By Chris Olds | Beckett Basketball Editor
Panini America has seven new members on its basketball team.
The exclusive licensee of NBA trading cards announced on Tuesday that it has signed exclusive trading card deals with seven projected top first-round picks in Thursday’s draft, meaning that Panini products will be the only places to find cards of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Thomas Robinson, Harrison Barnes, Andre Drummond, Austin Rivers, Jared Sullinger and John Henson.
Kidd-Gilchrist was a member of the national champion Kentucky Wildcats, while Robinson was the Big 12 Player of the Year at Kansas and Barnes was an All-ACC honoree at North Carolina.
“We’re genuinely excited to add these gentlemen – the next generation of NBA superstars – to the Panini America family, and we can’t wait to get their first trading cards into the hands of fans and collectors,” said Panini America CEO Mark Warsop in a prepared statement. “The presence of these players in our complete line of 2012-13 products, in concert with the best rookies from the 2011-12 season, will create an unprecedented opportunity for fans and collectors to pursue a Double Rookie Card class in Panini America’s official NBA products throughout the entire season.”
Each of the 2012-13 Panini products will include a double rookie class — cards of both this year’s and last year’s draft picks, who did not appear on any standard cards in 2011-12 NBA products save for blind redemption cards that won’t be redeemed until after the first 2012-13 products arrive. (Need a checklist or OPG for a Panini basketball product? Click here.)
That’s a move that was lauded by the NBA.
“Panini America has bolstered what promises to be a great season for NBA trading cards,” said Lisa Goldberg, the NBA’s Vice President of Licensing and Global Merchandising, in a prepared statement. “Panini America continues to create new and innovative ways to generate excitement in the trading card industry and the 2012-13 double Rookie Card program is another example.”
Up first in August will be NBA Hoops, followed by Prestige in August and Threads in October. While Panini had just five products this past season — two of which have not arrived yet and are coming next week — the 2012-13 calendar may have as many as 20 NBA products for collectors to chase.
Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Basketball magazine. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an email to him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here.