Topps markets Bowman and Bowman Chrome cards individually in both baseball and football, but it seems to have found a comfort zone combining them into one product for basketball. Thus, 2008-09 Bowman Draft Picks and Stars Basketball is actually two sets in one, giving collectors both kinds of cards in every pack.
Hobby boxes of 2008-09 Bowman Draft Picks and Stars Basketball are filled with 18 six-card packs. Each pack contains two Bowman Chrome cards, and at least one rookie card from either brand. Each box should yield one Bowman Chrome autograph and two relic (memorabilia) cards on average.
Base Cards and Parallels
Since Bowman Chrome is just Bowman on fancier card stock, both sets share a common design that is instantly recognizable thanks to black borders and banners that are color-coded to distinguish veterans (red) from rookies (green). Topps follows suit with its other basketball sets by mixing veterans and retired legends in the first 110 cards, with 40 rookie cards - easy to identify thanks to white borders - finishing off the base sets.
Since each pack contains four Bowman and two Bowman Chrome cards, a box obviously builds more of the former set than the latter. I busted a random Draft Picks and Stars hobby box for this review and found 45 veteran/retired Bowman cards and 22 from Bowman Chrome. Rookies totaled 18 Bowman (including Derrick Rose, O.J. Mayo and both Lopez twins) and 10 Bowman Chrome (notably Russell Westbrook, Eric Gordon and Jerryd Bayless).
Parallels come in four levels for Bowman and six levels for Bowman Chrome, with numbering ranging between 499 copies and just one copy for Bowman Chrome Super-Fractors. Among the eight parallels in my review box were a 3/5 Bowman Chrome Red Leandro Barbosa and a Bowman Chrome X-Fractor of D.J. Augustin numbered to 299.
Collectors have come to expect autographed Chrome cards of the current season's rookies in every Bowman Chrome release, and Draft Picks and Stars follows suit with one in each box. More than three-quarters of the rookies signed for 2008-09, but most of the top lottery picks are in a separate tier that is harder to pull.
The base rookie auto variations are unnumbered, but they do have four levels of Refractors with print runs of 99 or less. The About.com sample box yielded a signature from the more common tier: Charlotte draftee (but current Oklahoma City guard) Kyle Weaver.
Since the Bowman Chrome side of the product has the autographs, the Bowman side gets some memorabilia cards. Most of these are the simply named Bowman Relics, which use game-worn jersey pieces from 40 NBA veterans. The swatches aren't large, but they are cut in the shape of the iconic Bowman 'B,' which is a good look. I found Deron Williams and Al Jefferson cards from this set in my review box.
Topps also usually gets its hands on the jerseys that are given to the players on the night of the NBA Draft, and it did so again this season to turn them into relic cards. Destination Letterman and Destination Tags have letters or tags from one of those jerseys, and there are autographed 1-of-1 versions of both.
Other rookie memorabilia can be found on Draft Day Issue jersey cards (with autographed parallels numbered to 99) and Logoman cards with the entire NBA logo patch from a player-worn jersey.
The Last Word
Placing the two sets in one package might frustrate some collectors who are only interested in one or the other, but since Bowman Chrome doesn't have quite the following in basketball that it does in the other sports, this seems like a good way to go. It's nice to get a good mix of both kinds of rookies in each box, and the product is configured so that there's something interesting in just about every pack.
The look of Draft Picks and Stars and the remainder of the content, including the Chrome rookie autographs, is classic Bowman. If that has appealed to you in the past, there's no reason to think you won't enjoy the 2008-09 set as well.