Playoff Survivor: Contest Rules and Prizes

Playoff time!

We are just days away from the start of the 2012 NBA playoffs which should be excellent once again. Absolutely my favorite sports time of year. As mentioned, Hoops Hobby will be hosting an NBA Playoff Survivor pick’em. Each day of the playoffs, Hoops Hobby will post the games for the day. Each contestant should respond with a comment containing their pick for the day. Pick any team playing that day. If they win, you move on to pick another day. No limits on how many times you can pick a team. If you want to pick the Bulls every time they play, for example, go for it. Last contestant alive wins a card of their choice from the prize list below. Additional prizes will likely be added to this list. Once we have one winner we will start up again for as many rounds as we can throughout the playoffs.

The prizes are as follows:

1999-00 Stadium Club Chrome Eyes of the Game Refractors #EG8 Allen Iverson
2005-06 Topps #224 Chris Paul RC
2006-07 Bowman Elevation Power Brokers Relics Blue #RCB Chris Bosh
2010-11 Panini Season Update Green Week Jerseys #8 Chris Andersen/699
2010-11 Panini Season Update All-Stars Materials #8 Deron Williams
2010-11 Panini Season Update All-Stars Materials #16 Kevin Garnett
2010-11 Panini Season Update All-Stars Materials #11 Dwight Howard
2010-11 Playoff Contenders Patches #150 Omer Asik AU RC
2010-11 Playoff Contenders Patches #116 Luke Babbitt AU RC
2010-11 Playoff Contenders Patches #198 Solomon Alabi AU SP
2010-11 Totally Certified Red Materials #59 Tyreke Evans/249

Spread the word- this will be fun. First post will go up when playoff pairings and times are announced.


Playoff Contest: Survivor Picks

Once the playoffs begin, Hoops Hobby will hold a survivor pick’em contest on the blog. Each day of the playoffs, participants must pick a winner of a game. One wrong pick means elimination. The last contestant remaining will not only earn the title of ‘Hoops Hobby Survivor Champion’, but a prize as well. More details to come- stay tuned!


Bobcats could make history, let’s hope they don’t

When the shortened NBA regular season started, most analysts predicted the Bobcats would finish near or at the bottom of the Eastern Conference.  No one thought this team would sniff the playoffs this season, or beat any of the league’s best.  It would be a rebuilding year, to be sure.  Develop the young players, make a good early selection in the draft, and continue to build around young talent. After the Bobcats beat the Bucks on the road on opening night, following that effort up with a close loss to the Heat, I felt some optimism that maybe this team would be competitive and win more games than expected.  I’m not sure anyone predicted the season would go this poorly, or that the team would have a chance to make history, and in embarrassing fashion.

If the Bobcats are unable to win any of their remaining six games, they would finish as the worst team in NBA history by winning percentage, overtaking the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers who finished 9-73. This would unfortunately be the most notable ‘feat’ for the franchise to-date, which in its short history has just one playoff appearance. Certainly not something you want your franchise to be known for. With each poor performance, each one more baffling than the one before it (67 point outing against New Orleans being the latest), the culture of losing builds, something that won’t change overnight with a high draft pick.

While the Bobcats will likely have a top-3 pick in the 2012 draft, there’s no guarantee the team will land Kentucky star Anthony Davis with the top pick. In the last 10 years, only twice has the team with the league’s worst record actually landed the #1 pick in the draft that same year, a somewhat alarming stat for any Bobcats fan banking on seeing this young star in the Queen city in the coming years. While Kidd-Gilchrist and Thomas Robinson aren’t poor consolation prizes, I don’t see them creating a buzz that would draw fans quite like the NCAA tournament MVP.

What kills me most about all of this is seeing some of the former Bobcats and could-have-been Bobcats succeeding on other teams. Tyson Chandler being in contention for Defensive Player of the Year for the Knicks, Ray Felton on playoff runs with the Nuggets in years past, even Boris Diaw and Stephen Jackson getting significant minutes for the top-seeded Spurs out West. Draft picks that could-have-been such as Brook Lopez (taken right after D.J. Augustin in 2008- Sidenote, I remember the Bucks passing on Lopez and thinking, ‘hurray- the Cats just found their new starting center for the next decade!’ Only to see them pass on him for D.J. who has been solid, but quality NBA centers don’t come around often), Rudy Gay and Brandon Roy (taken after Adam Morrison in 2006), somehow not even having a first round pick in 2010, etc…

What I’ve realized while watching all this losing is that in the last 4 years since I moved to the Charlotte area, I’ve become a fan of this team. A handful of players on this Bobcats team are who I would consider ‘keepers’ at this point, and the list is small. I’ve enjoyed Gerald Henderson’s mastery of the mid-range game, Derrick Brown’s athleticism, Kemba Walker’s quickness and fearlessness, Bismack’s shot-blocking ability and even more shot-blocking attempts (I’d add Byron Mullens, but he doesn’t play defense). However, it’s embarrassing to follow a team that ranks among the worst of all-time. It’s terrible for the fans, and losing for the sake of a top pick (which may or may not pan out) is no fun at all. It turns people away completely, something that won’t change with one great draft pick.

So that brings me to the title of this post more-like-rant. Let’s hope the Bobcats don’t make history in this negative fashion, and instead move forward into the offseason and make good basketball decisions, as well as not trade away fan favorites such as Gerald Wallace, etc… I am firmly in the ‘tanking is not necessary to succeed’ camp. The Indiana Pacers have rebuilt without a pick higher than 10 in 2010, and just two seasons ago were competing with the Bobcats for the East’s final playoff spot. The roadmap is 1) Let your bad contracts expire, or try to trade expiring contracts for positive assets 2) Make solid draft picks on known entities or guys that you perceive to have a good ‘value’ for the spot you are picking 3) Don’t overspend to get players who surely will not be long-term parts of the teams’ future.

The Bobcats can avoid being known at the worst team ever with just one more victory in their last six games. When the Cats take on the Bulls without Derrick Rose or Luol Deng this evening, I’ll be hoping the Cats pull off the upset.


Box Break: 2010-11 Panini Prestige Retail

The Set:
2010-11 Panini Prestige
8 packs per retail box, 10 cards per retail pack
150 card base veterans and legends, 95 rookies (2 versions for each)
Bonus Shots parallel (#’d versions out of 499, 249, 49, 25 and rookies out of 999)
Franchise Favorites inserts and memorabilia versions
Playmakers inserts and memorabilia and autograph versions
Hardcourt Heroes inserts and memorabilia versions
Inside the Numbers inserts and memorabilia versions
Old School Inserts and memorabilia and autograph versions
NBA Draft Class inserts
Prestigious Picks inserts and memorabilia verions
Prestigious Pros inserts and memorabilia versions
Stars of the NBA inserts and memorabilia versions
Stat Stars inserts and memorabilia and autograph versions
Super Sophs inserts and memorabilia verions
True Colors inserts and memorabilia verions
NBA Draft Class Logo autographs

Our Break:


Rookies (8): John Wall, Paul George, Cole Aldrich, Greivis Vasquez, Quincy Pondexter x2 (both versions), Al-Farouq Aminu, Devin Ebanks,


Bonus Shots /499 (1): Amare Stoudemire


Franchise Favorites (1): Dwight Howard


Playmakers (1): Tyreke Evans


Prestigious Picks Materials Green /499 (1): James Anderson

Impressions:

Lacking a hobby box to break this week, I turned to my local Target and found this retail box on sale.  The results are pretty typical of what to expect from a retail box. Pulling the John Wall was fortunate and made the break an above average one, but with the rookies included and the game worn card, which I imagine is included at one-per-box on average, you could do much worse on a retail break.

The base set has both legends and current players.  It was nice to find old favorites such as Muggsey Bogues and Dell Curry in the product along with new stars of the game.

Honestly since I opened a few packs of Prestige upon its release, I’ve felt the base set design a bit lacking.  The gray splashes on the right don’t do anything for me, although the photography used for many of the cards is pretty exciting, such as in the Kobe for example.

If you can find these boxes, particularly at a discounted price, they are worth picking up for a fun break that delivers on rookies, inserts and memorablia cards.


2012 All-Stars: Who Are Your Starters?

The second round of All-Star voting returns was released on NBA.com Thursday.

Eastern Conference starters as of today: G Derrick Rose, G Dwyane Wade, F Lebron James, F Carmelo Anthony, C Dwight Howard
Western Conference starters as of today: G Kobe Bryant, G Chris Paul, F Kevin Durant, F Blake Griffin, C Andrew Bynum

Are all of these players deserving as of now?  Sure.  We don’t have anyone the fans are voting in based just on name/reputation, like Iverson, McGrady, Vince, etc… in their less than All-Star starter caliber years.  But all of these guys have a legitimate case to be an All-Star starter based on production in this current season, and most are just locks.  Production aside, if the game is truly for the fans, and it is,  then some guys I’d like to see, and for a bunch of minutes, are:

Ricky Rubio – This guy is made for the All-Star game.  The fans see it too, as he’s 3rd behind Kobe and Chris Paul in the West at guard in votes so far.  Would love to see him make the jump to starter.  Something tells me that’s where he’ll be in future years.

Rajon Rondo – Want to see Rondo for the same reasons as Rubio.  Rondo sets others up.  He’s also the best player on the Celtics these days, and happens to be 3rd in the East at guard in votes.

Josh Smith – This guy is having a fantastic season for the Hawks who are sitting 2nd in the East (now minus Al Horford).  Smith would have the potential to throw down some nice dunks.

Who do you want to see?  Any other exciting young players that would make the game more entertaining?


Insert Set Flashback: 1997-98 Ultra Jam City


The Set:
1997-98 Ultra Jam City

Set Odds:
1 in 8 series 1 packs

Key Cards:
Kobe Bryant $8.00
Shaquille O’Neal $4.00
Kevin Garnett $3.00

Why I Like It:
Oh man, how to get started.  How sweet would a modern-day Jam City set be?  Blake Griffin, Dwight Howard, LeBron, etc… highlighting a set of the league’s best dunkers?  Or a set with past slam-dunk champions?  The Jam City name had tons of potential.

The cartoon-y black and white background makes the color shot of the player jump off the card.  Putting some of the league’s arenas into the background would have been a nice touch.

One thing I found amusing from the cards above: How does Juwan have a pass into Jam City when the back of the card says that he likes to step out for 18-footers?  Howard could throw it down in his younger days, but at least mention that rather than his set-shot ability.


Insert Set Flashback: 2002-03 Hoops Stars Raising Up


The Set:
2002-03 Hoops Stars Raising Up

Set Odds:
1 in 5 packs

Key Cards:
Michael Jordan $10.00
Kobe Bryant $8.00
Yao Ming $5.00

Why I Like It:
Hoops stars was an exciting set for me to open. The rookie cards are short-printed but not impossible to collect, inserted at 1:4 packs.  Serial numbered parallel sets, game used versions of the inserts. To me this set had it all.  The draw for me was the variety and creativity in the inserts and the star players available in those sets.   All the insert sets have a nice glossy finish as well. Each has a blue parallel version.

Only complaint on this insert set is showing the same picture on both the front and back. Would have liked to have seen some variety. Still feel like creative sets such as these are what’s missing from today’s products.


Rookie Highlight: Ricky Rubio

Ricky Rubio made his NBA debut earlier this week as the Minnesota Timberwolves faced the Thunder. Coming off the bench, Rubio put up 6 points, 4 assists, and 3 steals in 27 minutes of action.  He posted similar numbers in his second game against the Bucks on Wednesday.  The numbers may not jump out (yet), but if you watched either of these games, or have watched him play in international competition, it’s clear that Rubio is going to be a force in this league.  At 21, his court vision already rivals that of the league’s best.  If he can get his jump shot to fall consistently, he’ll be a star.  The Wolves look to be a great situation for Rubio and the young talent around him in Kevin Love, Derrick Williams, Michael Beasley, and even newly acquired guard J.J. Barea.  You can feel the buzz at Target Center through the television every time Rubio touches the ball, the crowd anticipating the next great dish.

I’d be shocked if Rubio’s rookie cards stay at their current level, for several reasons.  One- he’s the only rookie this year that actually has true rookie cards out!  His true rookies were produced for the 2009-10 season as he was drafted back in 2009.  The other option is the new SP Authentic product, but some of the top rookies are missing from this set (Kyrie Irving, Derrick Williams).  Two- the availability is limited.  His Topps, Upper Deck, and Greats of the Game rookies can be had for cheap, generally under $5, but I would expect the price of these to rise as more folks get to see Rubio with the Wolves.  Anything outside of these and his UD Draft Edition card are selling high, as most of these others are autographed and from higher-end products.  Even his Topps Chrome rookie /999 is tough to find.

Rubio will certainly provide his share of SportsCenter highlights this year.  I for one will be watching the Wolves on the league pass as often as I can.


Wednesday Wax: 2010-11 Panini Totally Certified

The Set:
2010-11 Totally Certified
6 packs per box, 5 cards per pack
Base set contains 150 base cards, 35 rookies autographs
Relic and Gold Autograph versions of some of base set
15 Totally Certified Potential
50 Fabric of the Game Jumbo Jersey #
50 Fabric of the Game Jumbo Team
4 HRX
Red/Blue/Gold/Green/Black parallel versions

Our Break:
Each card is serially numbered.  The base set is /1849.  Collector’s will either need to open a lot of boxes or do lots of buying/trading to complete a base set of these.  The draw with this product is the rookie autographs (John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins), the chance at autographs and relics of stars such as Griffin, Kobe, Rose etc… and of course the HRX video cards.  This product also includes several retired legends such as Patrick Ewing, Scottie Pippen, Hakeem Olajuwon, John Stockton, Karl Malone, among others.  Here’s what we opened:

Base cards /1489 (16): Gerald Henderson, Carlos Boozer, Paul Pierce, Chris Paul, Paul Millsap, Mehmet Okur, Carmelo Anthony, Pau Gasol, Jameer Nelson, Gilbert Arenas, Danny Granger, Rodney Stuckey, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Richard Jefferson, Aaron Brooks


Red /499 (5): Brandon Jennings, Zach Randolph, Matt Barnes, Hedo Turkoglu, Richard Hamilton
Blue /299 (3): Pau Gasol, Chase Buddinger, Kevin Love



Red Materials /249 (3): Andrew Bogut, Tyreke Evans, Luis Scola


Green Fabric of the Game /299 (1): Rasheed Wallace


Rookie Autographs /599 (2): Landry Fields, Ed Davis (Redemption)

Impressions:

First, want to applaud the design on the rookie autographs.  They look sharp and having on-card signatures makes them appealing.  While our box didn’t contain the most highly sought after rookies (John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Evan Turner, etc..) we did pull two solid rookies, one of which starts on a playoff team that looks like it could make a deep run this year (Fields).

Pulling even a base card of a superstar such as Lebron, Kobe, Durant, etc… would have been nice, but with a base set of 150 cards and the box containing only 16, this can’t be expected out of an average box.

While the big hits in this product provide an exciting pack-busting experience, the typical box won’t deliver an adequate return.


Wednesday Wax: 1999-00 Topps Series 2 Hobby

The Set:
1999-00 Topps Series 2
36 packs per box, 11 cards per pack
Series 2 base set contains 117 base cards, 10 rookies inserted 1 in 5, and 10 USA cards inserted 1 in 5
MVP Promo, 1 in 172 packs
All Matrix, 1 in 15 packs
Team Topps, 1 in 18 packs
Impact, 1 in 24 packs
Impact Refractor, 1 in 120 packs
21st Century, 1 in 27 packs
Own The Game, 1 in 44 packs
Autographs (Groups A, B), overall odds 1 in 98 packs

Our Break:
Without going in and counting, I am fairly certain we opened a complete set of base cards, while also seeing many, many duplicates.  We probably have close to 10 Danny Ferry base cards, so any Danny Ferry collectors, hit us up.  The orange bordered base set might be my least favorite Topps base set of all-time.  The action photos are nice (gotta love young Kobe hanging in the air pre-layup/dunk in the photo above), but who are we kidding, we opened this box for the inserts and a chance at a Topps Autograph (reasonably inserted at 1:98 packs, basically every third box).


’99 Draft Picks (7): Alexsandar Radojevic, William Avery, Cal Bowdler, Quincy Lewis, Dion Glover, Jeff Foster, Kenny Thomas (Most, if not all of the good rookies were in Series 1)

USA  Basketball Team Card (7): Kevin Garnett, Gary Payton, Steve Smith, Tim Hardaway, Tim Duncan, Jason Kidd, Tom Gugliotta


All Matrix (3): Shaquille O’Neal, Antoine Walker, Keith Van Horn


Team Topps (2): Reggie Miller, Grant Hill


21st Century (1): Jonathan Bender


Own The Game (1): Jason Kidd


Impact (1): Kobe Bryant

Impressions:

Fantastic value, beautiful inserts.  Our box looks like it contained pretty standard results for this product.  It was right on the odds for the inserts, didn’t hit on any of the higher odds inserts such as the Impact Refractors or the Autographs, but did pull several nice inserts that had lower odds (Shaq, Kobe).

The USA cards were interesting.  Who knew Tom Gugliotta played for Team USA?  Fun trivia fact there.

Pick up this box if you don’t want to break the bank (you can find a box for under $30), but still have a shot at some nice autographs and inserts.  Really can’t stress enough how great these insert sets are.  These types of cards are what is missing from today’s products.  The scans in this post don’t give an accurate picture of how nice these cards look.  Give me these over a game used card of Andres Nocioni any day (nothing personal, Andres- we actually could pull one of these in our next break, 10-11 Totally Certified).