Zion Williamson Rookie Card Guide and Other Notable Early Cards


If you’re looking a Zion Williamson Rookie Card, there’s not much at the moment. But that’s about to change. It won’t be long before there will be plenty to choose from.

Williamson enters the NBA with a lot of hype. He’s the biggest rookie basketball has seen since since LeBron James. Not surprisingly, those expectations are carrying over to the collecting world as well.

Before the 2019-20 basketball card season is over, collectors will have more than 20 Zion Williamson Rookie Cards to choose from. While there’s going to be significant demand for all of them if the hype continues the way it is already, there will be a big price range. Entry-level sets will be more readily available and affordable. Collectors can expect others from high-end sets like National Treasures to come with limited print runs and things like autographs and premium memorabilia pieces. These will run thousands of dollars.

Panini has an exclusive deal with the forward that means they’ll be the only company producing Zion Williamson cards and autograph cards.

2019-20 Hoops Zion Auto

On top of the traditional Zion Williamson Rookie Cards — base cards found in main sets — there will be plenty of other autographs, inserts and parallels to chase.

When to Expect the First Zion Williamson Rookie Card

The first traditional Zion Williamson Rookie Card arrives with 2019 Panini Contenders Draft Picks Basketball. It’s largely a college-themed release so Williamson will be in his Duke uniform. It’s also an autograph. Contenders Draft Picks is scheduled to come out in early September.

For those looking for Williamson’s first pack-inserted cards in his New Orleans gear, it’ll be in October with 2019-20 NBA Hoops.

You can keep tabs on all Zion Williamson cards, including RCs, in the Beckett database. This is where you’ll find comprehensive checklists of all of his cards. In the months ahead, this page will have updates highlighting the Zion Williamson Rookie Card lineup.

In the meantime, here’s what you can chase already.

Early Zion Williamson Cards of Note

Here’s a look at the Zion Williamson cards available before his first in-pack, mainstream releases.

2019 Panini Instant Draft Night Zion Williamson #DN-ZW

2019 Panini Instant Draft Night has the distinction of featuring the first official Zion Williamson card. Rather than packs, cards were originally sold through the card maker’s website with a print run equal to the total number ordered. That number? 17,281 copies.

Ten Green versions and a one-of-one Black parallel were sold separately. A Silver parallel, which has 25 copies, was given to Super VIPs at Panini annual VIP party held in conjunction with the 2019 National Sports Collectors Convention.

Parallels: Silver (/25), Green (/10), Black (1/1)

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2019 Panini Instant Draft Night Zion Williamson

2019 Panini Instant Draft Night Zion Williamson #DN-ZW2

This variation was sent out randomly as a surprise to some of those who ordered the regular 2019 Panini Instant Draft Night card. However, it’s much more limited with just 100 copies.

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2019 Panini Instant Draft Night Zion Williamson Variation

2019 Panini Instant RPS First Look Zion Williamson

The first Zion Williamson card to feature the first overall pick in a Pelicans uniform is another Panini Instant offering. This one comes from the Rookie Photo Shoot. Like other Panini Instant cards, it’s done through a print-on-demand structure where the print run will be determined by how many are ordered. It’s available through August 19 on the Panini website.

Parallels: Green (/10), Black (1/1)

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2019 Panini Instant RPS First Look Zion Williamson

2019 Panini National Convention Basketball Prospects Zion Williamson #BK25

This card came in the 2019 Panini National Convention Silver Packs, which were done in conjunction with the show’s wrapper redemption program. It comes with several parallels that use distinct background patterns. There are also a couple of scarce memorabilia parallels.

Parallels: Magnetic Fur (/99), Rainbow Spokes (/50), Explosion (/40), Escher Squares (/25), Memorabilia Cracked Ice (/25), Pyramids (/10), Galactic Windows (/5), HyperPlaid (1/1), Memorabilia HyperPlaid (1/1)

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2019 Panini National Convention Basketball Prospects Zion Williamson

2019 Panini National Convention Case Breaker Zion Williamson #ZW

This is another promo card from the 2019 National Sports Collectors Convention. Rather than being available to the general public, it comes from a small set made for case breakers attending the show to use as an incentive.

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2019 Panini National Case Breaker Zion Williamson

2019 Panini National Convention VIP Zion Williamson #ZW

Those purchasing VIP ticket packages at The National got a coupon for a special set from Panini. To get the ten card set, they had to take the coupon to Panini’s booth and redeem it. Williamson was a mystery up until when the convention got underway.

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2019 National Convention VIP Panini Zion Williamson

2019 Panini National Convention VIP Gold Zion Williamson #94

Every year at the National Sports Collectors Convention, Panini holds a party for an exclusive group. Besides special guests, food and fun, attendees get an exclusive set of cards distributed in special gold packs. The 2019 Panini National Convention VIP Gold set is done with chromium stock. The set’s Zion Williamson card has several parallels that are a mix of colors and backgrounds. There are also Memorabilia parallels that have no more than 25 copies.

Parallels: Lazer (99 copies), Prizm (99 copies), Purple (/99), Pink (/50), Memorabilia Neon Green (/25), Red (/25), Blue (/15), Gold (/10), Memorabilia Black (/10), Red/White/Blue (10 copies), Tiger Stripes (10 copies), Green (/5), Memorabilia Gold (/5), Gold Vinyl (1/1), Memorabilia 1-of-1 (1/1)

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2019 Panini National Convention Gold VIP Zion Williamson

2019 Panini National Convention Black Box Gems Zion Williamson #ZW /3

In addition to an assortment of gold packs, VIP party attendees got a Black Box. All of the cards in the special set have diamonds embedded in them. Print runs are also very small. The base Williamson card has just three copies. The lone parallel is a one-of-one.

Parallels: Gold (1/1)

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2019 Panini National Convention VIP Black Box Gems Zion Williamson

Beware of Bootleg Zion Williamson Cards

The enormous interest in everything Zion has brought a lot of new and returning collectors back to cards. It’s also brought lots of unlicensed and bootleg cards. These are essentially cards people design and print themselves.

Even though some look legit, they’re far from official. They also carry no value as collectibles. In essence, they’re homemade cards. Unfortunately, it’s one of the drawbacks of online marketplaces like eBay. It can be hard to keep up with and monitor them. And for collectors who might be new to the hobby, these cards can create tremendous confusion.

The best thing to do is avoid these types of cards. If you’re looking for a Zion Williamson Rookie Card or other cards, stick to the real thing.


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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  1. Ryan 14 August, 2019 at 07:52

    Do you think the Zion Williamson Panini National Gold/Silver rookie cards will hold value over time? or will they be trumped by the Panini Prizm, National Treasures, etc.

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