Every NBA season, the card collecting crowd does their best impersonation of an NBA scout and picks a rookie to put their money on. When it comes to selecting a bankable player to pursue in the hobby, I should be at the bottom of the list of people to ask advice from. I almost never went for the heralded freshmen from any rookie class and instead tried to gamble on the slightly underdog-types. Needless to say my recorded history of bad “drafts” is unprecedented. One way to judge a player’s hobby influence is the price that their Topps Finest rookie cards are going for so let’s have a look at how I’ve done so far.
Class Of 1994 – The whole hobby world was going crazy for Grant Hill and Jason Kidd and rightfully so as they ended up winning Co-Rookie of the Year awards. My picks that year though were Glenn “Big Dog” Robinson (drafted #1) and Eddie Jones (drafted #8). By no means were these two busts (Big Dog finished his career averaging 20-plus PPG while Eddie Jones made the All-Star Team in ’96-’97 and ’97-’98) but their overall appeal in the hobby wasn’t that great nor was it long lasting.
- 1994-95 Finest Grant Hill RC – $25.00
- 1994-95 Finest Jason Kidd RC – $20.00
- 1994-95 Finest Glenn Robinson RC – $10.00
- 1994-95 Finest Eddie Jones RC – $10.00
Class Of 1995 – Comparing to the previous year, 1995 had a deeper pool of talent coming into the league. You had a choice of Kevin Garnett, Michael Finley, Damon Stoudamire, and Rasheed Wallace to name a few. Most collectors though, were grabbing every Jerry Stackhouse card they could get their hands on because he was touted as the next Michael Jordan having come from the same North Carolina University while coincidentally also being drafted #3. My stubborn self picked Antonio McDyess (drafted #2) instead. McDyess has had a better than average career and is still playing in the league for the Spurs today but again his hobby impact has been less than stellar.
- 1995-96 Finest Jerry Stackhouse RC – $15.00
- 1995-96 Finest Kevin Garnett RC – $30.00
- 1995-96 Finest Antonio McDyess RC – $10.00
Class Of 1996 – Kobe Bryant, ‘nuff said. Ok that’s not fair since Kobe’s hobby popularity did not gain until the end of the 1996-97 season and the start of the next. 1996 also had players like, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Stephon Marbury, and of course, The Answer, Allen Iverson. Because of my admiration for defensive-minded players I decided to collect Marcus Camby cards. The first few years of Camby’s career were merely average but he did live up to his defensive-specialist reputation. He eventually was awarded as Defensive Player of the Year in 2007 but like all my other hobby picks he never really got past Semistar status.
- 1996-97 Finest Allen Iverson RC – $10.00
- 1996-97 Finest Kobe Bryant RC – $50.00
- 1996-97 Finest Marcus Camby RC – $3.00
Class Of 1997 – This was the last full year I was active in the hobby before returning in 2010 but still I didn’t redeem myself from my unimpressive picks. Since I was starting to lose interest in cards at the time I did not really take the rookie class seriously and put aside only a few cards of Derek Anderson. Yes I passed up on The Big Fundamental, T-Mac, and Mr. Big Shot for Derek Anderson. I did this mostly because he played on the same team as my boy Shawn Kemp and and my friend told me Anderson had been pretty good during his collegiate years. Derek ended up playing 12 seasons with 7 different teams and averaged only 12 PPG, 3.4 APG, 3.2 RPG, and 1.1 SPG his whole career.
- 1997-98 Finest Tim Duncan RC – $8.00
- 1997-98 Finest Tracy McGrady RC – $8.00
- 1997-98 Finest Derek Anderson RC – $2.50
Now that I am back in full force this 2010-11 season, you’d think I’d have learned from my past mistakes and will bet on the surefire talents. Nay, I say to you. I will not ride on the coattails of perennial All-Stars Blake Griffin or John Wall. I shall not go for current bloomers DeMarcus Cousins and Al Farooq Aminu. As much as I like underdogs, I am not getting on the Landry Fields bandwagon. Put my name down for someone who isn’t even in the T-Mobile Rookie Ladder, the LA Clipper’s young point guard, Eric Bledsoe. Now that I’ve said that, you can all hand over your Bledsoe RCs to me for fear of his eventual hobby decline. So gimme!!!