Monday, October 26, 2015

Box Break Review: 2015-16 Hoops

The new NBA season is here, as the first card release has hit and my mom gave me a box of it as a late birthday present- really made me happy! Originally it was scheduled to come out on the 14th, but they pushed it back to the 21st. She got the box to me on the 22nd.

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!
This is a card I could not afford to buy as a single had I not pulled it! Wiggins is considered the best talent to come into the NBA since LeBron James, and he is the defending Rookie of the Year (Not that you can really win that again). The T-Wolves have a bright future with him, Karl-Anthony Towns (who, despite being on the packaging, I did not get a single card of) and others, although it's expected that they will not do all that well in 2015-16, a couple of years down the road, they are expected to be contenders. I was pretty shocked when I got this one- autographs come out of the packs backwards, and when I realized it was an autograph, I closed my eyes so I wouldn't see who it was until I turned it over- and what I shock I got! My other autograph came out of the very last pack I opened- and it was the first card I have of Branden Dawson, a rookie of the Clippers, who did not get a card in the base set. He is one of several rookies who are included in the autograph checklists but not in the base set.

Now, here's a look at some base cards.
#244, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, was the first card out of the box. It's the only one I noticed that the photo is slightly blurry on- an issue Panini has had sometimes- this year's set is an improvement.

#4- Langston Galloway. He joined the Knicks on a 10-day contract last season and ended up earning a starting spot before the end of the 10-day contract, something I can't recall ever happening before. This is my first card of him.

#88 Sideshow Bob, I mean, Robin Lopez. Seriously, he's got a Sideshow Bob thing going on here. Am I right?
2003 Artbox Simpsons Film Cardz #12
(Note-I am a fan of both Lopez brothers in the NBA)

 #233 Wesley Johnson. The new Clippers uniform makes it's debut. The home jersey, shown, is not bad, but the road jersey is the worst in NBA history.

#148 Russell Westbrook. Some of the photography in this set is really from interesting angles, like this one. This is probably my favorite Westbrook card in my collection now.

#16 Mike Muscala. His third year in the NBA, but my first card of him.

I don't think the Celtics are Panini's favorite team- three of their projected starters for 2015-16 are not in the set. (Jae Crowder, Kelly Olynyk, David Lee- although Lee and Olynyk are in some of the inserts, with Lee's inclusion as part of the Championship subset of Road to the Finals only)

 #204- Dellavedova played his way into the card set during the finals for sure, after Kyrie Irving went down with a broken knee. He was not included in 2014-15 sets.
Couldn't beat this guy though, who, with Elton Brand's retirement, is now my favorite player in the League. (Card #248)

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-
#252, Lance Thomas. What a cool shot that is. Framed with him perfectly centered, with the rim at the top and the scoreboard above his head. The banners hanging in the background, perfect! (As an aside, Optimum, which owns the Knicks franchise/MSG, is the company we use for our internet- the logo is fully shown on Cleanthony Early's card, which I like- seeing the ads in the background is fun for me, especially on older cards- which, someday, this will be- reminding me of times past...and isn't that why we collect?)

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...
#299 Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, my first rookie of the season. How cool that it is a player for my long-time favorite team?

#294 Emmanuel Mudiay. I expect he will be Rookie of the Year this year, although there are several that have a real good shot.

Like this guy, Jahlil Okafor, card #280. Note that both the Nuggets and the 76ers have new jerseys this season, making their card debut on the rookies. Also with new jerseys this year are the Clippers, as previously noted, the Hawks, Bucks, and I think I'm forgetting one or maybe even two.

#291 Larry Nance Jr. &
#287 Jerian Grant are the only two second-generation players I'm aware of in this year's rookie class, although there is a chance that I don't know on some common names- there are multiple players with the last names of Jackson, Johnson, Martin, Russell, Anderson and Brown - all of which appear in this year's rookie class, so there may be more second generation players I am not yet aware of. Grant is the son of Harvey Grant, nephew of Horace Grant and brother to current 76ers player Jerami Grant. I hope I don't need to tell you who Larry Nance Jr. is the son of. ;)

#296 Sam Dekker. Who, apparently, is going to be known mostly for the photo of him mowing the lawn shirtless that his mom posted on Twitter after the draft- it's what the text is about on the back of the card!

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.
The back is totally black and white, which makes it really easy to scan, something I appreciate. The text and name are huge, while the stats are tiny- I noticed after spending three days scanning these and nothing but these, they were actually starting to give me a headache, trying to read the tiny stats. They are easier to read in hand than in scan, which doesn't make any sense as the scan is larger. Go figure, right?

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.
#281 Frank Kaminsky. They are really nice in person, the scan just does not do it justice. Yes, it's important enough to say twice. I am going to be chasing these gold cards for years. This was the only Kaminsky card I pulled.

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.
I pulled two of these from my box. Oddly enough, I pulled Dwyane Wade's silver card from both 2014-15 and 2015-16 Hoops. I didn't do a hobby box of 2013-14 or earlier.

Serially numbered to 99, Artist Proof is the second-hardest parallel to pull, only to the Artist Proof Black which is 1/1, which I did not get. They are also on holofoil, and look pretty much just like the Silver with the exception of the gold foil Hoops 15-16 logo and Artist Proof stamp. It's hard to see, but this card is SN70/99. The / between the numbers is just barely on the stripe on his pants. 

Also falling one per box, is the green parallel. These are really great- I can't decide if the Green or Gold is my favorite. These are 1-per-box, but I wish they were easier to get. I will be chasing these for years as well. Neither Green or Gold are serially numbered. Each of the square designs refracts light at a different pace, I guess would be the best way to describe it. Seeing these in person is so much better than scans.

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.
As of right now, this and the SN25 Red Hot Signatures parallel are the only cards in existence for him.

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.
This insert concept debuted last year and I really like it.

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!
 It happened to be my first card of Trey Lyles as well. In this card, the only holofoil is his name and the Hoops logo/team bar.
 The Team Leaders subset highlights a player from each team who led that team in some statistical category.
 I happened to pull an Artist Proof parallel as well, SN43/99. this came out of my second pack.
A cool new concept this year is the Triple-Double insert. Every single Triple-Double during the 2014-15 season gets a card, which leads to an unusual 46 card insert set. (Playoffs not included). I like the fact that they actually issued it to the team the player was with at the time, not where the player is now. Rondo was traded to the Mavericks during last season and now is a member of the Kings, but he put up his Triple Doubles as a member of the Celtics. Panini really did a good job with this insert- unfortunately, it's also one-per-box. This is also the only card in my collection showing the Celtics' sleeved alternate jersey, I believe.

 Bird's Eye View moves from the apparently defunct Panini Flagship over to Hoops, and expands from 10 to 25 cards, all on holofoil. I really liked the Bird's Eye View insert in 2013-14 Panini, and I'm glad it's back. I pulled two of them.
 Dreams is a 10-card insert showing Rookies. It is printed on holofoil, and once again, I pulled only one of them.
 High Flyers is another holofoil insert and includes retired players as well as current players- obviously, as this image of Scottie Pippen dates to roughly 1997.
And finally, the one-per-pack Panini Dunk card. As I don't have a smart phone, these aren't too helpful to me. They were, however, the only duplicates, of which I am quite happy.

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.


  1. Nice review. There are definitely some interesting angles used in the set, although a couple of them seem to be a little too close. And trying to seek out those parallels will certainly keep you out of trouble for awhile.

  2. That Steph Curry is #CardboardPerfection!

  3. What's with the crumbling brick wall background on the rookie cards? Throwback to the 70's "bathroom" cards???

  4. Great cards. I'm looking forward to the season starting. I'm a big Celts fan. They should have a entertaining team to watch