Surprising Team #1: Philadelphia 76ers

While the Sixers have played one of the league’s easiest schedules so far in the early season, their 12-5 record cannot be discounted.  Even in a loss to the Wade-less Heat Saturday night, I was struck by the quality depth of this Sixers squad.  In Louis Williams, Thaddeus Young, and Evan Turner, they’ve got three guys who would start for some teams and heck, they should probably be starting for their own team.  Team balance is a result of their quality depth.  Going into their game Monday against the Wizards, the Sixers had seven players averaging double figure scoring, led by Louis Williams (coming off the bench) at 15.5 ppg.  Sidenote: Louis is currently shooting better from outside the 3-point arc than inside it.

With a young core that is locked up for the next several years, this team should be a contender in the East for years.  They’ve already got some playoff experience and will get more this season.

Will this recent success and bright outlook for the Sixers have any kind of hobby impact?  While Evan Turner and Jrue Holiday have more recent and probably more readily available rookie cards and autographs, some other Sixers might be flying under the radar a bit. Andre Iguodala’s rookie cards and autographs have some room to grow in value.  Louis Williams autographs can be had for less than $10 easily.  A few of the cards below might be worth a pickup if you can find them on the cheap:

2004-05 Topps Chrome #174 Andre Iguodala RC
2004-05 SP Authentic #179 Andre Iguodala AU RC
2005-06 SPx #126 Louis Williams JSY AU RC

and other rookie autographs.


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.


NBA 2K12 Rookie Update

If you’re an NBA die-hard who can’t wait for NBA action to pick back up on Christmas day, you may be getting your NBA fix through NBA 2K12.  One of the main selling points for me is the inclusion of the new rookie class.  This year’s initial version of the game didn’t include Kyrie Irving, Derrick Williams, and the rest of the 2011 draft picks. Now that the new CBA has been signed, rookies have started signing with their teams. 2K will be putting out a roster update this weekend to include those rookies who have signed contracts.

EDIT: As of Monday morning, 12/12, the following rookies are in the game as part of the roster download on the 2k share- Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson, Kenneth Faried, Jordan Hamilton. Others such as Enes Kanter, Alec Burks, Kemba Walker, and Justin Harper have signed contracts with their teams so I would think they would be included in a roster update soon.

2K also released a ‘Welcome Back’ video.  Is it Christmas yet?