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Trade Deadline Mixes Up NBA Top Shot Market

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This week was volatile for the NBA Top Shot market. The Trade Deadline only added to the waves.

Portland Trail Blazers v Orlando Magic Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

What the heck is NBA Top Shot? Check out my primer that appeared here on Blazer’s Edge!

Moments in the NBA Top Shot marketplace, like cryptocurrencies and stocks, are not immune to rushes and dips in their prices. Last week was most definitely an across-the-board dip.

Over the course of just a few days, the base sets for both Series 1 and Series 2 lost about 35% of their value, as these graphs by Top Shot enthusiast and data journalist Steef show:

Woof.

Prices have since crept back up, but it’s a good reminder that, as with anything where you buy something hoping its value rises, you should be clear-eyed about the potential for losses.

And as the NBA’s Trade Deadline approached, it provided some really good real-time examples of how NBA news — in this case, trade news specifically — can impact how much players’ moments rise or fall in value.

Pre-Trade Deadline Movement

Former Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon had been rumored to be on the trade block for weeks (years?), but those rumblings grew louder in the days leading to Thursday’s Trade Deadline. When news that Gordon himself had asked the Magic for a trade on March 22, his Series 2 base moment was hovering right around $20.

It stayed there, then peaked around the mid-$30s in the hours before the trade deadline when it was first reported Gordon was being traded to the Denver Nuggets.

Price of Aaron Gordon’s Series 2 base moment in the hours before and after his trade to the Denver Nuggets - via evaluate.market
Price of Aaron Gordon’s Series 2 base moment in the hours before and after his trade to the Denver Nuggets - via evaluate.market

By the time Gordon was actually traded, the price had dropped back below $20.

Former Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge was bought out by the San Antonio Spurs (and appears unlikely to sign with Portland). But before that happened, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich told a media scrum on March 10 that Aldridge would no longer be with the team as they attempted to find him a new home.

On that news, his Series 2 base moment jumped from about $15 to around $40 over the course of a few hours.

Price of LaMarcus Aldridge’s Series 2 base moment from when the Spurs announced he was parting ways with the team, through the trade deadline - via evaluate.market
Price of LaMarcus Aldridge’s Series 2 base moment from when the Spurs announced he was parting ways with the team, through the trade deadline - via evaluate.market

By the time he was bought out, the price had settled at just under $20.

The lesson: It pays to be ahead of the news as it breaks, and being on the front edge of a price shift can be a matter of hours or minutes, not days.

Trade Deadline Madness

Price of Kyle Lowry’s Series 1 base moment in the days before the NBA Trade Deadline - via evaluate.market
Price of Kyle Lowry’s Series 1 base moment in the days before the NBA Trade Deadline - via evaluate.market

There was also plenty of movement during the trade deadline.

When ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski announced that the Blazers were sending Gary Trent Jr. and Rodney Hood to Toronto for Norman Powell, it took most of NBA Twitter by surprise (the author included).

It also surprised the NBA Top Shot Marketplace. Powell’s Series 1 base moment popped from a very low volume at about $160, to dozens of trades upwards of $250 before settling at about $180. The 62 sales of those Powell moments were more than the number of sales from the previous six days combined.

Price of Norman Powell’s Series 2 base moment from before and after the trade deadline - via evaluate.market
Price of Norman Powell’s Series 2 base moment from before and after the trade deadline - via evaluate.market

Powell’s former Raptors teammate Kyle Lowry had been in trade rumors all day. After his Series 1 base set moment hovered between $250-$300, it quickly spiked to nearly $500 over the course of a few hours as his name got bandied about. After the trade deadline passed, however, it slunk all the way back down to where it started.

Blazers to Watch For

This week, we learned that Jusuf Nurkic would return against the Orlando Magic after being sidelined for months first with a broken wrist, then a strained calf.

But news of his return has been dribbling out for weeks. Accordingly, the price of his Series 2 base moment went from a low of about $6 all the way to above $40, before settling at around $20.

Price of Jusuf Nurkic’s Series 2 base moment over the last few weeks - via evaluate.market
Price of Jusuf Nurkic’s Series 2 base moment over the last few weeks - via evaluate.market

Don’t be surprised for the price to flex a little more as Nurkic either does better or worse than expected,

Damian Lillard’s moments, a testament to his durability and popularity around the league, have been pretty locked in despite this week’s volitility.

It may not shock you to learn that even as the Top Shot market was tanking, Lillard’s Series 2 base moment stayed almost rock solid between $30 and $40.

Takeaways

A few things: one, if you can anticipate something happening before it actually does, you may be able to get ahead of the market. Returns from injury are one such thing and potential buyout candidates finding a landing spot and popping off with their new team are another. And if you get the sense that trades have opened up space for another player that stayed put on a team, it might be worth taking a flyer on them.

Second: value spikes and dips happen fast after news breaks. As you saw in some of those charts, it was a matter of minutes, not even hours, before all the gains made by people snapping up moments were eroded by those same people trying to cash out quickly. That stuff happens a lot. It helps if you’re getting in on a rush to immediately post your moment for sale at a price your comfortable with — even if you risk losing a little bit of profit as it pushes higher. But at least that way you won’t be left holding the bag.

Last: stars sell. Something that got left on the cutting room floor that I planned to write more about how LeBron James’ injury, perhaps not coincidentally, happened during this week’s market sell-off. He has the most expensive moments in the marketplace for obvious reasons, and while players like him and Dame can hold value even though choppy markets, an injury can definitely make that wobble.

Looking Ahead

Speaking of Dame, next week I’ll talk more about challenges — where collecting certain moments and holding them until a deadline will win you a bonus moment — and how a Lillard moment is both part of an active challenge, AND may be — scratch that, WILL be, as reported earlier this week—the reward as part of another challenge. Stay tuned!