Strong Performers, Disappointing Teams
One player that has been a strong performer, but has never been a part of a successful team (except for GS last season, but because of his injury, he took a backseat to Baron Davis & others on the team) is Jason Richardson. Richardson was taken by the Warriors in the '01 draft with the 5th overall pick. He had been increasing his scoring average slowly every season, peaking in 05-06 at 23.2 ppg. Then in 06-07, he had knee surgery which limited him to just 51 games, and his scoring average dropped to 16.0 ppg. During his 6 years with Golden State, the team went 206-286. Richardson was then traded to Charlotte this season for the rights to forward Brandan Wright. He seems to be making a comeback in his new home, bringing his scoring average up to 20.9 ppg, and is looking healthy (he's started all 63 of the team's games thus far). Richardson's top rookie cards from 01-02 include his SP Authentic Auto #'d 700, SPx Auto/Jsy #'d 250 (x3 versions) and of course his Ultimate Collection Auto #'d 250. Do a search on ebay and you won't find any of these three cards listed for sale (there is one Ultimate RC, but its graded, and I don't track graded cards). I think that collectors have been holding on to his cards, waiting for the market to turnaround. Because the Bobcats have the 4th worst record in the East, I would say that a little more time is needed before we see any significant rise in Richardson's card values. But, since he's surrounded by young, potential stars like Emeka Okafor, Gerald Wallace & Raymond Felton, Charlotte may become a contender within the next few years (unlike say, Miami), which should give him a boost (if he's still there, and stays healthy).
Another player, whose performance has been improving every season, is Danny Granger. Unfortunately, as Granger's output increased, the Pacer's W's have decreased. He averaged 7.5 ppg in 05-06 (team record: 41-41), 13.9 ppg in 06-07 (team record: 35-47) and is at 18.5 ppg through 3/11 (team record: 25-39). Granger has several base Auto rookies available; all of which can be found for well-below book value. They are his 05-06 Exquisite Collection Auto/Patch #'d 225, Greats of the Game Auto #'d 99, Ultimate Collection Auto #'d 250, SP Authentic Auto #'d 1299 and SPx Auto/Jsy #'d 1499. Granger might make a good investment, especially if he's still around to lead the Pacers when they cyclically move back to the upper part of the Eastern rankings.