What a wild ride it has been this December with the release of the 2019-20 Panini Prizm NBA Basketball Card Set. This set was expected to set the hobby on fire, partly due to the rising value of last year’s set, and partly due to a strong rookie crop led by ZION MANIA! Zion Williamson has yet to make his NBA regular season debut for the New Orleans Pelicans, but that hasn’t stopped the Zion hype train from absolutely dominating the hobby this fall!
Zion is certainly a polarizing figure, and only time will tell if he’s the next in the lineage of NBA legends like Lebron James and Michael Jordan, or if he’s the next “what could have been” ala Greg Oden and Kwame Brown. Once you get past the Zion hype, 2019-20 Prizm NBA is a set chalked full of potential future stars, with perhaps a stronger rookie class than even last year’s basketball products. We’d like to delve into that discussion and present our 10 NBA Rookies to watch from 2019-20 Panini Prizm NBA.
Obviously the biggest name in the product, Zion Williamson follows Luka Doncic from last year as the top rookie (for now) in Prizm. With his ungraded silver prizm RC’s fetching over $500 out of the gate, we haven’t seen prices like that upon a Prizm release since Ben Simmons in the 16-17 Prizm set. Williamson is a 6’6″ 285lb generational athlete who backed up the hype in his one year at Duke, posting 22 points per game on 68% field goal percentage. He’s expected to make his NBA debut in early 2020.
The clear-cut second best player in NBA Prizm just happens to also be the #2 overall pick of the 2019 NBA Draft. Ja Morant has already transitioned beautifully to the NBA level, averaging about 18 points and six assists per game through the Memphis Grizzlies first 17 games as of this writing. He’ll have a good head start for NBA Rookie of the Year over Zion and the rest of the field if he can continue that production. With his Silver prizms already doing $200+, there is no secret as to the talent Morant possesses.
This Gonzaga Bulldogs standout has the potential to be an international NBA mega star thanks to his stellar play as well as his Japanese heritage. All Rui Hachimura has done since arriving in the NBA is provide much needed stability to the Washington Wizards front court. With a statement double-double in his NBA debut and his continued progression, Rui has looked like the most NBA ready player out of the 2019 Draft so far. $100 appears to be the ground floor for his silver prizm RC’s currently.
The second Duke player to make our list, the Canadian-born RJ Barrett is seemingly unphased playing on a New York Knicks team in otherwise complete disarray, having just fired their Head Coach David Fizdale. The Knicks has been trying to find their way for quiet some time, but putting the ball in Barrett’s hands seems like a good start. Through 20+ games, he’s average 14 points as the team’s starting shooting guard.
The seventh overall pick in the draft by the Chicago Bulls is already a record setter, hitting SEVEN three pointers in a single quarter against the New York Knicks on November 12th. That feat immediately elevated Coby White‘s stock as a long range threat. White has nothing to prove when it comes to scoring, but improvements playing off the ball will help White evolve into a feared guard the Bulls desperately need.
The fourth overall pick from Virginia, De’Andre Hunter has meshed well with Trae Young in Atlanta as the Hawks look to build a future contender. He posted a ridiculous six steal performance in mid-November loss to Phoenix, and followed that up with two 25+ point games in a three game span about a week later. Hunter’s early season performance has flown under the radar of other similar performing rookies, making him an excellent buy-low candidate from 2019-20 Prizm out of the gate.
This Kentucky Wildcat already has a legendary last name, now it’s time to see if his skills can transcend to that status as well. Tyler Herro started off his rookie campaign strong, pouring in 29 points in his fourth game, and he continues to remain productive in other areas of the stat sheet as well. Shooting nearly 40% from down town, the Miami Heat have caught the NBA by surprise this season. If they can continue this run into the Spring, Herro’s ETA to becoming a household name will definitely be fast-tracked.
With Kevin Durant gone, Klay Thompson recovering from surgery, and Steph Curry going down to injury early in the season, the Golden State Warriors needed someone to step up. Eric Paschall, a 2nd-round pick, answered the call, averaging over 17 points a game. This may be a throwaway year for the Warriors, but they picked up a major piece for the future in Paschall, who’s extended time on the court this season will benefit him tremendously when the Warriors are back at full strength for another championship run in the future.
The Charlotte Hornets are quietly building themselves a strong team through the last two draft years. Adding PJ Washington to a potent starting lineup featuring sophomores Devonte Graham and Miles Bridges, this Kentucky Wildcats standout will have all the support he needs to evolve at the NBA Level. The 12th overall pick dropped 27 points in his NBA debut, and has been a consistent producer ever since. As this young core continues to grow together in Charlotte, they may be only one or two pieces away from being a major playoff threat.
The final member of the big three to be drafted from Duke in 2019, Cam Reddish has not quite found his footing yet for the Atlanta Hawks. Though he has been outshined up to this point by fellow rookie DeAndre Hunter, Reddish still has high upside, which is why he was taken 10th overall by the Hawks. Reddish showed a glimmer of that talent in early December with a 25 point performance in a loss to the Brooklyn Nets.
Snubbed by Panini: Kendrick Nunn
We couldn’t wrap up this article without talking about Kendrick Nunn, who as of this blog post has been a noticeable omission from all checklists with the exception of one Panini Instant card. If the rumors are true, and Panini releases 2019-20 Prizm Series 2 Basketball in 2020, Nunn will likely be the centerpiece of the set in terms of true rookie cards. The undrafted Miami Heat guard is averaging over 15 points per game and making a case for rookie of the year!
There were many deserving players who could have rounded out our top 10 who’s first rookie cards are included in 2019-20 Panini Prizm. Those names include Brandon Clarke, Darius Garland, Jordan Poole, Jarrett Culver, Cameron Johnson, Jaxson Hayes, and Nickeil Alexander-Walker. Each of these players posses break out potential to be the next high dollar silver in the set, and will be ones to watch closely moving forward.
Sleepers to Stash
Delving even further into the checklist, some buy-low sleeper rookies in the product who have shown flashes of on court prowess are Matisse Thybulle, Goga Bitadze, Kevin Porter Jr., Darius Bazley, Carsen Edwards, Bruno Fernando, Admiral Schofield, and Cody Martin.
You never know who will be the next rookie to rise through the ranks and come up big for their team. Not all of these players will have outstanding careers, but history tells us that there is always one or two players who make it worth it to dig through those old boxes of forgotten rookie card of years past!