Friday, January 7, 2011

Box Review: 2010-11 Panini's Donruss Basketball

Harkening back to one of the best card designs of the 80's, the Rated Rookie is back. Panini's Donruss Basketball product went live Wednesday, and with the number of cards already appearing on the secondary markets, it looks like collectors are busting quite a few boxes. And thanks to Panini, this blogger was able to checkout a box of the newest product in the basketball trading card industry first hand. So enough with the post introduction. Here's a snapshot of Donruss Basketball and a brief review.

2010-11 Panini Donruss Basketball Snapshot
- Box Breakdown:
  • Release Date: January 5th, 2011
  • Hobby Box Cost: $65.95
  • 27 Rated Rookie Cards
  • 21 Team Photo Checklist Cards
  • 8 Serial #'d
  • 14 Die Cut Cards
  • 2 Jersey Cards
  • 1 Autographed Card

- Card/Product Design: Overall card/product design should be the most important part of any product and Panini didn't disappoint with Donruss Basketball. The design team at Panini reached back into the card design vault for an iconic design with the Rated Rookies. Because of that, the RC's in Donruss are particularly sought after and really make this a fun product. However, the Rated Rookies aren't the only thing Panini got right with the design of Donruss. The foil "d" logo on the bottom right of each card for "Donruss" is a nice touch. The photography is excellent with a myriad of basketball actions featured. I also like the die cuts which add another little detail to the product. It's those little details that really make for an excellent design.

Nicolas Batum Base (Back)
The backs of the cards are basic, but do provide the necessary info and stats a nerd like me checks out. I also really like the little player trivia on the backs of each card. Not the best looking card back ever, but certainly more than adequate.

Finally, the only issues I have with the design of Donruss has to do with the lack of team colors on the base cards and sticker auto's. I know this is a nit picky issue, but it would make a big difference to many collectors who put base sets together. The sticker auto thing is simply an issue that every collector has and it doesn't look like it'll be going away anytime soon. The auto'd card I pulled doesn't really look bad with the sticker auto, but I obviously would have liked to have pulled an on-card auto. Otherwise, the inserts are solid (particularly the very cool Duos cards), the die cuts give an added element and the Rated Rookies brings a nostalgic feeling back to trading cards. Grade: B-

- Photography: Photography is such an important element of trading cards that it really needs it's own category. I'm generally impressed with the quality of photography in most of Panini's products, and that stands true with Donruss. There are tons of different stances and action shots. The team checklist cards are diverse and feature on court as well as traditional team photos. There are cards with just a single player featured, and also ones with multiple defenders in the background. Thanks to great photography, no card looks alike. Grade: A

- Fun Factor: How much fun a box of cards is to open is really one of those subjective categories. I've opened many boxes and packs over the years and always enjoy the process. This is the third box of cards I've been able to open of Panini product in the past year, and I can say that this was the most fun. The bottom line is there is so much going on from die cuts and hits, to the Rated Rookies and Press Proofs. I felt like there was something noteworthy from all 24 packs. That spells fun to me. Grade: A-

John Wall Rated Rookie
- Value: The first few auctions are just now starting to conclude on eBay. I did a quick check of the completed auctions thus far and it looks like the product is doing very well in some areas, but struggling in others. That's to be expected in the hobby. As for this box, the value is there. The Rated Rookie cards are selling very well, particularly since you get so many per box. That means collectors want 'em. I know the John Wall base RC is selling for right around $4.00 - $8.00. Many of the other RC's are selling for $2.00-$6.00. Those are pretty solid numbers considering there are so many RC's in a box that costs around $65.00.

The true worth of the box won't be known until I see what the hits are selling for on eBay. The big card I pulled from the box is a DeMarcus Cousins Rated Rookie #'d 285/299. There are no completed auctions yet, but there are two BIN auctions currently on eBay. One for $50.00 and another for $125.00. I think the $125.00 number is pretty high since that's what the John Wall RC Auto is selling for.

Considering the price of John Wall cards and other RC's, the value is there at $65/box. Especially if you factor in trade values for the base and insert cards. Grade: B+ (Note: Value grade could go up depending on the results of completed auctions for the DeMarcus Cousins RC Auto)

- Hits: Anytime a highly sought after auto is pulled of a rookie, you know you've got a good box. That's the case here. The DeMarcus Cousins auto is really a very nice hit. As previously mentioned in the Card Design category, the sticker auto isn't as nice as an on-card, but it's still an exciting pull. The Production Line jersey cards also look great. One of my biggest issues with Panini is jersey/swatch placement. Cutting off a players torso or legs to fit a piece of jersey makes for an ugly card. As you can see from the image below, Panini did a great job in placing the jersey and featured players on these cards. They also used the team colors on these cards which really do make a difference. I pulled three hits of three NBA stars. Aside from the sticker auto issue and maybe a plain white jersey swatch on the Gasol card, you can't ask for much more. Grade: B

- Overall: For most collectors, this hobby is all about fun. With that said, Panini delivered with Donruss Basketball. I'm no teacher, but I am a former college prof and can add these scores up. Grade: B+

            Pau Gasol Production Line Jersey             DeMarcus Cousins Rated Rookie Auto            Tyreke Evans Production Line Jersey


  1. I love the Rated Rookie cards. They remind me of collecting baseball cards as a young tike.

  2. Pretty good hits from the box actually. Best card was still your Batum though. Just saying.

  3. @ G_Moses, I thought you might like that Batum card. I have all the Blazer cards set aside for you.

    I plan on giving away most of the cards through contests and giveaways.

  4. I absolutely love the design of this set, but if $65 is a good value for one sticker auto and two jersey cards then it's time for me to get out of the hobby.

  5. @ Offy, I understand your concern with $65 for one sticker auto and two jersey cards, but the "Rated Rookie" cards are selling nicely. Also, it's looking like the one sticker auto I pulled is selling well enough on eBay to cover the entire box. I certainly would have liked the Cousins auto to be on-card and maybe another jersey card, but I think the value is there both monetarily and set building wise.

  6. I love the rated rookies and the duos is nice, too.