A quick trip around the wide world of sports, delivered fresh with a dash of collectibles insight.

Pelican in the paint

When you out-hype LeBron James entering the NBA draft, you know you have a high bar to live up to as a rookie. After an extended false start due to knee surgery—and before the NBA season was abruptly halted when Rudy Gobert broke the Internet, setting off a nationwide chain reaction of closures and cancellations that will probably save thousands of lives—Zion did not disappoint.

Somehow the former Blue Devil managed to live up to his unprecedented billing in only 19 games, giving Pelicans fans a heck of a lot to love in a young core that also includes breakout stars Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball, to go along with All-Star Jrue Holiday and a strong supporting cast in J.J. Redick, Josh Hart, Derrick Favors, Jaxton Hayes, Jahlil Okafor, E’twaun Moore and Nicolo Melli.

The key to Zion’s instant success, to the tune of 23.6 PPG on 58.9% FG shooting in less than 30 minutes per game? Look no further than points in the paint per 36-minutes, where Zion netted the highest rate for any player ever (min. 500 minutes) in the 24 seasons the stat has been tracked. Even transcendent talents like Giannis Antetokounmpo and Shaquille O’Neal trail Zion’s early pace on the all-time list. Even more impressively, Zion pulled off the feat despite being six inches shorter than either former MVP. In other words, the man they call Zanos is the real deal.

Then again, we knew that. The key is whether he can stay on the court with a 6-foot-6, 284-pound frame that laughs at the laws of gravity. Let’s hope so, for the sake of basketball lovers and collectors everywhere.

There’s no telling just how much of an impact Zion will make on the basketball collectibles market as a whole. Much like the player himself, there’s a chance we’ve never seen anything quite like him.

MARKET WATCH: Zion’s collectibles stock looks a lot like his 45-inch vertical leap: through the roof. A Williamson Rc 1/1 Black Gold Prizm 1/5 recently sold for $39,300 at auction, a whopping sum for a player who hasn’t played a quarter of an NBA season yet. Even crazier? The hype train might not have breaks.

How high will second-year NFL stars fly when(ever) the 2020 season kicks off?

Kyler Murray. Nick Bosa. Devin White. Josh Allen (no, not the enigmatic Bills signal caller). Daniel Jones.

When the 2020 NFL season gets underway—whenever that may be and whatever form it may take—a number of emerging sophomores will have a chance to fulfill superstar potential.

Of course, future on-field performance included, not much of anything is certain these days. When will America’s most loved spectator sport open its gates again? Exactly when and how will games be played? Packing 80,000 fans into stadiums designed to maximize the number of people within a confined space isn’t exactly a friend of social distancing.

The league may be gearing up to start the season on time, but you can bet those plans are drawn up in pencil.

While no one has all the answers, we do know that life will go on at some point, and that means we can’t help but daydream. If anything, there’s more time than ever left to the imagination. So we daydream about Kyler eluding the rush and firing a spiral on the run to a wide-open DeAndre Hopkins for the first of many touchdown connections. There’s Canton-caliber talent on both ends of the NFL’s most electrifying new QB-WR duo.

Seeing whether the 22-year-old Offensive Rookie of the Year and 27-year-old, four-time All-Pro can unlock their limitless upside together will have our attention on NFL RedZone all year long. Make no mistake: we expect greatness—and a collectibles market that reacts to what it witnesses.

Even if, you know, there aren’t any actual witnesses in the seats.

MARKET WATCH: Last May, Murray made headlines when his official draft helmet and very first NFL autograph broke the all-time draft helmet record, commanding $3,450—a modest sum in comparison to the $5,800 an eBay bidder dropped for his 2019 Contenders Cracked Ice Rookie Ticket card (BGS 9.5) in late-January this year. It’s anyone’s guess how high Murray’s collectibles stock soars by this time next year.

COLLECT ‘EM ALL

The sports stories that caught our eye, so delightfully snackable you won’t miss your train stop (or morning ZOOM call).

His Airness, airing soon

ABC/ESPN’s hotly anticipated 10-part Michael Jordan documentary, “The Last Dance,” is being expedited to release on April 19. How many ways can you say appointment viewing?

Will the series impact the public’s perception of the inescapable MJ-Bron GOAT debate? We can’t wait to find out, if and when our goosebumps from the trailer ever go away.

Paying it forward

Teams and players are stepping up to support stadium and arena workers affected by COVID-19. In times of unexpected financial hardship with no definitive end in sight, it’s reaffirming to see some of the most well-compensated employees in the world looking out for the hourly workers who keep the lights on when business is running smoothly. Bravo to athletes and their organizations stepping up in these unprecedented times.

Reverse recruit from … Tom Brady?!

It’s not often you see arguably the greatest player in NFL history pitching himself to join a new team. Yet, that’s how it went down with Tom Brady’s shocking move away from the Patriots to the Bucs. It’ll be fascinating to see whether Brady’s legendary leadership skills can turn Tampa Bay into a true contender in the wake of mercurial free agent Jameis Winston’s departure.

Sports card shops hit hard by crisis

Much like countless other businesses impacted by the country’s public health crisis, many sports card shops are just hoping to survive the shutdown.

It’s a WAR out there

With the start date of the MLB season in flux due to a war against an invisible enemy, there’s plenty of time to look back at the past 50 years of our national pastime. MLB.com analyzed 50 years of WAR data to reveal each team’s leader over the last half century. If you’re looking to kill some time in quarantine, text your fantasy baseball chat and see how many each of you can guess without looking. No cheating!

We expect WAR to play an increasingly key role in the valuation of collectibles over time as the modern generation of baseball fans become more and more accustomed to advance analytics, perhaps even in favor of traditional stats.

When scouting collectible investment opportunities, especially among rookies and unproven young players, it’s worthwhile to analyze WAR data in search of players whose reputation hasn’t yet caught up with their wins above replacement contributions. It stands to reason that players who help their teams win should earn more playing time and respect. Assuming a similar level of production is maintained over a prolonged period—no easy task, of course—proper recognition from the collectibles market should follow. WAR data may just be your secret to getting ahead of the curve.

Own real shares of sports history. Coming soon! ?

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