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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

RC Year Autos: Who Has the Fewest?

Now a days, card companies are putting out so many Auto cards in each player's RC year. Just a decade or so ago, in 96-97, the only set that had RC year autos was Skybox Premium, with their Autographics & Emerald Auto insert sets. Now almost any set worth buying has base, parallel and insert autos for most RCs. Below I've listed the players & their RC year autos who had some of the fewest issued, from 97-98 to 02-03 (also considering the value of the player - meaning that they would have to at least be of semi-star "potential" status to be listed). Also noted, autos #'d 1 of 1 are not included.
  • 97-98 Tracy McGrady (1 insert, 0 base) - Skybox Prem Autographics C.M. - $1400
  • 97-98 Brevin Knight (2 insert, 0 base) - Skybox Prem Autographics Reg/C.M. - $20/40
  • 98-99 Paul Pierce (1 insert, 0 base) - Topps Autographs - $50
  • 99-00 Devean George (0 insert, 1 base) - SPx Auto #'d 2500 - $12
  • 00-01 Michael Redd (4 insert, 0 base) - Fleer Autographics Reg/Silver/Gold - $12/15/36 & E-X Rookie Memorabilia Auto #'d 500 - $25
  • 01-02 Zach Randolph (3 insert, 1 base) - Topps Pristine Autos - $40, Topps Chrome Autos - $20, Topps Xpectations Auto - $20 and Topps High Topps #'d 850 - $25
  • 01-02 Gilbert Arenas (too many inserts, 3 base) - SP Authentic #'d 1525 - $120, Topps High Topps #'d 850 - $75 and UD Inspirations w/Mo Pete #'d 1149 - $50
  • 02-03 Ronald "Flip" Murray (1 insert, 1 base, 1 parallel) - Topps Rookie Autos - $80, Bowman Sig Auto/Jsy #'d 999 - $40, Bowman Sig Auto/Jsy Parallel #'d 99 - $80
  • 02-03 Smush Parker (0 insert, 1 base) - Finest #'d 999 $50
Of these players listed, based on BV & player performance, I would say that Michael Redd & Paul Pierce's RC year autos are the best buys.

Redd's EX auto is quite scarce. I've only seen two on auction over the past couple of months, selling for an avg price of (incl s&h) $31 (124% of BV). Redd's Fleer autos are easier to find (at least the reg version), and more affordable, selling for an avg of $10.56 (70.4% of BV) over the past month or so.

I haven't seen any of Pierce's Topps Auto for sale. All of his non-auto RC year cards have been selling in the 15-20% of BV range. I think that this card though, being his ONLY RC year auto, will sell at a much higher %. Being a fan of Pierce, I'm keeping an eye out for this one.

I also have to say that Zach Randolph's Topps High Topps Auto RC is also special. Randolph is one of the most underrated players in the hobby, and this is his ONLY base auto RC. I haven't seen any of these for sale, ever! This is another card worth picking up.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Player Focus: Kobe Bryant

From the beginning of his career, Kobe Bryant has had the confidence & drive (and talent of course) to become the player he is today - the best in the NBA. His offense & defense have been top notch for a few years now, and he has finally become the complete package by adding the ability to elevate the game of his teammates. The Lakers' current roster provides the perfect situation for Kobe to develop this skill, with a solid #2 (Lamar Odom) and a group of young, up-and-coming talent to guide (Bynum, Turiaf, Cook, Walton, Farmar, Vujacic), by providing a great on-court example and "coaching". It was near impossible to do with the old Lakers line-up, with players like Shaq, Malone & Payton, who have been around for a lot longer and had their own way of doing things. Barring any major changes, I predict the Lakers to be in the Western Conf finals by 2009.

Kobe's top 5 base RCs from 96-97 are 1) Topps Chrome ($225), 2) E-X2000 ($60), 3) Finest ($40), 4) Bowman's Best ($25) and 5) SP ($20). I've been tracking recent actual sales of these cards and found that the Topps Chrome sold for an avg of $146.16 (65% of BV), E-X2000 $30.28 (50.5% of BV), Finest $16.48 (41.2% of BV), Bowman's Best $11.69 (46.7 % of BV) and SP $6.18 (30.9% of BV). This shows the typical trend of higher priced RCs selling for higher % of BVs than lower ones.

Kobe's top 5 parallel RCs are 1) Topps Chrome Ref ($1800), 2) Flair Legacy Coll #'d 150 ($800), 3) E-X2000 Credentials #'d 499 ($700), 4) Skybox Prem Rubies ($400) and 5) Finest Ref ($350). Some recent sales that I've seen are Flair Legacy Coll $432.38 (54.6% of BV), Finest Ref $164.90 - avg of two sales (47.1% of BV) and E-X2000 Credentials $609 (87% of BV). I've seen a couple of Topps Chrome Refs graded BGS 9.5 listed, but they didn't meet reserve.

My personal favorites are his E-X2000 base & parallel. I think that they are the most unique & attractive of the bunch, in addition to being quite rare & condition sensitive.

Monday, February 12, 2007

The Modern Day RC Card

Today, almost all of the RCs in the mid to high range products are either #'d, autographed, have a piece memorabilia (jersey, patch, hat, etc...) or have a combination of these elements. Just 10 years ago, in 96-97, we saw the advent of the 1st #'d & autographed RC year cards. Fleer came out with their E-X2000 Credentials #'d 499 & Flair Legacy Collection #'d 150, which were both parallel sets. Fleer also led the way for the RC year autographs, with their Skybox Autographics insert, which included first NBA autos for RCs like Ray Allen, Marcus Camby, Stephon Marbury & Steve Nash.

It wasn't until the 98-99 year that the first #'d base RCs came out, from Upper Deck's two premium brands: SPAuthentic #'d 3500 & SPx Finite #'d 2500. UD then continued their innovative leadership by introducing the hobby's first autographed base RC, with their SPx Auto RCs #'d 500 & 2500 in 99-00.

Topps, the market veteran, has been dragging its feet regarding these types of innovations. Their first #'d base RC was 99-00 Finest #'d 2000 (SERIES 2 ONLY). Their first base Auto RC was 01-02 Topps High Topps Auto #'d 850. This product could've been hot if Topps had hyped it a bit more, instead of how it turned out; a flash in the pants one-year product. It has Zach Randolph's only base auto RC, in addition to auto RCs of Joe Johnson & Gilbert Arenas (one of only 3 base sets that had an Arenas auto RC).

Fleer/Skybox, after their pioneering sets in 96-97, then followed up with a redundancy of crappy new sets like Fleer Metal, Focus, Authentix, Force, Marquee, Maximum, Platinum, Shoebox, etc... that were all in the low to low-mid end product group, providing collectors with very little content at low prices, and which also cannibalized each other. I would say that this was what led to the company's demise. UD then picked them up in 2005 (another instance where Topps missed the boat), which allowed them to continue Fleer's stronger products, that now include 86-87 Fleer Jordan buyback RCs (reg & auto'd versions) and Jordan Autographics.

Being a strong believer in the idea of competition, I really hope that Topps brings something exciting to the hobby very soon. Some of their recent successes in my mind were adding Autos to the Finest RCs in 02-03, introducing Bowman Signature in 02-03 and introducing Topps Rookie Photo Shoot Autos in 03-04. Some of their recent blunders are making too many parallel versions for Finest RCs from 04-05 to present, and not having Auto RCs in the regular Bowman set in 06-07. I wish Topps lots of luck in improving their Basketball offerings, and hope that they're not just sitting there thinking at least we're strong in Baseball!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Player Focus: Tracy McGrady

One player who's RCs should be on the move very soon is Tracy McGrady. T-Mac's RCs have been stagnant for years, with each season's new young crop of up-and-coming stars taking the spotlight. He had a slow start this season, and was out of play from 12/12 to 12/26, back just in time to take over when the Rockets' top scorer, rebounder, shot blocker & FT% shooter, Yao Ming, went out with injury. Houston's come back season looked in jeopardy when Yao got hurt, but T-Mac has really picked up the slack. Since his return to action, the team has gone 15-6, and he's averaged 29 ppg (versus 19 ppg before his injury).

His best base RCs from the 97-98 year are SP Authentic FW (BV $50-pictured above), Topps Chrome (BV $30) and SPx (BV $20).

His best parallel & insert RCs are Skybox Premium Rubies #'d 50 (BV $500), Skybox Premium Autographics CM Auto #'d 100 (BV $1400 - his only Auto RC), Ultra Platinum Medallion #'d 100 (BV $120), Flair Showcase Legacy Collection #'d 100 (BV $120) and Topps Chrome Ref (BV $250).

As long as he stays healthy and maintains this high level of play, I think that the Rockets will be in the playoffs and his RCs will finally see some movement.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Player Focus: Marcus Camby

In my opinion, Marcus Camby is the best defensive player in the league. His stats (and his RC values) just don't do him justice. He of course grabs boards & blocks shots, but he also causes turnovers and creates opportunities for his teammates (and scores a little too - averaging 12 ppg). One huge problem that he's had is staying away from injury. In his last 5 seasons, he's only averaged 50 games per season, meaning that his team(s) have only been able to benefit from his superb skills 61% of the time!

I remember being impressed with Camby's play back when he was at UMass, and I've been hoping for him to succeed in the NBA ever since. If he can stay healthy, he will provide the defense & support to go along with an already powerful offense, allowing the Nuggets to make a run at the Western Conf title game with the Suns.

Camby's best 96-97 RCs are: E-X2000 Credentials #'d 499 ($30) & Flair Showcase Legacy Collection #'d 150 ($40) - his only two serial #'d RC cards; Skybox Premium Autographics Black Ink Auto ($20), Blue Ink Auto ($40) and Emerald Auto ($40) - his only autographed RC year cards; and of course Topps Chrome Refractor ($80) - his most expensive RC card. One other RC cards that combines scarcity & low BV is his Ultra Platinum Medallion RC, which has less than 250 copies (not sure if cards are #'d or not).

Monday, February 05, 2007

Player Focus: Leandro Barbosa

Leandro Barbosa is possibly the best sixth man in the West (not yet the NBA because of the Bulls' Ben Gordon - and why is Gordon still coming off the bench?). He plays for the best (and one of the most exciting) team in the league, he backs up the best PG in the league, and he can play! Sounds like the makings of a future hobby success. Barbosa has shown his skills since before this season, but his RC cards have stayed in the "commons" price level up until recently.

Like Andrew Bynum, who has 3 sig variations ("AB #17", "Andrew Bynum" & "Andrew Bynum #17"), Barbosa also has more than one sig: "LB", "LB #10" and "Leandro Suns" (or so I think, since it's near impossible to read). Based on the theory that players' sigs get shorter or more abbreviated over time, his full sigs ("Leandro Suns") will only become rarer. Of the personally acquired auto'd items I've seen for sale, they've all been either the "LB" or "LB #10", which could be a sign that he's already abandoned the full name auto. Since there's no premium placed on his full sigs (for now), as a collector I would choose to buy them over his shorter variations. Those 03-04 sets that have his full name are SP Game Used Rookie Exclusives Auto #'d 100, SPx Auto/Jsy #'d 1999 & Bowman Signature. I've found that some products have more than one variation. Some examples are SP Sig ("LB" & "LB #10") and Bowman Sig ("Leandro Suns" & "LB #10"). So make sure you look at the pic before bidding so you know what you're getting.

His higher end Auto RC's have been selling in the 85%+ of BV level. You can find his SPx RC for around $17-18 (incl s&h). Anything lower than that would be a good buy. This kid has a bright future ahead of him, and I'm definitely going to pick up some of his Auto RCs (full sig of course!).
Market Report

Here is an update of real market activity for some of the players that I've been watching, showing the avg price sold during the total watch period, the avg price by month, and the $ & % change from the previous month:
  • Andrew Bynum 05-06 RC year
    • SPA Auto #'d 1299 - Avg Price $37.82 (94.6% of Avg BV), from 11/24 to 2/3
      • Dec-06 - Avg Price $37.22
      • Jan-07 - Avg Price $38.35 (+$1.13, or 3%)
    • SPx Auto/Jsy #'d 1499 - Avg Price $40.61 (80.2% of Avg BV), from 12/2 to 2/2
      • Dec-06 - Avg Price $39.47
      • Jan-07 - Avg Price $42.34 (+$2.87, or 7.3%)
  • Deron Williams 05-06 RC year
    • SPA Auto #'d 1299 - Avg Price $28.43 (65.1% of Avg BV), from 11/29 to 2/3
      • Dec-06 - Avg Price $25.14
      • Jan-07 - Avg Price $26.79 (+$1.65, or 6.6%)
    • SPx Auto/Jsy #'d 750 - Avg Price $43.71 (64.4% of Avg BV), from 11/28 to 2/2
      • Dec-06 - Avg Price $47.18
      • Jan-07 - Avg Price $40.45 (-$6.73, or 14.3%)
  • Gilbert Arenas 01-02 RC year
    • Ultimate Coll #'d 750 - Avg Price $38.76 (77.5% of Avg BV), from 12/11 to 1/29
      • Dec-06 - Avg Price $37.82
      • Jan-07 - Avg Price $39.00 (+$1.18, or 3.1%)
    • SPA Auto #'d 1525 - Avg Price $115.33 (144.2% of Avg BV), month of Jan-07

Four of the hottest cards on auction have been Steve Nash's top RC cards from 96-97: Topps Chrome (Base & Ref) and Skybox Autographics Auto (Black & Blue Ink). Here is some recent data from actual sales:
  • Topps Chrome - Avg Price $28.99 (96.6% of $30 BV)
  • Topps Chrome Ref - Avg Price $277.31 (231.1% of $120 BV)
  • Skybox Autographics Auto Blk Ink - Avg Price $360.57 (144.2% of $250 BV)
  • Skybox Autographics Auto Blue Ink - Price $461.50 (92.3% of $500 BV) - only 1 sale
Nash's lower & middle end RCs have not enjoyed the same high % of BV sales. Many of them (i.e. Finest, SP, Bowman's Best, etc) have been selling for heavily discounted prices.