Basketball Rookie Cards to Chase in the Modern Era

Sports cards and hobby boxes are always in demand, with collectors worldwide searching for the player that could be the next GOAT. NBA rookie cards are frontrunners when it comes to valuable sports trading cards, with newcomers making spectacular debuts every season and multiple explosive rivalries that keep collectors invested year after year. Discover the best rookie cards for your collection with Giant Sports Cards.

2019 - Ja Morant

Ja Morant swept the rankings with his debut and essentially guaranteed his spot as a must-have card by being chosen as the Rookie of the Year in 2019. Part of the Panini Prizm hobby case, his Prizm basketball rookie card offers a variety of exciting parallels. The Red Prizm NBA rookie card, in particular, makes for an exciting contrast between crimson and black, with the Grizzlies player crouched front and center.

a Panini Prizm basketball rookie card case


Budding collectors, in particular, will want to hone in on this card, as Prizm cases are one of the most affordable options for new collectors.

2019 - Zion Williamson

It wouldn’t be a rookie card list if we didn’t mention the player being hailed as the most hyped rookie since LeBron. Zion Williamson’s athleticism as a 6’6 forward for the Pelicans allowed him to rack up awards in his debut year, with an average of 23.6 points per game. He’s managed to sustain the hype since his debut, and we’re excited to see how his basketball rookie card’s value can match it.

A Panini Impeccable basketball rookie card case

Snag a Zion rookie card from a Panini Impeccable hobby box, another high-end series that is filled to the brim with guaranteed autographs and rare silver/gold bars. Zion’s prized card features an exciting action pose with him rising up to the hoop behind a holographic blue background.

2020 - Anthony Edwards

Edwards was a bright spot in an otherwise murky 2020 for the NBA, being the number one pick of the draft for the Timberwolves. As a player, the hype around Anthony Edwards stems from his league-leading stats and athletic ability that allows him to lay down an impressive shooting guard performance match after match.

This basketball rookie card can be found in a Panini Prizm or Panini Donruss hobby box, with the Prizm variant being more popular (and more expensive!).

2020 - LaMelo Ball

LaMelo Ball won the Rookie of the Year award in 2021, turning one victory into another with his subsequent nomination for All-Star in 2022. Ball’s NBA rookie card’s popularity can be attributed to:

  • Playstyle: LaMelo Ball is an absolute joy to watch while he plays for the Hornets. His instinctive style of play shines through in every game, coming up with new strategies on the fly and forcing opponents to react.
  • International Popularity: Ball is popular both in the US and abroad due to his time playing for leagues in France & Belgium. Collectors who want to grab something that might hold long-term value will want to look out for this basketball rookie card.
  • Social Media: LaMelo Ball’s family commands a palpable media presence, from a reality TV show to their own shoe line. All of this ensures that LaMelo’s popularity will only go up from here if he continues to perform.

a Panini Chronicles basketball rookie card case

Collectors can find LaMelo Ball’s rookie card in the fan-favorite Panini Chronicles hobby box. Chronicles is a good pick if you want to club a new rookie card with a valuable veteran, bringing together the best of both worlds.

2021 - Cade Cunningham

Cade Cunningham was the #1 pick of the 2021 NBA draft, chosen by the Detroit Pistons as a point guard. Cade has been cultivating an active audience since his Oklahoma State days, bringing in massive crowds with his leadership both on and off the court as he guides the Pistons. His impressive performance since his debut is a great sign for his basketball rookie card’s future value.

Collectors can pull Cunningham’s NBA rookie card from a Panini National Treasures hobby box. His most valuable card is limited to 99 copies and carries a spectacular patch with an autograph. Remember that prices can be high here, with the National Treasures line being as high-end as it is, combined with the card’s scarcity.

2024 - Victor Wembanyama

Victor Wembanyama has been the baseball rookie card for collectors worldwide ever since he was picked first by the Spurs in the 2023 draft. As a player, Victor is a unique blend of charisma, athleticism, and sheer skill packed into an impressive 7’4” frame. Experts are already comparing Wembanyama to legends like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Kevin Durant, and we can’t wait to see how the hype pans out.

The best overall Victor Wembanyama card can be found in Panini Prizm hobby boxes. Featuring the case’s iconic black background and Wemby dead center, Wemby’s 1-of-1 Black Prizm is shaping up to be the chase rookie card of the decade.

Your Favorite Rookies All In One Place

Whether you’re a day 1 for the Lakers or a Grizzlies diehard, there is no telling which rookie might blow up in popularity overnight. Assess your budget, track the stats, and have fun snagging the best NBA rookie cards you can find!

If you need help building that basketball rookie card collection for the lowest possible price, check out our hobby boxes at Giant Sports Cards! We’re an all-star team of collectors who share your passion for basketball cards, and we’d be delighted to help you collect more with fast and free shipping at competitive prices. Unbox Your Love Of The Game™ with Giant Sports Cards today.