Now that all of the best boxes from the past season have hit the shelves, it seems appropriate to find out which ones make up the best basketball card boxes to buy in 2021. While each collector may view the “best” differently depending on their individual goals, three sets stand out among the nearly endless amount of options that exist in the modern card collecting era. We’ll go ahead and add our two cents to the discussion, but first, let’s take a look at how the industry grew to make a decision like this so difficult.
Speaking of the Jordan and Barkley…
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An Incredibly Brief History of Basketball Cards
Even some of the biggest basketball card enthusiasts probably don’t know that the first basketball card was designed in 1910. The series was nicknamed the “College Athletes Felt B-33”. Basketball was one of ten different sports that were featured in the bizarre set that included a total of 30 cards. Odd as it was at the time, the idea seemed to take hold and another set of basketball cards would be produced in 1911. However, the idea faded shortly after and there was a 20-year drought until the next set of basketball cards was made.
One pivotal moment that led to the modern era of basketball cards was the first set that featured NBA players. The collection first appeared in 1948 and was a 72-card set. Players such as George Mikan and Max Zaslofsky were featured. Additionally, it is interesting to note that not all of the cards in this set featured players. In fact, some cards included a diagram on the front and an explanation of a particular basketball play on the back. We personally would love to see that brought back ASAP!
Moving on to modern times, of the most memorable basketball card sets that helped usher in the age of basketball cards we see today was the 1986-1987 set that featured two of the greatest of all time: Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley. Soon after that, the 1990s basketball card era came along and we really started to see collections that began to resemble the three that make our Best Basketball Card Boxes to Buy 2021 list. Speaking of that list, here it is!
Top 3 Best Basketball Card Boxes to Buy 2021
2020-21 Panini Prizm Hobby Box (Check Price)
The grey and silver logo of Panini Prizm can be found prominently near the lower portion of the box. Something any card collector should immediately recognize as a sign of quality. In addition, one cannot help but notice an image of a player that is the future of the NBA: LaMelo Ball. An appropriate look for one of the best basketball card boxes to buy in 2021. However, it’s not the looks that make this collection special. Prizm has been the flagship brand of the sport’s biggest name in trading cards for almost a decade now. The 2021 set is no different. If you’re looking for that perfect blend of quality and value, this is where you start.
As far as the breakdown of the hobby box, it contains 12 packs with each pack containing 12 cards. Within those 144 cards, you can expect to pull 2 autographs, 22 Prizms, and 10 inserts. Here’s to one of your autographs or Prizms being a Lamelo Ball rookie card!
2020-21 Panini Select Hobby Box (Check Price)
The long-awaited Panini Select collection for the 2020-21 season is now upon us and it couldn’t come any sooner. Panini has a way of timely releasing their big-name boxes and Select comes at a moment when Prizm has started to become nicely circulated. For those who are eagerly awaiting a new collection to chase, the wait is up! Boxes should begin hitting the shelves near you any day now if they haven’t already.
Once those boxes roll out you can expect to find 12 packs per box with 5 cards in each pack. As far as autographs, Select has a big edge on Prizm as you get not two but THREE signatures per box. Additionally, you’ll get 12 Prizms and 10 Premier cards per box. Not bad for only 60 cards. On a per-card basis, these are far more expensive than Prizm but with the sheer amount of high-end cards in the collection, it could very well be worth you’re while.
2020-21 Donruss Optics
Zion steals the show on the collection teaser put out Panini shown above. He appears to be calmly dribbling the ball down the court on perhaps thinking about how great his cards are going to look in the new Donruss Optics Basketball collection! On a card by card basis, the price should be somewhere in the same neighborhood as Panini Prizm as you’ll get 4 cards per pack and 20 packs per box. Personally, we love the idea. Give us the most packs possible even if those packs contain fewer cards! Anyways, expect to find 20 inserts or parallels per box on average along with 1 autographed card. This is the last to arrive on our Best Basketball Card Boxes to Buy 2021 list with a late August ETA. The “Optic” label is known for quality and we’re expecting yet another successful run this year.
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2020-21 Panini Prizm LaMelo Ball Orange Ice (Check Price)
Of course, we have to go directly to the Rookie of the Year. And what better card to target than the beautiful Orange Ice Prizm? The card makes for an amazing moderately priced investment with higher grades approaching the $1,000 mark while lower or ungraded cards are sitting at around $500. Moderate prices now, but if Ball has a truly special 2nd season? Just imagine if you would have bought a similarly priced Luka Doncic rookie card before the start of his second season!
2020-21 Panini Select (TBD)
2020-21 Donruss Optic (TBD)