NBA Top Shot. Being heralded the future of collecting by some, and many are jumping all over it. But what is it? What does it do? How does it work? Well here’s my experience so far.
What is NBA Top Shot?
First of all I had to learn to somehow grasp ‘digital ownership.’ Buying something without it ever becoming something physical. Unlike sports cards, NBA Top Shot is almost like the evolution of the card collecting craze. It’s an officially licensed way to own an NBA highlight of your favourite player. The world is going digital, and Top Shot is the idea of taking sports collecting into the digital stratosphere.
If you were to go onto Youtube, you could watch any single highlight in the NBA, just by searching. But you won’t OWN it. With Top Shot, you have the opportunity to own these memorable ‘moments’ from NBA games. Now that works through something called ‘NFTs’, which means Non Fungible Tokens.
A non fungible token is… better off explained by somebody who isn’t me. So here’s wikipedia’s explanation:
“Non-fungible tokens are used to create verifiable digital scarcity, as well as digital ownership, and the possibility of asset interoperability across multiple platforms. NFTs are used in several specific applications that require unique digital items like crypto art, digital collectibles, and online gaming. Art was an early use case for NFTs, and blockchain in general, because of its ability to provide proof of authenticity and ownership of digital art that has otherwise had to contend with the potential for mass reproduction and unauthorised distribution of art through the internet.”
So how does that correlate into NBA Top Shot?
Well NBA Top Shot is like a combination of sports card collecting and digital investments such as Bitcoin. Instead of collecting a LeBron James rookie card, you would own a LeBron James dunk from a specific moment or a specific game, and each of those moments are limited in quantity, in the same way many sports cards are.
Take this one for example. From series 1, which has now ended. Series 1 is like your first edition Charizard. They existed before it was popular, and now you can’t get them anymore. Everything new now is currently series 2. As you can see, the lowest ask for this LeBron dunk moment is $213,000. Why so high? Well there’s only 59 of this exact moment in existence. Nobody pays that though right? Wrong. Well, technically not wrong. The most expensive sale so far of this LeBron is $125,000. Which somebody would have got out of a $230 pack, I believe.
Somebody paid that for the #12 serial number out of 59. I’ll explain…
You could pull a Zion Williamson card numbered to 99. This means there will only ever be 99 of that exact card in circulation. Top Shot Moments are the same. Some are numbered to 2000. Some to 10,000. Some of the more recent ones are numbered to 35,000. Of course, those are classed as ‘commons’, and they hold less value. The ‘rares’, and top dog scarcity ‘platinums’, elevate the reputation of the moment. Platinums are selling for some crazy money.
Where NBA Top Shot moments differentiate from sports cards is in the serial number. If you owned the above mentioned Zion card numbered to 99. Your 7/99 would be worth the same amount as somebody elses 97/99. It makes no difference. In Top Shot, the lower the serial, the more the moment is worth. Mainly, the top 10% have the largest increase in price. Unless they’re of course already in short supply, like the LeBron above. All 59 of those will be expensive, but the top 10 will still fetch a higher price.
The number 1 moment, which would be displayed as #1/10,000, is worth the most, and the jersey number also seems to hold more value, which can sometimes also be true for sports cards.
But why would you want to own a moment?
Ego. Collectors nature. Investing. Being a part of the next wave of sports collecting. In my mind, this could be the future. It won’t replace the tradition old as time sports card collecting. I don’t believe that to be the case. But if you think about it, sports cards have been around for like, over a century now. This NFT style virtual collecting of NBA highlights is a new wave, and if it takes off, we’re in the 1% who got to it early.
I imagine as it grows, that you’ll be able to buy something like a ‘Top Shot TV’, which will allow you to link your account to some sort of display monitor or frame, where you can then show off your moments in your man cave or living room, or have them rotating all day on the wall in your hallway. There’s going to be ways to ‘display’ your moments, in the same way we currently display sports cards. I am sure of that. What we’re seeing here really could be the very beginnings of the next wave, the next generation, and that’s something to be excited about.
Does it make sense? Well no not really. You don’t own the original moment, that’s still owned by the NBA. But what you do own, is a collectors ‘NFT’ of that moment, with it’s very own serial number, which can’t be replicated or recreated anywhere else in the world. It’s YOURS, you own it, and you can keep it until the end of time if you wish.
So how do i GET a moment?
There are two ways. In packs, or bought directly from the marketplace.
The packs are guaranteed profit, or at least they have been up until this point. I managed to get the $14 pack released a few days ago for the NBA All Star game. $14. I sold the three moments I got out of that pack, two standard moments, and one all star, which was guaranteed, for a total of $220. Yup. Just like that. The trouble is, you’re not guaranteed a pack. The pack queue lobby opens 15 minutes before the pack drop begins. Once you’re in the lobby, you’re assigned a place at random in the pack queue when it goes live. Yesterday a $199 pack dropped, 65,000 packs available. I was 75,000 in the queue, so I missed out. Over 200,000 members have been known to join the queue’s, so you just have to cross your fingers and hope for the best, there really isn’t any other way.
BUT if you do get one, you’re in pretty good shape to get yourself a strong return.
Now the marketplace, that’s a different game. You can go on there and buy as many moments as you wish, kind of like eBay for sports card buyers. Once you buy a moment, you add it to your collection, and then it’s yours. You can of course, watch the highlight, but you could watch that on Youtube if you really wanted to. But it means you own something unique. Does it make sense? No not really. Does the price people are paying for cardboard sports cards make sense if you REALLY think about it? Also not really. But we love it, we all love it. And it is what it is.
This whole thing seems so alien right now. But I guess so did getting a Mickey Mantle baseball card the first time somebody obtained one, and look how that turned out. I can’t say much else about the concept itself, it’s a collectors item, navigating it’s way into the modern universe of virtual technology. The future is coming.
So how about my experience?
To be honest, i’m still figuring it out. I don’t think i’ll be buying moments to invest and hold. That’s not going to be my style with this. I’ll be queueing for every possible pack and crossing my fingers, because if I get one then I’m winning. But that is just an every now and then type thing. In my spare time i’ve been scouring the market and ‘sniping’ moments that are listed below their value. By doing this. I can buy a moment for $200 and sell it for $240 immediately. I’ve had some success in doing this.
I’ve also had some failures while navigating the market. You have to be extremely quick to buy a deal when you see one. If you’re not fast it will be gone. I’ve missed MANY money making opportunities because of this. Trust me. But i’ve also seen what I thought was a deal, grabbed it, only to find it’s not as much of a deal as I thought, and then have to sell it for a slight loss of $10 or so. That’s happened to me too.
And THEN, i’ve had a couple of real losses. For example, I grabbed a Jayson Tatum for $200, then the market went down for maintenance while they released new packs, which topped up the amount of Jayson Tatum’s there were available, which brought down the price of my Tatum to $100. I held it, it rose to $150, and then I sold it. So that’s a loss, and a lesson learned. Maybe I won’t buy any moments which are not yet out in their full volume. It’s an unrealistic price point that I got stuck in.
The issue of the maintenance causing the server/marketplace to go down is a regular feature at the moment. Which makes buying difficult sometimes, and like I mentioned above, it’s stung me already. So be careful.
Can you make money on NBA Top Shot? Yes absolutely, if you’re smart, patient, and quick. Can you lose money on Top Shot? Yes 100% you can. The market has no axis. It doesn’t rotate around anything of substance. With sports cards, they price themselves based on real life events. If Giannis is playing well, his rookie cards are worth more money, typically. So far with Top Shot, the market is too fragile for that to be the case. It rotates around supply and demand sure, but there’s nothing concrete to it, which is why I won’t be holding anything. Just quick flips for me, but even in doing that, I’ve managed to get stung a few times.
That being said, I’m currently up. I started with $300 ish. Now I’m at around $400. Mistakes have been made, lessons have been learned. The rise and fall of the market has been navigated and I am a better man for it now. I’ve had some wins, some quick flips that have made me very happy, and i’ve had some losses that have brought me back to earth. I understand it better now. You have to be gentle with it, respect it for what it is, and know you could win or lose. The way to do it is to limit your chances of losing, and only buy at the extreme bargain end of the market.
But what’s a deal?
Any moment that looks out of place with it’s serial number. For example. If the lowest price of a Luka Doncic /10,000 is $300. If you see one on the marketplace with a serial number of #1,300 out of #10,000… it’s worth substantially more than one at the bottom end. Is it a perfect correlation? No. I’d say anything outside of the top 20% of a moments serial isn’t worth too much more. A subtle increase yes, maybe, but you need to be in the low numbers to see a real difference. The top 1000 is where the numbers really begin to rise.
So if that #1,300 Luka moment is listed for $305, and the lowest price is $300, that’s a good deal. You could likely flip it immediately for upwards of $350. If it was #130, a serial number that low is likely worth around 4-5x the lowest price. Of course, it’s all done off of demand. So the popular players still hold the high prices.
Of course, while looking for steals, the lowest price card itself can sometimes be that. If you set some filters and watch the price of a few cards simultaneously, and suddenly you see Joel Embiid’s lowest price go from $200 to $150, there’s a steal there to be had, you just have to be the first one to click through and try to buy it, which is not easy, but can be done.
This is what I’ve been doing. My snipes have been successful. Just whenever I’ve held onto something so far I’ve made a loss, so it’s balanced back out my balance.
Take this Donovan Mitchell for example. It’s numbered out of 10,000. Which means when I found this #2314 for the lowest asking price, which was floating around 200-205 at the time, I knew it was a steal. I flipped it 7 minutes later for $240. Key thing to note here, Top Shot takes 5% of every transaction, so be careful, and make sure you factor that into your calculations before you buy anything. I still made $28 profit on this exchange.
Imagine getting 5 of those a day, and doing that every day for a month. If on average you managed to snag 5 moments a day for a $7 profit at a minimum, you’d clear $35 a day. That’s $1000 a month.
Does it take time? Yes. Are there deals to be had? Absolutely. Will you make a mistake? Yep. Will it cost you some money? Yes. But we’ve all bet on sports before. Same deal. With this, you’re in control. Enjoy it. It’s mathematics, it’s action.
The main thing with it, have some fun. I added $300 to my balance, played around, experienced the buzz of the pack queue and opening a pack. Then also experience the buzz of finding a steal on the marketplace and trying to be the fastest finger to snagging it. I’ve missed many, i’ve claimed a few.
Check Top Shot out. You’re still one of the early ones! And if anybody is interested in joining a live stream where I can show you my method’s, and shoot for some steals live, then let me know in the comments section of wherever you found this article!
What does the future hold? Will this extend into other sports? NFL Top Touchdown? Hmm…
If you have questions or want to talk NBA Top Shot, i’ve created a chat room within our Undrafted discord server. So join me there, and we can talk Top Shot, and I’ll answer any questions you may have!