The NBA Finals marks the end of the 2013-14 basketball season. Down to the final two teams, everything will be under a microscope. Collectors will be paying extra attention to some key names as a big performance can lead to both short-term and long-term gains. Rookie cards tend to be the main route that collectors take in building their collections, and we look at the top options for the players that are most likely to benefit from a win.
As the final leg of the 2014 NBA Playoffs gets underway, the championship series has a familiar feel to it. Just last season, the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs squared off for the 2013 title. The Spurs appeared to have it wrapped up in game six, but some missed free throws and a last-second shot from Ray Allen shifted the series and the Heat ended up winning in seven games.
The two teams are back again in 2014 and both appear capable of going home with the Larry O'Brien Trophy. Although many of the players are household names, the series will likely be influenced by a few less-known or less-heralded players rising to the occasion. The following guide takes a collecting look at five key players from each team and the wild card options that could help sway the series.
2014 Miami Heat NBA Finals Collecting Guide
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Even on a team filled with All-Stars, it's LBJ and everyone else. "King James" is already one of the greatest players in NBA history. Win or lose, his card values will remain strong. Many collectors have likely wondered if he can eventually supplant Michael Jordan in the collecting world. While it is hard to see that ever happening, James is basically at the midway point in his career and has plenty of basketball left in him. His overall hobby legacy will be decided by what he does in his thirties. View our complete rookie card guide for LeBron James here.
Top LeBron James Rookie Cards
- 2003-04 Exquisite LeBron James RC Autographed Patch #78 #/99
- 2003-04 Ultimate Collection LeBron James RC Autograph #127 #/250
- 2003-04 SP Authentic LeBron James RC Autograph #148 #/500
Injuries and diminishing skills have caught up to Dwyane Wade. However, the decreased workload in the regular season has Wade poised for a bigger role this time, as evidenced by his success in the postseason thus far. Because his best days are behind him and he will likely never be the main face on his team again, huge gains are unlikely for Wade, even with another title. View our complete rookie card guide for Dwyane Wade here.
Top Dwyane Wade Rookie Cards
- 2003-04 Upper Deck Exquisite Dwyane Wade RC #74 Autographed Jersey #/99
- 2003-04 Upper Deck Ultimate Collection Dwyane Wade RC #131 Autograph #/250
- 2003-04 Bowman Chrome Dwyane Wade RC #149 Autograph #/250
Technically a backup to Dwyane Wade, Ray Allen actually logged more minutes in the regular season and has continued to live up to his reputation for hitting big shots. Like Wade, his best days are over, but Allen can boost his collecting legacy with another big series. Closing in on 40, Ray Allen's career is coming to an end and a third title would be a fantastic sendoff. View our complete rookie card guide for Ray Allen here.
Top Ray Allen Rookie Cards
- 1996-97 Topps Chrome Ray Allen RC #217
- 1996-97 Finest Ray Allen RC #22
- 1996-97 E-X2000 Ray Allen RC #37
It is tough for a 6'10" All-Star athlete to be overlooked, but Chris Bosh has a tendency to float under the radar, especially in the hobby. His time in Miami has been both a blessing and a curse for his cardboard career. While he is clearly a winner and has enjoyed a boost in popularity, Bosh is the third or forth choice on the team among collectors. Entering his prime years, it remains to be seen if Miami will keep "the Big Three" intact. Regardless, big men are largely undervalued by the hobby, and that continues with Bosh. View our complete rookie card guide for Chris Bosh here.
Top Chris Bosh Rookie Cards
- 2003-04 Exquisite Collection Chris Bosh RC #75 Autographed Jersey #/99
- 2003-04 Ultimate Collection Chris Bosh #130 Autograph #/250
- 2003-04 SP Authentic Chris Bosh RC #154 Autograph #/500
With LeBron James and Dwyane Wade handling the ball, the point guard position is not as vital for the Heat. While Mario Chalmers has emerged as the starter over Norris Cole, he is mostly an afterthought at this point. His cards are cheap and will likely remain that way.
Top Mario Chalmers Rookie Cards
- 2008-09 Exquisite Collection Mario Chalmers RC #83 Autographed Jersey #/225
- 2008-09 UD Black Mario Chalmers RC #69 Autographed Jersey #/99
- 2008-09 SP Authentic Mario Chalmers RC #108 Autographed Jersey #/499
Miami Heat Wild Cards
The Heat roster is top-heavy with elite talent and filled out with many seasoned veterans. Chris Andersen has always had a small, but devoted, hobby following. This is mainly because of his outlandish look and intense play, like a poor man's Dennis Rodman. Although he does not hold a candle to "the Worm" on the statistical front, "Birdman" can make plays. Despite limited remaining athletic ability, Shane Battier has stayed relevant with his basketball smarts and three point shooting. The Duke alum logged strong minutes in the regular season and could make some noise in the NBA Finals.
A few players are less likely to see any noticeable hobby bump, but could make a difference for the Heat. Rashard Lewis was left for dead, but has seen a resurgence in the last few games. It is hard to make assumptions on such a small sample size, but Lewis is another name to keep an eye on. Greg Oden has not played much in his disappointing career, but the former number one overall pick has plenty of cards out there and collectors would love a shot to unload some of them. One of the few youthful contributors, Norris Cole has seen his stock drop. If Mario Chalmers falters, Cole might earn more minutes and a shot at contributing to another title.
2014 San Antonio Spurs NBA Finals Collecting Guide
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Tim Duncan just keeps going. Too old. Too boring. Too much Tim Duncan. It took many years, but Duncan finally won over the hobby and the future Hall of Fame player would love to avenge the loss last year and add a fifth title to his résumé. His current values leave plenty of room for growth and Tim Duncan cards will surge if the Spurs take the 2014 championship. View our complete rookie card guide for Tim Duncan here.
Top Tim Duncan Rookie Cards
- 1997-98 Topps Chrome Tim Duncan RC #115
- 1997-98 Flair Showcase Row 3 Tim Duncan RC #5
- 1997-98 Finest Tim Duncan RC #101
Another player who suffers from the "boring" reputation of the Spurs, Tony Parker is the perfect compliment to Tim Duncan. Injuries are always a concern for the aging star and an ineffective Parker would spell certain doom for San Antonio. Because he will never reach that superstar level, his values have a ceiling, but a win would give his cards a nice bump. View our complete rookie card guide for Tony Parker here.
Top Tony Parker Rookie Cards
- 2001-02 SP Authentic Tony Parker RC #138 Autograph #/700
- 2001-02 SPx Tony Parker RC #91 Autographed Jersey #/800
- 2001-02 Ultimate Collection Tony Parker RC #64 #/750
After his stellar postseason performance in 2013, fans and collectors were expecting Kawhi Leonard to take the next step in his transformation. Despite totaling the most starts in his young career, Leonard's average minutes dropped and his stats barely moved. While he did not regress, Kawhi Leonard remained stagnant, hampered by the trio of seasoned stars that remain the focus of the team. Eventually the Spurs will be his team, but they still rely on his youthful exuberance and strong defense and will need "Playoff Kawhi" to take the stage in the NBA Finals. View our complete rookie card guide for Kawhi Leonard here.
Top Kawhi Leonard Rookie Cards
- 2012-13 Panini Immaculate Collection Kawhi Leonard RC #112 Autographed Jersey #/99
- 2012-13 Panini National Treasures Kawhi Leonard RC #114 Autographed Jersey #/199
- 2012-13 Panini Preferred Kawhi Leonard RC #319 Autographed Jersey #/99
Father Time has repeatedly come for Manu Ginóbili, but the feisty Argentine refuses to give up the fight. Incredibly inconsistent at times, Ginóbili is not technically the starter at shooting guard. However, he is normally the first off the bench and still gets about the same amount of court time as Danny Green. While the Spurs will need a good performance from Ginóbili to take the series, it is unlikely that his card values will see any long-term benefits.
Top Manu Ginóbili Rookie Cards
- 2002-03 SP Authentic Manu Ginóbili RC #172 Autograph #/1500
- 2002-03 Upper Deck Inspirations Manu Ginóbili RC #138 Autograph w/ Tony Parker #/1600
- 2002-03 Bowman Signature Edition Manu Ginóbili RC #SE-EG Autograph #/999
Normally the starter at shooting guard, Danny Green has been the same basic player the past three seasons. He only averages around ten points per game but his three point shooting makes him a threat and he converted an NBA-record 27 threes in the 2013 Finals against the Heat. Still on the younger side, the former UNC player is hardly on the collecting radar, but he is exciting to watch.
Top Danny Green Rookie Cards
- 2009-10 Panini National Treasures Danny Green RC #197 #/99
- 2009-10 Timeless Treasures Danny Green RC #137 Autograph #/299
- 2009-10 Donruss Elite Danny Green RC #168 Autograph #/499
San Antonio Spurs Wild Cards
The names are not as familiar as the Heat's bench, but the Spurs have several serviceable players who could make a noticeable difference. Tiago Splitter is a prototypical Spur. Nearly seven feet tall, the Brazilian is productive, but not very flashy. Patty Mills is having a strong year and could have a chance to shine if Tony Parker is hampered by injuries. Boris Diaw has proven to be an incredible mismatch on both ends of the court for the Spurs in the playoffs and could make a huge impact against Miami. Rounding out the international roster, Marco Belinelli has enjoyed one of the best statistical seasons in his career and will be counted on to provide bench scoring.