Everyone suspects Karl-Anthony Towns will go 1st to the T-Wolves, and I am thinking that as well. After that, though...it's wide open. The Lakers, 76ers, Knicks and Magic make the rest of the top 5 picks, and all of them have many needs to fill...you don't get to the top of the draft by being a good team. Jahlil Okafor, D'Angelo Russell, Kristaps Porzingus are likely to all go in the top 5, but the order is still anyone's guess. Except maybe the Lakers, but I'm not privy to that info!
I actually have one card of one of the 2015-16 rookies already, but it doesn't count to my NBA collection, for two reasons, either of which would discount it by themselves and both appear on the same card. Those reasons being, 1. it's a college card, which I count as a separate collection, and 2, it's a multi-sport card, which I also count as a separate collection.
It's this one, from Sports Illustrated for Kids.
One other weird thing about this NBA Draft...it is the one where the players were born after I began watching the game, and collecting the cards, both of which date to February 1996. Tyus Jones, up above, was born in May 1996. As far as I know none of the players in the League in 2014-15 were born after February 14th, 1996. It's a weird feeling for sure, but I have no intention of ever leaving the game and the hobby (again- I was away from the hobby from late 2006 through September 2011, and only watched sporadically during that time. I did always watch the draft though, or at least the first few picks. I now consider that one of the bigger mistakes of my life)
The Draft on Cardboard
For the first 45 or so years of the NBA (and BAA, which everyone counts as part of the NBA, myself included) rookies were no big deal. In fact, until 1990-91, the number of players who got cards during their actual rookie season was fairly slim, Topps, sole producer of NBA cards from 1957-81, rarely included players during their first year. Although I'm sure there are more, I can only think of TWO cards issued by Topps during an actual first season- Pete Maravich's card in 1970-71 Topps, which I don't have, and Bill Walton's in 1974-75 Topps, which I got earlier this year via the blog.
1990-91 Hoops was the first set to include images from the NBA Draft. While I have all the cards in the subset, I have only scanned the card of Lionel Simmons to date.
It was also the second set to issue the traditional series 2, after the 1989-90 Hoops release. That would be the norm for the flagship sets, and even some of the secondary sets, until the lockout. The Draft cards were in series 2.
1990-91 also saw the debut of Skybox, which also included a small subset of Draft day photos. Again, Lionel Simmons is the only one I've gotten scanned to date.
1991-92 saw Fleer, Hoops and Skybox joined by Upper Deck. Of the 4 sets that year, only Skybox had a Draft Day subset...they could afford to, at 659 cards, the largest set in NBA history.
1992-93 saw the return of Topps, the birth of Ultra and Stadium Club, and series 2s for all the sets produced except Archives. No main sets featured draft day images, but Hoops included some in their Draft Picks insert.
The Archives set included the first card to ever show the draft board. It had a subset at the start of the set showing the top pick of each draft, the back of the card listing the first round picks.
1993-94 saw much of the same, with the addition of Finest and the oversize Jam Session. There was no set that featured draft day photos although several appeared in the Skybox Draft Picks insert and several into regular base cards, like this one in Ultra.
It was also the end of the Series 2, for the most part. (Upper Deck would continue to produce a Series 2 until 2002-03, the last to be produced. Topps' last Series 2 was 2000-01. Fleer, Hoops, and Collector's Choice saw their last Series 2 issued in 1997-98, while Stadium Club and Skybox saw their last Series 2 during 1998-99. Finest would hold out a series 2 until 1999-00.)
There were no cards clearly from draft day issued in 1998-99. In fact, several major flagship sets, including Fleer and Hoops, saw no rookie cards included at all.
1998-99 also saw the introduction of a fad that still holds true to this day- short printing rookies, many times serially numbering them. SP Authentic started this trend during 1998-99, and it changed the landscape of rookie cards to this day.
1999-00 saw the new normal- predominantly single issue series, with photographs from the last season (or, in some rare cases, several seasons ago). While I am not overly happy with the way the hobby has gone since then, the majority of my collecting was done during 1999-00 through 2004-05, so I have a high percentage of cards from this era. 1999-00 was also when my favorite player, Elton Brand entered the NBA- as the #1 draft pick, no less! With the new format of card production, Draft Day photos were now at an all-time high. Fleer, Topps, Skybox Dominion, MVP (the former Collector's Choice), Victory and Upper Deck all used draft day photos. Topps and Upper Deck included draft day photos in series 1, and gave most of the players action photos in series 2.
Topps, and the standalone but parallel Tipoff, was the only set to use Draft Day photos. Unlike in previous years, Topps Chrome did not use the same photos, but used action photos. That would be the way Topps did it until at least 2004-05. (I only have one pack of 2005-06 Chrome, 4 cards, so I don't know how they did it that year)
2001-02 was a better year than 2000-01, design wise, and more sets used Draft day photography, including Fleer Genuine, Topps and this set, a debut in 2001-02, Topps Pristene. This is a refractor parallel. Most sets by now were using Rookie photo shoot images, if they came out before action photos were available, although some UD sets still used college photos.
The only set to include draft day photos was the Topps flagship set.
I was still collecting fully in 2005-06, but I was starting to lose my patience with the gimmick-of-the-month concept, and with the gameplay itself. (It was getting more trying to be a SportsCenter highlight than actually playing)
I started to trail off in collecting, and I even missed several sets (although I've since gone back and gotten at least one card from each major set). To this day I still consider the 2005-06 draft class to be "new" players as they were the last ones to join the league when I was still fully immersed in it; the fact that some of them have already retired is a cold reminder that the game moves on even if I don't.
Topps included these images for many of the rookies, and I don't know (remember) if they were taken on draft day or some other photo shoot.
In 2006-07, I really wasn't enjoying it anymore. In fact, near the end of 2006, I decided I was done. I don't know now if it was me, or the cards not being as good as they once were, or what, but now I regret it immensely. I didn't look at or touch my cards for many years. I would not touch the majority of them until December 2013. From this point on, I am missing more cards than I have. I truly believed that I would never get any new basketball cards. (I was still collecting NASCAR, provisionally, and I got back into non-sports for the first time since 1996 in 2009). The last box I opened, what I once thought as the true last box, was 2006-07 Rookie Debut, and it included some Draft Day photography.
Totally out of it in 2007-08, I have none that show Draft Day photography but that doesn't mean they don't exist.
2008-09 I have even less cards of. 2008 was my worst year since I began collecting cards in 1988. I only got ONE documented card (a NASCAR card). None of the less than 200 cards from the 2008-09 season depict draft day photography, the few rookie cards I have depicting college images.
2009-10 was the last year where Topps and Upper Deck were allowed to produce cards. NBA gave the license to Panini, exclusively. (A HUGE mistake, but that's a different topic). I have very few cards from this season, less than 100. The rookies I have have college images.
2010-11 was when I started to watch the games regularly again- especially during the playoffs. I resisted getting back into the cards, but I've since gotten some 217 of them after the fact. None depict draft day photography. Panini seems to favor college images, or Rookie Photo Shoot images.
2011-12 saw the second lockout. Smaller than the first, the game play after it actually got better- so much so that I'm as hooked on the game as I was before the first lockout, if not more. Panini chose not to include ANY rookies in 2011-12, for some stupid reason known only to Panini. It's disgraceful.
2012-13 is when I got back into the cards full time. While I get less cards than I once did, I think I appreciate them more. I actually even read them all now! (Back in the early 2000s, I was getting them so fast I didn't have time to read them, really!) Panini issued 44 card packs of Hoops for $2; I couldn't resist that. Now I'm back full time. Panini still favors Rookie Photo Shoot or even Summer League images, but two sets included draft day images. Hoops included them for all 2012-13 rookies, and Prestige included them for some. Hoops was the first set issued that year- it was on the shelves by time I went to Lake George NY in the first week of September, unusually early to have a set on the shelves.
In both 2013-14 and 2014-15 Panini used Rookie Photo Shoot images exclusively.
I began typing this post around 3:30 PM, and it's now 7:07 PM. The Pre-Draft show is already on, and I can't wait to see the new names that I'll be chasing for my collection for years to come!
Thanks for reading!