Panini NBA Basketball Cards: What to Collect?

Panini NBA Basketball Cards have garnered significant interest and consequently experienced a massive price rise during this pandemic. Their entry-level NBA Hoops could be bought for $150 per box in 2019 is now listed at $450.

If you’re wondering how many sets produced each year, you can read further in this article.


Anything with college jersey are generally NOT considered a ‘true’ NBA card or RC (rookie card). However, it is a good opportunity for collectors to own the superstar they PC for a fraction of the cost.

At the beginning of the season, they are generally at its peak given that it’s usually the first sets to be released for the new draft picks and before the NBA season starts… and everyone can’t wait for the overhyped rookies to be sold on secondary market.

Zion Williamson - Panini NBA Basketball Cards

Sets in this category include:

  • Contenders Draft Picks
  • Prizm Draft Picks
  • Immaculate Collegiate
  • National Tresures Collegiate
  • Flawless Collegiate

Low End

Low end cards can be bought in retail stores like Target, KMart, or even supermarkets. There are reports of violence in these stores as customers and flippers alike tried to buy every stock possible before selling them in Facebook Groups or ebay.

They can usually be obtained at a very cheap price of $3 – $6 per pack or somewhere around $50 for ‘blasters’ box. The products generally produce very few memorabilia and/or autographed cards of the players.

Panini Prizm is the modern day equivalent of Topps where the RC is generally considered as the ‘true’ rookie card. Their variants were also highly sought after, including the Silver Prizm and numbered cards.

Jayson Tatum Prizm RC - Panini NBA Basketball Cards

Sets in this category include:

  • NBA Hoops
  • Donruss
  • Optic
  • Chronicles
  • Contenders
  • Contenders Optic
  • Illusions
  • Mosaic
  • Prizm
  • Revolution
  • Status
  • NBA Hoops Premium
  • Court Kings

High End

High end sets are the pride and centerpiece of every collectors PC. Each box generally contains less than 10 cards with a price point in excess of $3,000 per box.

High end sets are generally the most sought after for card collectors. They generally have a lot better designs and/or set that were being chased on a yearly basis.

National Treasures RPA are generally considered as the ‘holy grail’ of a player’s card.

Luka Doncic NT RPA - Panini NBA Basketball Cards

Sets in this category and its chase inserts:

  • Impeccable – Stainless RC auto and Impeccable Stats
  • Noir – Sneaker Spotlight Auto and RPA
  • Immaculate – Logoman and RPA
  • National Treasures – Logoman and RPA (Vertical)
  • Eminence – Anything
  • Flawless – RPA and Diamonds
  • One and One – TImeless Moments
  • Opulence – Booklet RPA and USA

Anything in Between

The following sets does get some love in the hobby space. They are also the most affordable in terms of the autographed cards of a certain player.

Luka Doncic - Panini NBA Basketball Cards

Sets in this category include:

  • Clearly Donruss
  • Absolute
  • Certified
  • Black
  • Crown Royale
  • Donruss Elite
  • Encased
  • Obsidian
  • Origins
  • Select
  • Spectra

If you want to know more about each individual sets, Cardboard Connection has its comprehensive list on a yearly basis.

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