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Ja Morant to the Moon: How the Grizzlies Star Became a Trading Card Phenom

Ja Morant came into the league at the perfect time for his trading card value to benefit. Now, with the Grizzlies in contention, the rise continues.

The boom started with Zion, but now it’s all about Ja Morant.

The trading card hobby‘s popularity spike will always be synonymous with the COVID-19 pandemic, but just before the world shut down, the 19-20 NBA rookie class brought a level of growth to trading cards of all kinds. It started with the chase of the Silver Prizm Zion Williamson, the No. 1 pick of the 2019 NBA draft. Then, another South Carolina-bred hooper rose from the No. 2 spot.

Morant has been on a tear since winning Rookie of the Year and going head-to-head against Stephen Curry in last year’s play-in game. Currently, the Memphis Grizzlies are poised to earn the No. 2 seed in the West for the 2022 NBA Playoffs with a Finals trip a realistic goal. As Morant shines on the court, his trading card stock is increasing.

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Bursting onto the Scene

Morant’s rookie season was electric, punctuated by almost posterizing Kevin Love before the season was postponed due to the rise of COVID-19. When the season came back in the NBA Bubble, Morant had the Grizzlies in playoff position. With basketball being the only sport going on, all eyes were on them. The hobby noticed this as well.

After the 2019-20 NBA Prizm release, Morant’s Base Prizm in a PSA 10 was hovering around $300. This was released right before the NBA season shut down. When play in the NBA Bubble tipped-off, Morant’s value increased heavily, almost doubling its value with a peak of $588, according to Card Ladder. Ja then won NBA ROY, beating out Zion Williamson and making the NBA All-Rookie Team.

The Fall to Earth

Morant’s 2019 Panini Prizm rookie card in PSA 10 gem mint condition

As the 2020-21 NBA season approached, basketball cards were on the rise once again. The same base Prizm card we mentioned earlier catapulted to a peak of $831 in January 2021, a few months into the NBA season. Unfortunately, a market correction was about to happen.

Hobbyists and investors got smarter about what they were putting their money into. They started to focus on higher-end autograph cards, #’d parallels, and other rare Morant rookie cards. Ja’s base Prizm PSA 10 dipped to a low of $158 that summer — a loss of $673 over the year. This could be explained by the almost 20k population count of PSA 10 Ja Morant Rookie Prizms.

Morant’s Momentum

Heading into the 2021-22 season, expectations were high for Morant. He was coming off of his first playoff appearance with the Grizzlies and was looking to establish himself as not only one of the league’s best young stars, but one of the best players overall.

The Grizzlies owe much of their success this season to Morant’s All-Star-worthy play, boasting averages of 27.6 points, 6.7 assists, and 5.7 rebounds per game. That, combined with making stellar plays such as the posterizing dunk and buzzer-beater over the Spurs, makes the perfect combination for rising stock in regards to card prices.

Morant’s higher-end cards have skyrocketed thanks to his stellar play this season. Just look at his Blue Ice Prizm /99 PSA 9, which was as low as $1,776 in May 2020. That same card sold for $6,200 this month. His Blue Prizm /199 had a similar trajectory. from $1,665 in August 2020, to now $4,650.

The Ja Morant Black/Gold Prizm /5 had interesting sales as well. Of the two recorded sales according to Card Ladder, a BGS 9.5 sold in December 2021 for $108,000, while a PSA 9, which is seen as a less desirable grade than BGS 9.5, sold for $194,400 in March 2022. If the BGS 9.5 were to hit the market today, it could easily top $200k and even higher if the Grizzlies win the NBA Championship this season.

As the playoffs approach, it’s best to keep an eye on Morant. As the Grizzlies advance, you can expect more record-breaking sales of his cards and increased interest in the hobby from his fans.

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