As someone who has always focused solely on Baseball cards, I've never ventured out and explored the products available for other sports. In addition to the MLB, I follow the NFL and NBA quite a bit, though not as much as Baseball.
I've spent the last couple of weeks concentrating on MLB predictions, so I hadn't thought to write my first ever non-Baseball post until today. While purchasing some dime cards at my LCS a couple of Saturday's ago, I, for the first time in my life, purchased a box of Basketball cards.
The card shop had a mega box of 2017-18 Panini Donruss Optic available for a reasonable price. The high-caliber rookie class of this season along with the promise of 10 packs and 4 cards per pack captivated my attention.
I have some knowledge of the Panini Donruss Optic and Prizm products, so buying this mega box as my first Basketball card purchase of all-time made logical sense. Not only is it always exciting to open packs of cards, but I was also ecstatic to see what Panini cards would look like with licensing rights.
I've always believed that Panini is capable of doing an excellent job with their products, especially if they can show team logos and names. This helped to make this box break even more exciting even though I didn't necessarily know what to expect from the box.
The base set, although visually appealing, isn't the focal point of the '17-18 Donruss Optic set. As far as the mega boxes go, the set focuses more on the Rated Rookie cards that appear at least twice per pack. By the end of the box break, I only ended up with around 7 veteran base cards. Rated Rookies, for comparison's sake, appeared over 20 times.
Although it's not a drastic departure from the base set design, the Rated Rookie cards make up a significant portion of the set. Like Topps Baseball card products, the value lies with the rookie cards and any colored parallels that you can pull.
Fortunately, the red and yellow parallels in these mega boxes fall at approximately 2 per pack, so I was able to get a good look at the different cards that this product has to offer. Before I get to the parallel cards, I'll preview the different insert cards available in this set.
Centered around the theme of "Kings," this set features a couple of different subsets which explore that theme.
The most common of these inserts are the Court Kings cards, resembling the original Diamond Kings cards from the original 80s Donruss sets. If these cards are anything like the DK cards, 1 player per team should be represented in this insert set.
Out of the 4 insert cards that I pulled, Ben Simmons is definitely the best name even though this card isn't (technically) from his rookie season. Kawhi Leonard's not as hot as he used to be back in San Antonio, but he's been playing pretty well, trying to lead the Toronto Raptors to the Eastern Conference Finals.
While Court Kings seems to focus on the best players in the game, Rookie Kings honors the best rookie players from the '17-18 season. In a rookie class that featured guys like Jayson Tatum and Donovan Mitchell, John Collins wouldn't have been my first choice.
However, the 21-year old from Wake Forest is almost averaging a double-double with 19 points and 9.5 total rebounds in just his 2nd NBA season. He, along with Trae Young and their future 1st round draft pick, represents the future for the Atlanta Hawks organization.
The final of the 3 insert sets, Hall Kings, commemorates NBA legends that have been enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame, located roughly an hour and a half away from me in Springfield, MA. Although my knowledge of the NBA is somewhat limited when compared to the MLB, Julius Erving is a name that I certainly recognize.
Over the course of his 11-year NBA career for the 76ers, Erving accomplished a ton of different feats, including an NBA MVP in 1981 and a championship in '83. And while the 3 "Kings" sets look a bit too similar for my taste, I appreciate the fact that each set has its own set theme.
The holo parallels, appearing at roughly 1:5 packs, are more desired in the Panini Prizm product where I believe they're called "silver parallels." In Donruss Optic, however, they're not as sought after nor are they all too common, for I only ended up with 2 total; 1 veteran in Jimmy Butler and a Rated Rookie, Frank Jackson.
As I previously alluded to, the mega box-exclusive red and yellow parallels are the main attraction of the 2017-18 Panini Donruss Optic mega boxes. Averaging out at around 20 per box, these cards fall at roughly 2 per pack and feature all the big name rookies from 2 year's ago.
One of the bigger names from the '17-18 season, Lauri Markkanen was one of the many players that I desired out of this mega box. Along with his red and yellow Rated Rookie, I ended up with 19 others.
Obviously, not every rookie is a huge name or a top draft pick, so the majority of the red and yellow parallels that I pulled were lesser name players. This didn't upset me all too much, however, as I was able to land a couple of Boston Celtics, my favorite team.
Following a stellar season last year, expectations were high for the Celtics after LeBron's departure from the East. The pre-season predictions had Boston reaching the NBA finals with ease, but the road has been unexpectedly difficult.
Now, with the Celtics currently occupying the 4 seed in their conference, it's going to come down to how well this team is able to perform as a whole once the playoffs come along.
Even with their being 20 red and yellow rookie parallels in this box, I wasn't able to land a prized Donovan Mitchell or Jayson Tatum Rated Rookie card. Still, that didn't stop me from landing cards of other talented rookies from this monster of an NBA draft, including the 2nd overall pick, Lonzo Ball.
The best rookie of the entire box, like Lonzo, also plays for the Lakers. However, unlike Lonzo Ball, he wasn't one of the top NBA draft picks coming out of college.
Aside from it being the best rookie card that I pulled from the mega box, this Kyle Kuzma Rated Rookie card will go down as my favorite card from the entire box. The parallel which is already extremely colorful is further enhanced by the bright Lakers jersey.
Although non-numbered Optic parallels don't hold a super high value, I'll always associate this card with my first, but possibly not last, Basketball card purchase of my life.