I really like the Hoops brand- it's always my favorite set of the season, mostly due to the fact that it includes the most players, although it still ignores at least 100. For some reason Panini refuses to make any sets larger than 300 cards. This is my only real complaint about the set, which otherwise is perfect.
The design this year is nice, it features a white border but not the traditional border shape. It sure makes it easy to scan them, which I like- I scanned my entire box in 3 days worth of effort. (I wanted to get it fully scanned before I posted about it). A couple of oddities about the set- a large portion of the cards were taken with the Cavaliers as the opponent. I didn't do any math on it, and indeed I don't have all the cards, but it seems like about 1/3rd of them have the Cavs in the background. Another thing to note, not necessarily an oddity, is that a lot of images are taken looking up at the players- clearly from the photographers you see sitting along the baseline at every game. That isn't a bad thing although it does give some unexpected angles- and some interesting shots of the arena you don't see too often, which I will show below. Photography as a whole is excellent.
Parallels are much harder to get this year, which is a shame as they look better than ever. I got only 1 Green, 3 Gold, 4 Red Back, 2 Silver and 1 Artist Proof. The Green and Gold are my favorites, the Red Back is kind of pointless- I would really rather they got rid of them and gave us more Gold and/or Green. Blue and Red are retail exclusive, and Black are 1/1 so I did not get any of those.
They are packed 13 cards per pack, but marked 12 as they apparently don't count the one-per-pack Panini Dunk info card. They were the only duplicates to be found in the entire box, which is a nice thing. Panini doesn't really have a good track record of not giving you multiple duplicates in a box but this is the second year in a row for Hoops where that was the case. In each pack you get one Rookie and one non-base card, which is either a parallel or an insert.
I know I always go on about base cards, and how great they are, and how I don't chase hits...but I pulled a really great hit from this box and I think I will lead off with that one. It's the best "hit" I've had in the NBA since 2003 when I pulled Kobe Bryant's autograph...
You get two autographs in each hobby box of Hoops on average. Relics appear to be retail exclusive.
My first autograph out of the box...was this one!
Now, here's a look at some base cards.
|2003 Artbox Simpsons Film Cardz #12|
I think my favorite card from the base set, though, is this one- a fairly obscure player, it is only my 2nd card of him-
The rookies this year, in Panini's 5th with the Hoops brand, are done using a different design, which is a first. (Although Panini didn't bother to include any rookies in the lockout shortened 2011-12 so it's only the 4th year of them)
I always enjoy getting the first rookie cards of the year, but with them one-per pack this year I am missing more rookies than veterans by a wide margin. I'm hoping an upcoming retail blaster box purchase will get me the rest of them, but I know it won't- I have not completed any of the Hoops sets in the Panini era yet. Anyway...
Speaking of, the backs of the cards are the same for both veterans and rookies. Unlike previous years of Panini's stewardship of Hoops, they don't include full stats, only going back to 2010-11 for veterans. That's disappointing, but not enough to change my enjoyment of the set.
Now, let's move onto the parallels and inserts, beginning with the parallels.
First up, most common, is the Red Back. The front of the cards are the exact same as the base cards, but instead of being black and white, the backs are red and white. These really don't need to exist. Or at least make the foil on the card front red or something. Serially number them, or make them interesting...otherwise, meh. I pulled 4 of them from my box, and they are Hobby exclusive, I believe- this is the 3rd year they have done them, and the last two years were Hobby Exclusive, so I expect they are again this year.
I pulled three Gold parallels from the box. They are spectacular, but they don't scan well.
The Silver parallels are serially numbered to 299, which is right center in the bottom of the picture. They are actually holofoil, but my scanner picks them up as white. They also look better in person.
Now, the inserts. New this year is that most of the inserts are printed on foil board. My scanner makes foil board light up and look white, but they are really nice looking in person.
I showed the Wiggins autograph above, but here is the Dawson one. There are two autographs per box, and also there is a parallel numbered to 25, which I did not pull this year- I pulled one last year.
Road to the Finals is a great insert. A 100 card set, every game of the Playoffs gets a card, and most of the Champion Warriors, including Steve Kerr, get a card. (Surprisingly, Festus Ezeli was totally ignored by the set- even the Champion subset of this insert!) I pulled 4 cards from this insert, including one of the second round cards which is SN999. The first round is SN2015, going down to the Finals cards which are SN99.
I actually pulled this one from my very first pack of the set. Zaza Pachulia, seen guarding Noah here, is not included in the set. He's now with the Mavericks.
The hardest insert to find falls at one in every 480 packs, and that is Kobe's All-Rookie Team. I managed to pull one!
Overall, I rate this set very highly. I ended up with 262 of the 300 base cards, and I like the set enough that I will be chasing some retail versions of the set-hopefully I will be able to get some of the retail exclusive inserts and parallels, and finish off the base set. Relic cards are retail exclusive, aside from the Blue and Red parallels. Sometimes Panini makes the rookie cards less short printed in retail as well...time will tell. I am sure a future Hot off the Scanner Tray post will have some updates, unless I decide to give the eventual retail purchase it's own post.
My only real complaint is that so many players are ignored. If every team carried only 14 players, which is the norm- there are 420 players in the league at one time. If every team carried 15, as is the NBA allowed maximum, there are 450. For some reason Panini won't go over 300 which is very frustrating to me; there are players who have not gotten cards in years.
They are also hurting their bottom line, because if the set was larger with more players I would be willing to buy more than one box in the attempt to get said cards of other players. Just one set a year- the flagship, this one-should cover every player in the NBA. It's all I'm asking.
I have been trying to talk them into a series 2, but they ignore me. I'm not going to stop trying.
If you want to see all of the cards I got, I have an album created specifically for the box break on my Website.