If the first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs taught us anything, it’s that trying to predict postseason basketball is often a futile task. For example, who could’ve predicted the Lakers getting bounced in the first round? An injury or a hot/cold streak often changes the landscape of the league and how we view different players (and their cards).
But that’s what makes watching sports and collecting cards so much fun! It’s equally as fun writing about them, so we’re gonna keep the “top 5 players to collect at each position” train going. This week we’re discussing power forwards, so let’s dive in!
New Orleans Pelicans PF Zion Williamson
This is hardly a hot take, I know. Zion was essentially the face of the recent boom in sports cards, so many of you have likely been collecting him since the first basketball product of his rookie year dropped. However, doesn’t it seem like the hype has worn off just a bit, at least in the hobby community? A new rookie class debuted and the Pelicans didn’t make the Playoffs, so Zion isn’t alone at the center of the hobby like he was at this time last year.
As I mentioned in last week’s post when writing about Zion’s teammate Brandon Ingram, the Pelicans’ time is coming. This team is too young and talented to NOT make a Playoff run before too long, and Zion will be the face of it.
New York Knicks PF Julius Randle
You’ve heard of my “not in the Playoffs but still worth collecting player of the week,” so now let me introduce you to the “eliminated from the Playoffs but still worth collecting player of the week!” If you couldn’t tell by the photo and headline, that player is Julius Randle.
Randle and the Knicks obviously had a very disappointing postseason appearance, but prior to that his card value and stardom in the league were both on the rise. While many view his early exit from the Playoffs as a negative, I see it as an opportunity. Knicks fans were parading through the streets after winning ONE Playoff game; could you imagine if they made a deep postseason run!? Randle and the Knicks will be back, and his ceiling is higher than what his card prices reached in 2021.
Denver Nuggets PF Aaron Gordon
Does everyone realize that Aaron Gordon is still only 25 years old? This guy feels like he’s been around forever, in large part due to him entering the league at 19 years old on an Orlando Magic team that didn’t get a ton of national attention. Now playing in the Playoffs for the second time in his career, Gordon could be a prime under-the-radar player to collect.
While Gordon hasn’t been putting up the world’s best numbers, he’s been efficient and contributed to Denver’s success. With the postseason pool already cut in half Gordon will continue getting opportunities on the big stage, and with his athleticism you know a viral dunk video in a big game could be coming at any time. Gordon may not have the impact of some of the other names on this list, but he’s a player to watch regardless.
Brooklyn Nets PF Blake Griffin
Is postseason hero Blake Griffin for real!? No matter how you feel about the 2021 Nets, I think any basketball fan can admit how cool it was to see vintage Blake Griffin putting up a double-double in Game 1 against the Bucks.
Can Griffin keep this up on an every night-basis? Almost definitely not. But with this stacked Nets roster he doesn’t need to! Even with the unfortunate injury to James Harden, the Nets have enough capable players for any big contributions from Griffin to be considered a luxury as opposed to a necessity. I’m ALL IN for the Blake Griffin redemption tour: will you join me?
Brooklyn Nets PF Kevin Durant AND Milwaukee Bucks PF Giannis Antetokounmpo
Okay, I’m gonna cheat for the last one. TECHNICALLY I’m giving you six players to collect this week, but hear me out. I firmly believe that whichever team wins the Brooklyn-Milwaukee series will at the very least be in the NBA Finals, and likely win the whole thing. It’s a foregone conclusion that whichever team wins will be largely dependent on their superstar PF, so collecting both ensures you don’t miss out.
Giannis and KD will both go down as all time greats, so in the long-term you can’t go wrong with having either of their cards. But with the winner of this series almost definitely becoming the odds on favorite to win Finals MVP, the short term gains are worth doubling down on both of the future Hall Of Famers.