Panini Basketball Cards

Panini’s basketball cards have a brief history as they became the sole licensed distributor of basketball cards for the NBA in 2009. While Panini has experience with producing stickers and a few unlicensed cards going back to the 1980s, this article focuses on Panini’s production since their official licensing.

Panini is based out of Modena Italy, and it was founded in 1961. It is known more broadly for its production of books, comics, magazines, stickers, and collectibles in general. The greatest addition by Panini to the collectible world are the stickers which gained fame with the 1970 World Cup. The stickers continue to be popular, and they grow in the United States with 10 million sticker packs sold in the US during the 2010 World Cup.

The company had humble beginnings. It was founded by Benito and Giuseppe Panini after the brothers successfully sold previously unsellable figurines. The company has since expanded into a multitude of areas, developed an internet presence, and employs over one thousand people while generating over 750 million euros in revenue in 2014.

While Panini has traditionally focused its sports licensing on soccer, Panini expanded into the United States in 2009 with the purchase of the Donruss assets. Kobe Bryant signed on as the official company spokesman. The NBA, NHL, NFL, and their respective Players’ Associations soon signed on with Panini.

Panini releases many basketball sets per year. They made headlines by cutting back the number of basketball sets in 2018 from 27 to 22 in 2019. Though their time producing NBA trading cards is brief, there are plenty of sets to look at. This article hopes to inform you on the company’s recent successes in basketball card production.

2009-2010 Panini Timeless Treasures

The boxes cost less than $100, and they produced quality cards of solid design. Panini was praised for improving upon their designs. The set includes autographs, patches, and other inserts.

2010-2011 Panini Threads

Boxes sold for about $80 on release. There were a number of rookie autographed cards. Key autographed rookie cards include John Wall and Paul George.

NBA Basketball 2011-2012

Basketball cards took a hit this year because of the NBA lockout. Contracts and general business were more difficult to handle. Still, Panini landed the exclusive rights to Derrick White and Kyrie Irving. Irving’s rookie card has continued to increase in value.

2012-2013 Panini Flawless

Panini jumped back into action for the 2012-2013 NBA season. Their Flawless set was released at the significant price of $1,250 per box. Each box came with ten cards with seven autographs, and two memorabilia cards. Every single card in the set is numbered to 25 at the most.

The autographs came from players such as Kobe Bryant, Kevin Love, Damian Lillard, Dennis Rodman, Kevin Durant, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

2013-2014 Court Kings

The major rookie card on this set is the 2019 MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo whose card sells for several hundred in Gem Mint condition.

Panini had not released a set of Court Kings since the 2009-2010 season. The brand is loosely based off of Donruss baseball cards from the 1980s and 1990s.

The set also features a number of autographs. Some subsets include Legacies, which has players who have stayed with the same team for a while, and Le Cinque Piu Belle, which has five different version of showcasing leading scorers.

2014-2015 Panini Prizm

This was an exciting set because there were 14 Prizm parallels in every box. The Prizms came in a variety of colors and scarcity, such as the Purple (x/139), Blue (x/99), Red (x/49), Gold (x/10), Black (1/1). Then, there were Prizms exclusive to “jumbo boxes.” Those followed a similar line of scarcity with Orange Die Cut, Light Blue, Red Pulsar, Gold Pulsar, and Black Pulsar. 22 Prizm parallels came in every jumbo box.

While the Andrew Wiggins and Zach Lavine cards have declined, the Joel Embiid cards can surpass several hundred depending on the Prizm.

2015-2016 Panini Prizm

The rookie cards of Devin Booker, Karl-Anthony Towns, Nickola Jokic, and Kristaps Porzingis are all valuable cards. Depending on the prism, they can be even more valuable.

The entire set has 400 cards. Similar to the year prior, the set comes with a number of parallels with different color Prizms.

Forty different rookies also have on card signatures. Some key inserts include Fireworks, Point Men, and USA Basketball.

2016-2017 Panini Prizm

The Prizm sets were popular releases for these years which is why they are mentioned three times. The major rookies for the year are Ben Simmons, Jaylen Brown, Brandon Ingram, Jamal Murray, and Pascal Siakam. Again, the base cards will sell for under $100, but the right and rare Prizm can spike the price.

Along with the usual variations of rarity of the Prizm parallels, this set features a number autographs from rookies and veterans. The Explosion insert is about great players, and it comes with an excellent design. All Day focuses on players who never give up. First Step, Go Hard or Go Home, and Sky’s the Limit are other notable inserts.

2017-2018 Panini Contenders

The Contenders brand had been wildly popular with NFL card collectors the year before, so Panini improved the brand for the NBA.

A major draw for this set is that the rookie cards feature the players in their new professional uniforms. Some popular rookie cards include Lonzo Ball, Jayson Tatum, Donovan Mitchell, and De’Aaron Fox. The autograph cards are, of course, more valuable.

There are a number of inserts from Superstar to Lottery Picks, but the Rookie Ticket subset steals the show. The card features a picture, a ticket, and an on card autograph.

2018-2019 Panini Contenders

The Rookie Ticket autograph cards continued to be very popular for the 2018-2019 release. The major rookie autographs come from Luka Doncic, Trae Young, DeAndre Ayton, and Marvin Bagley. The Doncic cards have soared to over $1,200 in value in Gem Mint condition.


Compared to an older brand like Topps, Panini has not been making cards in the United States for very long. However, their work with the NBA cards is emblematic of an exciting brand that may establish itself in which their beginning cards, such as the sets named, continue to rise in value over the years as a result of a solid brand.