Arguably the most anticipated basketball release of each calendar year over the last several years has been Panini Prizm Basketball. Panini’s stranglehold over the NBA trading card landscape over the last ten years thanks to an exclusive agreement with the NBA has resulted in the disappearance of once established key rookie sets like the Topps Chrome Refractor and Ultimate Collection Rookie Materials Autographs. In their place rose the new heirs to the throne such as the National Treasures Rookie Patch Auto and the Panini Prizm Silver Prizm.
Silver Prizms and their respective lower numbered parallels are the beck and call of NBA basketball collectors and speculators. We’ve seen meteoric rises of Silver Prizms of some of the game’s newest established stars in recent years. Jayson Tatum silvers were all the rage in 2017-18, while Ben Simmons set new heights in 2016-17. Kristaps Porzingis won collector’s hearts in 2015-16 Prizm, while others waited on Joel Embiid in 2014-15 Prizm. While Giannis Antetokounmpo proved everyone wrong when his 2013-14 Prizm skyrocketed, we can’t forget that the 2012-13 inaugural Prizm set featured a strong crop of rookies including Anthony Davis, Kawhi Leonard, and Kyrie Irving among others.
So now here we are in 2019 and the 2018-19 Panini Prizm market is truly starting to take form. There’s no doubt you’ve probably heard the names of the top rookies all making waves in the NBA this season. But what about the rest? That’s why we’ve got you covered with our list of 20 rookies to watch in 2018-19 Panini Prizm Basketball
Head of the Class
- Luka Doncic – Doncic established himself internationally before making the leap to the NBA and has not disappointed. Averaging nearly 20 points a game this season, his meteoric rise can be attributed not only to his stellar on-court performance, but also his charisma and personality. He has all the makings of an NBA Superstar and is easily the Rookie of the Year up to this point.
- Deandre Ayton – The first overall pick of the 2018 NBA Draft has lived up to the hype, with the big man posting over 16 points and 10 rebounds per game. The Phoenix Suns might be having a rough go at it this season, but a strong young core will eventually tip the scales the other direction.
- Trae Young – The Atlanta Hawks Point Guard came out of the gate strong before cooling down, but still owns an impressive 15+ points and seven assists per game stat line.
- Kevin Knox – Thrust into the scrutiny of the Madison Square Garden faithful, Knox has delivered, posting over 12 points per game with a 35% 3-point percentage. A big market only means big potential for the 19 year old.
- Jaren Jackson Jr. – The fourth overall pick rose his stock tremendously with a 36 point performance back in November, and has elevated his game ever since.
- Marvin Bagley III – Prior to sustaining an injury, we loved the direction the Kings PF was headed in. That brief scope of work was enough to nudge him ahead of our #7
Rounding out the Top 12…
7. Michael Porter Jr. – Speculation is building on Porter, who missed the majority of the 2017-18 season at Missouri and has yet to play in an NBA game. With no timetable for his return, the five star recruit out of high school doesn’t have the stat lines to back it up, but that hasn’t stopped his Silver Prizm from reaching the $50+ mark.
8. Collin Sexton – Sexton suffers the misfortune of playing for a post-Lebron Cleveland Cavaliers team, but he has performed impressively so far, posting almost 15 points per game.
9. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander – The Canadian Point Guard from ‘The 6’ has wasted no time getting acclimated to the west coast. Strong defense and the ability to score earns him a well deserved spot in our top 10.
10. Rodions Kurucs – The Latvian small forward has come on strong as of late, and has played well in limited time this season. He’s posted 24 points twice this season, earning him recognition among collectors and speculators.
11. Lonnie Walker IV – Suffering a torn meniscus in preseason was a setback, but the Spurs love what they see in the shooting guard from the University of Miami. Recently posted a 34 point performance in G-League action.
12. Mo Bamba – The Orlando Magic big man has posted decent numbers in his rookie campaign, logging 1.4 blocks per game so far. It also doesn’t hurt that a friendship with a popular rapper has resulted in off-court attention for Mo.
Don’t Sleep on These Guys..
13. Wendell Carter Jr. – Carter has shown flashes of brilliance mixed with inconsistency under center for the Chicago Bulls. Still, a 28 point performance is noteworthy enough to find his way into our favorite sleeper pick.
14. Miles Bridges – The 12th overall pick of the draft finds his way into #14 on our list as a strong sleeper pick. The versatile small forward has all the athleticism to either erupt into a play maker or carve our a niche as a solid role player.
15. Allonzo Trier – The Knicks shooting guard has garnered attention coming off of the bench, warranting play time as the Knicks look to get young. Suffered a small set back with a hamstring injury a few weeks back.
15. Robert Williams III – Drew attention with two blocks on Anthony Davis in a game back in December. Strong flashes of defense and playing for a large market earns him considerations for our list.
17. Mikal Bridges – Playing along side Deandre Ayton, the small forward from Villanova has performed commendably, posting nearly eight points per game.
18. Anfernee Simons – He has displayed phenomenal talent at the preps, and has the athleticism to boot, but has yet do anything of importance at the NBA level during his rookie campaign. Still, we have the optimism and Pacific Northwest bias to land Simons a spot on this list.
19. Kostas Antetokounmpo – The last name alone is going to draw him attention and speculation. The younger brother of Giannis was the 60th overall pick of the 2018 draft by the Philadelphia 76ers and then traded to the Dallas Mavericks. Let’s be honest, we all know what Giannis did, emerging from the ashes of mediocre stat lines to become a mega star.
20. Josh Okogie – Quickly becoming a T’Wolves fan favorite, Okogie has split time between starting and coming off the bench. We like the shooting guard’s potential.
One of the things we enjoy about these lists involving sleepers is that no one seems to want to tell us if they disagree for the sake of not drawing attention to the prospect they’re stashing! There are 53 rookies total in the 2018-19 Prizm base set, meaning 33 did not make the cut here. Who else deserves consideration? Let us know in the comments below!