Top 10 Upper Deck Exquisite Basketball Rookie Cards

Top 10 Upper Deck Exquisite Basketball Rookie Cards

When Upper Deck Exquisite Collection Basketball first arrived in 2003-04, many collectors gasped at the $500 per box price tag. However, the set also opened up a whole new market that has thrived. The UD Exquisite Collection rookie cards are among the most popular in the hobby. The best combine on-card autographs, patch swatches and low serial numbers. The brand recognition adds another layer of prestige as well. Before Upper Deck lost their NBA license, Exquisite was the benchmark against which all other basketball sets were compared. In fact, its influence reaches to all other major sports.

The massive price tags keep many of the top Exquisite Collection Basketball cards out of the reach of many collectors. But it's not like there's a massive supply to begin with. None are numbered to more than 225. However, most of the top players are limited to 99 copies.

Another way to get an idea of the most popular cards is with our real-time Exquisite Collection hot list.

So which Upper Deck Exquisite Basketball rookie cards are the best of the best? Here's our list of the key options.

See also: Inside Story of the 2003-04 Exquisite LeBron James Rookie Card

Top Exquisite Collection Basketball Rookie Cards

Shop for singles on eBay or check completed sales prices using the linked card listings below. Bolded text in the body goes to detailed profiles. 

10. 2008-09 Exquisite Derrick Rose RC #92 Autograph Patch #/99

When Derrick Rose was named the NBA's MVP in 2011, he became the youngest player to do so. At his peak, he was unstoppable. While injuries ultimately robbed him of his prime years, his 2008-09 Exquisite Collection rookie is still a top choice.

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9. 2003-04 Exquisite Chris Bosh RC #75 Autograph Patch #/99

Chris Bosh is often viewed as the third wheel on those powerhouse Miami Heat teams behind LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, but that still hasn't stopped his 2003-04 Exquisite Collection rookie from being one of the best cards. His rookie is also benefited greatly by being in the iconic first edition.

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8. 2009-10 Exquisite James Harden RC #45/#74 Autograph #/225

Dropping the patch and switching to a college theme is admittedly jarring, but collectors have warmed up to the James Harden rookie card in 2009-10 Exquisite Collection. As seen below, there are two different image options with the same print run.

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7. 2005-06 Exquisite Chris Paul RC #46 Autograph Patch #/99

The perennial All-Star is one of the greatest point guards in the modern game and this Chris Paul rookie card in 2005-06 Exquisite remains very popular with collectors.

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6. 2008-09 Exquisite Russell Westbrook RC #93 Autograph Patch #/225

Russell Westbrook is another elite NBA talent with an in-demand 2008-09 Exquisite RPA. This is one of the more plentiful options from the brand's run as the best NBA rookie card.

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5. 2003-04 Exquisite Carmelo Anthony RC #76 Autograph Patch #/99

Like Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony is one of the game's most popular and recognized players still searching for an NBA title. And while his 2003-04 Exquisite Collection rookie will always command huge amounts, the lack of postseason glory keeps him from a higher ranking.

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4. 2009-10 Exquisite Stephen Curry RC #64/#72 Autograph #/225

It might not have a jersey patch or NBA images, but this Stephen Curry rookie card from 2009-10 Exquisite Collection is one of the best and still very popular with collectors. Curry has a pair of cards, each numbered to 225.

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3. 2003-04 Exquisite Dwyane Wade RC #74 Autograph Patch #/99

With multiple NBA championships to his name, Dwyane Wade's place in history is already cemented. His best rookie hails from the landmark 2003-04 Exquisite Collection release and it rarely shows up on the open market.

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2. 2007-08 Exquisite Kevin Durant RC #94 Autograph Patch #/99

Kevin Durant isn't only one of basketball's best players, he's also one of the most popular. Collectors have propelled his 2007-08 Exquisite rookie into the hobby's highest heights and made it one of the most valuable NBA cards in the modern era.

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1. 2003-04 Exquisite LeBron James RC #78 Autograph Patch #/99

Were you expecting anything different? 2003-04 Exquisite Collection is the original release and the LeBron James rookie has been the undisputed centerpiece of the Exquisite line since it debuted.

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Top 10 Upper Deck Exquisite Basketball Rookie Cards 13

Ryan Cracknell

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Ryan is a former member of The Cardboard Connection Writing Staff.   His collecting origins began with winter bike rides to the corner store, tossing a couple of quarters onto the counter and peddling home with a couple packs of O-Pee-Chee hockey in his pocket. Today, he continues to build sets, go after inserts with cool technologies, chase Montreal Expos and finish off his John Jaha master collection.

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