Some of the stars that have stood out during this first round of the playoffs (and have hobby presence) are Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul and Dwight Howard.
Kobe led his Lakers into the 2nd round last night, finishing off their sweep of the Nuggets. Leading the league in playoff scoring thus far with 33.5 ppg (including 49 pts & 10 assts in game 2), Kobe has been virtually unstoppable in the 4th quarter. Many people are speculating that this may finally be his year to win the MVP (which would be well-deserved), but part of me thinks that someone else may slip in and take it from him. His 96-97 Topps Chrome RC averaged $176.54 TAC in April (one sold for $196.77 the day after his 49-point performance), up from $159.28 in March, and it's season-low average of $109.46 in December. His mid-level rookies haven't faired as well as his Chrome. His 96-97 E-X RC averaged $27.55 TAC in April, down from $33.98 in March, and his 96-97 Finest RC averaged $23.90, down from $26.60. It seems like collectors are favoring his high-end cards rather than investing in his more common issues. With the Mavs on the outs and Tim Duncan passing his prime, the Lakers are on their way to forming the next Western Conference dynasty. A lot of sports fans seem to actively dislike Kobe, which could keep him from reaching his full hobby potential.
Chris Paul & the Hornets have been the hottest surprise of the season. Paul posted a triple-double tonight as he & his crew handed the Mavs their second straight first round playoff exit. He averaged 24.6 ppg, 12 apg, 5.6 rpg & only 1.2 turnovers/game through the Dallas series. Everyone seemed to automatically think that the Spurs were going to move on to the conference finals against the Lakers, but now there's probably a lot of reconsideration going on. Personally, I think that it would be great to see this young & exciting team challenge L.A. for the Championship rights. Paul's mid-level rookies have been just as hot as his on-court play, with his 05-06 SP Authentic Auto RC #'d 1299 averaging $138.12 in April, up from $114.57 in March (it started the season averaging $57.25 in November). His SPx Auto/Jsy RC #d 750 averaged $188.70, up from $133.36 (it averaged $90.84 in November). I saw one of his rare 05-06 SP Authentic Auto/Patch RC #'d 1-100/1299 sell for $283.95 in April. These cards were selling in the $215-230 range during Nov-Dec. Paul may be the one player that could steal the MVP from Kobe this year.
The Magic eliminated the Raptors on Monday 4-1, led by Dwight Howard's 22.6 ppg, 18.2 rpg & 3.8 bpg for the series. He's quickly becoming the most dominant center in the league, and at only 22 years old, you can bet he's gonna get even better. The Magic may not win their conference this year, but expect them to be in contention very soon. His 04-05 SPx Auto/Jsy RC #'d 750 averaged $127.31 TAC in April, down from $142 in March, and it's season-high of $160.25 in December. His 04-05 SP Authentic Auto RC #'d 999 averaged $121.30, down from $157.51 last month, and it's season-high of $160.51 in December. Both of these cards started to increase in sales price toward the end of this month, signifying a revitalization of hobby interest. I haven't seen any of this higher-end rookies for sale in April.