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The 2020-21 crop of basketball cards contains every type of pack you could want. And, with modern basketball cards continuing to command a premium, you want to get in on the action.
Feel free to use this guide as you decide which 2021 NBA trading card packs to buy and avoid.
Basketball Card Packs (Best to Buy in 2021)
Rather than providing only the most expensive packs or packs that will appeal to budget-minded collectors, we’ve provided a variety of worthwhile packs that span the price range.
2020-21 Panini Prizm White Sparkle Basketball Pack
Release date: June 2nd, 2021
2021 Panini Prizm White Sparkle packs contain three cards in each package. Pack breakers most hope to find one of the 49 Rookie Signatures autos (/1) inserted throughout these packs.
The packs themselves are vibrant silver foil. Panini crafted a white hoop-and-backboard logo for each pack. The white design reads “2020-21 Panini Direct Prizm Basketball White Sparkle”.
Visually, the base Panini Prizm White Sparkle card has the multi-colored reflective quality of countless small diamonds. The reflective overlay has the dotted nature of a card left outside in the rain—acid rain, in this case.
The background behind each player is in a rounded “X” pattern, with the player’s team color serving as the background’s trim. Some cards have unique design touches.
Rookie Signatures cards feature a white nameplate and a blue ink autograph. The design is wholly unique from the base cards but maintains the White Sparkle aesthetic.
The value of your White Sparkle card will generally depend on the rookie it features—LaMelo Ball, Tyrese Haliburton, Anthony Edwards, and James Wiseman are among the top White Sparkle Rookies Signatures.
Panini originally sold these packs exclusively online, with a starting sales price of $500. The packs have held their value well, and in most cases have gained in value.
Prizm parallels have some of the highest value floors in collecting today—the market favors both unopened White Sparkle packs and individual White Sparkle cards.
2020-21 Panini Donruss Basketball Fat Pack and Hybrid Packs
Release date: September 17th, 2021
2020-21 Panini Donruss Optics H2 packs contain 10 cards. Being a Hybrid set, there are many potential cards that you could pull.
Breakers should know that hit rates for rare parallels and other high-value cards are generally lower for hybrid packs than a hobby or retail pack.
For this reason, you can get 2020-21 Panini Donruss Optic H2 Hybrid packs for less than Panini Donruss Optics hobby or retail pack.
Rated Rookie Signatures are popular cards from this set, with Gold Vinyl (/1), Green (/5), and Gold (/10) parallels being the rarest. Rated Rookie Signatures Pulsar is a parallel exclusive to H2 Hybrid packs.
Rated Rookies Signatures Pulsar and Signature Series Pulsar cards are exclusive to H2 Hybrid packs.
Pulling an Anthony Edwards or LaMelo Ball Red Pulsar, Blue Pulsar, or Gold Pulsar (/10) parallel could also be the ticket to strong ROI from your pack.
With this Hybrid pack, you accept the lower hit rate, but you take the gamble that the lower purchase price could produce immense returns if you pull a valuable card or two.
2020-21 Panini Prizm NBA Basketball Cello Pack
Release date: March 31st, 2021
The 2020-21 Panini Prizm NBA Basketball Cello packs contain 15 cards (versus the standard Prizm packs, which contain 12 cards). Panini promises buyers three Red, White, and Blue Prizms in each pack.
You may realistically hope for a Base or Silver Prizm featuring a well-regarded rookie. The design of these Prizms is consistent, with a metallic-looking sequence of borders and lines making the general shape of an “X’, framing the player image in the middle.
Like Hybrid packs, Cello packs generally have lower hit rates than standard hobby packs and other parallel-specific packs. We include Cello packs on the list because a) hits do occur, however rare they may be, and b) they appeal to everyman collectors.
Cello packs may contain the same range of cards that you’d find in Panini Prizm packs. Again, be aware that the ratio of high-quality to low-value cards may be less when you buy a Cello pack—the price reflects this.
That said, some of the most coveted 2020-21 Panini Prizms include Rookie Signatures parallels featuring LaMelo, Tyrese, Anthony, Obi, and the other usual suspects. White Sparkle (/1) and Black (/1) parallels are the dream here, but you’d probably settle for a non-numbered Silver.
Fast Break Rookie Autographs parallels come in Black (/1) and Gold (/10), but Gold parallels are exclusive to hobby packs—sorry!
2020-21 Panini Prizm Cellos are not an expensive pack and tend to be readily available. You may choose to buy one or more hoping that you pull a rare parallel or prominent rookie card that makes your purchase price more than worthwhile.
2020-21 Panini NBA Hoops Basketball Packs
Release date: February 3rd, 2021
Each NBA Hoops pack contains 8 cards.
2020-21 NBA Hoops packs have more appealing pack artwork than typical bland foil alternatives. You get a player image (either Ja Morant or LaMelo Ball), cool blue trim, and various emblems and pack info.
Hey, when you’re buying a pack, these details may matter to you.
The base card is muted, with a central player image, a rounded interior border, a team logo, an “RC” emblem, and team-colored accents. Artist Proof Black (/1), Hyper Gold (/10), and Artist Proof Gold (/10) base parallels are a welcomed sight for collectors.
Autographs are few and far between in this set, though finding a Hot Signatures Rookie or Rookie Ink card could cover your investment in this pack—and then some.
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Red Rookie Ink and Hot Signatures Rookie auto parallels are numbered to 25. Finding a prominent rookie in these parallels is a best-case scenario for those who buy an NBA Hoops pack.
Inserts and parallels average one per pack.
2020-21 Panini Revolution Basketball Packs
Release date: March 10th, 2021
Each Panini Revolution pack contains five cards.
Panini definitely went for it with the design of the base card. A holographic backdrop is overlayed with dot patterns and perpendicular line segments that would work well as Ron Burgundy’s wallpaper.
Player images are strong in this set, and the coordination of team colors for each player card is a nice touch.
There are also a number of wonky inserts that you might pull, including Liftoff!, Vortex, Galactic, and Rookie Revolution (among others).
Various parallels of the 2021 LaMelo Ball Panini Revolution RC #140 have sold well, and pack breakers will certainly keep an eye out for this one. Lava (/10), Cubic (/50), and Sunburst (/75) parallels are especially noteworthy.
2021 Panini Revolution rookie auto cards do exist, with the Rookie Autograph set being noteworthy (as always). Kaleido Rookie Autograph parallels are one of one, while Infinite Rookie Auto parallels are numbered to 25, making each a hot ticket.
Rookie Autographs Chinese New Year cards are exceedingly rare, numbered between 1 and 50 copies depending on the featured player.
Anthony Edwards’ Rookie Auto Chinese New Year card is numbered to 1, as are Obi Toppin’s and Tyrese Haliburton’s. LaMelo Ball’s is numbered to 2.
Panini Revolution does not guarantee a certain number of autographs per pack. This makes it something of a gambler’s pack. This also makes a hit is all the more exhilarating, right?
You never really know what you’re going to pull when you crack the seal on a 2020-21 Panini Revolution pack, so you can get said pack at a very reasonable price point.
2020-21 Panini Donruss Basketball Packs
Release date: March 3rd, 2021
2020-21 Panini Donruss Basketball packs cater to the budget-conscious collector, offering a whopping 30 cards per pack at a comparatively low price point.
Choice packs have 10 cards in each and may offer a higher rate of autograph and parallel hits. Choice packs may also contain unique Choice parallels.
If you had to define this set with a single word, it might be “variety”.
Rated Rookie cards are always a fixture of Donruss Basketball and remain so in this year’s set. Secure a Rated Rookie Black Laser (/1), Gold Laser (/10), or Red & Blue Laser (/15) parallel, and you may just find yourself in the money.
Tyrese Haliburton’s Gold Choice parallel #231 (/10) has proven to sell for a significant amount, and it doesn’t even have an autograph.
Rated Rookies Signatures feature on-card, blue-ink autographs and come in a variety of both numbered and unnumbered parallels. These are cards that each pack buyer hopes to unveil.
Other notable pulls may include rare parallels from the Dominator Signatures set and Hall Dominators Signature set (Larry Bird or AI being among the featured Hall of Famers).
This set offers a lot of cards, and some really cool-looking ards, but not a massive hit rate for autographs and parallels.
You can snag a pack at a reasonable price, but will generally pay more (and perhaps get more) for Choice packs.
2020-2021 Panini Contenders Basketball Packs
Release date: May 19th, 2021
Expect 10 cards when you buy a pack of 2020-21 Panini Contenders Basketball packs. Cello Fat Packs contain 22 cards.
The pack’s art is solid, featuring a multi-colored backdrop and an image of Luka Doncic dribbling left-handed.
The base card in this set is in the Season Ticket format, with each of the 100 veteran cards designed as if it were the entry pass to an NBA game.
This “Ticket” format extends to the Rookie Ticket set, which includes some of the most coveted cards in the set.
Rookie Ticket Autographs are the—pardon the pun—ticket to a winning pack break. Printing Plate (/1), Championship (/1), and Cracked Ice (/25) Rookie Ticket parallels are all big-money cards.
Other notable subsets that you may pull include Contenders Autographs, Legendary Contenders Autographs (numbered to 199 or fewer), MVP Contenders Autographs, and Sophomore Contenders Autographs (numbered to 199 or fewer).
As usual, you’re looking for an autograph here, with the rarest possible parallel Being the Ideal.
Desmond Bane’s Gold Shimmer Auto #116 (/1) has sold for a significant amount. If you get a pack from a FOTL box and pull an even more prominent rookie, you can bet on a strong return.
2020-21 Panini Contenders Basketball packs are not especially expensive, with even 22-card Cello Fat Packs available for a relative pittance.
2020-21 Panini Absolute Memorabilia Basketball Card Packs
Release date: March 24th, 2021
2020-21 Panini NBA Absolute Memorabilia packs come with five cards in each.
This is a set focused heavily on memorabilia and autograph cards. This makes for a number of nice cards, including Tools of the Trade Signatures.
Breakers may expect to pull an autograph here, and they may have their wish granted in the form of a Rookie Autograph, Future Signature, Veteran Autograph, or Retired Autograph.
Base cards in this auto and patch-heavy set may be something of a bummer, more so than in most other packs on this list. A Black (/1) or Green (/5) base parallel may be the saving grace when you don’t pull an auto or patch.
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Future Signatures L5 parallels are one-of-ones and pulling any one of these could make break day feel like your birthday.
Buyers pay a premium price for this pack, and you may expect to find at least one high-value card when you break the foil. Ideally, you’ll get two or more strong cards for your money.
2020-21 Panini National Convention Case Breaker packs
Release date: July 28th, 2021
The 2021 Panini National Convention Case Breaker packs are a promotional release that debuted at the 2021 National Sports Collectors Convention (NSCC) in Chicago.
Both Thick and Thin packs are available.
Along with its Silver Packs, Panini created the Case Breaker packs as a treat for those who attended the convention.
The set is unique in that it combines athletes from the worlds of basketball, baseball, and football. Most of the cards are numbered, with some limited to one copy each.
The limited print runs give this set some exclusivity—fitting considering that this set was released exclusively at the NSCC. However, you’ll likely need a prominent rookie card, autograph, or very rare card to see significant returns.
Base cards have a print run of 199. They have a comic book cover-style design, with blue-and-white block lettered “Case Breaker” font setting the tone.
A thin yellow outer border encases an interior background that runs a red-black-orange gradient. Rookie cards contain the “Rated Rookie” emblem, while an unconventional Panini logo is akin to the DC and Marvel comic book branding.
15 Case Breaker base rookie cards are limited to 99, while some rookies also have a base card that is numbered 199. Obviously, the lower-numbered rookie cards are preferable.
The Manufactured Patch Autographs cards are highlights of this set. Each card is numbered 10, and there are only 8 cards in total.
The most prominent athletes featured as Manufactured Patch Autos are Zion Williamson, Ja Morant, and Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. These are cards that you hope to pull.
Massive Memorabilia Prime and Memorabilia Prime cards are also a welcomed sight for breakers, as each card is limited to one copy.
Dame Lillard Memorabilia Prime #DL, Kawhi Leonard Memorabilia Prime #KL are standouts from the Massive Memorabilia Prime and Memorabilia Prime checklists.
We included this set on the list because, if you pull a one-of-one card of Manufacturered Patch Auto, you could make out very well. It’s also a unique setting with a fun look, which never hurts.
2020-21 Panini Chronicles Basketball Cards packs
Release date: November 24th, 2021
With 8 cards per pack, the 2020-21 Panini Chronicles Basketball set offers a hodgepodge of different card designs and concepts. This is a set for breakers who like to be kept on their toes.
Panini packages several of its sets into the Panini Chronicles packs, and you may pull a Prizm, Donruss Optic, Limited, Gold Standard, Titanium, or another card from this set.
Panini’s Gala cards are included in the set but are comparatively rare pulls. For this reason, finding a Gala is a priority for those who buy a pack of 2020-21 Panini Chronicles.
Autographs remain a staple of the set, and top rookie autographs are—as always—the needles that you seek in the Chronicles haystack.
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The Rookie Cornerstones cards are primo, featuring both a signature and a jersey patch segmented into four window panes.
Phoenix Rookie Autos, Hometown Heroes Rookie Autographs, and Rookies & Stars Airborne Signatures also offer the chance to snag a rookie auto from this set.
Breakers won’t complain if they pull a Prizm National Pride Signatures card (Luka, anyone?) or a Playoff Hall of Fame Autograph, with Magic Johnson being a notable card.
With such variety and the potential to pull a prominent rookie autograph, we had to include the 2020-21 Panini Chronicles packs on our list.
Best Autographed Basketball Card Packs (2021)
Here are the best packs to buy for autos:
- Prizm White Sparkle Basketball Packs
- Prizm Cello Packs
- Contenders Basketball Packs
Most Expensive Basketball Card Packs
- Prizm White Sparkle Basketball Packs
- Prizm Cello Packs
- Contenders Basketball Packs
Basketball Card Packs for Sale (Where to Buy)
3 Best Places Online To Buy Basketball Cards
3 Best Retailers To Buy Basketball Cards
Without a doubt, the best luck we have had buying packs of basketball cards is Target with Walmart coming in a very close second place.
CVS is third but will have some high-end packs when in stock.
Which basketball card packs are the best?
The Prizm basketball card packs are the best basketball card packs overall when taking the cost of the pack and the value of the cards received into consideration.
How many basketball cards come in a pack?
The number of cards in a NBA basketball pack of cards depend on the brand and year of the pack. Email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will help find the amount per pack.
Does Dollar Tree have basketball cards?
Yes, Dollar Tree does have basketball cards packs for sale but not all of them. Please check the status by visiting the Dollar Tree website or call them before making a visit.
What are the best panini basketball card packs to buy?
The best panini basketball card packs to buy are Prizm packs as these packs can furnish a high end base rookie card of the best young player for any given year.