After nine and a half seasons playing for the Portland Trail Blazers, CJ McCollum is finally wearing new threads and causing mayhem for the New Orleans Pelicans. While it’s unfortunate his pairing with Damian Lillard never amounted to a Finals appearance, the high-scoring guard is making it on his own in The Big Easy. Of course, among the potential big winners in this move is none other than McCollum’s NBA Cards.

Even after a couple of games, basketball fans and collectors alike are seeing how high McCollum’s ceiling can go with the Pelicans. And along with that promising future is a potential rise in the hobby and in the card market. We take a look at why the former Most Improve Player awardee is an intriguing, yet exciting case for NBA card collectors.

McCollum’s hot start for the Pelicans and a promising future with them

At first look, no one would have given McCollum any thought when he entered the NBA during the 2013-14 season, and even for the duration of his sophomore campaign. In the 100 games he played during those two seasons, he would go on to average 6.3 points, 1.4 rebounds, and 0.9 assists per contest. With those numbers, it wasn’t hard to imagine McCollum having a lengthy stay with the Trail Blazers.

But something happened during the 2015-16 season. Within the span of 80 games, McCollum increased his numbers to 20.8 points on 44/41/82 shooting splits, 3.2 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and 1.2 steals per contest. All things considered, that was an impressive jump to the stats he was averaging during his rookie and sophomore seasons. So much so that it made a great case for McCollum to win the Most Improved Player award in his third season in the NBA.

Apart from individual stats, McCollum’s pairing with the Trail Blazers’ All-Star guard Damian Lillard was one for the books. Both players proved they can score from anywhere on the floor, specifically from beyond the arc, create plays, and can be counted on during crunch time. In the seasons since winning MIP from 2016 to 2021, McCollum has averaged 22.1 points on 45% shooting from the field, 39% from deep, and 83 from the foul line while contributing 3.9 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game.

No one could have asked the ideal backcourt partner for Lillard and the Trail Blazers. Without a doubt, McCollum played his role well in Portland and had very little to prove as a player. Unfortunately, his time in that city reached an end as the franchise chose to rebuild around his All-Star teammate this season.

Just before the trade deadline ended, Portland sent McCollum, Larry Nance Jr., and Tony Snell to New Orleans in exchange for a package that revolved around Josh Hart, several other pieces, and draft compensation. Since then, the former Most Improved Player in the league has shown how far he has come and proving to everybody he’s more than just Lillard’s backcourt partner.

In the seven games he has played for the Pelicans, McCollum is notching 28 points by connecting 52% of his field goals, 43% of his three-pointers, and 76% from the free throw line. He’s also adding 5.9 rebounds, 5.6 assists, and 1.4 steals per contest.

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Looking at those numbers, and the kind of games he’s having, it looks like McCollum is solving the Pelicans’ need for a proven shot-creator outside of Brandon Ingram this season. While New Orleans is in 10th place with a 25-36 record in the Western Conference, they can make a run towards a spot in the play-in tournament. If that doesn’t pan out, McCollum and the Pels can wait for Zion Williamson to return next season and see where it goes from there.

Setting aside all the recent drama involving the former number one pick, the prospect of having a roster with McCollum, Ingram, Jonas Valanciunas, and Williamson in it raises New Orleans’ ceiling to a playoff contender. And not only that, those CJ McCollum rookie cards in the market can potentially get a boost in value.

The state of CJ McCollum NBA cards

In a draft class that features Giannis Antetokounmpo, it’s easy to overlook McCollum’s rookie stock in the card market. Nevertheless, the value of his PSA 10 base Prizm rookie card is significantly more affordable than the two-time MVP.

CJ McCollum, Pelicans, NBA CardsIn a three-month graph by Card Ladder, McCollum’s Prizm rookie card with a PSA 10 grade started out at $80 late last year and bottomed out at $40. That value spiked to $85 when the guard was traded and settled in its current price of $70. That’s just an 11.88% drop from its starting price over 27 confirmed sales in the market.

Among all the rookie card options today, McCollum’s PSA 10 price is a tempting one due to its affordability and promising ceiling in New Orleans. The thing is, collectors might have to wait for next season to realize his potential in The Big Easy. Either way, McCollum’s value can be too good to pass up on.

The verdict on CJ McCollum NBA cards

For the longest time, CJ McCollum lived in the shadow of Lillard as the Trail Blazers failed to make a run towards the Finals in the last couple of years. Every basketball fan knows that the Pelicans’ new star can ball out of his mind on any given night. And with his move to The Big Easy, it seems that McCollum will have a solid chance to unleash himself on an unsuspecting league.

Pelicans, CJ McCollum, Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram

With that kind of ceiling in New Orleans, better offensive pieces in Ingram and Williamson around him, and a chance to show off what he can do, there’s a pretty good chance McCollum’s NBA cards can make a jump in value as well. It’s not that hard to imagine since their current prices leave a lot of room for growth this season and the next.

Of course, it’s also just right to mention that there are other factors that can dampen McCollum’s stock in the card market. Foremost among them is whether Williamson can return to his All-Star form soon and help the Pelicans reach the postseason once again.

If the positive projections overcome the negative ones, there’s no reason for those McCollum NBA cards to stay put. These factors are convincing enough to get them while they’re still largely unnoticed in the market.