If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’ve seen NBA Top Shot and/or non-fungible tokens (NFTs) mentioned at some point over the last couple of weeks.
And if you’re anything like us, your initial reaction might be confusion.
On the surface, NBA Top Shot’s “Moments” are easy enough a concept to grasp: It’s a digital recreation of collectible trading cards. More specifically, each Moment features a video highlight along with some stats that can be viewed on the NBA Top Shot website. But from there it gets more complicated.
What makes them unique? What does blockchain have to do with this? Why are people paying thousands of dollars for these? How do you really own one of these? How do these acquire value at all?
Let’s break this down.
What Is NBA Top Shot?
Like physical trading cards, you can buy packs of Moments. And also like physical cards, some are rarer than others, which makes them more valuable. Depending on how much you’re willing to spend — and these packs can range in price from $9 to $230 — each pack is guaranteed to include a certain number of common, rare and legendary Moments. As the names imply, each tier bump means that there are fewer and fewer of those Moments in circulation. And this digital scarcity is where blockchain factors in.
Every NBA Top Shot Moment is generated using the Flow blockchain technology, which means that each Top Shot Moment can be verified for authenticity and can’t be counterfeited. They’re part of a larger group of blockchain-based digital collectibles called non-fungible tokens. Ultimately this is what allows Top Shot Moments to be collectible items.
Basically, each NFT (or in this case, Top Shot Moment) is minted using a process similar to what someone would use to mine a bitcoin. Once the NFT is created, it is completely unique and its data is stored on the blockchain ledger, which can never be altered. And instead of currency, what you’re left with is a collectible.
Aside from Top Shot, there are a number of other platforms with NFTs that sell for tens of thousands of dollars. This includes CryptoPunks, which was the first-ever NFT and has seen its pixelated Ethereum-based avatars sell for over a million dollars. There’s also CryptoKitties, which was also created by Top Shot’s creator Dapper Labs.
Aside from acquiring Top Shot Moments by purchasing packs, you can also head to Top Shot’s secondary marketplace where you can buy specific Moments you want direct from those who own them. You can also put your Moments up for sale on the Top Shot marketplace if you choose. Like any collectible market, you can choose when to sell and how much you want to sell it for. But prospective buyers will also be able to see other versions of that moment for sale and how much it’s selling for, which will help to prevent artificial inflation.
But what makes things interesting is that prices for any given Moment will rise and fall like a company listed on the stock market. The value of a Moment is dependent on a number of things. If the Moment is rare, legendary or any other sort of limited edition release, it will probably be worth more. If a Moment was part of the early Series 1 wave of releases, it might be more valuable. If the Moment highlights an epic, historic or otherwise notable NBA moment, it could also be worth more. And oddly enough, Moments with a lower mint number tend to be worth more amongst Top Shot collectors.
What Else Do You Do With These NBA Top Shot Moments ( . . . Beside Sell Them)?
Now that we’ve covered the essentials, you might be wondering what you can do with these Moments once you own them. Well, aside from bragging rights, being able to view clips and potentially profiting off these Moments, there’s not much else . . . for now.
Top Shot says it’s working on a new feature called Hardcourt, but hasn’t said much about what features it will bring to the table. What we do know is that it will be some sort of a game that will let you use specific clips as a way to compete against other Top Shot users.
Are there risks with Top Shot? Even if you can be assured you’re not buying a fake, there are still risks with Top Shot. Like buying any collectible item (or any product in general), there are risks.
Right now, the only way to buy, sell and interact with these Moments is on the Top Shot website. This means it’s currently unclear what will happen to your Moments if Dapper Labs and Top Shot aren’t operational in the future. Furthermore, this is still a relatively new thing, and so it’s unclear what the long-term value of these Top Shot Moments will be. For those old enough to remember Beanie Babies, those went from being worth thousands to being worth nothing almost overnight.
So, Is NBA Top Shot Worth It?
That ultimately decides on what your interests are.
For many, the idea of spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on some glorified gifs may seem dumb, weird or pointless. But you can say the same thing about literally any collectible object, including baseball cards (which are squares of paper that still sell for millions of dollars at auction).
But if you like the NBA, buying stocks/futures, blockchain/cryptocurrency or collector culture, then chances are you’re could enjoy Top Shot quite a bit. It mixes a bit of the past with a bit of the future; the Gacha game mechanics offer a bit of randomness and will give some the same rush as gambling; the ability to buy and sell your collectibles at different prices turns Top Shot into a game.
The best part is that it doesn’t cost a lot of money to give it a try. All you need to do is sign up for a Dapper Labs crypto wallet, register on the Top Shot website and purchase a $9 pack to see if you like the experience.
So all that’s left to do is give NBA Top Shot a try.
More Than Merch: The Rowing Blazers x NBA Collection Lets You Rep Your Team in Style