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NBA Top Shot: Is Completing the Zion Williamson Rising Stars Challenge Worth it?

Matt LaMarca breaks down the Rising Stars 2 Challenge on NBA Top Shot, which features a Zion Williamson dunk as the reward.

Portland Trail Blazers v New Orleans Pelicans Photo by Layne Murdoch Jr./NBAE via Getty Images

Zion Williamson entered the league with arguably more hype than any rookie since LeBron James, and he has lived up to the billing. He made the All-Star game in just his second season, and he’s averaging 26.4 points per game while shooting 62.4% from the field. That’s pretty remarkable for someone who hasn’t even turned 21 years old yet.

Of course, it’s not just about the stats with Williamson: It’s also about the jaw-dropping athleticism. He looks more like a defensive end than a basketball player at 6’7” and 284 pounds, but that doesn’t stop him from possessing an elite vertical leap. The result is some absolutely monstrous dunks and blocked shots, which has made him the perfect player for the viral age.

His upside has made him one of the most desirable assets on NBA Top Shot. If you’re unfamiliar with Top Shot, make sure to check out my primer article breaking down some of the basics.

Zion currently has 18 moments on Top Shot, and he will be getting a 19th added shortly. He is the reward for the Rising Stars Challenge 2, which expires on Tuesday at 1 p.m. ET. That moment is going to be a valuable asset, but is it worth completing the challenge to get him? You’ll need to collect nine separate moments from the “Rising Stars” series in order to unlock Zion, and those moments can be pricy.

Let’s dive into the data and try to determine the best way to attack the Rising Stars Challenge 2.

How much will the Rising Stars Williamson be worth?

This moment has the potential to be pretty valuable. It’s going to be considered rare, and the low ask on the rare Zion cards can be pretty significant (graphic courtesy of Own the Moment):

The closest comp is probably the 2021 All-Star Game moment, which has a current low ask of $580. That said, that moment was minted to 2021, and this moment should be a bit rarer than that.

The nine moments that a required to complete the collection were also minted to 2021, so there will be a maximum of 2021 Zion cards if every possible person completes the challenge. That’s not going to happen.

As of Monday, April 5th, 565 people have completed the Rising Stars 2 challenge:

We will likely see a few more people complete the challenge before tomorrow’s deadline. There are currently an additional 46 people who own eight of the required nine moments and 49 people who have either six or seven. I think at least 700 people completing the challenge is virtually guaranteed, and the number could approach 1,000.

That would actually make the Rising Stars Zion closer in mint to his Metallic Gold LE moment from Series 2, which has a circulation count of 499. The low asking price on that card is $2,599, so this has the potential to be a valuable moment. I think a conservative estimate for the current reward would be about $1,250, but it wouldn’t shock me if it was closer to $1,500 when all is said and done. Outside of LeBron James, Zion might be the most valuable asset on Top Shot currently.

How much will it cost to complete the challenge?

This answer is going to vary depending on when you decide to complete the challenge. Luckily, it has gotten cheaper over time.

Patience is a virtue in NBA Top Shot, especially when it comes to challenges. Once a challenge is announced, the people who rush to complete it are usually the ones who get the worst deal. If you collected the nine cards required for this challenge at its absolute peak, it would have cost you approximately $8,371. By waiting, the price has already been cut in more than half:

As of April 5th at 6:30 a.m. ET, the low asking price for the nine required moments is down to $3,699. It is up a bit over the past day – you could have bought all nine moments for $2,955 at its minimum – but that’s still significantly lower than this challenge was even just one week ago. Eight of the nine required moments are down between 20 and 27% over the past seven days, with the lone exception being Tyler Herro:

I would expect this challenge to continue to get cheaper leading up to the completion deadline. There are still 8,672 people who own just one Rising Stars moment that is required to complete the challenge, and I would expect at least some of those people to look to sell over the next 24 hours. These moments are going to see a price decrease once this challenge is finished, so those who are not looking to hold their moment long-term should get out before then. We see this pretty often before challenges are completed, and typically the best time to complete them is right before the deadline.

The biggest exception would be for Tyrese Haliburton and Theo Maledon. Out of all the people who are close to completing the challenge – meaning they already own at least five of the nine moments – Haliburton and Maledon are the most common missing piece:

That means the demand for those moments will likely be higher than it will be for Ja Morant and Deni Avdija since most of the people looking to complete this challenge already own them.

Is it worth completing the challenge?

This is obviously the most important question, and unfortunately, it’s the most difficult to answer. That said, we can dive into some of the previous data to get a general idea.

This is the second Rising Stars Challenge, so the most logical place to look is the first one. The first Rising Stars Challenge featured Anthony Edwards as the challenge reward. Edwards is an exciting player, and his reward moment also has the benefit of being from his rookie season. The moment is also an absolute sledgehammer of dunk that may or may not have snatched Yuta Watanabe’s soul straight from his body.

The current low asking price on that moment is $2,950, and 1040 people ultimately completed the challenge.

However, if you completed the challenge right before the deadline, the low asking price on the nine required moments was $7,378. Immediately after the deadline, the price plummeted to $4,086. In the span of one hour, the price of those nine moments decreased by a combined -$3,292. That means if you completed the challenge with the sole intention of unlocking Edwards, you overpaid on that moment by approximately $342. The price of those nine underlying moments has dropped even further since then – the current low asking price is $3,384 – so you would have overpaid by a greater amount if you waited to sell off the moments.

Of course, there is nothing that says you have to sell the Rising Stars moments as soon as the challenge ends. Those could become valuable assets in the long run if Top Shot takes off, and the company was valued at more than $2B during a recent fundraising round. That said, if you were strictly looking to get Edwards as cheaply as possible, you would have been better off just buying the card off the marketplace after someone else completed the challenge.

This is pretty commonplace as far as challenges go. The challenge reward simply doesn’t carry enough value to overcome the steep drop in price for the underlying moments. Even a moment as valuable as Edwards’ iconic rookie dunk wasn’t enough to make up the difference. The same will likely hold true for Williamson.

Are there other incentives for completing the challenge?

This is another aspect that makes completing the challenge appealing. So far, we’ve only talked about the low asking price for all of these moments. That said, you could get a challenge reward that is worth significantly more.

Essentially, each person that completes the challenge gets randomly assigned a different serial number for the reward. With the Edwards challenge, that means that each person who completed the challenge had a one in 1,040 chance of getting the coveted No. 1 serial number for that moment. Getting a chance at a No. 1 Zion is extremely tantalizing, and it does provide some extra incentive for completing the challenge.

Additionally, there could be the potential for completing challenges to serve as a prerequisite for certain pack drops. There is nothing definitive in that regard, but most Top Shot users would like to see a greater barrier of entry on pack drops. One of the biggest “issues” with the site is that a large majority of users simply want to get the packs and immediately sell all of the moments for a profit. There’s nothing wrong with that philosophy — who doesn’t want free money? — but it has kept those packs from landing in the hands of people who see the long-term value of Top Shot.

With that in mind, expect something to be done regarding pack drops moving forward. There’s no guarantee that completing a challenge will give you any special priority, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt. In the 4/2 edition of office hours, the Top Shot team discussed making the “Seeing Stars” challenge more relevant in the long term, and the same could be true for the Rising Stars Challenge.

This is more art than science, but feel free to check my math using some of the great tools available across the industry. I leaned on Own the Moment, evaluate.market, and Add More Funds to track the price movement on the “Rising Stars” series. Good luck!

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