Every so often, a rookie comes around that changes the way the collectors and hobbyists around the globe think about cards. This has only happened a few times in my lifetime, most notably with LeBron James, Steven Strasburg, and Connor McDavid. Some of these rookies come into their respective professional leagues and match the level that was expected. However, some of them don’t meet the crazy hype. Not one of these players followed the same path that Zion Williamson has this year for the Pelicans. Zion underwent knee surgery to repair a torn right lateral meniscus in late October. This postponed his much anticipated rookie debut by almost 2 months. All I can say is…the wait was worth it. Zion made his debut on Jan 22nd against the San Antonio Spurs and for the first three quarters he looked…”normal”. Made a few baskets, turned the ball over a couple times and just looked like it was going to be a little while before he tapped into his endless potential. Then, the 4th quarter came, and Zion rattled off 17 straight points for the Pelicans as he almost single-handedly willed them to victory.
This remarkable 17 point stretch gave the collecting world everything they needed to see to validate their speculation and go out and buy up every single Zion Williamson autographed card they could get their hands on. Zion has continued to play very well in the past month collecting 22.8 pts per game and over 7 rebounds in just over 28 minutes per game. These are numbers that a rookie just doesn’t typically put up, especially coming off major knee surgery.
The hype around Williamson has made collectors around all sports stop buying their sport of choice and take a chance at his autographed cards as a chase in all 2019/20 Panini basketball products. However, this has also driven the prices of the boxes up significantly. A Panini Prizm basketball box has reached over $600 and is continuing to increase with every given night Zion steps onto the court. His autographed prizm rookie card is currently sitting at around $700-$800 based on the most recent ebay sales and if he keeps playing at this pace and the Pelicans keep winning, they could find themselves in the playoffs with a potential first round match-up with LeBron James and the Lakers. There is no telling where the ceiling is for Zion Williamson’s rookie cards and only time will tell if his cards age like LeBron James’ rookie cards or not.