It wasn't too long ago when collectors dismissed Darius Garland and his rookie cards in the hobby. It's quite understandable since the Cleveland Cavaliers' starting guard had a pretty bad first year in the league, which reflected in his stock in the card market. But after almost three years in the league, an All-Star appearance, and a winning record with the Wine and Gold, should hobbyists hoard more of his cards or be more discerning with them?
While Garland's value is nowhere near those of Ja Morant or Luka Doncic cards, he presents an intriguing option for collectors. We take a look at how his career is playing out and if his improvement can rub off more on his rookie cards.
Darius Garland’s All-Star leap in his third year in the NBA
As mentioned earlier, Garland's rookie campaign was among the worst in his class. It didn't help he was drafted to a horrendous Cavs team during that time and a ball-dominant guard in Collin Sexton as his backcourt partner. While his averages of 12.3 points per game on 40% shooting from the field, 35% from beyond the arc, and 87 from the free throw line weren't that bad, it's his advanced numbers (-2.7 offensive and -2.8 defensive box scores) that say otherwise.
As a result, Garland became more of an afterthought in the league and in the hobby, especially with the spotlight focused on Zion Williamson and Ja Morant cards. But even if things weren't looking good for the Cavs' guard, his situation became a more promising one the following season.
Garland's second year in the NBA couldn't be more different than his first. In 54 games, 50 of which he played as a starter, the 6'1″ guard improved his averages to 17.4 points per game on 45% shooting from the field and 39% from downtown. He was also dishing out 6.1 assists, grabbing 2.4 rebounds, and making 1.2 steals in 33.1 minutes per contest. And while he hasn't broken out yet during his sophomore campaign, the promise of his ceiling was way more evident than before. Even an established vet like Draymond Green saw the young stud's potential less than a year ago.
Draymond Green on Darius Garland being one of the toughest players to guard in the NBA.
High praise from the 3x NBA All-Defensive 1st team, 2x NBA All-Defensive 2nd team, and 2017 NBA defensive player of the year pic.twitter.com/bsYyTP86fs
— The Dore Report (@dore_report) May 7, 2021
Turns out, Green was right as the latest season progressed. In the 47 games Garland has played for a team that missed Sexton and Ricky Rubio to injuries, the third-year guard is notching 20.3 points on 47% shooting efficiency from the field, 37% from 3, and 91% from the free throw line. He's also contributing 8 assists, 3.3 rebounds, and 1.2 steals in 34.6 minutes per game. With those numbers and better teammates around him, the Cavs are currently 4th in the Eastern Conference with a 35-23 record.
All of these things have come together for Garland as the weeks leading to the All-Star Game drew closer. With Cleveland hosting the annual event, it only made sense for one of their own to represent the home team. And while this could have been done out of respect, the guard's numbers all season long are proof enough that the leap he made to an All-Star level is genuine.
The state of Darius Garland rookie cards
No one in the hobby less than two years ago would have thought that Darius Garland rookie cards are going to perform well at this point in time. Back then, one could effortlessly find his stock at very affordable prices out there. But with the way this Cavs' All-Star is playing, there's no more reason for his cards to stay at that low value.
In this three-month graph by Card Ladder, Garland's PSA 10 Prizm Silver rookie card has climbed up from a base value of $242 to its current price of $383 in the market. That's a strong 58.14% rate of growth during that period with 144 confirmed sales as the source of data. As shown above, that's a pretty good upward trend this particular Darius Garland rookie card is on for the past few months.
To a lesser degree, Garland's PSA 10 base Prizm rookie card is following the path of its much-more coveted Silver counterpart. Based on a Card Ladder graph during the same period, the base Prizm's performance has been more sporadic with the value starting at $47 and reaching its current price of $63. Nevertheless, this particular card is still on an upward trend with a growth rating of 34.7% and an average price of $59 over 468 confirmed sales in the market.
Although these are just two Darius Garland rookie cards, the overall trend of his other offerings in the market move along with a similar trend. Thanks to his improving performance this season and a winning record with the Cavs, the first-time All-Star and his stock are venturing into new territory, both on the court and in the hobby.
The verdict on Darius Garland rookie cards
There have been a lot of times when collectors invested in guys who made the All-Star Game for the first time, only to see their stocks drop exponentially during the following seasons. This concern is real and a fine example can be found in Julius Randle cards. Nevertheless, there are several factors that can set Garland apart from these cautionary stories.
For one, Garland is slowly evolving as the face of the franchise and it's showing in the way he plays. Not only that, he's playing for a playoff team with a well-constructed roster filled with young talent and veteran experience. Unlike Randle's Knicks, the Cavs are more balanced and built better for the future.
Taking those details into account and collectors will have more reason to invest in those Darius Garland rookies in the market. With the way he's ballin' out this season, there's little reason to pass on this promising prospect.