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).


Insert Set Flashback: 1995-96 Fleer Total D



The Set:
1995-96 Fleer Total D

Set Odds:
1 in 5 Series 1 packs

Key Cards:
Michael Jordan $8.00
Shaquille O’Neal $3.00
Scottie Pippen $2.00

Why I Like It:
I opened more packs of 1995-96 Fleer than I’d care to admit in my early collecting days.  I was drawn to the set because of its variety of styles and patterns.  It’s also a large set so I didn’t find myself pulling the same players all the time.  The Total D set points out the defensive powerhouses of the mid-90s, such as ‘The Glove’ Gary Payton, shot-blockers Olajuwon and Mutumbo, and lockdown perimeter defenders in Jordan and Pippen.  The back description shares the player’s accolades on the defensive side of the floor.

While the uptempo, flashy offenses are often more fun to watch, getting crucial stops down the stretch wins games.  The Dirk-led Mavs finally broke through and won the championship last season after acquiring their defensive anchor in Tyson Chandler.  It’s hard to see them matching that success this season with Chandler now in New York.  Defense certainly matters, and these guys, showing their ‘Total D’, were the best at proving it.


Brandon Roy to Retire

After meeting with doctors Thursday, Brandon Roy has decided to retire due to degenerative knees, per ESPN.  Roy’s career, which already included three All-Star appearances and a Rookie of the Year award, will be cut well short and certainly be a blow to the Blazers, who lose their star shooting guard.  Best wishes to Roy following his great career!


Seattle Thundersonics?

Came across this video from the folks at The Basketball Jones that was too funny not to share.  They ask for reactions from local Thunder fans at the ‘news’ that the team is moving back to Seattle as part of the lockout negotiations.

TBJ Tour Video: Seattle gets back the Thunder from The Basketball Jones on Vimeo.


NBA Returns!

And with the NBA training camps opening December 9th, just one short week away, hopefully this means we will see some new releases from Panini in the near future.  With five games now slated for Christmas day, the start of the regular season can’t get here soon enough.

Until then, we get to occupy ourselves with free-agency and trade talks.  Chris Paul (through his agent), has reportedly requested out of NOH, his preferred destination being the Knicks.  Unfortunately for him, though, the Knicks have little of value to send back to the Hornets for Paul’s services.  If Paul is intent on leaving, the Hornets can surely get a better package than what the Knicks could offer.

Wednesday’s CP3 rumor involving Rajon Rondo had Paul landing with the Celtics.  Paul later stated he wouldn’t sign an extension with the Celtics.  You can expect a lot of rumors over the next couple weeks, with little immediate resolution.  As always, it’s fun to speculate.  I for one am happy to see the rumors, because it means the NBA has returned!