Orlando Magic basketball cards: Why Chuma Okeke rookie cards are exploding

Orlando Magic, Chuma Okeke rookie card (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Orlando Magic, Chuma Okeke rookie card (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

The Orlando Magic Chuma Okeke rookie card is exploding in the basketball cards community

The 2019-20 NBA season was a challenge for all players. From Kobe Bryant’s death to the suspension in play to the NBA bubble, this year looked like no other. Young Orlando Magic prospect Chuma Okeke was facing a challenging year in the league even before most of these roadblocks cropped up for the league at-large.

Okeke slipped out of the lottery during the 2019 NBA Draft due to an injury he sustained while playing for Auburn in the 2019 March Madness Tournament. Because the Magic could not immediately fit him on the team’s payroll, the 16th overall pick signed a one-year deal with the Lakeland Magic (the G League affiliate of the Orlando Magic) to rehab his injury.

Okeke, considered before his injury to be a potential top-10 pick, was now shoved away to the G League making less than $40,000 per year and forced to watch the rest of his draft class take off without him.

Okeke presumably will sign his rookie-scale contract with the Magic this offseason and greatly increase his earnings, making him an official rookie in the 2020-21 season, whenever that is to start.

In a perfect world, Okeke would have already signed his contract and have been preparing to compete this season with the Magic. He likely would have been participating with the team in Summer League and preseason, prepping for the start to the 2020-21 season if the calendar had not been contorted so much this season.

Instead, Okeke waits patiently to really kick off his career. It’s one of the many uncertainties for the Magic as they press on. But as he waits, fandom is pressing on and some memorabilia enthusiasts are taking advantage of the potential that Okeke’s first year is not representative of what he’s capable of.

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Orlando Magic: The Chuma Okeke rookie card is gaining a ton of popularity

NBA basketball cards collectors have had to wait for the next season of cards to release due to the NBA’s pause in play and elongated season, and as a result, there are some outliers to card collecting over the last few months.

With the 2019-20 boxes released and Panini gearing up for next season, collectors are paying a premium to get their hands on any unopened boxes that might be left and also paying hefty prices for final single-card additions to their 2019 collection. Some boxes are going for many many times more than what is typically paid for them. A Panini Contenders hobby box, for instance, which contains fewer than 10 cards total, often sells for well beyond $500.

The Chuma Okeke rookie card is one of the collectibles that fans are trying to scoop up while they still can, and the niche community chasing his cards is causing quite the stir.

One notable collector, Chad Bleznick, paid $1,000 for a Chuma Okeke rookie Prizm — Green parallel and got Okeke on Instagram Live to tell him how much he paid for it. Another account, chuma_collector, has 85 posts on his Instagram of different Okeke cards he has collected including a Fast Break Parallel rated 10 by PSA Sports.

A lot of four Chuma Okeke silver Prizm cards went for $1,200 on eBay recently.

Why is the Chuma Okeke rookie card so popular?

Chuma Okeke cards are so popular for many of the same reasons any basketball cards are popular — supply and demand.

Okeke’s lack of an NBA contract to this point meant that he didn’t have many cards included in Panini’s 2019 offering, so there’s a limited amount of his rookie cards in circulation. That’s especially true when it comes to some of the more sought-after parallels. The aforementioned card that Bleznick bought was a 1-of-8, for instance.

Add in the fact that collectors are hungry for collecting anything as they wait for the next season of cards, and it’s making for a perfect storm of Okeke interest.

The other factor is the long-term likelihood that Okeke turns into a quality player. Of the remaining rookies that you can still buy for a low price, Okeke is one of the most likely to pan out at the NBA level. His injury placed him in the G League to start, but he’s close to a sure thing provided that rehab went well.

Most comparable is probably Bol Bol, who still has plenty of affordable — albeit perhaps overhyped — rookie cards available following his strong showing in some of the NBA’s scrimmages and return-to-play seeding games in the NBA bubble.

Okeke had the skillset and has displayed enough of a sample size (72 games) at Auburn to count on his abilities. It’s just a matter of when he’ll get to that pro level as a healthy player and when he’ll start getting an opportunity.

Okeke rookie cards are not a 100 percent certainty by any means, but there are several reasons you might want to take a look at collecting some.

Chuma Okeke rookie card: Here are the current offerings on eBay

On the flip side, if Panini prints some more “rookie” Okekes in next year’s boxes, it could change things a bit since the circulation will be diluted. Even so, the 2019 rookies should still hold greater value because of the limited supply.

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