You can probably guess at least three NBA players from this era that will grace any top 10 list, and you know King James will be amongst them. But there’s a slew of other transcendent talent that should slam dunk their way into the ranks.
We put together a Top 10 list featuring the most coveted cardboard of today’s NBA players, from prodigious members of the new guard to alley-oop Hall of Famers.
Known for his all-around court dominance, this 6-foot-7 stalwart is especially impressive on the defensive side of things. Though his longtime tenure with the San Antonio Spurs recently came to an end, Kawhi Leonard looks poised to have a very promising career, no matter what team he plays for. His Panini Prizm rookie comes in various parallels. There are currently 450 PSA 10s in the PSA Population Report.
With three rings to his name, Dwyane Wade made his mark on the league during his early days with the Miami Heat, alongside LeBron James (more on him later). His 16 seasons have come with an impressive 12 All-Star selections, in addition to a laundry list of other accolades. Still, considering his exploits, Wade rookies seem to be very undervalued. PSA 10 examples of this, one of his most popular rookie cards, are valued under $100. We’ll see if that’s the case when this perennial all-star calls it a career.
Yes, this is a list of players from the 2000s, but we have one player on the list from (can you believe it?) the ‘90s. Dirk Nowitzki debuted in 1998 and has now been sinking jump shots for 21 seasons. That’s staying power. As a no-doubt first ballot Hall of Famer, Dirk’s rookie card in PSA 10 currently slam dunks values around $200. That’s apt to climb when he earns his Hall of Fame nod. You can also find this card in a rarer and more valuable refractor version.
“Brows” around the league for a bit. There aren’t many players as complete as Anthony Davis. Known for his prominent eyebrows and thorough dominance in all facets of the game, this 25-year-old power forward just entered his prime. It’s scary to think what else this prodigious powerhouse can accomplish in his bright future. His key rookie card comes in multiple parallels, and 544 examples have been graded PSA 10.
Westbrook proved that he was more than a complementary player the moment superstar Kevin Durant left for greener pastures. (More on Durant soon.) With his freakish athletic ability, Westbrook became just the second NBA player ever to average a triple-double per game over a season. His most popular rookie card comes in multiple, more valuable variants. Still, values of this card ascended with Westbrook’s aforementioned triple-double season.
A prolific passer with incredible court vision, Chris Paul helped transform the L.A. Clippers into viable competitors before being shipped off to Houston prior to the 2017-18 campaign. Paul has proven that he is the type of talent to propel a team, even at 33 years old, and has established himself as one of the best point guards the NBA has ever seen. He seems destined for the Hall of Fame. His 2005 Topps Chrome rookie card also comes in various rare parallels.
Fear the beard. At least opposing teams do. From the moment James Harden left the Oklahoma Thunder for the Houston Rockets, the bearded baller firmly entrenched himself among the NBA elite. He’s fresh off of an MVP campaign and continues to put up offensive numbers with the best of the league. His Topps Chrome rookie comes from the same set as another superstar in Steph Curry, who also resides in this list. Numbered to 999, PSA 10 examples of this card can fetch around $500.
We’ve covered some truly elite players thus far, but now we reach three transcendent stars, starting with Steph Curry. No matter what awkward position Curry catches the ball, if it’s in the same vicinity as the perimeter, smart money says he’s sinking the shot. This sharpshooting point guard already smashed the single season three-pointer record in 2016, and it seems every year he is competing for the championship. Numbered to 999, this rare Curry rookie was only available as an insert in regular Topps packs. There are just 55 PSA 10 examples, which can fetch figures in the $2,500 range.
Who is the best overall player in today’s NBA? That question typically comes down to Durant and the player who tops this list, with Durant closing the gap thanks to his two shiny, new championship rings. An absolute offensive beast, Durant uses all of his reportedly 7-foot frame (with shoes on, of course) to generate points at an astounding rate. PSA has evaluated 1,397 examples of this popular base card, and 689 have earned PSA 10.
Now we’ve come to the king. “King James” has been dominating the game ever since the universally touted prospect emphatically entered the league back in 2003, whether he’s dishing out passes with acute accuracy or dunking on the opposing team’s big man. Since then, he’s garnered innumerable comparisons to Michael Jordan, accumulated three championship rings, 14 All-Star nods and pretty much every major accomplishment a generational talent and NBA superstar can “hoop” for. His Hall of Fame nod is a surefire alley-oop. This, his hands-down most popular rookie, fetches figures around the $1,000 mark in PSA 10.