Despite being unnumbered, Downtown inserts have proven to be one of the more popular NBA releases in recent years.
Featuring some of the best known stars from the past few seasons, sets include a mix of rookie cards and legends, set against a backdrop dedicated to their team and city.
Typically falling at a rate of one per case, Downtown cards aren’t easy to find.
Here’s everything you need to know about the best NBA Downtown inserts, including five great cards to look out for.
The Best Basketball Downtown Insert Cards
We’ve listed five of the best NBA Downtown inserts below, released in a variety of different sets and collections.
5. 2019-20 Panini One & One Downtown Zion Williamson #6 (eBay)
One of 20 players included in the Downtown subset of 2019-20 Panini One and One Basketball, Zion Williamson still has what it takes to take the league by storm. This card also happens to be an RC, which has helped it to hold value despite a difficult season for the power forward.
Put it this way; prices have dipped to an extent, but the average graded Zion RC is still valuable. Many collectors and investors still think he will fulfil his potential, even if he has missed out on most of 2021 due to injury.
4. 2016-17 Studio From Downtown Kobe Bryant #18 (eBay)
Released before his untimely death, Kobe Bryant is included in the 2016-17 Studio From Downtown set, which features a background dedicated to LA.
2016-17 Studio From Downtown is where you’ll find the original set of case inserts, featuring basketball’s top shooters as they prepare to let fly.
Eventually, the subset’s name was shortened to ‘Downtown’, and was added to basketball releases like One & One and Cornerstones.
It’s hard to find a more collectible player than Kobe, especially if you’re looking for a long-term hold.
3. 2020-21 Panini One & One Downtown LaMelo Ball RC #4 (eBay)
LaMelo Ball was named the NBA’s 2020-21 Rookie of the Year, following one of the greatest statistical seasons by a 19-year-old in NBA history.
He went on to be named an NBA All-Star the following season in 2022.
As a hyped rookie, he was included in the Downtown subset of 2020-21 Panini One and One Basketball, representing the Charlotte Hornets.
LaMelo also has a more affordable option found in 2020 Panini Prizm Draft Picks.
2. 2017-18 Panini Cornerstones Downtown Giannis Antetokounmpo #6 (eBay)
Giannis Antetokounmpo won back-to-back NBA MVP Awards in 2019 and 2020, joining an esteemed list with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and LeBron James as the only players in NBA history to win the accolade twice before turning 26.
The ‘Greek Freak’ went on to become an NBA champion in 2021 after leading the Bucks to their first NBA championship since 1971, picking up the Finals MVP award in the same season.
His 2017-18 Panini Cornerstones insert is extremely popular, released as part of a subset carried over from 2016-17 Studio.
1. 2019-20 Panini One & One Downtown LeBron James #2 (eBay)
Even the biggest “King James” hater has to acknowledge that he’s a GOAT contender, drawing parallels with the likes of Michael Jordan after winning four NBA championships, four NBA MVP awards, four NBA Finals MVP awards, three All-Star MVP awards, and two Olympic gold medals.
LeBron is one of the more collectible players from recent years, and his 2019-20 Panini One & One Downtown insert is no exception.
We think that it has one of the best chances of making significant profit in the future given the overall rarity and his record-breaking achievements.
Basketball Downtown Insert Cards: Buyers Guide
Downtown inserts are going to set you back by a fair amount, despite the lack of a serial number or an autograph. Regardless, they’re some of the most popular cards in the hobby right now, especially if they’re wrapped in a graded slab.
The Best Cheap Basketball Downtown Insert Cards
There are a number of cheaper Downtown cards if you just want to get a look and feel for the collection. Some players can be found for under $100 on the resale market, but you’re going to struggle to pick up a future Hall of Famer for next to nothing.
The Best Basketball Downtown Insert Investment Card
Our top pick for the best Downtown insert at the moment has to be either LaMelo Ball or LeBron James. Any of the cards seen above will sell for a significant sum if you’re looking at pristine graded copies.
Basketball Downtown Insert Cards: Buying/Selling Advice
There are so many top players to choose from when looking at the best Downtown inserts, including viable investment options we had no space to mention. For example, you’re unlikely to go wrong with the likes of Luka Doncic, or Ja Morant.
They offer something different compared to the average insert, and you’ll struggle to find a more memorable NBA collection released in recent years, aside from the likes of KABOOM! and Color Blast.
At the very least, we’d recommend keeping an eye on recent sales prices, as they continue to rise due to demand vastly exceeding supply.