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Basketball card

2020’s Underperformers from ’86 Fleer

Earlier this month I assembled all PSA 10 card values from the iconic 1986 Fleer set and highlighted the 10 cards that appreciated the most this year (you can find that post here). However, while the average card from the 1986 Fleer set was up nearly 70% this year alone, there were some cards that had lost value. In fact, 22 cards from the set of 132 have sold below what they were selling for at roughly this same time last year.

Since this set is so important to basketball card hobbyists, I see these underperformers as possibly value picks rather than long term “losers” for lack of a better word, but only time will tell. Below I highlighted the 10 cards from this set that have lost 20% or more in value this year. I should mention that some of these drops in value this year are likely the result of outlier sales prices in 2019, but more on this later.

10th worst drop: Mark Aguirre, card #3

Back in February 2020, the PSA 10 Mark Aguirre cards were selling for around $850, yet the most recent sales have fallen below $700, which translates to a 20% drop in Aguirre prices.

Aguirre was a very hot prospect in the early 1980s, and the Dallas Mavericks drafted him with the first overall pick in the 1981 draft. After seven and a half seasons with the Mavs, Aguirre was traded to Detroit where he helped the pistons win back-to-back NBA championships.

9th worst drop: Brad Davis, #22

So far it looks like a pattern may be shaping up for Dallas Mavs players, since Brad Davis is the second Mavs player on this short list. The Davis PSA 10 decrease could certainly be driven by an outlier sale of $400, which took place in November 2019 and brought the average November sales price up to around $340. Since then this card typically sells for around $270, marking the second Mavs player seeing a 20% drop in their Fleer ’86 card value.

1986 Fleer Brad Davis card (#22)

The mustachioed Davis was the LA Lakers 15th overall pick in the 1977 draft. He played most of his career in Dallas, and continues to be involved with the Mavs as the radio color commentator.

8th worst drop: Mychal Thompson, #111

The only two fourth quarter 2019 sales of PSA 10 Mychal Thompson cards both took place in October, and sold for around $245. The two most recent sales this year went for an average of $188, signaling a decline of about 23%.

Thompson made history as the first foreign-born player (Nassau, Bahamas) selected with the first overall pick in the 1978 draft, chosen by the Portland Trailblazers. Thompson has two sons currently playing in the NBA:  Klay Thompson and Mychel Thompson. Thompson is also a two time NBA Champion, winning with the Lakers in 1987 and 1988.

Given his number one draft pick status, his two championships with the storied Lakers franchise, and his two sons in the NBA, I’m fairly confident his 1986 Fleer card will rebound with collectors in 2021.

7th worst drop: Doc Rivers, #91

I was a bit shocked to see Doc Rivers name on this list, but back in December 2019 his PSA 10 Fleer card was selling for about $175 and the most recent sales in November this year have only average out to around $127, which means Rivers top grades are down 27%.

1986 Fleer Doc Rivers card (#91)

Rivers had a pretty solid NBA career, playing his best ball with the Atlanta Hawks from 1983-1991. Rivers also was selected to the All Star team in 1988. Rivers also enjoyed success as a coach, winning the Coach of the Year award in 2000 with the Orlando Magic, and winning an NBA Championship in 2008 as head coach of the Boston Celtics. Rivers is also the father of Austin Rivers, who currently plays for the NY Knicks.

Given Rivers strong career both as a player and coach, I expect his top graded cards to rebound in 2021 as more and more people turn their attention to the classic 1986 Fleer set.

6th worst drop: Rickey Green, #39

With a single sale of a PSA 10 Rickey Green card in February 2020 fetching $610 but only averaging about $471 from the three November 2020 sales, the Rickey Green 1986 Fleer card is down roughly 28% this year. Rickey Green is not a big name from this set by any stretch of the imagination, having bounced around the league playing for 8 different NBA teams over the course of his career,

Green’s best year came during the 1983-84 season when he posted 13 points, 9 assists, and nearly 3 steals per game, a strong enough season to be selected to the All Star team that year. It would be his first and only All Star appearance.

5th worst drop: Bill Hanzlik, #43

Back in October of 2019 a PSA 10 Bill Hanzlik card sold for $405. Nearly five months would pass before another 10 sold, and that one went for $400. Keep in mind these $400 sales were before Covid-19 hit and sent card prices through the roof… but that has not been the case for the 1986 Fleer Hanzlik card.

The average selling price of the two most recent PSA 10 Hanzlik cards was $290, nearly 30% below what this card was getting about a year ago.

Bill Hanzlik is certainly an unknown to me and I would guess many collectors and hobbyists alike – and for good reason. Hanzlik was the 20th overall selection in the 1980 draft and had a fairly sleepy NBA career with Seattle and Denver.

Hanzlik also tried his hand at coaching, first as the assistant coach with the Hornets and Hawks before becoming head coach of the Denver Nuggets in 1997, coaching them to a horrific 11 win season. He holds the record for worst full season coaching record by a first year coach.

4th worst drop: Wayne Cooper, #18

One of the most affordable cards in the 1986 Fleer set is card #18, featuring Denver Nuggets center Wayne Cooper. The PSA 10 Cooper cards were selling for roughly $245 at the end of 2019, while the average sales price for the two most recent transactions is about $165. As a result, top rated Cooper cards are down around 33% this year.

1986 Fleer Wayne Cooper card (#18)

The internet and Wikipedia had surprisingly little on Cooper – perhaps this is due in part to Cooper hailing from Milan, Georgia. What I did find on Cooper wasn’t all too impressive and Id expect his cards to be a bottom priority for most collectors. He was the 40th overall pick in the 1978 draft and over the course of his career, Cooper played for the Warriors, Jazz, Mavs, Trail Blazers, and Nuggets.

I expect Cooper cards will be low cost and low upside grabs for collectors for many years. The only upside story here is simply a result of being included in this great set.

3rd worst drop: Buck Williams. #123

I said at the onset of this post that we’d get to an example of an outlier throwing off the data and that is certainly the case with the PSA 10 card featuring Buck Williams. There was really only one price for me to use roughly one year ago, and that was a sales price of $444 that took place in mid-January, 2020. The average price for the two most recent sales is about $265, which means Buck Williams top graded cards are down around 40%.

I thought about removing Williams from this analysis but figured it was a good example of just how messy and tricky some of the data can be.

To my surprise, Buck Williams had a pretty impressive 17-year NBA career. His career highlights include winning Rookie of the Year in 1982, was a three-time All Star, and Williams is 16th all time in rebounds (with 13,017). Williams played his first 8 seasons with the New Jersey Nets, where he was a consistent double-double threat. Williams also played 7 seasons for Portland and his final two seasons were with the Knicks.

2nd worst drop: Alvin Robertson, #92

There weren’t many PSA 10 Alvin Robertson sales taking place in the back half of 2019 – in fact there was just one, which sold for $405 on November 10, 2019. Skipping forward two months, the first PSA 10 Robertson sale of 2020 only brought in $115. To me that would indicate the $405 sale was an outlier, but to be safe I just took the average of those two sales and settled on $260 for my end of 2019 PSA 10 Robertson price.

When we look at the most recent sales prices of PSA 10 Robertson 1986 Fleer cards, we see that none of the December sales have topped $150, in fact the average selling price was just $132, down nearly 50% from the $260 price I arrived at from 2019.

Robertson had a very impressive NBA career, he holds the record for most steals per game in the NBA (averaging 2.71) and he is the only guard in NBA history to secure a quadruple double in a game. However, he is marred with a disturbing criminal history – including arrests for domestic violence as well as an alleged sexual assault of a child. The sexual assault charge was determined to be fabricated, but Robertson’s post NBA issues seem to be negatively impacting his card value.

As a fan and collector of the 1986 Fleer set, I for one am in no rush to add Robertson to my stack.

Worst drop: Dan Schayes, #98

The card that is down the most this year is card #98 in the set, belonging to Dan Schayes. With the steep 2020 drop, this is just one of three PSA 10 cards that can be acquired for about $100 (the other two are the Sikma card and the Henderson card).

1986 Fleer Dan Schayes card (#98)

But back in October and November of last year, the PSA 10 Schayes was selling for around $225 on average. When we compare that to the two most recent sales in November 2020, we see the average selling price of $103, and plummeting by over 50%.

Danny Schayes had a long 18-year career in the NBA and was a journeyman center, playing for seven different teams. Schayes is the son of the late great Dolph Schayes. Schayes was the 13th overall pick in the 1981 draft. Folks in Syracuse, NY may be familiar with Schayes, since he is the co-host of Centers of Attention, a sports talk show on ESPN Radio Syracuse.

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