As expected, Greg Oden and Kevin Durant went 1-2 in the 2007 NBA Draft, and they were likely to be the first two names atop want lists everywhere... until news came that Oden may be out for the year. That shuffled the deck a little bit and may give other rookies a chance to sneak past him in the hobby during the coming season.
Now that we know who will be suiting up where, here's an updated look at the top 10 rookies collectors will he hoping to pull from packs of 2007-08 basketball cards:
1. Kevin Durant, SF, Seattle SuperSonics
It's pretty simple now: Durant will be the most sought-after rookie. Not only is his offensive game flashy, but Seattle's trade of Ray Allen and the departure of Rashard Lewis could make the ex-Texas star the number one scoring option immediately.
Seattle has been pretty quiet on the collecting front for the past few years, so Durant and fellow rookie Jeff Green should be just the shot in the arm the region needs. Having Oden (once he returns) and the young Blazers as divisional rivals can only help.
Durant was the first player from the 2007-08 class to sign an exclusive contract (with Upper Deck) for his autographed cards and game-worn material.
2. Joakim Noah, PF, Chicago Bulls
Talk about a match made in heaven. Noah will bring his intensity every night for Scott Skiles and the Bulls, and Chicago has been a great basketball card market ever since a certain No. 23 helped the city win a few titles.
Some analysts wonder if Noah will be able to score consistently in the NBA, and his initial popularity could fade if that proves to be the case. Don't panic if he can't find his offensive game right away - big men often take longer to develop anyway - but be aware that his card values may suffer if he proves he can't put up points.
Like his Florida teammates Corey Brewer and Al Horford, Noah inked a deal to sign autographed cards only for Upper Deck.
3. Brandan Wright, PF, Golden State Warriors
It initially looked like Wright was headed to join Michael Jordan and his collection of ex-UNC players in Charlotte. But after a trade that sent Jason Richardson east, he'll play alongside Baron Davis and company in California.
The Warriors' rabid fans should jump on Wright's rookie cards, and the team's playoff heroics in 2006-07 made collectors everywhere take notice. These factors should turn out to be quite the coup for Topps, which signed Wright to an exclusive deal for autographs, game-used cards and packaging rights before the draft.
4. Greg Oden, C, Portland Trail Blazers
It was no surprise when Portland took Oden with the first pick, as dominant big men are still the most valuable commodity any NBA team can find in the draft. Collectors wouldn't mind waiting for his game to develop, but how will they feel now that surgery could have Oden on the shelf for the entire 07-08 season?
There's no doubt Oden's rookie cards will be hurt by his absence - out of sight, out of mind definitely applies in the hobby world. Still, it's hard to picture him falling any further than this on this list, simply because there's been so much hype around him for so long.
Oden signed a deal to become a Topps spokesman, giving the company exclusive rights to his autographs and memorabilia cards.
5. Nick Young, SG, Washington Wizards
Young fell a little bit further in the draft than expected, but he landed in a great spot. He'll team with Gilbert Arenas to form what could become the highest-scoring backcourt in the NBA.
Excitement is sometimes more important to card collectors than accomplishment, so don't be overly concerned that the Wizards failed to address their frontcourt deficiencies. When a player can score and finish like Young, his cards will be popular.
6. Corey Brewer, SG, Minnesota Timberwolves
Brewer's college accomplishments speak for themselves, and he's in an interesting situation in Minnesota. If the team keeps Kevin Garnett, Brewer seems like the ideal compliment, and if KG departs, he could find himself as the centerpiece of a rebuilding effort.
Hold Brewer's rookie cards and wait to see how the chips fall for the Wolves. He signed an exclusive autograph deal with Upper Deck, so you'll only find his signed cards in that company's products.
7. Yi Jianlian, PF, Milwaukee Bucks
Here's the first example of a player whose collectible stock slipped on draft night. Yi's handlers wanted him to go to a team on one of the coasts, but the Bucks called their bluff and took him anyway. It remains to be seen if Yi or the team change their tune.
Some collectors get turned off by players who try to dictate where they want to play, and Milwaukee isn't exactly a hobby hotbed. Yi will still have his fans, but probably not as many as he had before the draft.
8. Mike Conley Jr., PG, Memphis Grizzlies
Conley should turn out to be a solid NBA point guard, as his quickness and decision-making skills are already superb. He slips a little on this list because of questions about his shooting and because he ended up in Memphis.
That's the bad news. The good news is that similar things applied to Chris Paul - a very similar player - a few years ago, and he's turned out to be very popular with collectors. Conley's cards have the potential to move above others on this list as time goes on.
9. Acie Law, PG, Atlanta Hawks
Law's clutch scoring and heady play should translate well to the NBA, and he's going to a team that really needs his services in the Hawks. Not everyone was sold on him as a lottery pick, but he appears to be the best point guard in this draft other than Conley.
With Law joining Josh Smith, Marvin Williams, Joe Johnson and fellow rookie Al Horford, the Hawks have the look of a very collectible team. Watch for their cards to increase in value if they can make some noise in the East.
10. Al Horford, PF, Atlanta Hawks
Most of what was said about Law applies to Horford, except that the Hawks already have plenty of forwards. That shouldn't matter though, as the team will need his post scoring and rebounding on the floor right away.
The only thing keeping Horford from appearing higher on this list is that he figures to be more solid than spectacular at the NBA level. As with his Florida teammates, he'll appear only on Upper Deck autographed cards during his rookie campaign.
- Jeff Green, F, Seattle SuperSonics
- Thaddeus Young, F, Philadelphia 76ers
- Al Thornton, F, Los Angeles Clippers