Going into the 2021-22 NBA Draft, Cade Cunningham was one of the top rookies on offer. So it came as no surprise to many that he went as the first overall pick to the Detroit Pistons. As a result, Cade Cunningham rookie cards are already popular with collectors/investors.
Due to his rise to prominence playing for Oklahoma State, Cunningham is likely to see a lot of success. His performances for Oklahoma State won him two awards in his first season, the Big 12 Freshman of the Year and the Big Player of the Year.
On top of that, he received the Wyman Tisdale Award, the Sporting News Freshman of the Year, and the NCAA Division Freshman of the Year Honors.
You start to understand why there is so much hype put on Cade Cunningham’s name through accolades alone.
While he was tearing it up on the court for his high school and state teams, he played his part as the USA won the FIBA Under 19 World Cup. He led the scoring in the finals.
One of the most positive things people say about Cunningham is that some pundits believe he has all the tools to be as successful as Lebron James.
He has all the skills required to become a lead scorer for the Pistons and an excellent defensive skillset, shown with crucial rebounds, steals, and blocks.
With all the interest in Cunningham and how his career may go, many collectors are looking to get in on the act early and get their hands on some of the top early rookie card picks.
This article will take you through the top six released so far this season.
Top Six Early Rookie Card Picks: Cade Cunningham Rookie Cards
The “Top Six Early Picks” rookie card category includes cards you can purchase early in the collecting season.
1. 2021 NBA Hoops Cade Cunningham Rookie Card #201 (Shop on eBay)
Panini releases the 2021 Cade Cunningham NBA Hoops rookie card early in the collecting season. This card is also popular throughout the season.
The NBA Hoops card features Cunningham in his blue Detroit Pistons uniform which collectors/investors love.
The card features Cunningham dribbling the basketball in his right hand. His image is framed by a classic NBA Hoops card design. The NBA Hoops logo is on the bottom right and the ‘RC’ shield is on the top right of the card.
Panini manufactured several inserts/parallels of the 2021 NBA Hoops Cade Cunningham rookie card including:
NBA Hoops is an iconic set from Panini and is a great early option for collectors/investors.
2. 2021 Chronicles Draft Picks Cade Cunningham Rookie Card (Shop on eBay)
The second card to feature on this top five early picks list is the 2021-22 Panini Chronicles Draft Pick Cade Cunningham rookie cards. The Chronicles Draft Picks consists of various Panini cards, such as Select, Donruss, Hoops, and more.
In each Chronicles Draft Picks, Cade Cunningham is in his Oklahoma State jersey. Each card brand uses its unique image of Cade, but they all show him wearing his state colors.
The Chronicles Draft picks get released earlier than the NBA versions each year, meaning they have added value for the first few months of the season.
Here are some top examples for you to pick from:
- Donruss Rated Rookies #26
- Chronicles Draft Picks #1
- Mosaic Base Set #251
- Select Base Set #276
- Hoops Retro Base Set #51
3. 2021 National Treasures Collegiate (Base) (Shop on eBay)
There are several types of card collectors. One type enjoys picking cards full of bright colors to catch people’s eyes. Other collectors would instead pick cards with a more traditional design, with simplistic, clean designs.
If you consider yourself more of a “traditional” card collector, the 2021-22 National Treasures Cade Cunningham rookie card is a fantastic choice.
The 2021-22 National Treasures Cade Cunningham rookie card has many traditional aspects. The design is minimalistic but stylish, resulting in a beautiful rookie card. Other Cade Cunningham cards sometimes depict him on the left or the right of the card, but he is front and center in this card, with a symmetrical background.
Above the Cade Cunningham, action shot sits the National Treasures logo, and the background colors reflect the primary colors of Oklahoma State.
4. 2021 Immaculate Collegiate Patch/Relic (Shop on eBay)
Next, we have the 2021-22 Immaculate Collegiate Cade Cunningham Patch rookie card. This rookie patch card emphasizes the patch rather than the player, which is the style used across the 2021-22 Immaculate Collegiate set.
Cade Cunningham is dribbling the ball up the court for Oklahoma State in the top right corner of the card.
The Immaculate brand is widely considered one of the best brands of basketball cards and is frequently searched for on eBay.
This rookie card has added value due to the large patch, which features front and center. Be wary though, these rookie cards of top players like Cunningham are hard to get your hands on and widely sought after by collectors.
5. 2021 National Treasures Collegiate RPA (Shop on eBay)
The fifth card is the 2021-22 National Treasures Collegiate Cade Cunningham RPA. This card is one of the most expensive Cade Cunningham rookie cards released to date.
There are several reasons why this card is so highly valued. Firstly, this is one of the few rookie cards that show Cade Cunninghams’ autograph. As many rookie cards for the 21-22 seasons are not available yet, signed Cunningham cards are rare. On top of that, he has a beautiful signature!
Another reason this card is so highly valued because it falls under the National Treasures rookie brand. National Treasures cards are some of the best basketball cards you can purchase.
Lastly, this rookie card shows off a patch from his time playing for Oklahoma State. It is no secret that NBA patches are more valuable than collegiate ones, but since no NBA patches have come out yet, these collegiate patches are highly valuable right now.
6. 2021 Immaculate Collegiate RPA (Shop on eBay)
The final Cade Cunningham card to feature on this list is the 2021-22 Immaculate Collegiate Cade Cunningham RPA. This rookie card might be the fifth and final card on this list, but it is one of the most valuable and has a high price tag.
The Immaculate Collegiate RPA is another card that shows off Cade Cunninghams’ beautiful autograph. To the right of the signature, Cunningham is dribbling the ball up the court, wearing his Oklahoma State jersey.
Beside Cade sits a patch from his Oklahoma State jersey.
As with all Immaculate Collegiate RPA’s, this card has a white background, merged with Oklahoma State’s primary jersey colors.
2021-22 Cade Cunningham Rookie Cards Preview
Most long-time card collectors/investors know that the earliest cards released are rarely the most popular long-term. As a result, some collectors/investors choose to wait until more popular sets are released.
To help you plan for your favorite sets, we forecasted rough release dates of some of the most popular sets. Please note that we based these forecasts on historical release dates, not insider knowledge from Panini.
January – June 2022: 2021-22 Popular Panini NBA Basketball Releases
2021-22 Prizm Draft Picks Basketball: Panini releases Prizm in both NBA and Collegiate versions each year. Panini plans to release the collegiate collection first. This set goes on sale on February 2, 2022.
2021-22 Donruss Basketball: Donruss is well-known for its popular “Rated Rookie” cards. This is a popular set and Panini will release this set on February 9, 2022.
2021-22 Panini Contenders Basketball: Contenders is popular for its Rookie Ticket autograph cards. Panini plans to release this set on March 2, 2022.
2021-22 Prizm Basketball: Prizm can be considered the flagship NBA release each year. This set is trendy and will feature many rookie ‘chase’ cards. We expect Panini to release this set sometime between March and May 2022.
2021-22 Panini Crown Royale: This set features popular “Kaboom!” inserts, but the set is otherwise less popular than others featured on this list. Panini may release this set between May and June 2022.
July 2022 – February 2023: 2021-22 Popular Panini NBA Basketball Releases
2021-22 Select Basketball: Select features multiple base card ‘levels’ and a chrome finish that collectors love. Panini may release this set in July or August 2022.
2021-22 Spectra Basketball: Spectra is popular for its “Color Blast” inserts. Panini may release this set in July or August 2022.
2021-22 National Treasures Basketball: National Treasures is among the most expensive and popular Panini sets. This set is especially well-known for its RPA cards. Panini may release this set in August or September 2022.
2021-22 Donruss Optic Basketball: Donruss Optic is the high-end variation of the base Donruss set. Optic features a glossy finish that collectors/investors love. Panini may release this set in September or October 2022.
2021-22 Mosaic Basketball: Mosaic is a relatively new set, but is already popular with collectors/investors likely due to its glossy chrome finish. Panini may release this set in November or December 2022.
2021-22 Flawless Basketball: Flawless is a super-premium set that features some of the most highly sought-after and expensive cards in the hobby. Panini may release this set in January 2023.
Cade Cunningham Rookie Card Risk and Upside Analysis
Note: please keep in mind that all sports card investments carry risk, and you should always complete your own analysis prior to investing in sports cards.
We classify Cade Cunningham rookie cards as High Risk with High Upside potential. Cunningham’s rookie cards will be among the most expensive in his rookie class because he was the number one pick. That said, his talent suggests he also has significant upside. With no track record in the NBA, Cunningham’s rookie card values naturally carry many risks. Still, if he can realize his potential, collectors/investors may have the opportunity to see rookie card values appreciate.
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