For vintage basketball cards, it doesn’t get much better than the 1986 Fleer set. Everyone knows this set from the iconic Jordan rookie, but the ’86 Fleer set has a ton of other incredible rookies as well, including Clyde Drexler, Patrick Ewing, Karl Malone, and many more.
I’ve gone back to December 2019 and pulled all the PSA 10 prices from the PSA website to see which top graded cards from this set have appreciated in value the most this year.
10: Darrell Griffith (card #42)
The price of PSA 10 Darrell Griffith cards were going for about $85 last year and the three most recent sales this December have averaged out to $273, which represents a 217% increase. Griffith (aka Dr. Dunkenstein) played guard for the Utah Jazz and was the 2nd overall pick in the 1980 NBA draft. He played his entire career (1980-1991) in Utah.
9: Larry Nance (card #77)
The price of PSA 10 Larry Nance cards were selling for roughly $185 at the end of 2019, but the most recent sale of the ’86 Fleer Nance card sold for $643, which represents a nearly 250% increase. Nance played power forward for both the Suns and Cavs. Nance was selected 20th overall in the 1981 draft and was known for his tenacious defense and dunking prowess.
8: Karl Malone Rookie (card #68)
Just one of the many incredible rookies from the ’86 Fleer set, the Karl Malone PSA 10 rookie card was selling for around $820 last year, while at present it typically fetches around $3,300, an approximate increase of 300%. Malone was the 13th overall pick in the 1985 draft, playing most of his career in Utah along side John Stockton.
7: Joe Dumars Rookie (card #27)
Another fantastic rookie card from this set, the Joe Dumars rookie card had been selling for $175 last year (only a single sale in December 2019) and now sells for around $720, representing a 310% increase. Dumars was selected 18th overall in the 1985 draft by Detroit Pistons. Dumars helped lead the Pistons to two NBA titles and was awarded the Finals MVP in 1989.
6: Patrick Ewing Rookie (card #32)
The card with the sixth best year to date performance in 2020 is the Patrick Ewing rookie. The PSA 10s that were selling for around $850 toward the end of 2019 are now selling for around $4,000, which means top graded Ewing rookies are up over 350% this year. Ewing was selected by the New York Knicks with the first overall pick in the 1985 draft, and he would play 15 of his 17 seasons in New York.
5: Michael Jordan Rookie (card #57)
Undoubtedly one of the most famous and recognizable cards in the hobby, the PSA 10 Michael Jordan rookie card, is having an explosive year. So far this December there have been three Jordan rookies selling at or above $200,000! The average selling price in December is $180,000. The average selling price in December 2109 was only about $35,300, marking a price increase of 410% this year.
4: Clyde Drexler Rookie (Card #26)
Taking the number fourth spot on this list is the Clyde “The Glide” Drexler rookie card. The PSA 10 Drexler rookie had a recent sale of $3,550 on December 21st, but the average selling price this December has been about $2,200. Compared to the average price in December 2019 (only one sale) of $417, the Drexler rookie is up around 425%.
3: Kevin McHale (card #73)
The legendary Celtics forward, Kevin McHale, has a base card in this set that has taken off with collectors in 2020. The average selling price for the PSA 10 card is currently around $1,600 while last year it was going for $300, which is about a 440% one year increase.
With the McHale base card taking a top spot on this list, the data points to very strong demand for 1986 Fleer in general and not just the impressive rookie cohort.
2: Charles Barkley Rookie (card #7)
Sir Charles Barkley also has his rookie card in this very impressive 1986 Fleer set and the PSA 10 rookie card has been in very high demand with collectors this year. There have been three PSA 10 Barkley rookies sold this December with an average selling price of $8,300. Compared to December 2019’s average (only one sale) of $1,500, the top graded Barkley rookie is up 450%.
1: Hakeem Olajuwon Rookie (card #82)
The card that has seen the most insane price pop this year from the 1986 Fleer set is the Hakeem Olauwon rookie card. The most recent sale of a PSA 10 graded Olajuwon rookie went for $12,556, while the average selling price this December was around $8,850. Compare that to last Decembers average selling price of $800, which means this card is up about 1,000% this year!
The chart below shows just how crazy that 1,000% increase is compared to the other top 10 names on this list.
Given the timing challenges for this simplistic ‘back of the envelope’ type analysis, I kept things as simple as I could and would compare December 2020 average selling price with December 2019 average selling price. There were many instances where I would have to go back or forward a month when sales didn’t occur in December. The aim of the analysis above is primarily to see major movers over the past 12 months.
Not every cad in this set increased in value this year. In a future post I will highlight the 2020 losers from the 1986 Fleer set. Stay tuned!