10 RCs to Add to Your Hoops Collection
Every year, the anticipation builds as hoops trading card collectors eagerly open various sets, hoping to strike gold with rookie cards, prospects, and 1st Bowmans featuring the Association’s next superstars. With the 2023 pro basketball season commencing today, a clutch of newbies is poised to make waves, including the mythical creature himself, Victor Wembanyama. This unicorn-of-a-talent possesses the potential to one day join the elite ranks in Springfield. As Wembanyama and a talented crop of rookies embark on their journeys, the possibilities for individual accolades and championship glory await. So, without further ado, here’s our list of 10 rookies you won’t want to miss out on adding to your hoops collection.
Jarace Walker, Indiana Pacers
Walker’s a physical specimen whose skill set resembles four-time World Champion Draymond Green. Standing tall and talented at 6-foot-8 with a 7-foot-2 wingspan, measurables comparable to Green, the Swiss Army knife boasts the quickness to defend the perimeter, length to protect the rim, an appetite for banging on the boards, elite court vision from the high post and a blossoming stroke from outside — nailed 34.7 percent of his treys in 2022-23. Simply put, The American Athletic Conference’s Freshman of the Year does it all, impacting the outcome of ballgames. His Bowman U Inception card is a winner, too.
Anthony Black, Orlando Magic
Black has been a blip on the radar since his electrifying high school days in Texas. However, in Fayetteville, he truly unleashed his basketball prowess under the guidance of former Warriors/Kings bench boss Eric Musselman. With an unselfish style of play reminiscent of Oklahoma City’s Josh Giddey and Chicago’s Lonzo Ball, Black proved he was the real deal, validating his lofty reputation and becoming the only player in the SEC to rank in the top 25 in the conference in points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks. Standing at an impressive 6-foot-7, he possesses the versatility to excel both on and off the ball, making him a nightmare for opposing defenses. With the ability to defend multiple positions — he set a school record for most steals by a freshman with 74 — find teammates for buckets and overpower smaller defenders in the paint, Black’s star is on the rise, and so is the value of his potential lottery pick trading cards
Ausar Thompson, Detroit Pistons
Exactly 25 2021/22 Topps Chrome OTE 69 Redux Orange BKB Ausar Thompson RCs exist. Though he has a doppelgänger with the same last name and nearly identical skill set, there’s only one Ausar Thompson. Like his twin, Amen, Ausar took the unconventional route, skipping his senior year of high school to join OTE, where he and his brother became the faces of the league. As a pogo-stick athlete who defends multiple positions, electrifies in the open court, and boasts superior shooting skills compared to his twin, Ausar Thompson stands out as a unique talent in his own right. Now, twins in the League aren’t necessarily a rarity — Brook and Robin Lopez, Cody and Caleb Martin, and Marcus and Markieff Morris, to name a few. But the Thompson twins can potentially become the first pair of brothers selected in the top 10. That alone adds value to their cards.
Gradey Dick, Toronto Raptors
In a spectacular debut that left Kansas fans in awe, Gradey Dick announced his arrival by lighting up the scoreboard with 23 points on a remarkable 9-of-13 shooting performance, propelling the Jayhawks to a dominant season-opening victory over Omaha. The recipient of the prestigious 2022 Gatorade Player of the Year award, Dick showcased his shooting prowess throughout his sensational freshman campaign, shattering the school record for most three-pointers made by a first-year player with an astonishing 83 long-range bombs. Not content with just long-range proficiency, Dick also emerged as the team’s second-leading scorer, averaging an impressive 14.1 points per game. With the L always hungry for exceptional shot creators, collectors should keep a keen eye on this rising star. Gradey Dick is on a trajectory to greatness, and his trading card stock is only soaring.
Derek Lively, Dallas Mavericks
Lively is one of the few true centers expected to hear his name called in the 2023 draft’s first round, and despite a challenging freshman campaign at Duke, he showcased his potential with an impressive performance at his Klutch Pro Day. With a wingspan stretching an astonishing 7 feet 7 inches, it’s no wonder his Skyscraping card perfectly captures his towering presence on the court. Like, c’mon. That’s what guys see when attacking the rim? Scary. Alongside his elite defensive instincts — he had eight rejections against arch-rival North Carolina in February — and impressive shooting range, Lively possesses all the attributes needed to thrive in a modern game that values floor spacing and big men who can switch pick-and-rolls. Among all the cards on this list, the 2023 Dereck Lively II Bowman Chrome University Skyscraping Aqua Refractor #/150 is a favorite.
Pro Basketball Rookie Prospect Hunt Pt. 1
10 RCs to celebrate the new season