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Talkin’ Top Shot

NBA Top Shot: The Next Big Thing

by Jared Johnson
Updated On: March 5, 2021, 3:31 pm ET

By now you’ve assuredly heard of the new craze that is currently breaking the internet – NBA Top Shot – but what is it, exactly? Well, the easiest analogy to make is that NBA Top Shot is essentially the 2021 version of trading cards, but instead of a still images printed on a piece of cardboard, it is a highlight (called a moment) that’s authenticity is assured through blockchain technology. And what is blockchain? In one sentence, it is a public ledger and permanent database that makes fraud next to impossible.

So, what’s up with all the hype? Well, through the month of February, the NBA Top Shot community did over $200 million in total sales, with $46.4 million coming in a single day on Feb. 22, according to Evaluate Market. Why? Because humans like collecting things, and the guaranteed low supply partnered with a massive demand has seen prices skyrocket as folks look to become early adopters in what may be the next big thing.

If you’re asking yourself why people would pay such exorbitant amounts of money on highlights that you could watch for free on YouTube, you’re missing the point. People spend outlandish amounts of money on all sorts of things you might find silly, from shoes, to cards, to coins, but the point is that rare things have great value. I admit that I was skeptical at first when entering the NBA Top Shots community, but once I got in on my first pack drop, I was hooked.

I was lucky enough to get in early when only about 25,000 people were showing up for the pack drops in which only 5,000 total were available, and in my first $9 purchase I received a Joel Embiid AND-1 hook shot, a Tyler Herro step-back triple and a LaMarcus Aldridge pull-up 3. As I’m writing this column, those “moments” would sell for no less than $150, $79 and $19 respectively. In other words, my initial $9 investment can currently net me $239 in profits – but I think it can go much higher than that.

The crazy thing is that NBA Top Shot is still in beta, but the demand is so high that the massive influx of people has been crashing their servers, with 100k+ now regularly showing up for pack drops when just 5,000-10,000 are available. They have investors that go by the names of Spencer Dinwiddie, Aaron Gordon and JaVale McGee, and plenty of NBA players have already gotten in on the action, with Terry Rozier recently offering courtside seats to a fan who would purchase his “jersey number” Top Shot moment, valued at $100,000. If you’re wondering what a “jersey number” moment is, each moment has a serial number, and if you get a moment with the serial number that matches the player's jersey, it will be exponentially more valuable. Also, just in general, the lower the serial number the better.

Think about it like this, if a Mickey Mantle trading card can sell for $5.2 million today, imagine what Zion Williamson’s first career block could be valued at 50 years from now (it’s currently worth no less than $19,000).

So how do you get in on the action? Well, there are two different ways to enter the market. As previously mentioned, you can buy a pack that will include at least several random moments, or you can purchase the moments individually on a peer-to-peer network in the Top Shot Marketplace.

Buying packs would be the preferred method, as its contents are guaranteed to be worth significantly more than the cost of the pack, but they’re not easy to come by. NBA Top Shot will announce roughly 24 hours prior when they plan to make a pack available and how many will be for sale. After that, you go to their website at the scheduled time to enter a digital line where you are randomly assigned a spot, and if you’re lucky enough to land somewhere in the 5,000-range you will be on your way to grabbing your first pack.

*Speaking of which, there will be a pack drop today at 9 a.m. PT.

There are a couple of different strategies to try and turn a profit here, one would be through pack drops, the other would be through savvy purchases of moments that you expect to go up in value – and as fantasy freaks – we have an advantage on the savvy purchases route.

As an example, I bought a Darius Garland highlight for $14 early on, and at its peak, he was worth somewhere in the $50-range (currently valued at no less than $25), and I’m holding. All of the moments right now are Series 2, Limited Editions, so I expect all of them to go up significantly once NBA Top Shot is officially out of beta and we move on to Series 3, 4, 5, etc.

You could also go with the heavy hitter approach, and just buy a Julius Randle Series 1 dunk for around $500, but obviously, you’re taking a bigger risk there, and the entry fee is exclusionary. It might be worth considering, though, as any Series 1 card is sure to be special if this thing truly takes off.

Now that you have a general understanding of what NBA Top Shot is, I will identify some value targets that are currently available to help you get in on the action.

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Dennis Schroder – Layup, Dec. 22, 2020 (Series 2) – Lowest ask $35
The Lakers brand sells, and like with all the cards currently available, getting these Series 2 cards could be huge later down the road.

Eric Bledsoe — Block, Dec. 27, 2020 (Series 2) – Lowest ask $15
It’s rare to see a card under $20 nowadays, so I usually scoop them up regardless of who they are when I see them. I’m fairly confident in the near future you won’t be able to get this moment for less than $30.

Mitchell Robinson – Dunk, Dec. 27, 2020 (Series 2) – Lowest ask $19
Like Schroder, it’s a branding thing, and I also think that Robinson’s value is low right now with him being out. You could get this card cheap, and if he has a big time shot blocking performance after he gets back, you might be able to flip him for $50.

Malcolm Brogdon – Assists, Dec. 23, 2020 (Series 2) – Lowest ask $19
Brogdon is having a great season, and again the Series 2 logic applies. It’s also a pretty cool moment – a behind-the-head dime on a Fastbreak that leads to a Domantas Sabonis dunk in a game where the Pacers dominated the Knicks.

Kelly Oubre Jr. – Dunk, Dec. 22, 2020 (Series 2) – Lowest ask $34
Oubre Jr. slams down a monster put-back over Kevin Durant and flexes as he runs back on defense. It’s got the wow appeal and the star appeal with KD getting yammed on.

Jamal Murray – 3-pointer, Jan. 7, 2021 (Series 2) – Lowest ask $59
Murray is a budding star and this moment perfectly encapsulates his game, a pull-up 3 from logo-range in transition. This is a card I would hang onto, as I think it could be worth thousands someday.

Michael Porter Jr. – Dunk, Dec. 29, 2020 (Series 2) – Lowest ask $37
You all know how the NBC Sports EDGE staff feels about MPJ, and in this moment, he receives an alley-oop pass from his superstar teammate, Nikola Jokic. Buy and hold.

Pascal Siakam – Layup, Jan. 2, 2021 (Series 2) – Lowest ask $30
Spicy P puts some fancy moves on display as he weaves his way to the cup through multiple defenders for a bucket. He’s going to be a stud for many years to come; buy and hold.

Darius Garland – Layup, Dec. 31, 2020 (Series 2) – Lowest ask $24
Hey, I might have got him for a little cheaper, but I’d buy him again because this kid is impressive. In this moment, he gets past No. 1 shot blocker Myles Turner for a reverse layup. I truly believe that in a couple more years Garland will be in the All-Star conversation.

John Collins – Dunk, Dec. 26, 2020 (Series 2) – Lowest ask $25
It’s a fun dunk from Collins, and he’s a guy I think has All-Star games in his future. Buy and hold.

Jonas Valanciunas – Dunk, Jan. 1 2021 (Series 2) – Lowest ask $19
I think JV is undervalued, but we know that he’s a baller and it’s a fun moment. Buy and hold.

Christian Wood – Dunk, Dec. 28, 2020 (Series 2) – Lowest ask $37
As Wood would say, the casuals still might not really know his name, but he’s got a very bright future ahead of him. His value might be a little low because he’s been out for so long with the ankle sprain, so get him under $50 while you still can.

Jared Johnson

A hoops fanatic, Jared Johnson has been a member of the NBC Sports Edge team since 2013. Follow him on Twitter @Jae_Tha_Truth, and feel free to send him your questions regarding trades, draft strategies and all things fantasy basketball.