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2023-24 Optic Basketball Checklist: A Top Choice For Wemby Investing?

Set to drop on May 24, 2024, the 2023-24 Optic Basketball cards bring a suite of exciting features and designs that continue to make this brand a strong competitor in the sports card market.

Known for its chromium finish and Prizm-based parallels, Optic remains a staple among collectors for its blend of accessibility and collectible appeal, just behind the coveted Prizm line.

But with a $540 release day price, is this a good buy or a stay-away?

What makes Optic Basketball special?

Since its introduction in 2016, Optic Basketball has consistently ranked as one of the top choices for collectors looking for both hobby and retail releases.

It’s often compared with Prizm and Select, earning a reputation as a solid investment through our  CardLines newsletter, which you can fo join for free right here.

Just like Prizm, Optic features chromium cards and Prizm-based inserts and parallels, giving layers of scarcity and different eye appeals for collectors to pursue enthusiastically.

And in addition, the hobby boxes are expensive, but not uber-expensive like National Treasure, Flawless, and other high-end brands. The combination of popularity and accessibility makes this a strong brand.

More about Optic Basketball: Rated Rookies and history

While the base product remains Donruss Optic, it’s popularly known simply as “Optic.” This release is distinguished for its Rated Rookie cards and on-card rookie autographs, which are highly prized each season.

New this year are the Rookie Dual Signatures and the debut of Slammy inserts, which add a fun and unique element to the collecting experience.

Optic basketball is best known for its Rated Rookie cards and on-card rookie autos, which are some of the most iconic rookie cards every season. Much like Silver Prizm rookies, Optic has a Silver parallel as well (which is called the “holo,” to add an extra layer of confusion.).

The Optic holos are rare, valuable, and amazing looking and always have a lower population than Silver Prizms on the PSA pop reports. 

What to expect from 2023-24 Optic Basketball

This iteration of Optic Basketball maintains the traditional configuration collectors appreciate: a set containing 20 packs per box and 4 cards per pack, with each box averaging 1 autograph, 20 rated rookies, and 20 inserts/parallels.

This familiar setup is complemented by exclusive designs and rare parallels such as Dragon and Nebula in the Choice boxes, making each rip an exciting prospect.

The boxes can be preordered for $540, $200 more than last year. 

But perhaps the biggest win for Optic that makes it a product worth investing in is that it is not autograph-driven. Remember, Wemby is signing exclusively with Topps so he doesn’t have autograph cards in Panini products.

Optic is not about autographs – it’s about parallels and rated rookies. For that reason alone, some of Wemby’s best rookie card will come out of Optic. That makes it super attractive. 

(But one concern that should be mentioned: with unlicensed Topps Chrome coming back this summer, it’ll be interesting to see how Optic is impacted.)

2023-24 Optic checklist information 

Optic 2023-24 doesn’t issue many major changes to the product, but that’s a good thing. It works well for a reason: the recipe is already a hit.  

The Photon SSP is back, along with a pretty consistent lineup of hobby parallels:

Base and Base Rated Rookies Parallels:

  • Holo
  • Orange: #’d to 199
  • Lime Green: #’d to 149
  • Red: #’d to 99
  • Pink Velocity: #’d to 79
  • Blue: #’d to 49
  • Black Velocity: #’d to 39
  • Gold: #’d to 10
  • Green: #’d to 5
  • Gold Vinyl: One-of-One
  • Photon: Popular SP parallel

I like that the number of parallels is still reasonable. It makes it feel special to get one, still. Some brands (we see you, Select) insist on adding multiple new ones every year, and now we’re getting parallel-washed. 

With very minimal changes except for the design, Optic 2023-24 keeps the formula that collectors love with new rookies and just enough tweaking to keep it fresh and interesting. 

Investing in Optic Basketball

With a pre-order price of $540, Optic 2023-24 has promising potential as a Wembanyama rookie card investing source, but does that make it a sure-fire buy? To help, we’ve done some of the research for you.

One good thing about Optic and the opti-chrome brands is that you will get quite a few cards. With a product like Optic that has 80 cards, you’ll get something.

So let’s look at Optic as an investment, but first, I want to dust off something I wrote last year: here’s why Optic could be a better long-term investment than the current golden boy, Prizm.

3 Reasons to Invest in Optic over Prizm

While Prizm is the favorite child in both basketball and football cards, Optic is the next best bet for a long-term investment… and many collectors think it can overtake Prizm. 

Here are three reasons to choose it: 

The populations 

Silver Prizms are significantly more common than Optic’s Holo. For example, Luka Doncic has 2,142 Silver Prizms in a PSA 10 and only 296 Optic holos. That’s nearly 8X more silvers than holos. Collectors will eventually become more aware of this large discrepancy. 

The design

Again, this is subjective, but many collectors (including members of the CardLines team) will argue that the Rated Rookies and optic design look far superior to Prizm’s design. In a hobby based on eye appeal, this will have long-term impacts. 

Optic is less complicated than Select

The other Prizm rival is Select, but with three different tiers of cards (Concourse, Premier, Courtside), Select takes a bit of work to understand year-to-year. For busy collectors who work and have families, it’s too much trouble to mess with. Optic’s checklist is a lot cleaner and simpler.

Investing in Sealed Boxes of Optic

If you’re investing in sealed boxes with the intent of holding them, here are some numbers to consider.

  • Current pre-sell of 2023-24 hobby: $540
  • Current resell of 2022-23 hobby: $220
  • Current resell of 2021-22 hobby: $270
  • Current resell of 2020-21 hobby: $500
  • Current resell of 2019-20 hobby: $425
  • Current resell of 2018-19 hobby: $1,500
  • Current resell of 2017-18 hobby: $530

What can we learn from this?

Most importantly, based on the assumed release cost of $540, that investment cost will be very hard to recoup — last year’s releases are selling for half of that. The older boxes sell for more, but the rookies are more established from those seasons, including Luka, Shai, Trae, Tatum, Ja, Zion and more.

As we’ve written, the rookie class always matters when investing in sealed boxes. And while Wemby feels like a generational prospect, the lack of his autographs still lower the ceiling here. I wouldn’t buy at $540. The number could settle closer to $400.

And this hasn’t been verified by Panini, but there are more boxes seeing a big surge in printing since 2019. This alone will help cap the potential if you are buying this product sealed with the hope to flip in 5 – 10 years.

So, should you invest? 

Investing in Rookies

Optic rookie cards are one of the blue-chip investments of modern Panini rookies – perhaps second to only Prizm. If you’re going to invest in just one card of anybody, Optic is a great way to go.

Your best bet for making a guaranteed profit on this product is finding a few holos of players you believe in, buying them raw (after asking the seller for more pictures), and then getting them graded. Optic Holos are particularly strong since they can have 6x – 10x as low of a population as silver Prizms

If you can scoop up silvers of the rookies you like and grade, then you’ll be set for a long-term hold. Collectors go nuts for Optic PSA 10s.

But caution: as with all new releases, don’t buy the first Optic cards that appear on eBay for this year. The price will inevitably drop as the supply meets the demand.

Bottom line: Rip, Hold or Pass 2023-24 Optic Basketball?

Optic is my personal favorite brand (particularly basketball), and it keeps getting even better year after year while still capturing the magic of what makes the product special. While this year doesn’t change much, that’s not a complaint. 

With more scarcity than Prizm and still strong appeal, it has good investment potential or a fun rip, but you have to get it at a good price. As noted, buying sealed Optic to hold could be risky at release-day pricing. 

What do you think of this product? What will it be worth in 5 years? Let us know on Twitter @card_lines.

Jesse Haynes

Jesse Haynes

Jesse Haynes is the co-founder of Solaro Shades, an Amazon #1 Bestselling novelist, and a lifelong sports card collector. His nonfiction work has been featured in Forbes, Inc., MarketWatch and more. At CardLines, Jesse’s specialties are basketball and football cards, not to mention making informative video and Instagram content.
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