10 Most Valuable WNBA Rookie Cards

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When it comes to basketball cards, the WNBA is a corner of the hobby that’s been largely overlooked. A passionate collector exists but it’s also one that’s very niche. Cards have been there from the league’s earliest days, debuting in 1997 with Pinnacle Inside — the line that packaged cards in a can. Over the years, the license has moved a few times with stops at Fleer/SkyBox, Rittenhouse and, now, Panini.

With only a couple of early exceptions, just one set of WNBA cards has been released each season. This has kept the league’s hobby imprint on the small side thus far. That makes keeping tabs on top players’ cards not overly difficult, even beyond their first season. For the most part, print runs are small when you compare them to other major professional sports leagues.

Because there hasn’t been a lot of sets, there isn’t ton of WNBA Rookie Cards. According to the Beckett database, between 1997 and 2019 there were 608 cards with the RC tag. That’s an average of about 26 per year. Now consider that it’s not uncommon for individual rookies from the NBA, MLB, NFL and NHL to have 30 or more each.

The earliest seasons of the league brought Rookie Cards of several legends like Sheryl Swoopes, Lisa Leslie and Cynthia Cooper. But the earliest sets are also some of the most widely available, keeping prices somewhat in check. Like most corners of the hobby, rarity also comes into play. This gives some of the tougher sets more weight in this regard. With that in mind, here are the WNBA RCs that carry the highest values.

10 Most Valuable WNBA Rookie Cards

Spots are determined primarily by value in the Beckett price guide.

10. 2013 Rittenhouse WNBA Brittney Griner RC #61

Still in the midst of a stellar career, Brittney Griner is already one of the elite all-time WNBA defenders. A perennial All-Star, her accolades also include a WNBA Championship, a scoring title and multiple Defensive Player of the Year honors. Her Rookie Card is part of Rittenhouse’s 2013 factory set, which has a minuscule print run of just 500 copies. Griner also has an autograph in the set.

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9. 2001 Ultra WNBA Jackie Stiles RC #125

Jackie Stiles’ WNBA career is one that’s too common in all sports — cut short due to injury. She rose to notoriety in college playing for the Southwest Missouri State where she scored a then women’s collegiate record 3,393 points. In 2001, Stiles became the first female college basketball player to score 1,000 points in a season. Later that year, she was taken fourth by Portland in the WNBA draft. An All-Star and Rookie of the Year in her first season, injuries started to take their toll not long after. Stiles’ final WNBA games came in 2002, just her second season.

Despite this, her 2001 Ultra Rookie Card is one of the most valuable WNBA Rookie Cards as collectors recognize her impact on the court and now as a coach. Stiles was elected to the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2016.

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8. 2001 Ultra WNBA Lauren Jackson RC #129

A three-time MVP, 2010 WNBA Finals MVP and seven-time All-Star, Lauren Jackson’s accolades rank her as one of the best to ever suit up in the league. The Australian’s achievements cover the globe, with four Olympic medals as well. A three-time WNBA scoring champion, Jackson was also stellar on the opposite end of the court, she was on the All-Defensive First- or Second-Team five times. Her RC in 2001 Ultra, along with Stiles, is a slight short print. The final 27 cards combine to land every other pack.

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7. 2002 Fleer Authentix WNBA Sue Bird RC #101 /2002

2002 Fleer Authentix WNBA brought the concept of serial-numbered Rookie Cards to the league with each getting 2,002 copies. The brand lasted a few years in different sports, bringing ticket elements in a variety of ways. For this Sue Bird RC, that means the layout. Looking back on how Contenders has grown over the years with a similar theme, one can only wonder what could have been if autographs were in the mix as well.

Parallels: Front Row (/100)

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2002 Fleer Authentic WNBA Sue Bird RC

6. 2002 Ultra WNBA Sue Bird RC #101

Sue Bird has a second Rookie Card in 2002 Ultra WNBA. Although it doesn’t have a serial number, this one might actually prove to be a little tougher to find than Authentix. Should you come across any packs of 2002 Ultra, you’re not going to find this one inside. Instead, you could come across a redemption card for it.

Bird’s résumé is the embodiment of a champion. At UConn, she won a pair of NCAA Championships. On the international scene, there are four Olympic gold medals and four FIBA World Cup wins. Bird also has three WNBA titles with the Seattle Storm.

Parallels: Gold Medallion (/25)

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5. 2004 Ultra WNBA Diana Taurasi RC #91

Another piece of the UConn dynasty, Diana Taurasi helped lead the Huskies to three consecutive NCAA titles (2002-2004). From there, she went first overall to the Phoenix Mercury where she won three WNBA titles. The legendary guard has collected plenty of individual honors at every level including a WNBA MVP, a pair of Finals MVPs and nine All-Star selections. Taurasi’s 8,575 career points top the league’s all-time list, more than 1,000 ahead of anyone else.

Her lone Rookie Card, found in 2004 Ultra WNBA, is a slight short print. The final 20 cards combine to land 1:4 packs. There are also two serial-numbered parallels, Gold Medallion and Platinum Medallion, that are extremely tough to finds.

Parallels: Gold Medallion (/100), Platinum Medallion (/25)

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2004 Ultra WNBA Diana Taurasi RC

4. 2001 Fleer WNBA Jackie Stiles RC #194

2001 saw Fleer/SkyBox release two WNBA sets. Taking a more old-school approach to Ultra’s slick full-bleed design, this is not a common card today as it came via redemption. Fleer also handed out a Portland Fire team set in the form of an uncut sheet at a July home game. That one should be easy to recognize due to its perforated edges.

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2001 Fleer WNBA Jackie Stiles Rookie Card

3. 2013 Rittenhouse WNBA Elena Della Donne RC #12

The story of Elena Della Donne’s professional career is still being told. However, it’s one that’s already got plenty of highs. One of the WNBA’s most popular players and biggest names, she entered the league as the second pick in the 2013 draft and proceeded to garner the most All-Star votes in her rookie season. She’s won league MVPs with both the Chicago Sky (2015) and Washington Mystics (2019). She also helped lead the Mystics to a title in 2019. Like Griner, this card was only available in Rittenhouse’s factory set and has just 500 copies. Della Donne also has an autograph on the checklist.

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2013 Rittenhouse WNBA Elena Delle Donne RC

2. 2001 Fleer WNBA Lauren Jackson RC #196

We’ve established that Jackson is one of the best ever in the WNBA. While her Ultra Rookie Card carries significant clout, her 2001 Fleer RC does, too. Finding this one in any sort of quantity today is extremely difficult. Like Stiles, Jackson arrived in packs as a team-based redemption.

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2001 Fleer WNBA Lauren Jackson

1. 2016 Rittenhouse Breanna Stewart RC #95

Even before making her WNBA debut in May, 2016, Breanna Stewart was one of the most decorated women’s basketball players of all-time. Another part of Connecticut’s long and evolving dynasty, Stewart is the only player to be named the Final Four Most Outstanding Player four times. She was the WNBA’s MVP in 2018 and led the Seattle Storm to the league championship.

The 2016 Rittenhouse WNBA Breanna Stewart Rookie Card was only issued in factory set form. Like a lot of Rittenhouse’s sets, production numbers were kept low. It has just 500 total copies. But many of those are likely still sitting with their original sets. For completists, Stewart also has three different autographs in the product with just one landing in each set.

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2016 Rittenhouse WNBA Breanna Stewart RC

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Ryan Cracknell

A collector for much of his life, Ryan focuses primarily on building sets, Montreal Expos and interesting cards. He's also got one of the most comprehensive collections of John Jaha cards in existence (not that there are a lot of them). Got a question, story idea or want to get in touch? You can reach him by email and through Twitter @tradercracks.

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3 comments

  1. Jake 10 September, 2020 at 09:55

    Maya Moore’s Rittenhouse on card rookie auto sold for more than any card on this list a couple months ago via eBay. She should be on this list

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