Cardboard Calculus - A Week In Review

Card prices and population counts are not the only things in the hobby growing exponentially by the day. The amount of data being generated is astounding and much of it remains untapped. This is why I have created the Instagram account Cardboard.Calculus. Almost daily I uncover a new piece of information from the vast amount of data in the hobby and this is my platform to share it with the sports card world. In this series I will take a look back at each week’s most interesting posts and provide further explanation for what I think it means for the hobby and our decision making when buying and selling cards.

Our pricing research is done using Sports Card Investor’s Market Movers data. You can sign up for your own Market Movers Subscription to access the data on your own and by using the promo code GRINDERS you will get 20% off your first payment on any subscription. You will want to sign up for Market Movers specifically in order to access the great tools and data, and if you sign up for the annual Market Movers subscription, you will save you 20% on the entire year instead of just the first month.

Cardboard Calculus – A Week In Review

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We finally have a 2020 product with pro uniforms to start stashing tomorrow’s stars. Hoops hit shelves earlier this month and we are starting to see them fly off the virtual shelves of eBay at high volumes. In honor of our first big launch of the year I wanted to pull some interesting data for the Hoops product. Let’s get to it!

Hoops Population Is On The Rise

There are over 6,000 Walmarts and Targets across North America alone. I am not quite sure how many local card stores there are at this moment but my guess is the number is much closer to 10% of the big box retailers than 50%. This is important to understand because of the growth we see in the chart above. PSA population counts have gone up more than 500% since 2017 for the popular paper product. Hoops being one of the many basketball retail products makes it susceptible to this kind of growth in supply due to the shelf space and customer reach the retail juggernauts have. With so many products available now and the increase in population counts it is hard to trust these types of cards as long term investments. A good long term investment needs to be able to survive through low demand periods and thrive in the booming periods.

I think that it is safe to say that in down years there will not be enough demand from hardcore collectors to support population counts of paper products pushing 30,000. That being said as long as the hobby is seeing interest from investors and flippers alike we will see many sets perform well despite increased population. My goal is always to make short term plays in volatile and liquid sets like Optic and Hoops and then park profits from those plays in better long term investments. My two favorite long term investments at the moment are high grade Select cards and on card autos. My hope in these articles is to give you food for thought to shape your own strategy as I cannot guarantee mine will work or is the best long term.

Finding Insurance On Rising Populations

One way to protect yourself from rising population counts while still investing in retail products is to find an undervalued but rare parallel within the set. The chart above shows the Base Ratios for the main Hoops parallels over the last several years. As a reminder, the Base Ratio is an estimation of how many base cards you would need to pull before getting the respective parallel. The higher the number the harder a parallel is to pull.

The Red Back has been a staple in the Hoops brand for many years but is significantly more rare than it was back in 2013. While this should mean good things for its prices I do wonder if it gets penalized for the difference being contained only to the back of the card. Clean Hoops pricing data is not easy to come by for many of the parallels. I know that Teal Explosions sell for much more than the base, and rightfully so, but it is the second most common parallel. I would be curious to know if the Silver is selling for a premium over the Teal Explosion. If not maybe that would be an opportunity to attack given it is two times more rare and Silver’s history in the hobby.

Patience Is Everything

Let’s now turn to Market Movers to teach us a very important lesson while investing in the current draft class. This chart shows the price trends for Hoops 2020 key players since it was released earlier this month. Much like we saw last year, prices fell significantly for the first few weeks. I did a full youtube video on this exact scenario and found that prices fall from release for two to four weeks before leveling out. It looks like we may be seeing them start to level out so it is worth keeping an eye on.

I am always cautious with rookies because they get the most hype however we have very little on court production to grade them on. If you are looking to invest in the newest crop of NBA talent it is always best to wait for initial hype to die down before jumping in. I have my eye on a couple of guys from this class and may look to start picking them up in the next two weeks. With Prizm right around the corner we may even be better off waiting for its release to really overshadow the Hoops product. If you are very risk-averse I do not think it will be a bad idea to wait and pick up some of these guys in the off-season. Most of these young rookies will not be performing in the postseason and by then there will be much more product opened and on the market.

Conclusion

It is always an exciting time when new products release each year but as you can tell you must approach your purchasing decisions carefully. If you do the research and practice patience you can be one of the first people in on a young prospect at a good price. If you rush in unprepared it can be detrimental to your bankroll. Options are listed below for some of the hottest rookies in this year’s class. I hope you enjoyed the article and let me know what you thought in the comments below.

Sports Card Description Last Sale Price
Lamelo Ball NBA Hoops Raw Last Sale Price $33
Anthony Edwards NBA Hoops Raw Last Sale Price $8
Tyrese Haliburton NBA Hoops Raw Last Sale Price $2
James Wiseman NBA Hoops Raw Last Sale Price $7

About the Author

  • Brennan Ruby (xBigtymerBx)

  • After playing DFS for over 8 years Brennan switched over entirely to sports card investing in the middle of 2019. Since converting, Brennan has bought and sold close to 100 cards on eBay. Ruby focuses his investing on long-term buy and hold opportunities, as well as short to intermediate investing such as prospecting and buying raw cards to be graded. Ruby focuses entirely on the basketball market and personally collects former Kentucky players, since his wife grew up just down the road from Lexington, and officially put him on the Wildcat bandwagon!

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