Welcome to NBA TopShot! Here’s a quick writeup to help you get started, as collecting moments can be intimidating and expensive. I started collecting NBA TopShot moments in October 2021. Big thanks to those who shared the advice with me in my early days (especially @pirate_arr_kay)
I’m @dgx on the Marketplace if you’d like to send a thank you card.
Packs and Drops
Buying Packs during drops has been the safest way to participate with TopShot. You (likely) won’t lose money, may score valuable cards, and “ripping packs / pax” is legitimately fun.
Without exaggerating, I recommend buying as many $9 – $14 packs during drops that you’re comfortable spending on.
Don’t get discouraged if some packs are just Base moments (generally worth $2 -4 each); occasionally you’ll score a nice Limited Edition card. I pulled one Three-Star Rookie after ~20 packs, which alone covered the cost of all the packs I had purchased to date.
If you’ve been collecting long enough / have a high Collector Score to qualify for Rare and Legendary pack drops, those are profitable (yes, even at $89 – $999). Competition is fierce; you likely won’t get a pack as the counts are quite low.
I’m personally not sure that $19 Archive Set pack available to new collectors is worth it, vs. just adding $19 to Dapper. Your mileage may vary.
In the future, there may be an “unripped Pack marketplace”. That may be an incentive to avoid ripping Base packs, unless you’re building your early collection.
Starting a Collection and Your Favourite Team(s)
Pack drops are infrequent, while the Marketplace will take your money at any time.
Many top players have low-cost ($2-4) 60k Base moments (Giannis, Curry, Luka, etc.) Those are great to collect, particularly to participate in Flash Challenges.
Selecting your “favourite team” and buying the 3 moments required for the Collector Store bonus is great. Beyond that, there’s limited utility in just following your team; your early dollars are often better spent developing breadth:
- Across other NBA teams, particularly top players for each statistical category.
- Across the Base Sets — Series 2 is inexpensive (< $6) and helpful in building a Collector Score quickly.
- Dipping into sets like Hustle & Show or Cool Cats. They’re more expensive, but have value due to low mint counts.
- You can build towards your first set over time … it’s another fun aspect of collecting.
A tool like OTMNFT (see end of this article) helps you track your team sets. I started finishing Base sets for my favourite teams (Raptors, Memphis, OKC) because it’s good fandom … but once again, it’s not a great use of early collecting dollars.
Flash Challenges + Targeting Moments
Flash Challenges require you to collect 5 – 10 moments based on some criteria (most rebounds in every NBA game that night, etc.), and win a reward. Challenges are announced around 5pm EST. They’re exciting and pulse-pounding, but the wild swings in the market during and after the Challenge can be intimidating.
Challenge rewards tend to be high value ($30 – $3000).
But as an early collector, my honest advice is to sit-out and observe the Flash Challenges, while you learn the market mechanics. Collect the top 3 – 4 players from each team that lead in assists, points, attempts, rebounds, etc. per game.
Look to purchase declining moments, after the reward is awarded (“the dip”); it’s a great opportunity to scope important players at a discount. Often the same players come back around for future Challenges.
Buying all the moments you need to complete a Challenge means you will overpay for those moments, and the reward may not cover market losses after the dip.
The advice I got was that you can buy one card if you already have the others. If you need to buy two or more, you are possibly better off selling at peak and re-buying. But gambling is fun, so you do you!
Bottlenecks and Rookies
One can write a PhD dissertation on the impact of “bottleneck” moments and rookies on NBA TopShot and Challenges.
Bottlenecks are low-mint (< 10,000) moment for new players (sometimes rookies) that are good enough to land on a challenge. This includes players like Jonathan Kuminga, Bones Hyland, and Scottie Barnes.
Unlike their superstar peers, these players may only have one moment. If Scottie Barnes lands on a Challenge, his $350 moment becomes a $575 ripper in minutes, pricing many fans out of the Challenge.
These moments get capped in value once a second moment is available on the market (as happened with Desmond Bane in Jan ’22).
There is always the classic allure of a “rookie card”, Three Star Rookie cards. They are priced appropriately in the market. A 7-min-per-game player like Dalano Banton commands $70 (Jan ’22).
My opinion is that certain bottleneck cards are worth their value because that player will just be involved in rewards regularly. Anthony Edwards of the Timberwolves comes to mind as a lower cost / high value pick in early 2022.
Trade Tickets + Locker Packs
You can “Trade In” moments to receive a Trade Ticket. You need 4 Tickets to purchase a Base Locker Pack when they are available. On face value, it seems lossy: trading in 4 moments to get 3. In my experience, it can be worth it.
I value Base Locker Packs at $7. They are not as random as regular Base Packs — moments are generally less desirable, have higher serial numbers, etc. That being said, I’ve pulled several Series 2 moments, great players with high serial numbers, and an Archive Set card in the last few months.
If you have moments worth less than $2, trade them instead. (ex. if have have to discount a moment to $1 to sell it quickly). You might get lucky on a few Locker Packs like I have!
Great Tools on the Internet
Beyond purchasing moments or packs, the majority of my interactions with TopShot are on 3rd party tools.
For a new collector, LiveToken is awesome. It helps you:
- Track the changing values of your own collection, and your for-sale listings.
- Identify lowest priced moments for specific players.
- Spot check the price trend on a moment: is it on the way up, way down, did it spike?
- Check out the value of other people’s collections.
- Hunt for deals. LiveToken Deals is probably the most visited TopShot page on the internet. The competition for those deals is intense!
Watch out for false deals; I find LiveToken overvalues very low (< 500) serial numbers, and low-serial-number volume is reduced, making the moment less “liquid” at it’s fair price.
Own the Moment
OTMNFT is a more advanced tool, but excellent once you start putting together sets and minding collector scores. OTM helps you:
- Manage your Sets and team collections.
- Identifying dropping (and rising) prices, watching trends, etc.
- See metrics on the distribution and the market activity of each moment.
- Excellent Collector Score calculation and targeting tooling. Critical once you want to get to 2500 points to snag Rare packs.
NBanana is a mobile and Chrome app which notifies you of a target price for a moment. This is great if you want to list a moment at a certain price, or buy once it drops. Simple tool, but I find I use it often.