Contenders Draft Picks: Here’s why first LaMelo Ball card might be blank jersey

Panini Contenders Draft Picks: LaMelo Ball rookie card (Photo by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images)
Panini Contenders Draft Picks: LaMelo Ball rookie card (Photo by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images) /

The 2020 Panini Contenders Draft Picks first off the line box releases on October 15

The very first NBA basketball cards product of the 2020-21 season is releasing this week, an exciting addition for card collectors after months of milking what was left of the 2019 supply. No doubt, it’s been fun, and it’s allowed for some fringe athletes like Chuma Okeke to gain a cult-like following within the card community. I, myself, have gotten excited about players like Bol Bol when it comes to my own collection.

Alas, though, new faces are always welcome, and when they’re rookies, you know card collectors are going to go wild.

On October 15th the 2020 Panini Contenders Draft Picks first off the line box releases. It will come out at 11am Eastern on Panini’s website, starting at $500 and dropping to as low as $150. The price drops every five minutes until the product sells out.

It’s likely this product will move fast since it’s the very first time we’ll have new rookie cards for the 2020 class. First off the line products are also highly sought-after because there are some exclusive cards only found in FoTL boxes.

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LaMelo Ball’s Contenders Draft Picks card will be an interesting collectible

The Panini Contenders Draft Picks product features incoming NBA athletes in the jerseys from their prior teams. For collegiate athletes, Panini has licensing agreements allowing them to display team logos. James Wiseman, for instance, has “GEORGIA” across the chest.

LaMelo Ball‘s card — along with other players who spent their last pre-NBA year overseas — won’t have any logo on it because Panini presumably doesn’t have that licensing with the overseas teams. Ball’s Illawara Hawks jersey featured the SLAM Magazine logo at the top, and it’s unclear yet if that will be displayed on the card or not. Ball’s first card is likely to be a blank jersey.

We won’t know for certain until the first packs are opened, but here is an image of the box. It appears LaMelo’s jersey is blank, just like his international counterparts and unlike the collegiate athletes:

LaMelo Ball Panini Contenders Draft Picks
Panini Contenders Draft Picks First off the Line (photo courtesy of /

LaMelo Ball is going to be one of the most hyped rookie cards this season. In part due to his father, LaVar Ball, in part due to his brother Lonzo Ball, LaMelo has been in the limelight since he was 16 years old. Basketball fans have watched his every move since the high school level, and when he dropped 92 points in a high school game many deemed him a lock as 2020’s No. 1 overall pick. That was in 2017 Some have rightfully questioned the hype over the years.

Ball was verbally committed to UCLA at age 13.

Since then, LaMelo has gone around the traditional NBA path. He opted to play overseas because the release of his signature shoe under the Big Baller Brand brought up questions about his eligibility as a collegiate athlete.

Rather than get stuck in a situation like James Wiseman where he wasn’t playing for an entire year due to eligibility issues, Ball went to play in Lithuania and spent this past season playing for the Illawara Hawks in Australia.

And so, after one season with the Hawks, he’ll join his brother Lonzo in the NBA ranks. We’ll see where he’s drafted, but for now, we’ll probably get a blank LaMelo to start. If he reaches the star level that is expected of him, there’s a good chance that blank jersey card could be a nice piece in a collection.

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