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Dame Featured in Two NBA Top Shot Challenges

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Damian Lillard is an NBA marketing force, and his Top Shot status reflects that.

Milwaukee Bucks v Portland Trail Blazers Photo by Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images

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

Last week, I wrote about how the NBA Top Shot market had taken some punches and how the NBA Trade Deadline added to that volatility.

This week was more of the same. The total market cap is now below $1B for the first time since February, with moments across the board all taking hits.

Let’s look at another chart that illustrates this pretty cleanly by looking at a single moment - say, the most expensive one I have in my own collection.

I bought this Luka Doncic Series 2 “Seeing Stars” moment for $668 back in mid-March. Today, it’s trading for right around $300.

Price of Luka Doncic Seeing Stars moment - via evaluate.market
Price of Luka Doncic Seeing Stars moment - via evaluate.market

RIP my collection value.

A few things: one, this is a critical time for NBA Top Shot if it wants to stay around for longer than a flash in a pan. To be fair, the early days of ANY business are the most important. But especially for something like the Non-Fungible Token (NFT) industry, its ability to find air and keep gliding early matters a lot because there are almost no examples, best practices, or previous data to pull from. In short: there’s no way to tell whether the line you see above is going pull a Bitcoin and go up later, or become on the many (many) other failed virtual ventures.

Another thing: the Doncic moment above has some value beyond its individual worth because it’s part of a “challenge.”

In my first Top Shot article, I talked about challenges: a collection of moments that, if you have them all and hold them for a certain amount of time, you’re given a bonus moment.

It so happens that Damian Lillard was a part of not one, but TWO recent challenges.

The first is one that just ended: the 2021 All-Star Game set. If you held 10 moments from this set, each limited to just 2021 in circulation, you were awarded a Damian Lillard moment of him ending this year’s All-Star Game with a half-court bomb.

Only 430 people completed this challenge, which means only that many of these Damian Lillard moments will ever be available, which is kind of cool. It also means that this Dame moment will probably hold its value pretty well relative to other, more common moments.

Lillard is also part of another All-Star-adjacent challenge that’s ending on Monday, the Seeing Stars 2 challenge. For this one, Dame (and the Luka moment from earlier) are among the 12 moments needed to get a bonus LeBron James moment. One key difference: each of these moments were limited 10,000 each, about five times more common than the All-Star Game moments.

On the one hand, that means that the LeBron moment is likely to be minted in the thousands rather than the hundreds, making it less rare and therefore less likely to be valuable. On the other, LeBron James moments are the most expensive in NBA Top Shot for obvious reasons. Let’s compare the price of a LeBron James moment of a similar circulation to a Dame moment.

Comparing similar moments from LeBron James and Damian Lillard - via NBA Top Shot
Comparing similar moments from LeBron James and Damian Lillard - via NBA Top Shot

Both moments are from the Series 2 Base Set limited to 7500 moments apiece. Both are equally available from sellers. But the LeBron moment is over 10 times as expensive as Dame’s. What might this mean for someone looking to complete the Seeing Stars 2 Challenge and get that LeBron moment?

Even though many more people will complete the challenge, it’s very likely the LeBron moment will be worth more than the Dame All-Star Game moment because — well — LeBron. He’s the global face of the NBA (and has been for over a decade), and is expected to surpass $1B in career earnings this year.

But as evidenced by his being featured in one challenge and the face of the reward in another, Dame is obviously no Top Shot slouch; Lillard’s market cap for his moments alone is over $10M, and the fact that he has 12 moments (two weren’t included in the image below, and it’s now 13, if you count the All-Star Game reward) is a testament to his popularity.

By contrast, teammate CJ McCollum has just six moments, Jusuf Nurkic has five, Carmelo Anthony has seven, Norman Powell has three, and Robert Covington has but one. Many Blazers players don’t have any moments at all.

All in all, there’s plenty for Blazers fans to find in the Top Shot world. And while I’m a little disappointed to see the value of my collection going down, it does mean something important: this stuff is getting more accessible for people who are interested.

And to be fair, Dapper Labs (the company behind Top Shot) isn’t crying for me. They just raised $300M from a group that includes Kevin Durant, Michael Jordan, Will Smith, and 2 Chainz. To them, having more people accessing and having fun with this stuff is more important than the value of Brandon Goldner’s Luka Doncic moment —and that’s probably for the best.