Updated: Oct 1, 2021
Tier 4 and 5 Cards
( Mosaic, Elite, Donruss, Hoops )
Cards in Tiers 4 and 5 are likely cards you would not be buying if your goal were to hold them long term, unless they are ultra-rare inserts or parallels. They are the most mass-produced cards of any tier, and they offer thes fewest numbered and autographed options. These sets are best suited for ripping open for fun or for chasing unique inserts that possess some level of personal interest. In this section I will not recommend any cards to buy, but I will highlight some unique inserts and cards from these sets.
Panini Mosaic is a fun set that brings a chromium card to the market at an affordable price. Again, these cards have a similar feel and design to Prizm, Select, and Spectra, but they lack many of the hits those sets possess. The card has no patch autos, and all autographs are sticker autos. The Mosaic set may not be the best set for holding onto long term but offers a very affordable alternative to Prizm or Select if you enjoy that style of card. Overall, I personally would not be buying any mosaic card to own long term, but I believe there are cards in the set that will retain some level of interest due to their uniqueness and it remains a fun set to rip open.
Unique Insert / Parallel to Look for-
Peacock Choice Parallel-
While this may not be a very affordable insert for many collectors, this is one of the most unique and cool inserts from Tiers 4 and 5. Many speculate just how rare the parallel is, with 5-10 total copies of each card being a popular answer. The reason for this confusion is that the cards were not actually numbered and are just labeled as “Super Short-Print” cards. These may not be the best cards to look to buy given their current crazy values, but I could not exclude the insert due to its uniqueness.
Donruss Elite is a product that is still fairly new to the basketball card market with its first release being in 2018. The package features chromium cards and the occasional sticker auto card. The set features non-numbered cards as well as multiple parallels, but not nearly as many as other sets on the list. Donruss Elite is probably not a song capable of holding long term collectability for many of the cards. Overall, I think these cards are unique and collectable at their price. While I do think this is one of the cleaner looking tier 4 sets, I would not be buying any Elite cards as long term holds unless a key young player is not available in other sets or if you enjoy the look of these cards.
Unique Insert / Parallel to Look for-
Elite Base Parallel /299-
This is one of the few sets and cards I would be looking at as recommended buys in Tiers 4 and 5 and that’s mainly due to the cards‘ overall rarity. With the base only being numbered out of 299, the total population of this set is a fraction of what Prizm or Donruss Optic is. In addition, the foil used on these cards as well as the action shot are added bonuses for me in the cool category. I would recommend these cards to people who are passionate about a more expensive player, but do not have hundreds of dollars to be spending on sports cards.
Donruss basketball represents the first card set from my fifth tier for long term collectability of cards. Donruss produces a card that looks the same as Donruss Optic, but Donruss does not print the cards on chromium stock and features a “d” where the “o” is for Optic on the card. The set is heavily produced with few numbered parallels and few autographs, with some on card though. The card has some unique and fun inserts, such as Crunch Time, a insert that is “cereal-themed”. Like with all the cards and sets I have talked about in tiers 4 and 5, I also believe Donruss cards are not viable for long term hobby interest. I do think this set is extremely unique and fun though. It also represents the most affordable box to rip given how many cards you are getting, so it may be a fun break for kids.
Unique Insert / Parallel to Look for- Donruss Net Marvels Insert-
This is by far one of my favorite inserts from Tiers 4 & 5 to collect. The illustrations on these cards give them the feel of a comic book as well as the bordering around the card. These cards are fairly scarce as well (PSA 9 Pop: 321 / PSA 10 Pop: 62) making them somewhat intriguing buys. I would recommend spending the extra money on the Press Proof version of these cards if you want to get your hands on one because they are exponentially more rare
( basically the same as Base Prizm compared to Silver Prizm ).
Panini Hoops has been a placeholder for one of the more mainstream lower tier cards since its inception in 1991-1992. Hoops is routinely the debut set for rookies in their new team’s jersey making it an interesting option at its initial release. It features sticker autos and many parallels for an expansive checklist that features current and past players. Hoops is a set that, in my opinion, will not be worthy of long-term interest due to its low quality and high print run. Some rare inserts and parallels of the best players may maintain value in Hoops, but I believe money can be better spent on some of the previously mentioned sets.