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Fanatics Dives Into Ultra-Niche With G League Trading Cards

  • The card set is 100 players with a few top draft prospects in it, such as Ron Holland.
  • Demand for the product is unclear.
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Fanatics is taking over another sector of the trading card market. Or maybe it’s inventing one.

The sports merchandise and licensing giant announced Wednesday that it’s launching Topps G League Basketball, a trading card set of 100 cards including autographs and short prints that will retail for $39.99 a box with four packs per box and eight cards per pack. 

Fanatics, which bought Topps in 2022, is set to take over the NBA licensing agreement in 2025. The G League trading card deal is separate. 

While not much is known about who will be in the set, the collection has raised some eyebrows around the G League. Traditionally, G League teams have a thin history of trading cards. Teams occasionally gave away sets as a promotion and the G League Ignite have had their own set as well. 

Panini previously released a 180-card set for the 2021–22 season, which was in October and had players on their opening-night teams. Topps’s release is just the second mainstream release behind Panini’s previous set. Given the G League’s lack of trading card history, the results may not be immediate for Fanatics. 

Another complicating factor is the league’s inherent volatility. Players frequently leave teams due to NBA call-ups or more lucrative deals overseas, in addition to the typical injury attrition. One former G League executive told Front Office Sports they estimate no more than three to five players from their opening-night roster make it through the entire G League season. A quick glance at the set list shows a mix of NBA veterans who played last season in the G League such as Trey Burke and Kenneth Faried, and G League players who received brief NBA playing time such as two-way player Pete Nance, the younger brother of Pelicans forward Larry Nance Jr. Two-time NBA Dunk Contest champion Mac McClung also has a card in the set. 

Should Topps release a second set the following season, it’s possible it could release a trading card of Bronny James, who is expected to spend time in the G League next season as a developmental draft prospect. A Bronny James Topps card could drop right before the company takes over the NBA license should the release dates stay the same. 

The set appears to feature members of the soon-to-be defunct Ignite, which could have two top-10 picks in the NBA draft: Ron Holland and Matas Buzelis. Similar to name, image, and likeness trading cards, it remains to be seen how the demand of the player’s G League cards rivals their NBA rookie cards. 

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