How Do The NBA Playoffs Influence Sportscard Value?

June 6, 2021

We instinctively understand that big games can have an impact on the market value of our cards. When it comes to the NBA, it doesn’t get any bigger than the Playoffs. Therefore, we decided to check how the NBA Playoffs influence sportscard value.

A more recent trend of card collecting has been single-game overreactions. Or, in other words, one big game is enough to jump a player’s card value 20% or more. This phenomenon becomes even more present in the playoffs when games—and series—have significantly greater impact. With that in mind, here is our guide to the 2021 NBA Playoffs and sportscard value. In order to make the best of your card collection, it is important to understand price movements. 

NBA Playoffs Performance And Sportscard Value

Every basketball fan worth their salt watches the playoffs. While judging a player based on a single game or series can be an overreaction, there is also a certain logic behind it. The best players are those that rise to the occasion. That is one of the main reasons we esteem Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan so highly. Therefore, the games at this stage significantly impact their reputation and potential to become immortals of the game.

Players With Lower Sportscard Value Due To The NBA Playoffs

Inevitably, some players will find their value plummeting due to developments on the court. Perhaps they played poorly. In other cases, their team is eliminated despite their high-octane performances, or they suffered an injury.

While these players have stock dropping throughout the playoffs, it certainly doesn’t mean they’re bad investments. Keep that old investor saying in mind: buy low and sell high.

Damian Lillard, Portland

Lillard is as talented of a basketball player and as dangerous of an offensive weapon as the NBA has ever seen. He’s a complete package that makes him a player that every team has to develop an elaborate plan to defend adequately. He’s also—at least to this point—been incredibly loyal to the Portland Trailblazers. But every year, it’s the same story: Lillard gets bounced before making the NBA Finals, and sports analysts begin to blast a message of “Lillard won’t ever win a ring because he doesn’t have enough talent around him and he’s too loyal.” That might be extreme, but it does drop his card prices.

Despite Damian’s outstanding performances against the Nuggets, the price of his rookie card dropped by $600, or a drop of 42%.

Prizm PSA RC Sold 4/16: $1450

Prizm PSA RC Sold 6/3: $835

Is now the time to invest in a Damian Lillard RC? (Picture from

Tyler Herro, Miami

The Heat had the season from hell, with key players sitting out for long stretches for what felt like most of the season. Herro has received pushback from the organization for his off-court priorities throughout the process. He certainly wasn’t the same player we saw snarling through the bubble last year.

Nonetheless, he was a victim of the bad luck and form of this year’s Heat. With Herro’s scoring and playmaking ability, we believe a bounce-back is quite likely.

His card prices have dipped 36% in the last month, and the Heat sweep is undoubtedly one of the factors in that drop.

Prizm PSA 10 RC Sold 5/6: $100

Prizm PSA 10 RC Sold 6/4: $64

Tyler Herro rookies are very reasonably priced right now. (Picture taken from Amazon).

Kawhi Leonard, LAC

The future for the Clippers is very much murky. While they received a first-round scare when falling into an 0-2 hole against the Mavericks—a team they made an effort to play by throwing the last two games of the season—it looked like everything was about to fall apart for them.

That said, the Clippers at least responded and forced a game seven, with a chance to escape the first round. Still, the problem for Kawhi is the sky-high expectations for Los Angeles.

His prices have fallen quite a bit, despite some good personal numbers:

Kawhi Prizm PSA 10 RC Sold 4/11: $2,377

Kawhi Prizm PSA 10 RC Sold 6/3: $1,375

Ja Morant, Memphis

After getting bounced from the playoffs, Morant’s card value has dropped. Even though Memphis lost to the top-seeded Jazz, they have a surprisingly deep team. Morant’s value could rally again next season.

As Ja’s card value has gone down 60%, this may be an excellent card to ‘buy the dip’ for.

Prizm PSA 10 RC Sold 4/11: $415

Prizm PSA 10 RC Sold 6/5: $250

Ja Morant’s cards are down, despite carrying the Grizzlies in the first round. (Picture taken from Amazon).

Players With Higher Sportscard Value Due To The NBA Playoffs

Every playoff has standout performances. We can expect the very best performers to increase the value of their cards.

Nikola Jokic, Denver

The Joker might be in the middle of his best joke to date. When Jamaal Murray went down with a late knee injury, many outside voices counted out the Nuggets from making it out of the first round. Instead, Jokic’s stats only got better—solidifying his place as league MVP.

However, his great performances have no raised the value of Jokic’s cards by much.

Jokic Prizm PSA 10 RC Sold 5/24: $956

Jokic Prizm PSA 10 RC Sold 5/30: $1,056

It may be a bit late to get a bargain on a Nikola Jokic RC. (Picture from PSA).

Devin Booker, Phoenix

Another team that had a nightmare season was the Los Angeles Lakers. Between another Davis injury and a hobbled LeBron, the Suns managed to eliminate the reigning champs in the first round.

Booker is just getting started in what will presumably be a long NBA career, so his cards could be great short and long-term investments. However, you may want to wait until the Suns are eliminated (assuming they are) before springing for his cards.

Booker’s RC’s have increased value by 14% over the playoffs.

Prizm PSA 10 RC Sold 5/23: $785

Prizm PSA 10 RC Sold 6/3: $905

Trae Young, Atlanta

He’s not the most efficient. He’s not the best defender. Despite the detractors, Young carried the Hawks to the second round.  On top of that, Young’s Game 1 game-winner has helped solidify his place as an NBA villain.

Collectors will still be bullish on Young cards—especially if the Hawks can make a run to the conference finals. However, the rise in value so far has been modest.

Prizm PSA 10 RC Sold 5/16: $300

Prizm PSA 10 RC Sold 6/4: $320

Players With Lower Sportscard Value Due To Missing The NBA Playoffs

While the NBA Playoffs attract the spotlight, other players who did not make the playoffs have a case to be great investments for next season and beyond.

Stephen Curry, Golden State

Remember this guy? The one who lost his mind and had the best month of shooting that basketball had ever seen just a few weeks ago? Yeah, he’s still good, and while Curry couldn’t drag his Warriors into the playoffs this season, the entire Warriors team will look a lot different next year, and Curry could go back to being a playoff lock every season throughout the rest of his Hall of Fame career. And, to cap it off, he’ll go down in the record books as one of the all-timers and most game-changing players ever.

A 5,000$ drop is nothing to sneeze at, especially in regards to a sure-fire Hall-of-Famer.

Topps Chrome PSA 9 RC Sold 4/18: $18,575

Topps Chrome PSA 9 RC Sold 5/28: $13,200

Zion Williamson, New Orleans

Zion had one of the best second-years in recent memory, proving that he could become precisely what every NBA scout predicted—an all-around talent that can make plays score at a high volume and bully grown men with his size and athleticism.  While the Pelicans didn’t make the playoffs this year, it feels like they are perhaps one piece (or a new coach) away from becoming a perennial playoff team, and Zion could become a postseason threat for over a decade.

Despite his fantastic potential, Zion’s cards are down almost 50%.

Prizm PSA 10 RC Sold 6/4: $380

Prizm PSA 10 RC Sold 5/11: $699

Zion rookie cards are almost 50% down. (Picture taken from Amazon).

The 2021 NBA Playoffs And Sports Card Value

We have noticed a few interesting trends regarding playoff card value:

  • Personal performance matters less than team success.
  • The dips are far more significant than the increases.
  • There is a general weakening of card prices which is increasing the dips and lowering the gains.

Our advice, if you believe in the long-term prospects of a player, buy them when their team has failed. We can think of a few out of the playoffs, despite great personal performances (Lillard and Jayson Tatum come to mind). Now would be the time to invest in them.

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