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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Player Focus: Nick Collison

Nick Collison, the former KU standout & draft lottery pick, had a rough start in the NBA, having to sit out his RC year due to shoulder surgery. In his 2nd & 3rd seasons, he was making his comeback, usually coming off the bench, averaging 5.6 ppg & 4.6 rpg and 7.5 ppg & 5.6 rpg, respectively. He started this season backing up Johan Petro at C (since Robert Swift was injured during the preseason), averaging just over 7 ppg & 6 rpg in 24 mpg. Then, Seattle management finally realized that he belonged in the starting line-up, and on 1/6 against the Warriors, he got his start. Since then, his production has taken off. From 1/6 to 1/26 (not including thier last game on 1/28 against the Clippers, because all of the starters were taken off the court earlier than usual due to them being down by 30 pts), he has averaged 17.5 ppg & 12.9 rpg in 36.9 mpg. His output has more than doubled. His confidence is finally back, and the team is behind him.

All of his RC cards have fallen since entering the NBA. There have been short spikes in demand here and there, but overall no upward movement. Now that he's starting, and will probably continue to start since Swift is out for the season, we can expect to see demand start to rise. He and Chris Wilcox have been putting up double-double stats almost every game recently. Combined with Ray Allen, Rashard Lewis & Earl Watson (or Luke Ridnour - both could be pretty good PGs), the Sonics have a chance to play some decent ball, and gain some hobby interest for their talented players. They've all been undervalued due to poor team performance, but Collison's cards have especially been stuck in limbo (Watson is fairly new to the team). Try to pick up some of his key Auto RCs while you can. I especially like his Bowman & Bowman Chrome autos (sigs are directly on the cards; no stickers that year). They can be found at very low % of BV prices. Be wary though, because KU fans are still big fans of Collison, so you'll be competing with them and Sonics fans for his cards, especially when they catch fire!

Friday, January 26, 2007

Team Focus: Utah Jazz

The Utah Jazz have been revived from thier string of mediocre seasons, led by Carlos Boozer, Mehmet Okur & Deron Williams.

It's great to see Boozer back playing so well after some injury problems. This is the Boozer that the Jazz were hoping for when they signed him to his huge contract back in '04. I'm sure they were a little worried when he only played 84 games over his 1st two seasons with them. Now he's possibly the best PF in the West, averaging 22.5 ppg & 11.9 rpg. His RCs were steals up till a couple months ago. Now collectors are again taking interest in him, and betting on a healthy future. It might be a good idea to pick up one of his Auto RCs and hold it for a while. His 02-03 Bowman Sig Auto/Jsy #'d 999 books for a reasonable $30, compared to his Finest Auto #'d 999, SP Authentic Auto #'d 1500, and SPx Auto/Jsy #'d 999 which all book for $40 each.

Mehmet Okur has been improving every season since coming into the NBA. He's a big guy who can shoot (even the 3 - .400 3PT% this season), giving him an added dimension compared to other Centers. I don't think that he'll ever be a hobby "star" (maybe "semistar"), but he is a good support player. From a collectors' standpoint, you probably wouldn't buy his cards unless you were a diehard fan, since resale values wouldn't appreciate much. For those diehard fans, his key RC from 02-03 would be Bowman Sig Auto #'d 999 ($25).

What can I say about Deron Williams that everyone else doesn't already know? He's having a break out season. One of his key Auto RCs though, has dropped in auction performance. His SPx Auto/Jsy RC #'d 750 booked for $60 through the Dec Beckett. Actual online sales for the month of Dec averaged $47.18 (78.6% of BV). Not too bad. But then, when the BV jumped to $75 in the Jan Beckett, sales seemed to go south, averaging just $40.61 (54.1% of BV). I would blame this drop on the team's stumbling earlier in Jan, when they lost 5 out of 6 games (the worst streak they've had this season). Collectors and investors should take advantage of this lull and pick up some of his cards. There are some good deals out there (except maybe not for his Exquisite Coll Auto/Patch RC!). You just have to look. His SP Authentic Auto RC #'d 1299 has been averaging $26.02 in Jan (52% of the $50 BV). If you can find an SPA RC for around $19-22 or an SPx RC for $30-36, I would say go for it. At only 22 years old, Williams could be the next John Stockton for Utah fans.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Postgame: The return of Melo

In Carmelo Anthony's first game back, the action was explosive at times, with the allyoop dunks & drives to the basket, but overall the Nuggets were able to cruise in this one-sided game. The Grizzlies were an ideal team to play for Melo's first game back, to allow Denver to ease into their new line-up and have a strong confidence booster. Melo seems to be making some shooting adjustments (which is expected after 36 days out of action), shooting 10-25 from the field, but before we know it he'll be back to his old form, maintaining his position as one of the league's leading scorers.

Their next game, against Seattle, will probably pose a little more of a challenge. The Sonics have a decent young line-up, with double-double guys Chris Wilcox & Nick Collison, and of course, one of the best shooters in the game, Ray Allen.

Relatively speaking, Melo, Iverson & Camby RC's are pretty good deals on auction. Melo & Iverson cards can be found at pretty low % of BV levels. Camby's key cards seem to be selling at higher % of BV levels, but that's because his BV's are undervalued.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Pregame: The Return of Melo

Today is finally the day that Carmelo Anothony returns to the Denver line-up! What to expect? Nothing short of sheer offensive dominance! Even though Melo was on suspension for 36 days, he was still allowed to practice with the team, and prepare for the best two man offense of our era. Iverson & Melo are averaging a combined 60 ppg this season. When you put them together with J.R. Smith, Marcus Camby (one of the best defensive players in the league) and Nene (who seems to be getting into better shape now), you have a top 3 Western Conf team. Since its still early in the year, the Nuggets have time to mesh, and possibly compete with the Suns & Mavs for the top spot in the west. One concern that I have is their bench. Guys like Steve Blake, Yakhouba Diawara & Linas Kleiza have shown signs of promise while Melo was out. All 3 of them can be potential 3 point threats. Hopefully they will continue to progress, so that the starters can take a little breather now & then.

This situation has great hobby potential for Iverson's cards to make a long overdue comeback, and Melo's to continue their upward trend. As long as egos can be kept in check, we should be able to witness something very spectacular.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Player Focus: Kwame Brown's Cake Ordeal

Did all of you hear what happened with Kwame Brown last week outside a bar in one of the L.A. beach cities? On the news they said some guy had just came from his own 30th birthday party, and was walking with his large birthday cake in his arms when he came across Brown, Ronny Turiaf & Lamar Odom outside a bar. He said that Turiaf took a picture with him, but Brown, for some bizarre reason we don't know, took the cake away from the man and threw it onto the man's back! And I was just thinking that Brown seems to have finally matured and was ready to take on the responsibilities that the Lakers deeply want to bestow upon him. The report said that Brown then jumped into his car and left. Supposedly the man tried to approach them after that at some other location and someone, identified as possibly Odom's bodyguard, pushed the man to the ground. Odom told the bodyguard to stop because the man didn't do anything. Both partys then parted ways.

I don't know whether to believe that this whole ordeal was unprovoked or not, but that report sure didn't do anything good for Brown's image. It seems that the judge threw out the case, so maybe the altercation wasn't just so one sided.

I hope that Brown & Odom will keep focused on what they need to do, namely rehabbing and coming back to play at 100% at the end of the month. The Lakers have really missed all of Odom's many skills, and they need Brown back to alternate with Bynum at center. Especially since Bynum seems to be a magnet to foul trouble (something that he'll probably outgrow with experience).

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Player Focus: Gilbert Arenas Part 2

As I was saying in this blog two days ago, it'll take something special to keep the fire in Gilbert Arenas' cards going. Then one day later what does he do? Lights up one of the best in the West, the Utah Jazz, for 51 points, including a game winning buzzer beating 3, and only has ONE turnover in the entire game! If that doesn't do it, nothing will!

Keep an eye on his key 01-02 RC's as they will continue to rise in value. I would rank his top 5 base RC cards to be: 1) SP Authentic Auto #'d 1525 ($80), 2) Ultimate Collection #'d 750 ($50), 3) Topps High Topps Auto #'d 850 ($50), 4) UD Inspirations Dual Auto w/ Mo Pete #'d 1149 ($40), and 5) SPx #'d 1999 ($30).

Monday, January 15, 2007

My View: Best RC Set for 05-06

After seeing all of the MANY RC sets in the 05-06 year, I'd have to say my favorite is the SP Authentic Auto/Patch RCs #'d 1/1299 to 100/1299. These cards are in affordable packs, they're rare, they're unique (the 1st 100 of the base RC set) and they give you just as much as the unaffordable Exquisite Coll RC set (an auto & patch, with a low serial #). All of the Exquisite Coll RCs have been selling for unbelievable amounts (many over 100% of BV), even for the players that haven't done anything yet in the NBA. This SPA set on the other hand has kind of cruised by under the radar, selling for quite low % of BV levels. I've watched all of these RCs listed from 11/28/06 thru 1/14/07 on auction, and the average % of BV selling price was 67.9%. Some lucky collector picked up a Salim Stoudamire for $21.50 (26.9% of the $80 BV). Also, an Andrew Bogut sold on 1/7 for $51.55, 32.2% of the $160 BV. Of the 18 sales that I watched, only 3 sold for over 100% of BV; a Deron Williams (104.2% of BV on 1/3), a David Lee (107.5% of BV on 1/10) and a Jason Maxiell (114.7% of BV on 1/13). The Chris Paul from this set only books for $400, and the one that I saw sell on 1/10 went for $322.11 incl S&H. Much more affordable than the Exquisite Coll #'d 99 that books for $3200!

I feel like this set is on the verge of a hobby breakthrough, so if you want in, better get moving!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Player Focus: Gilbert Arenas

Gilbert Arenas was clearly the best offensive player in the month of December, averaging 34.1 ppg & shooting .476 FG% (His combined November & January (so far) stats are 26.1 ppg & .390 FG%). Even though Arenas has been a great scorer for the past couple of seasons and his RC cards have booked fairly high, the hobby demand hasn't been consistently there for him. On 12/17, I saw one of his Ultimate Coll RC's (BV $50) sell for $10.50 incl S&H (21% of BV). What seems to have sparked his hobby craze were his 60 point (12/17) & 54 point (12/22) performances against the high profile Lakers & Suns, respectively. Sales for his Ultimate Collection RC jumped to an average of $43.73 incl S&H (87.5% of BV) from 12/28 thru 1/13. His SP Authentic Auto RC (BV $80) was even hotter, averaging $111.71 (139.6% of BV) from 1/2 thru 1/13.

Arenas has cooled some in his past 3 games, scoring 20, 23 & 17 points against non-top tier teams, and the Wizards lost 2 out of three of them. This slump (if you can even call 3 games a slump!) has already started to affect some of his RC sales. If he doesn't have another catalytic performance soon, you can expect to see demand for his RC's to wane some, probably dropping actual sales to lower % of BV levels (especially since the February Beckett will probably have up arrows on his RC's to reflect real market action for the previous month). The bar has definitely been raised for Arenas, so scoring 20 something points just won't cut it for his critics and hobby fans.

We all know Arenas has the talent, and he has become a part of one of the most exciting 3 man offenses in the league (with Caron Butler & Antawn Jamison). I believe that his RC cards are going to remain solid investments for now & the future, especially when the Wizards become a top tier Eastern power in the next couple of seasons.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Player Focus: Hakim Warrick

In my last posting, I spotlighted Hakim Warrick of the Memphis Grizzlies as my sleeper. Since then, Warrick has still been coming off the bench and his stats have still been falling. Since the team has quite a few young forwards like Alexander Johnson (22 y.o.), Rudy Gay (19 y.o.), Lawrence Roberts (23 y.o.) plus Stromile Swift & Brian Cardinal, maybe it would be beneficial for Warrick move to another team. Two teams that I think might provide a better fit are the NO/Okla Hornets & the San Antonio Spurs.

The Hornets are a young up and coming team, with Chris Paul strong at PG, Tyson Chandler at Center and Desmond Mason at GF. They could use Warrick's athleticism and scoring ability in the forward spot. I think that he could go in as a starter and make an immediate impact. The Hornets need the extra help to compete in the Western Conf's toughest division.

If he went to the Spurs, he would have time to learn from guys like Tim Duncan & Robert Horry, two veteran champions that know how to win. The Spurs are one of the best teams in the league, but only have 3 players averaging double digit points (Duncan, Parker & Ginobili). Whether Warrick would come in as a starter or bencher, he would benefit from the experience & knowledge he would gain, and be ready to take over the star spot when Duncan retires down the line (kind of like when Duncan joined David Robinson back in '97).

I've been watching sales of his 05-06 SP Authentic Auto RC #'d 1299, and my theory seems to be true. So far this year, his SPA RC has sold for an average of $13.02 incl S&H (32.5% of BV) from 1/4 to 1/12, with one even selling for $9.27 incl S&H (23.2% of BV) on 1/12. I'm gonna be picking up as many of his Auto RC's as I can, targeting a % of BV of around 20-30%. If he starts playing more or gets traded into a better situation, they'll turn out to be a great investment!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Issue 4

Real Deal - Market Report

Here are some actual RC card sales that I've seen recently for high potential players, which I thought were good buys. *Now all sales prices listed include S&H charges, unless noted.

02-03 Finest Caron Butler Auto RC #'d 999 - $9.05 on 12/27/06 (BV $40) - 22.6% of BV
01-02 Ultimate Coll Gilbert Arenas RC #' 750 - $10.50 on 12/11/06 (BV $50) - 21% of BV
98-99 SPx Finite Paul Pierce Radiance RC #'d 2500 - $5.30 (not incl S&H) on 12/7/06 (BV $30) - 17.7% of BV


This report's sleeper is Hakim Warrick (Mem, 05-06 RC year). Warrick got the opportunity to start when Pau Gasol was out due to injury earlier in the season, and for the most part he took advantage of that time to show what he could do. From the beginning of the season through 12/16 (he started coming off the bench after 12/16), he averaged 31.6 mpg, 15.5 ppg & 5.6 rpg. Thereafter, coming off the bench he has averaged 19.9 mpg, 8.1 ppg & 2.3 rpg. When you look at production per minute of play, that's a drop of 16.7% in points per min & 34.1% in rebounds per min. I would guess that this would be the result of fewer opportunities and a drop in morale for Warrick (going from starter to bencher).

Most of Warrick's RCs jumped in price in the Jan Beckett, due to his strong play before being benched. Because of this, we should be seeing a good drop in % of BV for sales online. Alot of the "hype" buyers should start moving on to the next hot player, which would ease up demand and in turn lower selling prices. Now is the time to pick up some of his key RCs, before Memphis management realizes that they made a mistake pulling him from the starting line up!

I just saw one of his SP Authentic Auto RC #'d 1299 (BV $40) sell for $14.27 (incl s&h) - 35.7% of BV. I also like his SPx Auto/Jsy RC #'d 99 (BV $80), Ultimate Coll Auto RC #'d 250 (BV $50) and SP Authentic Limited RC Patches Auto #'d 1/1299 to 100/1299 (BV $120).

Rare Finds

My rare find for this report is a 04-05 SPx Dwight Howard Throwback Auto/Jsy RC (BV $150), which sold on ebay for $182.50 on 12/2/06, 121.7% of BV. These Throwback RC parallels were not numbered, but were seeded 1:252 packs, making them quite rare. I've seen alot fewer of these for sale than the base #'d RCs. Howard is the hottest PF in the hobby this year, playing for a cinderella Orlando Magic that hasn't had a winning record since the 02-03 season.