As Luka Doncic’s Stock Soars, What’s Happening With His Trading Card Market?

As Luka Doncic’s Stock Soars, What’s Happening With His Trading Card Market? article feature image

Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images. Pictured: Luka Doncic

At a card show in New Jersey on Saturday, table after table, case after case, nearly every dealer had Luka Doncic trading cards to sell.

His stock has to only be going up, right?

Trading cards were the star of the COVID Era as young people gravitated to modern basketball cards. In the simplest form of gambling, they bought boxes, pulled Doncic, Ja Morant and Zion Williamson cards and sent them off to PSA and other companies to get graded.

When they got them back, some cards were immediately flipped on eBay for thousands of dollars each. Others waited to play the newest game of fantasy basketball.

The idea? Get the cards of future stars, hope they overperform and the cards will go up.

The problem? NBA licensee Panini made plenty of cards and people got their cards graded and slabbed in record numbers. And that's when those flippers found out it wasn't a simple game of fantasy after all.

Doncic had just led the Dallas Mavericks to their first playoff series win since 2011 and followed that up with a Game 7 elimination of the No. 1 seed Phoenix Suns.

If it were a simple game of fantasy, his cards would be selling at record numbers.

But on Monday night, a 2018-19 Doncic Panini Prizm base card in the best condition (a PSA 10) sold for $419. In 2020, this card hit as high as $2,500.

As Doncic became more popular, more cards in perfect condition freshly pulled out of packs and graded by PSA found its way onto eBay. On May 7, 2021, the card dropped below $1,000 and it has been in a downward spiral since.

For anyone who invested in Luka base Prizms, the graded numbers are downright scary.

There have been 34,166 of those cards graded by PSA, according to GemRate. That makes it the fourth-most graded basketball card of all time.

Of those, 18,467 were graded by PSA to be Gem Mint 10s, which makes it the third-most mint card graded by the card grader.

"That Panini Prizm run is the most graded on the face of the earth," said Bill Sliheet of Superior Sports Investments, who said he bought the Doncic base prizms at $25-$50, graded them and flipped them in the $900-$1000 range. "And anyone who got in after 2020 is just going to have a hard time making their money back."

It's not just supply. It's the times.

"People were home, sports weren't being played, they couldn't gamble and so the only thing people could do to get close to sports was to invest in a piece of cardboard," Sliheet said. "That's all changed."

Even the higher end, the more rare Silver version of the Doncic card suffered the same fate.

Rick Probstein, an eBay powerseller who sold $160 million in cards and memorabilia on eBay last year, has seen this happen before his eyes.

"Luka is hotter than ever and everything is still a third of what it once was," Probstein said. "I sold a Luka Silver for $3,100 (Monday) night. These cards, at their height, were $9,500."

On Monday, fractional share Collectable said they had received a $350,000 buyout offer for a 1/1 Luka card that originally launched on June 19, 2021, at a shareholder value of $682,000.

Probstein says there is still upside, but like a good live gambler, a seller needs to know when to press the buttons.

"He gets to the Finals, that silver card is $4,000," Probstein said. "Then he wins the title and is Finals MVP and the card is $6,000. The problem is so many of those cards are going to come out of the woodwork that, on quantity alone, that card is $3,000 again before you know it. We've seen this a million times. Some news hits the market, the cards go up 10 to 20 percent, so many come out that it then rolls back."

Look no further than Ja Morant.

"You couldn't have picked a better guy than Ja," Probstein said. "And if you bought his silver Prizm before the season, you've ranged from losing 20 percent to breaking even."

Most Graded Basketball Cards By PSA Of All Time

Source: GemRate

PlayerCardNumber of Cards Graded
1. Zion Williamson2019 Prizm39,408
2. Ja Morant2019 Prizm37,295
3. Michael Jordan1990 Fleer36,579
4. Luka Doncic2018 Prizm34,166
5. Kobe Bryant1996 Topps29,679

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Nick Sterling
Jul 21, 2024 UTC