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3 Rookie Card Opportunities Ahead of the NBA Trade Deadline

If a player like DeMar DeRozan ends up being traded to an NBA title contender, trading card investors need to be prepared.

With the NBA All-Star break now fading in the rearview mirror, the hype of speculating on rookie cards for young, unproven players on non-playoff teams is fading, too.

One only needs to look at preseason darlings like Bulls guard Coby White (depicted in blue in the chart below) and Thunder forward Darius Bazley (green) to see this reality in action. Both players’ PSA 10 Silver Prizm cards having lost more than 60% of their value over the past three months.

Tracking the rookie card values of Coby White and Darius Bazley, via CardLadder.com
Via CardLadder.com

Instead, attention has turned to players with high playoff expectations, with the likes of Kevin Durant, James Harden, Joel Embiid, Nikola Jokic, and Damian Lillard posting huge card value gains over the course of the season. But with playoff runs surely already priced in for those guys, rookie card investors would be wise to investigate the NBA trade market in search of skilled players on the outside of contention who may suddenly find themselves en route to a real title challenger ahead of the March 25th trade deadline.

With that in mind, here are three notable names that could be on the move in the near future.

LaMarcus Aldridge

2006 Fleer Hot Prospects LaMarcus Aldridge PSA 10 autograph rookie card
Via pwcc_vault on eBay

Although not generally known as a big name in the card market, the news of the Spurs announcing the imminent end of their relationship with LaMarcus Aldridge creates some real opportunities. He’s the likeliest All-Star name to find a new home by the end of the month.

Some teams that have expressed interest in the veteran either via trade or buyout, including the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics. Don’t rule out the Portland Trail Blazers, either. They have an intimate relationship with Aldridge given that they employed him for the first nine years of his career.

With the NBA trading card market being notoriously tough on big men, it’s not a guarantee that LMA’s cards would see a large surge in value should a transaction occur, but they can be expected to trend upward if he’s able to leave the low-ceiling Spurs and relocate to a potential contender.

DeMar DeRozan

2009 Panini DeMar DeRozan PSA 10 rookie card
Via thecomicskid on eBay

Speaking of San Antonio, with contract extension talks reportedly not taking place at the moment, DeMar DeRozan – who’s in the final year of his contract – could be another player the Spurs look to move before the deadline in order to avoid losing him for nothing in a few months time. However, unlike Aldridge, DeRozan is still putting up quality offensive numbers, something the sports card hobby values immensely.

Additionally, apart from his talent on the court, DeRozan makes for an extremely interesting rookie card play thanks to having one of the smallest card populations of any of the NBA’s current stars.

To put his numbers in perspective, while Luka Doncic’s flagship rookie card – the Prizm Base – has a PSA 10 population of over 16,000 cards, DeMar’s Topps Base, Topps Chrome, and Topps Refractor PSA 10s have a combined population of just 49.

With this in mind, if DDR does indeed find himself playing for a top contender in the weeks to come via blockbuster trade with the Nuggets for hobby darling Michael Porter Jr., for instance, the demand/supply ratio could become highly imbalanced, potentially leading to a major price surge.

Aaron Gordon

2014 Panini Prizm Aaron Gordon PSA 10 rookie card
Via waxpackcity  on eBay

Another player reportedly of interest to the Portland Trail Blazers, high-flying Aaron Gordon has averaged 14 points and 7 rebounds per game over the past couple of seasons for an Orlando Magic franchise that has struggled to find its identity in an improved Eastern Conference. And while Gordon continues dealing with an ankle sprain that’s caused him to miss most of the last month, that will only be a dissuading factor in trade consideration if the injury ends up being more serious than previously reported.

Card-wise, Gordon is another low-pop superstar, with his 2014 PSA 10 Prizm having a population of just 43. However, in contrast to DeRozan, whose cards are still being listed on eBay for thousands of dollars, Gordon’s rookie can be had for as low as just $150.

For card collectors, that might just make him the single best risk/reward target on the NBA trade market.