The 2021-22 NBA regular season is drawing nearer to its end in the coming weeks. When that happens, the league is gone be on overdrive as the playoffs start. This particular point in time is an interesting one for collectors as certain rookie cards get more attention and hype in the market. In the process, their values spike up hard and they become more in-demand by collectors.
But before the regular season bites the dust, there’s still a chance for card enthusiasts to hop on these stocks before they rise in the postseason. We take a look at the best rookie cards to invest in for the final 16 games of this season.
Jalen Green rookie cards
At this point in time, there is really no hope for the Houston Rockets to make the playoffs with their current 17-51 record. Although that’s a given, it still won’t stop Jalen Green from balling out until the regular season ends.
Just take a look at how Green has been playing since the All-Star break. In those nine games, the Rockets’ rookie is averaging 20.6 points on 49% shooting from the field and 34% from deep while making 3.6 rebounds, 3.7 assists, and 1.2 steals in 34.5 minutes. That’s a good jump from where he was before All-Star weekend when the only noticeable trait of his game is how inefficient his shots were.
Jalen Green over his last 6 games:
37.8% 3PT pic.twitter.com/kUEZ68eqNi
— NBACentral (@TheNBACentral) March 10, 2022
But in these past few games, Green seems to have gotten used to the NBA’s pace and physicality. If this goes on until the end of the regular season, the hype and momentum will carry over to his sophomore campaign. And even though Houston won’t be present for the playoffs, their top pick will be among the more noticeable stocks during the offseason.
By that time, Panini’s chrome-based card products will have been released and collectors can score Green’s more valuable rookie cards in the market.
Cade Cunningham rookie cards
Like Green and the Rockets before him, Cade Cuningham and the Detroit Pistons are very unlikely to enter the playoffs this year. While that’s definitely the reality for Motor City fans, Cunningham is still among the best rookie cards to invest in before the regular season ends.
Cade Cunningham today:
Miss 1 REB to A Triple/Double🤷♂️@MotorCityCruise pic.twitter.com/ysemrDV058
— DRobz23 (@DRobz23) March 13, 2022
After a quiet start to his rookie season, Cunningham has exploded into the scene with all the double-digit scoring games he’s been putting up lately. In the 53 games he has played so far, the number one pick from this year’s draft class is putting up 16.8 points, 5.8 rebounds, 5.2 assists, and 1.2 steals per contest.
Without a doubt, those numbers are projected to go up when Cunningham begins his sophomore campaign next season. If the Pistons manage to make the right moves in the offseason, they can unlock this guard and set him on a path that somehow resembles that of Ja Morant’s career. But before that happens, collectors better hoard those Cade Cunningham cards before they gain more attention in the market.
Ayo Dosunmu rookie cards
When the Chicago Bulls started this season, many were caught by surprise with how good they actually were. But as the season progressed and several of their key pieces got injured, an unlikely rookie was pushed to a starting role for Chi-Town. Fortunately, Ayo Dosunmu stepped up and hasn’t looked back since.
While his averages of 8.5 points on 53% shooting from the field and 40% from beyond the arc, combined with 2.9 rebounds and 3.3 assists pale in comparison to his other peers, the impact and steady presence he gives is worth more. When Chicago lost Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso to injuries earlier this year, the Bulls’ backcourt and the offense generated there needed some help in the form of Dosunmu.
No easy buckets on Ayo Dosunmu's watch 🔒 pic.twitter.com/8L6dzfqphs
— Bulls Nation (@BullsNationCP) March 7, 2022
Since mid-January, the rookie’s minutes have gone up 36.5 per game. During those contests, Donsunmu would increase his averages to 11.2 points, 3.9 rebounds, 5.9 assists, and 1.3 steals. His steady offense, playmaking, and initiative on the defensive end have become crucial for Chicago to stay outside of the play-in tournament. At the same time, he’s also going to be on everyone’s radar when the postseason starts as Donsunmu is among the few rookies who’ll play for a contender.
In the event he shows off in the coming weeks, expect the market to react positively to those Ayo Dosunmu rookie cards that are laying low right now. By then, there’s a possibility he’ll be a good short-term play for card collectors and investors.
Scottie Barnes rookie cards
If you’ll search for a multi-talented wing that embodies what positionless basketball stands for, you’ll find an image of Scottie Barnes next to the description. Even during his first few games for the Toronto Raptors this season, it’s evident that the 6’9″ forward has what it takes to make a splash as the postseason draws nearer.
Scottie Barnes did everything tonight.
He joins Damon Stoudamire as the only Raptors rookies ever with a 25/5/10 game, who won ROTY in 1996. pic.twitter.com/xPKd4hbVnc
— StatMuse (@statmuse) March 13, 2022
Looking at his numbers and one can conclude that Barnes is right on track to at least make one of the NBA’s All-Rookie teams. With averages of 15.2 points, 7.6 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 1.2 steals in 35.5 minutes per game, it isn’t hard to imagine what more he can do in the coming years. If the Raptors manage to make the playoffs this year, expect Nick Nurse to draw up some interesting plays for the rookie since he has the potential to be a walking mismatch for opposing squads.
And if that happens, the hobby will place more momentum on those Scottie Barnes cards in the market. It’s just wise to score them right now before they become overhyped in the postseason.
Evan Mobley rookie cards
Without a doubt, Evan Mobley is a top-tier rookie who plays quality minutes for a contending team. While most collectors dismissed the Cleveland Cavaliers during the offseason, it seems they are, at least, on pace to make the playoffs. Of course, their top pick has made the Wine and Gold’s surprising run a reality.
Evan Mobley’s last 3 games:
57% FG pic.twitter.com/Xt28Pliez4
— Cavaliers Nation (@WeAreCavsNation) March 12, 2022
This season alone, Mobley is averaging 14.9 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 1.7 blocks in 34.2 minutes per game. With him in the lineup, the Cavs are able to defensively limit their opponents to 107.7 points per 100 possessions, which is fourth among 30 teams in the NBA.
With Mobley playing well on both ends of the court, the Cavs will have a chance to return to the playoffs. Until then, their young star is the better rookie card option to invest in for the final games of the regular season due to the fact that he’s going to gain more exposure once the postseason starts.
While there are a lot of good choices out there, these five rookies and their respective stocks in the card market present a lot of room for growth for this season and the next. Keep an eye out for these guys and buy low on them to help optimize their value in the hobby.