In a league that has long been defined by dynasty teams like the Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs, the NBA is assured of a champion that has not won a title since the 1970s or ever. However, many of the top names from the Warriors and Cavaliers are quite familiar to collectors and the winning team will enjoy a nice hobby bump.
While the top two seeds from each conference reached their respective Conference Finals, the two favorites reached the title matchup. Pitting LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers against Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors, two of the biggest names in the NBA will square off in what could be a title series for the ages.
For each of the two remaining squads, the obvious names are covered first and are followed by those that are less established in the hobby, but still capable of greatly altering the series for their team. These less-heralded players also represent some of the best chances for a huge short-term increase given they are mostly fringe stars in the collecting world. Key rookie cards and pre-rookie cards are noted for each of the players. When available, players are linked in bold to detailed player profiles, including full rookie card checklists.
2015 NBA Finals Collecting Guide
Click on the player titles or images below to shop for rookie cards on eBay.
Golden State Warriors
Golden State Warriors
Anchored by a bevy of young studs, Golden State is tabbed my many as the NBA Finals favorite. While they are built for more seasons of success if they keep their core group together, the Warriors will still face a tough challenge from LeBron James and the rest of the Cavaliers. Injuries have also proven to be a concern during the long playoff road. The hobby rise of Steph Curry is the biggest story for the team, but as the Warriors have continued to win, other key players are also seeing increased interest from collectors.
His rise on the court and with collectors is largely unmatched in recent years and Steph Curry is the new favorite for many NBA fans. However, titles speak the loudest, and Curry will be expected to win multiple championships to approach the elite hobby level of players like Kobe Bryant and LeBron James.
- 2009-10 Playoff National Treasures Stephen Curry RC #206 Autographed Patch #/99
- 2009-10 Exquisite Collection Stephen Curry RC #64 Autograph #/225
- 2009-10 Panini Crown Royale Stephen Curry RC #103 Autograph #/399
The clear favorite for Golden State after Curry, Klay Thompson can also score at will. While he will likely always remain the second option on the court and in the hobby if he stays with the Warriors, there is much room for growth under the playoff spotlight. This will be especially true if Klay Thompson can replicate his insane 37-point performance in one quarter from earlier this season.
- 2012-13 Panini National Treasures Klay Thompson RC #110 Autographed Jersey #/199
- 2012-13 Immaculate Collection Klay Thompson RC #180 Autographed Jersey #/99
- 2011-12 Exquisite Collection Klay Thompson #64 Autograph #/199
He does not always fill up the stat sheet like Curry or Thompson, but Draymond Green has been an invaluable asset for the Warriors. The second-round pick in 2012 finished second in the Most Improved Player Award voting this year and collecting interest is building as Green shows what he can do.
- 2012-13 Panini National Treasures Draymond Green RC #156,186 Autographed Jersey #/99
- 2012-13 Immaculate Collection Draymond Green RC #161 Autographed Jersey #/99
As a high draft pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, Harrison Barnes has long had sizable expectations placed on him. Solid, if unspectacular, play has earned him a starting role but there are simply not enough shots go around and Barnes' collecting growth potential is hindered as a result.
- 2012-13 Panini National Treasures Harrison Barnes RC #157 Autographed Jersey #/199
- 2012-13 Immaculate Collection Harrison Barnes RC #139 Autographed Jersey #/99
The first player off the bench, Andre Iguodala's best days are behind him but he can still provide veteran leadership and play. Because his usage is now more based on a defensive mindset, there is not much growth potential for Iguodala's cards.
- 2004-05 Exquisite Collection Andre Iguodala RC #85 Autographed Jersey #/99
- 2004-05 Ultimate Collection Andre Iguodala RC #134 Autograph #/250
A seven-footer from Australia, Andrew Bogut has struggled with injuries during his entire career, but is currently healthy. Although he is the starting center, don't expect much from Bogut, as the Warriors live and die by the outside shot.
- 2005-06 Exquisite Collection Andrew Bogut RC #43 Autographed Jersey #/99
- 2005-06 Ultimate Collection Andrew Bogut RC #143 Autograph #/250
More of a feel-good story as opposed to a legitimate hobby option, Shaun Livingston has fought through plenty to become a contributing bench player for the Golden State Warriors. Drafted straight out of high school in 2004 by the Los Angeles Clippers, a horrific injury derailed his budding career. Nearly a decade and nine stops later, Livingston has a chance to claim a title. However, it is is unwise to expect much of an increase for his card values.
- 2004-05 Exquisite Collection Shaun Livingston RC #45 Autographed Jersey #/225
- 2004-05 Ultimate Collection Shaun Livingston RC #129 Autograph #/250
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The 2014-15 Cleveland Cavaliers have seen an up-and-down season but are coming together at the right time. This is in spite of the season-ending injury to Kevin Love and injuries to other key players. Although they may not jump out as the most likely to win the title, it is hard to bet against LeBron James, especially against a Warriors squad that has no experience at this level of basketball.
While Irving and James dominate the headlines, a huge part of the turnaround with the Cavs can be attributed to a few less-known players. Several new pieces were added during the season and a few backups were thrust into more prominent roles.
He is "King James" for a reason. LeBron James is already at the top of the basketball collecting world and nothing that happens this year will change that. Collectors and fans are expecting multiple titles, but he will be given one season before the real pressure begins. The worst case is that values hold steady and if he brings the first title to Cleveland, expect LeBron James values to surge even more. One thing to remember is that it appears that more people want to the Warrors to win and LBJ seems to build off the hate.
- 2003-04 Exquisite Collection LeBron James RC #78 Autographed Patch #/99
- 2003-04 Ultimate Collection LeBron James RC #127 Autograph #/250
- 2003-04 SP Authentic LeBron James RC #148 Autograph #/500
Even without LeBron James, Kyrie Irving was one of the top young stars in the NBA. Now, Irving is becoming a winner and has shown tremendous growth. Despite nagging injury issues, this has been especially evident in the earlier rounds of the playoffs. While he is not in a position to eclipse LBJ, Irving has plenty of time to carve out his legacy. Already commanding strong value and interest, Kyrie Irving can put his name among the true superstars of the league and see a huge push for his cards with a title win.
- 2012-13 Panini National Treasures Kyrie Irving RC #101 Autographed Jersey #/199
- 2012-13 Immaculate Collection Kyrie Irving RC #101 Autographed Jersey #/99
- 2012-13 Panini Flawless Kyrie Irving RC #96 Diamond #/20
Earning good minutes as a starter and off the bench, J.R. Smith is a viable scoring option after Irving and James and not shy about taking shots. The market for his cards is limited, but a big performance could easily yield a short-term spike. Smith was part of a mid-season trade from the Knicks.
- 2004-05 Exquisite Collection J.R. Smith RC #53 Autographed Jersey #/225
- 2004-05 Ultimate Collection J.R. Smith RC #143 Autograph #/250
Also part of the same trade with the Knicks that brought in J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert is another player seeing considerable court time as a shooting guard. Shumpert has shown enough flashes to catch the attention of collectors over the years and has the most hobby potential of anyone on the Cavaliers not named Kyrie Irving or LeBron James.
- 2012-13 Panini National Treasures Iman Shumpert RC #116 Autographed Jersey #/199
- 2012-13 Immaculate Collection Iman Shumpert RC #114 Autographed Jersey #/99
Brought in via trade to shore up the defense after a season-ending injury to Anderson Varejao, Timofey Mozgoz does all the things that a title contender needs in a big man, but it hardly makes him popular with collectors. While the Cavs will need a good performance from Mozgov to claim their first title, it is very unlikely he sees a big hobby bump.
- 2010-11 Panini National Treasures Timofey Mozgov RC #237 Autographed Jersey #/199
- 2010-11 Panini Gold Standard Timofey Mozgov RC Autograph #241
The fourth overall pick from the 2011-12 NBA Draft, Tristan Thompson has put forth an inconsistent early career, but the injury to Kevin Love has made him an important piece for the team. If his extended playoff minutes result in Thompson taking the next step in his career, he could earn a spot in the rotation for years to come and would become very important if Kevin Love leaves. Because of this possibility, collectors should keep an eye on Tristan Thompson cards going forward.
- 2012-13 Panini National Treasures Tristan Thompson RC #104 Autographed Jersey #/199
- 2012-13 Immaculate Collection Tristan Thompson RC #104 Autographed Jersey #/99
Whether you think he is a dirty player or just plays hard, Matthew Dellavedova proved you don't have to be a huge name or score a ton of points to greatly change a playoff series. For low-recognition players, any publicity is a helpful boost for their hobby profile and Dellavedova at least has people talking.
- 2013-14 Panini National Treasures Matthew Dellavedova RC #121 Autographed Jersey #/99
- 2013-14 Immaculate Collection Matthew Dellavedova RC #108 Autographed Jersey #/99
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