12-13 Basketball Card Season in Review

January 3rd, 2014

Article by: Jeffrey Detter      Artwork by: Sergio Dubois

Wow! First off what a crazy NBA season it was with the double rookie class. As most of you know last year due to the lockout there were only a handful of products released and no true rookies, in a class that included Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard and Klay Thompson. There were 30+ basketball products released this year, with twenty seven being NBA Licensed products by Panini. I would like to hand out some awards to the best of the best this year, from MVP to 6th man of the year.


MVP- National Treasures Basketball

A very close battle this season with the introduction of Flawless and Immaculate, however the seasoned vet takes home the award for best product. What separates National Treasures from every other product is the RPA (Rookie Patch Auto). Ever since 2009, when Exquisite and SPA were no longer NBA Products, the NT RPA is the main RC to have of your favorite rookie. The Notable Nicknames returned this year as well in NT and it provided collectors with the first “Vino” inscriptions from Kobe Bryant. Kyrie Irving had his own highly sought after inscription in “Uncle Drew”, as did Anthony Davis with “Fear the Brow” and Harrison Barnes with “The Black Falcon.”.  A new wrinkle Panini added this year to NT was the addition of printing plates from the past several year’s products. Each box contained two printing plates.


Defensive Player of the Year- Select Basketball

You may be asking yourself, why a defensive award? Well a defensive player isn’t always the flashiest, Isnt usually the main guy or the highest paid player. The product that best fits that description this year would be Select. It was one of the five best products to be released in my opinion. It came out following the gold chase hype from Prizm and delivered.  Select offered some of the best value per box and some great cards. Unlike Prizm, Select contained Black Prizm base and base autos. It also had a great insert set in in-flight and also had a refractor version #/25. Select also included some of the first on-card RPA’s from this class.


Co-Rookies of the Year- Prizm and Flawless

Prizm wins the ROY for lower end basketball while Flawless takes the crown over Immaculate for high end product. Prizm created an early buzz in the collecting season with the Gold Prizms, #/10. They created a buying frenzy on the secondary market with collectors going after the PC players. Prizm also had a very nice look to it and the actual prizm cards were unnumbered but due to a decent sized base set,including the USA Basketball subset, the actual prizms for certain players were harder to find. Prizm also came out in wonderful condition as many of the cards could obtain 9.5 or even 10’s. Panini included the green prizms in their retail version, which was also a fun break in itself. I for one wished Panini had included their black finite prizms, which were later included in their football product.

Flawless was my high end ROY over Immaculate simply for the fact there was hardly a bad card pulled in a box of Flawless. The base cards are some of the most sought after cards from the product seeing as there is only 20 total sets that could be put together. Panini only included a handful of rookies in the product and they were the best of the best. This is one reason I prefer Flawless over Immaculate because Immaculate is watered down with many lesser players in the product. Flawless was all on card, besides the select few Lillard autos, which were sticker. Flawless did not have any redemptions which was also a plus.

6th man

6th Man- Totally Certified

Totally Certified is a great break each year. Its generally one of the first releases but the product can hold value throughout the season. I like the chance to complete a rainbow of your favorite player with red, blue, gold, green and black parallels to go along with the silver base. Totally Certified had some great prime patches as well. I also like the addition of the private signings in Totally Certified. In my opinion this is a very underrated set because the autos are so clean and the design is well done.

All NBA First Team

National Treasures

All Rookie Team


Best of the Rest



Best Base Card- Flawless. With its unique diamond embedded and short printed cards, #/20 , this is easily the best base cards from the 2012-13 season.


Best Base Design- I’m going to choose an oddball and pick the Contenders basketball base. I like how they look in person. I know Flawless and NT have great looking base cards so I wanted to go in another direction and that’s why I chose Contenders. The players seem to stand out or “pop” on the white card stock.


Best Insert Set- Tough one for me but I chose the 2012-13 Panini Contenders Throwback rookies set in which they use the 2007 Contenders ticket design. These were very short printed.

Best RPA

Best RPA- National Treasures. This RPA edges out the Immaculate RPA just because I prefer the horizontal card and it contains a bigger patch.


Best Patch Set- The Flawless Jumbo patches. Anytime you have Pistol Pete and Wilt Chamberlain Jumbo patches in a product, it is going to be hard to beat. Immaculate Logos gets a close second.


Best Auto Set- Besides the obvious sets from NT and Flawless, I think Panini Signatures Film is one of the best-autographed sets this year. Each card contained a film slide of the player on a uniquely designed card and every autograph was on card. The blue autos seemed to pop on the white card stock.


Best Unlicensed Product- Leaf Metal Basketball comes away as the best unlicensed product because they offer the first Patrick Ewing patch autos since the 2008-09 season.


Best Collegiate Product- Exquisite Basketball takes the crown for best collegiate basketball product for this season.


Best Gimmick- The Hoops Taco Bell Packs. Fun little set to try and put together. The rookies looked nice with the Rated Rookies design. Gave a reason to go get a kids meal from taco Bell.


Oddest Insert- Past and Present Headbands. This set featured players that traditionally wear headbands and the headband on the card featured a fabric you could feel.


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