Panda’s Perspectives: ESPN’s Best 25 under 25 through a Top Shot lens

Potential, potential, potential. In the NBA it is never enough to simply appreciate today’s greatness that can be witnessed on a nightly basis. Teams and GMs are always thinking about the future, and a lot of times they mortgage that future on “what can be” rather than maximizing “what is.”

An entire industry has been developed around this aspect of the sport. Analysts make a living studying the NBA Draft each year, recruiting websites and highlight reels get millions of views to showcase future talent, and mock drafts seem to go out further and further each year. All of this is from the notion of “Is this the next Superstar?”

This thirst for future stars has always been a key aspect to sports collecting and Top Shot is no different. Rookie Badges and player potential play a key role in evaluating Moments and what they can be worth in the future.

With that in mind, I decided to take ESPN’s Top 25 Under 25 and analyze the list through a Top Shot lens. The following charts are different breakdowns of the Series 1 moments for the next gen of the NBA. You will notice that there are only 22 players included because the three 2020 rookies are not included. Those being LaMelo Ball (#3), Anthony Edwards (#19), and Tyrese Haliburton (#21). Because Series 2 is still fluid and supply is still uncertain, I left it out of this analysis. Much more on the 2020 rookies to come in future blogs.

All data is from AddMoreFunds as of 4/12.

Let’s get to it:

Series 1 Moments

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Source: Add More Funds

Not surprisingly, Luka and Zion lead the ESPN rankings and their value in Top Shot is consistent. Those with the highest number of moments were either A) 2019 rookies like Zion and Ja or B) Made a deep run in the bubble last year during the playoffs like Tatum, Murray, and Bam. This is an important aspect to pay attention to because of supply and demand. Ultimately there is a sense of agreement in the TopShot community that the most long-term value will live in Series 1. If the Series 1 moments are going to be the most valuable, then it needs to be front of mind how many moments and circulation count each of those moment has. What stands out to me is how few Luka moments are out there compared to players much lower on the list. On the flip side, while Bam has great potential it will take more for him to overcome the nine S1 moments.

Another aspect of Series 1 that should be paid attention to are those players without Legendary moments. This effectively turns their Rare moments into the most valuable available, again, because Series 1 is the inaugural Top Shot collection. There are six players that don’t have an S1 Legendary, the highest ranked being Gilgeous-Alexander and Ingram.

The last point I think is important to make when collecting players who are under 25 is where I started this post. You aren’t owning them for what they are today, but rather what they can be in the future. Even though these players are All-Stars and All NBA caliber already, it is important to remember the long-term perspective of each one’s career. If you are more interested in the present, there are plenty of players that have already reached their primes that come with less uncertainty.

Series 1 Commons

Source: Add More Funds

Luka and Zion still rule the day and by a wide margin, but Ja Morant being number 15 on the ESPN Rankings and 3rd in MC/CC is interesting to me. Ja is an electric player whose Top Shot value is inflated from being a Rookie during the S1 season, but compared to the rest of the field, it is a difficult value to justify. Only time will tell on where he can take the Grizzlies, who have been ravaged by COVID and injuries all year, but there seems to be better value out there.

On the other end of the MC/CC vs ESPN Ranks is Brandon Ingram (18 vs 11) and De’Aaron Fox (13 vs 6). Both may provide significant value to long-term collectors. One of the reasons that each of these two suffer relative to their peers is a lack of team success in 2021. Remember, these are the type of players who should be long-term investments! If you believe in their futures, you should not overvalue the playoffs in the near term with so much career still ahead them.

There are many different strategies in Top Shot, but in my opinion, thinking long-term and not short-term is the best way to generate Expected Value. Yes, there will be short-term sets to own, teams that get hyped, and marketplace opportunities; however, the longer time goes on, player caliber will rule the day. Either you can buy that caliber of player today through the likes of LeBron, Durant, and Curry or take the riskier approach of guessing which young guns will be in that class by the end of their careers.

Let me know what you think in the comments and follow me on Twitter @FastBreakPanda to stay up-to-date….. until then, Squadoosh.       

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