2016 NBA All Star Spotlights - Russell Westbrook
NBA All Star weekend for 2016 is almost here and in celebration we have a series of in-depth blogs from feature collector Tom T. Today's card spotlight falls on Russell Westbrook, lets take a look at his top cards from the past, present and have a peek into the future!
The Thunder drafted Kevin Durant with the first pick of the 2007 Draft but it with the signing of Russell Westbrook in 2008 the Thunder had the one-two punch necessary to gain traction in the league. Derrick Rose, OJ Mayo and Michael Beasley dominated Rookie of the Year conversation throughout Westbrook’s debut season but whilst Westbrook missed out on ROY he is arguably the most enduring talent of the 2008 draft.
The limited supply and excessive demand for key Rose, Mayo and Beasley rookie cards ahead of Westbrook was shown in the highest end 2008-09 Upper Deck Exquisite Collection release where Rose, Mayo and Beasley RPA’s were numbered to 99 whereas Westbrook’s were numbered to 225. Despite a lack of hobby love, Westbrook went about making a name for himself right from the get go as he averaged 15.3 points, 5.3 assists, 4.9 rebounds and 1.3 steals in his debut season. His stat sheet stuffing ability is not a recent acquisition as during the 2008-09 season he became the first rookie to record a triple-double since Chris Paul in 2005-06.
Westbrook may have not been the name on everyone’s lips following his debut season but that changed during his sophomore year where he teamed up with Kevin Durant to lead the Thunder to the post-season for the first time. Whilst that year’s champion Lakers would bounce the Thunder out in the first round, the league took notice of Westbrook’s phenomenal all-round ability. Westbrook earned his first All-Star Weekend pick in 2011, a season where the Thunder reached the Western Conference Finals and Westbrook announced himself to the league averaging 23.8 points, 6.4 assists and 5.4 rebounds in the post-season.
Sold $1,025 7/1/16 Sold $405 5/11/15 Sold $361 6/1/16
Westbrook is a threat in 2015-16 due to his ability to regularly record triple-doubles and often single-handedly haul his team back into the contest. From the outset of the season he recorded 33 points and 10 assists against the Spurs, Westbrook’s name was already used in MVP conversation. Teaming up with Kevin Durant a game later, they became the first teammates since Jordan and Pippen in 1996 to each score 40 points or more in the same match. There is no denying Westbrook is Mr Triple Double for his generation. Westbrook has accumulated eight triple-doubles this season making his fifth All-Star selection a formality.
Despite his phenomenal record, Westbrook does not receive the love that is handed out to teammate Kevin Durant. A number of factors contribute to this:
- he shares the limelight with Durant
- there is a smaller fan base in Oklahoma City
- a lot of collectors live off the past hype of players (e.g. Derrick Rose)
- collectors would rather hold on to cards of players who are not performing in the hope of their stocks improving
Westbrook autographed cards are scarce - only nine Westbrook autos reached the market during 2014-15 and the conundrum surrounding his hobby impact is astounding. Now is the perfect time to pick up Westbrook’s cards as the market is still very soft, there are few notable Westbrook collectors and he continues to ignite the league night in and night out which should result in a larger quantity of cards being produced by Panini in the future.
Sold $640 13/1/16 Sold $606 12/12/15 Sold $265 24/12/15
If Westbrook can stay healthy, keep producing triple-doubles and lead the Thunder to that elusive championship Panini may take notice and begin to increase the supply of desirable high end cards. This could see a current Westbrook investment yield a favourable return. Should Westbrook join the Lakers then expect his cards to explode well beyond current prices. The bigger market, greater exposure and ability to dominate a team would result in a major spike in his prices even if Durant follows suit to LA.
If Westbrook follows Carmelo’s lead and joins a team with no notable superstar or remain at the Thunder whilst Durant leaves then Westbrook should also see a sharp increase in his stocks. Westbrook is a solid future investment, he is a flashy and hype-generating player destined for greatness. He has the ability to do all that is required on both ends of the hardwood night in and night out and combined with Durant and a hard-working supporting cast, the Thunder have the ability to not only reach the 2015-16 playoffs but make an impact deep into June.