A Guide to NBA Top Shot Challenges: Are they worth it?
A Guide to NBA Top Shot Challenges: Are they worth it?

A Guide to NBA Top Shot Challenges: Are they worth it?

by Jordan Kligman

4/18/2021

In the early months of Top Shot, collectors saw challenges as a great way to build their collections with rare Moments, while sometimes profiting in the process when receiving their reward.

For example, No. 3 Top Shot collector, alxo, has completed every challenge to-date — though he just wanted collect the reward Moments. In the process, he pulled two James Harden jersey-match serial numbers, both Holo rewards.

Unfortunately, these challenges haven’t always added value to collectors’ portfolios, as fun as they are to complete. After the insane user growth in late February, collectors have overpaid for Moments to qualify for the rewards. Collectors can get caught in the heat of the moment, scrambling to complete the challenge at whatever cost necessary. 

Once the challenge ends, collectors then race to sell both their rewards and qualifying Moments. Sellers competitively undercut each other’s prices, rapidly depreciating the market value of each challenge requirement Moment. This is why you see Moments decrease quickly in price as a challenge ends — everyone is trying to dump them after receiving their added utility, the challenge reward.

Let’s take a deeper look at challenges on NBA Top Shot, why people complete them, and see how collectors fared on ROI in recent challenges.

What is a Challenge on NBA Top Shot?

In order to receive a challenge reward, a select number of Moments must all be in your collection before the time expires to complete the challenge. Each challenge requires different Moments to collect the reward. Simply put, as long as you’ve collected all the Moments needed, Top Shot will distribute the Moment reward to your account within 24 hours after the challenge clock ends.

Keep in mind, once you have maintained the challenge requirements through challenge clock expiration, you will receive your reward within 24 hours. Once the clock ends, you are free to get rid of your Moments immediately, and you will still get the reward.

Another plus about completing a challenge: a random serial number comes with everyone’s reward Moment. It is not based on when the challenge will complete; it’s a randomized number. So if you’re lucky, you could receive an extremely low serial which adds significant value to every Moment. 

Responding to complaints from collectors who completed challenges, Top Shot added special icons to represent challenge reward Moments on Moment pages and the marketplace as a way to increase their visibility. This will also eventually come with a search filter, most likely.

Will it be enough to add long-term value to challenge? Time will tell. 

What’s the utility of Top Shot Challenges?

Top Shot has recently made it clear that the primary reason challenges are on Top Shot are for the true collectors looking to add the rarest Moments to their collection. It does not behoove Top Shot to market-make and help collectors turn an instant profit in return for completing a challenge. 

However, both Dapper Labs CEO Roham Gharegozlou and Community Lead Jacob Eisenberg have cited Top Shot challenges as a potential future requirement to enter pack queues to reward true collectors. As of now, this has not been announced, but it could add potential utility in the future, where challenge reward is more incentivized.

If you haven’t completed a challenge, getting a cheaper one — like Cool Cats Challenge 4 — done may be a good idea just to check that box.

Now, let’s analyze some of the most recent Challenge rewards and see how they’re doing.

Cool Cats Challenge 1: Luka Dončić reward

The first Cool Cats challenge was one of the first challenges where people thought that completing a challenge would result in an instant net gain. Part of the reason it became so popular was because Top Shot announced that every Cool Cats Moment is required for the Cool Cats master challenge, including the rewards. 

The master challenge reward will be a LaMelo Ball Moment — a coveted rookie. 

Currently, the Luka Dončić reward is the highest listing Series 2 Common Moment, reaching the mid-$9,000 range during the February peak. Now, Dončić has a floor price of $2,239, with LaMelo Ball’s first assist behind Dončić at a floor of $1,299, and Anthony Edwards considerably behind at $769. 

With only 3,464 accounts completing the challenge, Dončić is also the rarest out of all Series 2 Common Moments, even less than Three-Star Rookies at 4,000 mint

Looking at the graph below, when the Dončić challenge ended on February 8, a severe dip occurred to the Moments required to acquire the Dončić reward.

Average price of Cool Cats Moments required for Dončić reward between Jan. 22-Feb. 14
Average price of Base Moments needed for the Luka Dončić reward between Jan. 10 and Feb. 14

To complete the challenge, collectors needed to collect five Common 15,000 mint Moments and the first five Cool Cats Moments released. When the challenge was initially released, required Moments hit their peaks. 

In the middle of the challenge, required Moments prices stabilized, but with 24 hours remaining left to complete the challenge, prices started to spike again. And then, there was the challenge-ending dip. 

Immediately after the challenge concluded, as per usual, all the required Moments plummeted in price. Some predicted this as users offloaded their Moments before the challenge ended because they were set to lose their utility — and thus value —  after the challenge ended.

Cool Cats Challenge 2: Anthony Davis reward

The Cool Cats Challenge 2 is where things went south for people looking to turn a quick guaranteed profit on challenges. Where we sit today, the Anthony Davis reward floor price is at $202, dropping considerably in price after it hit the marketplace, as collectors constantly undercut one another. That is an enormous price difference compared to the Dončić reward.

When the challenge was ongoing, the Tyler Herro Cool Cats Moment required to complete the Davis challenge peaked at over $1,000, but currently sits at $67 today. Will Barton’s Base Moment also peaked at over $250, and is now residing at $14. 

Considering users needed four other Base Moments and the four other Cool Cats Moments, this challenge was a major letdown to collectors who had spent money to get a reward that returned at least a -95% return on investment. 

This challenge began to make many users skeptical of future challenges. At the very least, it made collectors realize that challenges aren’t about turning a profit — they are an equilibrium, assuming everyone is considering making neutral expected value decisions. 

Price Chart for the Tyler Herro Cool Cat Moment from February to April.

Part of the reason this challenge was such a letdown for collectors was due to the comparisons to Dončić reward. Users saw the price of the Dončić reward and assumed the same would happen with the Davis reward. Instead, the opposite happened. 

More than double the accounts completed the Davis reward, minted to 7,098, making it less scarce, and the market flooded with Davis Moments. And again, people constantly undercut each other in listing the challenge requirements. Just two days after the challenge concluded, Moments required to get Davis dropped by over $2,000.

Seeing Stars Challenge 1: Kevin Durant reward

Switching sets, the Seeing Stars Challenge 1 required 12 Seeing Stars Moments to receive a Kevin Durant reward Moment, only his fourth Moment on Top Shot. In the reward Moment, Durant cuts through the lane and slams home two. 

Like virtually every other challenge, the peak price to complete this challenge occurred the second day after the challenge was released, running up to $3,658.

The reason peak prices are a day or two after challenges are released is because fewer of the Moments required are on the market. With time on the marketplace, more people realize these Moments are needed for an ongoing challenge and then start to list them, lowering the required Moment’s value.

Average Price per Moment from Mar. 6 to April 6 for the Davis reward

As time went on, the price to complete the challenge continued to decrease until the day the challenge concluded, when the price to complete it rose slightly above $1,600, or about 60 percent less than three weeks prior. 

The next day the required Challenge needed to get Durant dropped more than 50 percent and sat around $700. At least with this Durant Moment, there’s a solid chance the Brooklyn Nets win the NBA Championship, as they are the current favorites to win the Finals.

All-Star Challenge 1: Giannis Antetokounmpo reward

For this challenge reward, Giannis Antetokounmpo hits a 3-pointer off the backboard in the All-Star Game, where he won MVP after going a perfect 16-of-16 from the field. 

One main difference with this challenge compared to the rest, is although it cost considerably more to complete the challenge, the dropoff for the Moments required to secure Antetokounmpo was much more stable after the challenge concluded. 

The peak price to get the reward was on the first day the challenge released (March 19) at $8,716. It then continued to fall, with the challenge requirements around $4,500 on the final day to complete the challenge. 

Today, the cost to collect the Moments is now around $3,700, about an 18 percent dip, which is not large in comparison to the Anthony Davis challenge, and many others before it.

Average Price per Moment Requirement for the All-Star Game Challenge 1

All of this is due to the fact that the 10 Moments needed to complete this challenge are Rare all have a mint count of 2,021, meaning those Moments are more scarce. Additionally, many of them are rookies. 

Today, the Antetokounmpo reward sits around $1,120. If collectors finished in the final days of the challenge, they were able to turn a profit if they flipped every Moment post-challenge. However, if Moments were collected in the first few days of the challenge, it was still a loss at current low ask prices for many collectors.

Looking ahead: Holo Icon Challenge 4: Tyrese Haliburton reward

This Holo Icon challenge is easily the most expensive challenge to complete running right now.

For it, collectors will need 10 of the Legendary Moments released in the most recent Holo pack, Holo Icon Drop 2. As of writing, the challenge costs $25,825 on low asks to complete to get a Tyrese Haliburton reward, where he hits a contested 3-pointer against the Miami Heat at the first-half buzzer.

This will be an ultra-rare rookie Moment that only the diehard collectors who can afford it will get. The previous two Holo challenges (Nikola Jokić and Trae Young) are selling for floor prices of $16,999 and $13,750, respectively. It’s quite possible this challenge will be worth it, especially depending on your opinion on Haliburton in the long-term — that is, if you can afford it.

Lessons about Challenges

After taking a deeper look at recent challenges on NBA Top Shot, here are a few things for collectors to remember before jumping in and collecting Moments: 

  1. Almost all challenges are for true collectors
  2. Don’t expect to profit off challenges — they are an equilibrium
  3. Challenge requirement values always drop off a cliff immediately after challenges end

Challenges can be risky for collectors, especially with limited funds to liquidate. But just remember, past challenges have shown that if you’re going to complete a challenge, you can’t always expect to profit, at least not instantly. 

Past challenges have also shown that the best time to get in is not at the beginning or the end, but somewhere in the middle. Whereas the best time to sell a required Moment for a challenge that you’re not going to complete is sometime around the start.

If you have any questions, feel free to reach me on Twitter, @TopShotTips.