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2023-24 Panini Contenders Basketball Review: A Classic… To Avoid

2023-24 Panini Contenders brings back an autograph-driven product on April 3, 2024, but should you invest in it? We’ll break everything down right here. 

Check prices of previous years of Contenders Basketball boxes on eBay

Contenders 2023-24 product introduction 

Contenders 2023-24 Basketball hobby boxes are scheduled to release on April 3rd at $399 per box, providing this year’s rookie class with their rookie ticket autograph, cracked ice cards, and more.

While this product is a staple in the sport, this year it won’t have as much appeal, given that Victor Wembanyama will be signing exclusively with Fanatics and his autos will not be included in this product. 

Check prices of previous years of Contenders Basketball on eBay

The history of Contenders (And why this year’s is a tough sell)

“NFL Contenders” debuted in 1992 and was initially launched by the Playoff Corp. While there were several acquisitions along the way before the brand landed in the hands of Panini in 2010, the product itself never missed a beat. 

After Panini acquired the product, they doubled down on their focus on rookie autographs and extended it to the NBA. 

In many ways, this makes the brand unique because it has a lot of rookie autographs of players who don’t typically sign much, yet it’s still a big-name brand. Ironically, despite the heavy focus on rookie autographs, Contenders is not a brand for pulling rookie cards – that’s the biggest Achilles heel in the product. There are no base rookies, only inserts.

If you buy a box of Prizm or Optic and don’t hit with a nice auto, you still have a chance for a nice rookie card pull. With Contenders, it’s very much boom or bust based on the autos.

And for that reason alone, 2023-24 Contenders basketball is not a good buy. Without the autograph potential of Wembanyama, this product that is defined by autographs (and doesn’t have base rookies) isn’t worth a quarter of the asking price. Stay away. 

Check prices of previous years of Contenders Basketball on eBay

What to expect from 2024 Contenders Basketball

The 2023/24 Contenders basketball product offers collectors an exciting and highly anticipated experience with its on-card Rookie Ticket Autographs. Each hobby box consists of 4 packs, with 8 cards per pack, providing enthusiasts with a mix of autographs, inserts, parallels, and variations.

On average, each hobby box contains 2 autographs, featuring both top rookies and established veterans. The Premium Edition Autographs, available in Gold (#’d/10) and Gold Vinyl (#’d/1) versions, add a rare and sought-after element to the autograph lineup.

A new addition to Contenders this year is the Hobby-exclusive NBA Ink Autographs, offering collectors a unique range of autographs numbered from 99 to 1. This inclusion enhances the variety of autographs available in the product, catering to different preferences within the collector community. That said, it sounds like these are going to be Veteran autographs.

The product also introduces various inserts, with the rare Hobby-exclusive Permit to Dominate and License to Dominate making a return. Additionally, the brand new Supernatural insert, numbered from 99 to 1, adds another layer of collectibility for enthusiasts seeking unique and limited-edition cards.

This year’s autograph sets include Veteran Season Ticket, Ticket, Veteran Clear Ticket, Veteran Season Ticket Premium Edition, MVP Contenders Autograph, MVP Contenders Autographs, Legendary Contenders Autographs, Contenders Autographs and new NBA Ink Autographs.

Check prices of previous years of Contenders Basketball on eBay

Box breakdown for 2023-24 Contenders Basketball

Here’s how the boxes break down for the upcoming Contenders release.

  • 4 packs
  • 8 cards per pack
  • 2 autographs
  • 12 Inserts, Parallels Or Variations

Value of 2023-24 Contenders

2023-24 Contenders Basketball hobby boxes are pre-ordering for $399/box, but are they worth that price?

Investing in Contenders Basketball wax

Perhaps you’re not buying this product to rip, but rather to stache and hold for the future. 

Here’s how much the last four years of boxes sell for (as of 3/15/23).

  • 2023-24 Contenders Basketball: $400
  • 2022-23 Contenders Basketball: $375
  • 2021-22 Contenders Basketball: $250
  • 2020-21 Contenders Basketball: $400
  • 2019-20 Contenders Basketball: $530
  • 2020-21 Contenders Basketball: $1400

From these recent sales, one message is abundantly clear: the value of the box greatly depends on the rookie class. The 2018-19 box is the only one that’s significantly more valuable than the 2023-24’s current asking price, and that box has rookie auto potential of Luka, SGA, Trae Young, Jaren Jackson Jr., and many more.

The other boxes don’t stack up well against the 2023-24 box, plus they have have autographs of all the major rookies, unlike this year’s box.

Looking at the numbers, it’s clear that this year is a stay-away

Check box prices of previous years of Contenders Basketball on eBay

Investing in Panini Contender singles

Since The Rookie Ticket auto is one of the most desirable rookie autos to have long-term, singles are the way to invest in Contenders if you’re interested in any of the rookies in the autograph checklist. .

This is a big risk and, big reward. If you’re buying an auto from one of the top rookies, you need to be prepared to pay a premium for it. The hope is that the card will be worth more over time if the rookie season turns into a successful career. 

Bottom line on Panini Contenders 2023-24 Basketball

2023-24 Contenders Basketball is not a product you should buy and hold sealed, and it’s probably not a great product to rip. You probably won’t make your money back, and if you somehow do, please tweet us so we can give you a big shout-out for the monster pull.

It could, however, be a singles investment opportunity if you really like one of the rookies from a generally underwhelming 2023-24 class. 

In the end, do what makes the most sense for you and your budget. This is a “hobby,” and while you can make a decent amount of profit off it, hobbies are also about having fun. 

What do you think of 2021 Contenders? Share your thoughts on Twitter @card_lines

Check box prices of previous years of Contenders Basketball on eBay

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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