How have the NBA playoffs affected card prices?

Typically, the NBA Playoffs lead to big spikes or drops in card prices. With all these nationally televised games and hugely important games, a big performance can slingshot values into the stratosphere. The best example of this happened last year, when the Miami Heat made an unexpected trip to the NBA Finals. Tyler Herro’s Silver Prizm PSA 10 was regularly selling for around $350 before the 2020 Playoffs. During the Heat’s run, this card peaked at $1,500. This past season, Herro came down to Earth, and his Silver Prizm PSA 10 is back around the $340 price.

Who has been the Tyler Herro of 2021? Which players’ prices have benefited most from big playoff showings? Let’s look at how some of the impactful performances from this year’s playoffs have impacted their flagship rookie cards.

Trae Young

No one thought the Hawks would make the Eastern Conference Finals, but this team and Ice Trae have exceeded everyone’s expectations. The movement in his cards has been interesting to track. Young’s Silver Prizm PSA 10 peaked in December 2020 at around $3,800 and has seen a steady decline since that (as has the rest of the market) and was selling around the $1,400 mark right before the playoffs started.

During the series with the Knicks, this card spiked with sales between $1,600-$1,700 before dropping back down to $1,400 during the 76ers series. After the win against the 76ers, his cards have started climbing again, with the most recent sale at $1,524. This card held steady while the rest of the market dipped lately, and it’s trending back up with the series win. You can probably thank nervous sellers for the slight dip during the 76ers series, as there probably wasn’t a lot of confidence that Atlanta would pull it out.  Now that they’ve advanced, Young’s values have rebounded, and that’s something we can probably expect to stick around for a little while.

Ja Morant

Ja Morant was the first player to benefit from a postseason bump during this year’s playoffs. On May 20, his Silver Prizm PSA 10 sold for $1,275. Morant exploded for 35 points as he knocked Steph Curry out of the playoffs. Morant’s card spiked to $1,600 based on that win alone. The Grizzlies then beat the Jazz in Game 1, and Morant scored 47 points in a Game 2 loss. His card reached as high as $1,816 which is nearly a 50 percent jump from his pre-playoff prices. The Grizzlies went on to lose that series and his cards have settled at around $1,500 for a Silver Prizm PSA 10.  Morant’s prices are just the latest example of what balling out can do.

Anthony Davis

Now for the ugly. Prior to the start of the playoffs, Anthony Davis’ rookie base PSA 10 Prizm was selling for $1,600. The Lakers were probably the biggest disappointment as they were favored against the Suns. In fact, they were considered a true title contender. We all know what happened, as Davis went down in Game 4 and the Lakers lost the series in six games. The last sale for AD’s Base Prizm was $731. Well over a 50 percent decline from its pre-playoff price.

Quick Hitters

Kevin Durant put together an all-time performance on June 15, and the PSA 9 of his Topps rookie card had about a 40 percent spike overnight. Jayson Tatum dropped 50 points in a play-in game and saw a 15 percent overnight spike in his Silver Prizm PSA 10 before coming back down. Terrance Mann shockingly scored 39 points in a Game 7 versus the Jazz and his Silver Prizm PSA 10 skyrocketed from $64.50 to $450 overnight!

Final Takeaways

Trae Young has exceeded expectations and his cards have risen, but not to the level I would expect. At this point, there’s still room to grow. Young can continue to trend upwards if Atlanta beats the Bucks in a series and advances to the NBA Finals. I would expect the remaining big names (Chris Paul, Devin Booker, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Paul George, and Kawhi Leonard) will need a Finals win to see a noticeable bump in prices. What is pretty clear is that a huge game will cause a short-term rise in prices, so if you have some rookies of players left in the playoffs, have them ready to list if you don’t plan on holding long-term.

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