I started to get to know about NBA collectibles during the ’90s when my brother started collecting Allen Iverson and Jerry Stackhouse cards. Michael Jordan was still active in NBA during that time as well.
NBA collectible cards are now trending again especially when Luka Doncic started playing in the NBA. Value-wise, NBA cards were way cheaper then compared to today simply because of inflation and the number of collectors. The demand is increasing today especially during the pandemic when people are finding ways to invest more or to simply entertain themselves with a new hobby.
Many people are jumping inot NBA cards nowadays as they view it as a good investment like modern paintings because the value COULD increase overtime. the with the series of lockdowns due to the Coronavirus, collecting NBA cards as a hobby makes a viable form of relaxation.
For those who are new to this hobby or those who are finding themselves back at this hobby after a long while, you’ll find this list of NBA collectible cards useful especially if you want to understand the different types of cards or to refresh your memory.
Here are the terms commonly used by collectors or flippers (sellers):
Base Card or Common Card
A Base card, also called as “common card”, is part of the product’s main set and non-serial numbered card. It is very easy to pull because the supply or number of cards released in the market are too many.
This photo is an example of LaMelo Ball base card from Panini Hoops product.
Parallel Card or Base Parallel Card
Parallel card is almost similar to the Base card BUT the color theme and designs are different. A Parallel card is not a “numbered card”. Pulling such a card is a bit harder than the Base card.
This photo is an example of LaMelo Ball Base Blue Parallel card from Panini Hoops product.
Numbered Card is a parallel card but with serial numbers. It comes with a different color theme and is more elegant than the Base and Base Parallel cards. You can easily identify the card if it is serial numbered because the number is engraved either in the front or back of the card (see encircled in the photo). This type of card is harder to pull and its price is way higher than Base cards.
This photo is an example of LaMelo Ball Numbered card from Panini Hoops product (photo credits to goldcardsauction.com)
Insert Card has a different design and it looks different compared to the Base card of a certain product. It is part of a subset instead of being part of the normal base set.
An Insert Card has a base parallel and numbered cards as well. If the color theme is different, it is either a Base Parallel or a Numbered card (if there is a number) as explained above.
This photo is an example of LaMelo Ball Insert Parallel Card because the Base Parallel of the Insert card is holographic but it is not a Numbered Card.
Note: Be careful! Not all cards with holographic designs are Parallel cards. There are Panini products which designs or color theme are holographic in nature but are considered Base cards. That is why, it is important to be familiar first with the product first before buying.
You may also check in Cardboard Connection for the checklist to know the design of the product and the list of base, parallels and other sub-set of a certain product.
Rookie Card vs Veteran Card
Rookie Card can easily be determined even if you are not familiar with the player’s rookie year. In Panini products, Rookie cards can be identified because it has an “RC” seal in front of the card (as shown in the first photo) while the Veteran Card has no “RC” seal.
Patch Card is a relic that feature a swatch made from patch(es) on a team jersey. The color of patches varies depending on the parallels or numbered card.
This photo is an example of LaMelo Ball Patch Card from Panini Donruss product.
Numbered Patch Card
This is similar to common Patch Card but serial numbered. The serial number can be found either in the front or back of the card.
This photo is an example of LaMelo Ball Numbered Patch Card from Panini Select product.
Acetate card is not similar to the usual card that can be pulled from the boxes. Acetate card is made up of plastic, and not a cardboard, with a see-through design.
This photo is an example of LaMelo Ball Zero Gravity Acetate Insert Card from Panini Donruss Clearly product.
Stainless Card is made up of stainless steel that is why it is heavier compared to the usual card made of cardboard. Most of the time, it has a cover in front and back of the card to protect the card from scratching.
This photo is an example of LaMelo Ball Stainless Stars from Panini Impeccable product.
Die-cut card is basically a card not in usual rectangular form. From the name itself, the card have cuts to make the appearance unique and appealing. Not all Panini products have die-cut cards in the set.
This photo is an example of Cassius Stanley Die-Cut from Panini Select product.
Die-cut Patch Card
Die-cut with patch or relic is not common in any Panini products. This kind of card comes with Base, Parallels, Serial Numbered cards as well.
This photo is an example of LaMelo Ball Knights of the Round Table from Panini Crown Royale product.
Autograph Card is simply a card with autograph in it, either on-card or on sticker. Nowadays, it is very rare to get an on-card autograph card that is why most of the collectors prefer to collect them than the sticker autograph.
This photo is an example of Spudd Webb Autograph (numbered) card from Panini Certified.
Patch/Jersey Autograph Card
Patch or Jersey Autograph Card is a combination of autograph and patch in one card. If the serial number is lower, you will notice that the design of patch or jersey becomes better.
This photo is an example of Kevin Johnson Jersey Autograph card from Panini Certified.
Rookie Patch/Jersey Autograph Card (RPA)
Rookie Patch Autograph or also known as RPA is the most sought after card by collectors because Rookie card with autograph and patch is valuable than other type of card. The value is higher if it is lower numbered and the career of the player is peaking.
Redemption Card is like a promissory note for the delayed autographed card. It contains the card type, the player, and a code. The code is hidden via a thin layer of coating, which needs to be scratched by the card owner. You need to redeem it by logging in to Panini America website. Panini will then ship the card to your doorstep for free!
There are redemption cards that are not fulfilled (for numerous reasons) for months or years so you really need patience if you want to wait for the card to be delivered.
This photo is an example of Tyrese Haliburton redemption card (left) and actual on-card autograph (right) from Panini Origins product that was delivered to me by Panini America.
One-of-one card is the rarest card as there is only one in existence. This is the most valuable card but not necessarily the most expensive as it will vary to the type of card, player and condition of the card.
Logoman Card is also a one-of-one card but it features a league logo patch. This is also the most valuable card especially if it is from a superstar or promising rookie player.
This photo is an example of Luka Doncic Logoman card from National Treasures product and…. this is not mine! (I wish I can pull one in the future)