Buying and Selling on NBA Top Shot: Everything you need to know

Buying and Selling on NBA Top Shot: Everything you need to know

byChristian Hardy


NBA Top Shot has quickly become one of the largest online marketplaces for NFTs with its licensed digital NBA collectibles. February and March each saw over 1.2 million transactions and $200 million in sales on the site. With a flood of collectors buying and selling on NBA Top Shot, it’s crucial that collectors understand the context of every transaction.

The power of blockchain technology is unlike anything we’ve seen before, and Top Shot has made it accessible for everyone. With public documentation of every transaction on the Flow blockchain, anyone can discover how each Moment is moving and the expected value of every Moment, even based on serial number. 

Part of our mission at MomentRanks is to help collectors process that data and make the best decisions on the marketplace when collecting their favorite Moments. 

Whether you’re new to Top Shot or have been here since Early Adopters packs, here are a few tips before buying and selling Moments on NBA Top Shot.

Buying Moments on NBA Top Shot

The first rule of buying on Top Shot is simple: you should never spend money that you can’t afford to lose. Before buying a Moment, collectors should understand the risks associated with the purchase.

To understand those risks, collectors can look into details on a specific Moment they’re interested in. Here are three factors to consider.

1. Sales History for the Moment

Recent sales are the ultimate way to know what a Moment can sell for, as it provides evidence of what the market has dictated its current price to be. There are many ways to view this, both for short and long-term history. 

On every Moment’s MomentHQ page, collectors can view historical sales price by day to get context on how the sales price of the Moment has changed, dating back to August 2020 for Series 1 Moments. Hover over any plot to see the date, price, and serial on the sale.

NBA Top Shot Moment Valuation — Serial Number — Steph Curry

The bottom of the official Top Shot Moments pages can give collectors more of a short-term view on current market prices and sales, as well as highest all-time sales.

2. Current Listings for the Moment

By viewing listings for a Moment, collectors can see what current asks are and if the Moment is actually undervalued according to those listings.

For example, you may see #691 of a Moment for $100. But by looking at listings, you may find #881 of that same Moment for $95, giving you options on what to buy. On the inverse, you may also find that #445 is being sold for $95; in this case, #445 would be a better purchase. Or, if you find that all three-digit serials for this Moment are listed above $130, then $100 for this Moment is a good value based on the current asks. Serial number matters.

In summary, current listings add another layer of context to consider before pulling the trigger on buying a Moment.

3. Market Volatility

Once again, return to the golden rule: you should never spend money that you can’t afford to lose. Understand that NFTs are inherently volatile, even if you believe in the long-term product from Top Shot and potential for prices to rise.

On February 16, the Top Shot market cap was $400 million. The Top Shot market cap reached $1.9 billion on February 22. On April 3, that market cap sunk back under $1 billion, into the mid-$900 millions. That should give just a bit of insight into this market.

Understand that no purchase is guaranteed to go up in value and prices are tied to a volatile market. With every purchase, there is inherently risk that you are responsible for accounting for.

4. MomentRanks Estimated Value

As we’ve previously explained on the blog, our machine-learning Estimated Value Model uses a number of market factors to determine the true value of a Moment, including its serial number. These factors include: serial number, sales history, player, series, set, tier, and total in circulation.

Just go to MomentHQ, search for the player, click the Moment, then search in the Serial Number Estimator to see a particular serial number’s estimated value.

NBA Top Shot Moment Value Serial Number — Zion Williamson Seeing Stars

By no means should this be a tell-all for purchases, and it’s important to keep in mind the first steps of the buying process, then factor in estimated value accordingly. Also: just because a Moment has an estimated value based on market factors, that value is not necessarily conducive to selling it on the market at that price — more on this later.

An Example of Buying on Top Shot

Let’s take a quick buying example from our new Marketplace Explorer, where you can sort through Top Shot listings to find Moments you want to buy.

We’ll take a look at the #56/10,000 Steph Curry Seeing Star Moment, which was listed at $888 as of writing this article. 

1. Sales History

This Moment was purchased for $619 on March 16 — that’s a great value for the buyer considering that Curry was needed for the Seeing Stars 2 challenge at the time. Using the Marketplace Explorer page for the Curry Moment, we can sort by sales on Serials #30-90.

NBA Top Shot Sales sorted by Serial Number #30-90

Here are the most recent ones as of writing, and keep in mind most of these were sold in the post-Challenge dump of this Moment:

  • #59 – $650
  • #44 – $725
  • #53 – $750
  • #44 – $775
  • #63 – $815
  • #39 – $899
  • #44 – $999
  • #51 – $999
  • #42 – $1,000
  • #62 – $1,000

On average, sales between #40 and #72 have averaged $857. There has only been one recent sale of a serial number over #56 that went for more than the listing price. Based on this, it clearly isn’t a steal, but isn’t overpriced either — it’s priced to sell

2. Current Listings

NBA Top Shot Listing Menu

This is the easy part. Check out the listings on the Moment’s Top Shot page, sort by serial number, and find out what’s listed around it. 

In this case, the #56 is the cheapest serial number until #91 at $800. That 35 serial number dip is significant and probably not worth saving 10 percent, but this is where you have a choice to make.

3. Market Volatility

As of writing on April 5, the Top Shot market appears to have found some stability, hovering just under a $1 billion low-ask market cap (or the market cap using the lowest ask on Moments). If you feel confident in prices staying around this number or going higher, this is a great buy. 

However, even if the market was to dip further, purchases like Legendary, Rare, and high-serial numbers are a bit insulated from market downturn, as scarcity can help maintain value.

4. MomentRanks Estimated Value via Serial Number Estimator

As noted above, this Moment popped up on MomentRanks’ Marketplace Explorer when I filtered listings 10 percent under estimated value. 

Our serial number estimator on MomentHQ estimates the value at $1,468, but keep in mind that could be skewed based on the Moment’s higher sales prices while the Challenge was on-going, before it lost about 75 percent of its value from highs when the Challenge ended. 

NBA Top Shot Moment Value Serial Number — Steph Curry Seeing Stars

For example, on March 23, the #34 sold for $1,599. Two days later the #40 sold for $1,625. These past sales have likely inflated the price, since the floor price has significantly changed since then. This is just one reason why MomentRanks estimated value should not be your only parameter for making a purchase, and you must account for additional factors to put the purchase in context.

You can also use the Serial Number Estimator to compare serial numbers, like the #91 to the #56, and see which one is providing better value at its listing price. In this case, it’s easily #56, which costs 10 percent more but holds about 19 percent more value.

Selling Moments on NBA Top Shot

Even if you love collecting Top Shots, it’s never a bad idea to take some profits on Moments, especially if it’s money you can use or invest elsewhere. We’ll use this section to break down how to get the most return on your sales based on market factors. 

1. Timeline for Selling

In Top Shot, selling your Moment for fair market value is not going to happen instantaneously, like selling stocks or crypto is. 

If collectors are pricing a Moment competitively, they can and should expect it to sit for a while. On the flip side of that: if collectors want to sell a Moment quickly, they have to list under estimated value —  or under the value of recent sales of similar serial numbers.

Keep your selling timeline (or when you need funds in your Dapper) in mind as we walk through the next steps.

2. Current Listings

NBA Top Shot Buying — Listings

Let’s take a look at what libruary — the #7 Top Shot collector — is doing to get more liquid. To make things more interesting, we’ll use a premium serial number he’s selling: #60/12,000 Will Barton Series 2.

libruary listed the Barton for $165 around the time of writing this article. This price indicates he’s looking to sell, while also trying to squeeze out the most value. It’s the cheapest of the two-digit serial numbers listed — outside of #96, listed for $149.

If buyers are looking for a two-digit serial this is the cheapest available. However, this isn’t a Moment that’s likely to move very soon if we look at recent sales, mostly based on the low volume of high serial numbers. 

3. Recent Sales

All sellers should understand that the lower the serial number, the less visible it will be in the marketplace, and the less likely it is to quickly sell. 

Using recent sales can help understand how likely a Moment is to sell based on volume. Let’s go back to the Barton Moment. Since March 22, there have been only three two-digit sales.

  • #24 – $280
  • #85 – $140
  • #90 – $115

Very small sample, but it gives some correlative points that show as the serial number goes up, so does price. Using these points, we can begin to set a price for the #60 Will Barton.

If you were looking to sell quick, $115 seems like a good place to start, then move down from there to see if you get any bites. If you are OK with waiting a bit — like libruary like is with such a large account — then $160-$165 seems like a fair price. It is well under what #24 sold for, but also a head above the sale on #85. 

4. MomentRanks Estimated Value

As noted in the selling section above, MomentRanks Estimated Value does not equate to the value that you can sell that Moment at right away, especially when dealing with low-liquidity moments, like Rare, Legendary, or very high serial numbers. Unless you’re giving up value on your sale, it’s unlikely to move these three categories of Moments quickly.

So what does MomentRanks Estimated Value represent? It’s an estimate of its value from our machine-learning valuation model, which compiles serial number, sales, set, player, and more. 

This may seem a bit backwards, but as the market is based on low asks that anyone can post, low price does not equal value. By definition, market value assumes that both the buyer and seller are acting under no duress. 

But what if there are 10 sellers of a Moment who want to get liquid to complete a challenge? Or withdraw to pay bills? What if there are 100 of them? Those sellers are acting under duress.

This is why selling does not equal value. When there are many options to buy on the market, including some that have extra utility (such as challenge Moments), it means there may be a larger supply than in a market where there is no extracurricular duress. 

If you’re looking to get liquid right away, you’ll be better off considering the lowest listing price of a particular Moment, or listing under the current listings that are similar to your Moment’s serial number.

The Risks of “Flipping”

Just as day trading is a risky strategy in the stock market, there are no strategies in the Top Shot market as dangerous as flipping Moments. Flipping is when someone buys a Moment with the intention of turning it for a profit quickly.

Flipping is risky, and collectors who try it could be left holding a bag depending on the market. However, flipping is very much a part of the Top Shot market that shouldn’t be ignored and many collectors do profit from.

Greg Murray at The First Mint put together a great resource about Moments that were flipped during the week of March 8 to March 14. He found a total of 37,000 flips out of 265,000 transactions that week —  28,000 were turned for an average profit of $32 and 9,000 were turned for an average loss of $33. 

There’s lots more context there, such as higher serial numbers performed better being flipped. This makes sense, considering some new users will list their higher serial numbers at or below low ask, not understanding the serial premium that is baked into Top Shot based on scarcity.

Beyond the point that there is profit to be made in flipping, about 24 percent of flips lost money in Murray’s research. In fact, many collectors lost over $1,000 on a single Moment within a week after buying.

This is just one more reason to evaluate every aspect of a purchase before spending your Dapper bucks. Even if your goal is to resell, and it may appear that you can based on some market factors or estimated value, it doesn’t mean you will. We advise you to act carefully on the market.

That’s All for Buying and Selling on Top Shot

I hope this gave you some insight into how to make better buying and selling decisions on the Top Shot marketplace. These are the same concepts I use before making just about any purchase on the marketplace myself. 

Remember the five keys:

  1. Don’t spend money you can’t afford to lose.
  2. Look at Sales History on MomentHQ or the Moment drilldown in Marketplace Explorer.
  3. Check current listings on Top Shot and search for price/serial number context.
  4. Understand the state of the market.
  5. Use MomentRanks estimated value on MomentHQ.

As always, if you have questions, comments, or concerns, MomentRanks’s DMs are open on Twitter, or you can reach me, @ByHardy. Also, Discord is another way to toss out comments and hear what the MomentRanks community has to say.