topps Chrome Rookie Card is a reminder of all that The King has achieved.

Are Basketball cards a good investment?

Basketball cards are having a moment. Investors saw a profitable rise in value of limited edition cards, patch autographs, and exclusive prizm and refractor cards. Limited supply and ever-growing demand make basketball cards look like a safe investment from all angles. 

However, there are risks involved. Cards can become immensely valuable over a short period of time, the bubble can burst just as quickly. Research is key—if you’re an avid basketball fan, you’ll likely love the experience of researching and investing in basketball cards. But be aware of supply and demand, grades, and how the player performed before investing. 

Ultimately, basketball cards can be a great addition to your investment portfolio. With careful research, you can potentially make a serious return on your investment. However, a basketball card investing strategy only works well if you maintain a diversified portfolio of both traditional and alternative assets

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