Is 2021-22 Panini Illusions Basketball Worth Investing In? (With Review and Checklist)

For the third time, Illusions is back in basketball. The 2021-22 release stays true to form, combining unique inserts and parallels with some holographic, too.

In this post, we’ll look at the 2021-22 product release and answer a big question: is this an investment opportunity… or a mirror trick on the eyes?  

Buy a 2021-22 Panini Illusions Basketball hobby box on eBay

Illusions Basketball product introduction

Illusions is coming into its third year after showing some improvement in the 2020-21 season, which we reviewed here. Anything that debuted during the Zion and Ja season had an advantage when it came to selling well, it’s stuck around for two more years now and Illusions has at least a small fraction of fans.

Each hobby box comes with 1 autograph, 14 inserts and 14 parallels.

The case for Illusions

For collectors who are into Illusions, there’s a common reason why: it’s one of the most affordable boxes for basketball cards. It’s a sport that demands a premium, so having a low-cost hobby option is a nice thing for collectors on a smaller budget.

This product was a Panini Direct release, but you can buy one on eBay for around $300.

The rookie autographs come in a nice variety of autos and RPAs, plus there are some nice veteran autos. You can hope to pull autos of Luka, Shaq, Jayson Tatum, Durant, Trae Young, and more.

The case against Illusions

One of the main reasons people were passing on Illusions – particularly at a blaster level – was a lack of emphasis on rookies. The rookie cards were tough to pull and still not worth much if you did manage to pull any.

The hits are also rare, with only one auto of each hobby box, so it can feel like you’re paying good money for a lot of common cards.

The biggest downside with a product like Illusions – one with minimal rookies and hits – is that you will probably have to heavily rely on parallels to get your money back.

Check eBay for the latest prices on 2021-22 Illusions Basketball rookies

What to expect from 2021-22 Illusions Basketball

This year’s rainbow of Illusions hopes to improve the ripping experience a bit, with “trophy collecting parallels” in a number of different tiers, including:  

  • Asia
  • Bronze
  • Emerald
  • Orange
  • Pink
  • Red Asia
  • Starlight
  • Ruby – /125
  • Red – /99
  • Teal – /75
  • Black – /49
  • Blue – /25
  • Gold Asia – /25
  • Gold – /10
  • Lucky Envelopes – /8
  • Green – /5
  • Purple – 1/1

Find examples of 2021-22 Panini Illusions parallels

Panini 2021-22 Basketball Illusions checklist Information

This year’s Illusions set includes 200 total cards: 150 veterans/legends and 50 rookies.

The autographs have enough variety to be interesting, but there are only 5 different designs or themes. The first, and probably most notable, are the hobby-exclusive First Impressions Jersey autos.

Rookie Retro Signatures feature past and present superstars early in their careers (so no, they’re not actually rookie cards).

There are also Superlative Signatures, which consists of veteran and legends, Trophy Collection, and Rookie Signs.

Panini 2021-22 Illusions basketball autographs are available now on eBay

Panini advertises the chance to find eight inserts or insert parallels in each box, including hobby-exclusive inserts:

  • Franchise Favorites
  • Illuminated
  • Mail Call
  • Mystique
  • Rookie Vision.

There’s also a new SP called the Rookie Hologram, which brings a new chase element to Illusions.

2021-22-Panini-Illusions-Basketball-NBA-Cards-Rookie-Holograms-Gold-Cade-Cunningham-RC

Value of 2021-22 Illusions Basketball:

If you’re hoping to invest in Illusions 2020-21, the first question to answer is if you should buy singles or wax.

Panini Illusions 2022 Basketball wax value

While this year’s boxes have only been selling for about $300 on eBay, that still feels like nearly a premium considering what you’re getting.,

The 2019-20 boxes have been selling for about $225 on average lately while the 2020-21 boxes are going for about $210.

The Cunningham, Mobley and Barnes-led 2021-22 class is as good and promising as either of the years before it, but it’s not better. And, by that logic, the 2021-22 Illusions should not be significantly outselling the 2019-20 or 2020-21 versions of the product.  

For that reason alone, I’d be staying away from Illusions sealed products regardless if you’re looking to rip or stash.

Investing in 2021-22 Panini Illusions Basketball singles:

Illusions is not like Optic, Prizm, or even Select: you’re probably not going to get any base rookie cards (or parallels) that are going to be big money-makers.

If you’re adamant on investing in the product, the best bet would be to buy a rookie autograph, grade it, and stash it. But, even at that, there are almost always going to be better cards elsewhere that will age better and gain more value.

Bottomline of 2022 Panini Illusions Basketball : Rip, hold or pass?

It doesn’t take a crystal ball to get a read on Illusions: it’s a stay-away no matter what you’re looking for in sports cards. It’s overpriced this year with a very low hit-to-pack ratio, and even on the hits, the ceiling is low enough that you shouldn’t buy with confidence.

What do you think of illusions? Let us know on Twitter @card_lines. Be sure to sign up for our free newsletter to get all the updates, offers and industry buzz delivered straight to your mailbox multiple times a week.  

Full 2022 Panini Illusions Basketball checklist

wdt_ID Set Athlete Team Card Number Number of cards
1 Amazing Cade Cunningham Detroit Pistons 1
2 Amazing Jalen Green Houston Rockets 2
3 Amazing Evan Mobley Cleveland Cavaliers 3
4 Amazing Josh Giddey Oklahoma City Thunder 4
5 Amazing LeBron James Los Angeles Lakers 5
6 Amazing Stephen Curry Golden State Warriors 6
7 Amazing Giannis Antetokounmpo Milwaukee Bucks 7
8 Amazing Luka Doncic Dallas Mavericks 8
9 Amazing Jayson Tatum Boston Celtics 9
10 Amazing Ja Morant Memphis Grizzlies 10
11 Amazing Asia Red and Yellow Cade Cunningham Detroit Pistons 1
12 Amazing Asia Red and Yellow Jalen Green Houston Rockets 2
13 Amazing Asia Red and Yellow Evan Mobley Cleveland Cavaliers 3
14 Amazing Asia Red and Yellow Josh Giddey Oklahoma City Thunder 4
15 Amazing Asia Red and Yellow LeBron James Los Angeles Lakers 5
16 Amazing Asia Red and Yellow Stephen Curry Golden State Warriors 6
17 Amazing Asia Red and Yellow Giannis Antetokounmpo Milwaukee Bucks 7
18 Amazing Asia Red and Yellow Luka Doncic Dallas Mavericks 8
19 Amazing Asia Red and Yellow Jayson Tatum Boston Celtics 9
20 Amazing Asia Red and Yellow Ja Morant Memphis Grizzlies 10
21 Amazing Emerald Cade Cunningham Detroit Pistons 1
22 Amazing Emerald Jalen Green Houston Rockets 2
23 Amazing Emerald Evan Mobley Cleveland Cavaliers 3
24 Amazing Emerald Josh Giddey Oklahoma City Thunder 4
25 Amazing Emerald LeBron James Los Angeles Lakers 5
26 Amazing Emerald Stephen Curry Golden State Warriors 6
27 Amazing Emerald Giannis Antetokounmpo Milwaukee Bucks 7
28 Amazing Emerald Luka Doncic Dallas Mavericks 8
29 Amazing Emerald Jayson Tatum Boston Celtics 9
30 Amazing Emerald Ja Morant Memphis Grizzlies 10
31 Amazing Gold Cade Cunningham Detroit Pistons 1 10
32 Amazing Gold Jalen Green Houston Rockets 2 10
33 Amazing Gold Evan Mobley Cleveland Cavaliers 3 10
34 Amazing Gold Josh Giddey Oklahoma City Thunder 4 10
35 Amazing Gold LeBron James Los Angeles Lakers 5 10
36 Amazing Gold Stephen Curry Golden State Warriors 6 10
37 Amazing Gold Giannis Antetokounmpo Milwaukee Bucks 7 10
38 Amazing Gold Luka Doncic Dallas Mavericks 8 10
39 Amazing Gold Jayson Tatum Boston Celtics 9 10
40 Amazing Gold Ja Morant Memphis Grizzlies 10 10
41 Amazing Green Cade Cunningham Detroit Pistons 1 5
42 Amazing Green Jalen Green Houston Rockets 2 5
43 Amazing Green Evan Mobley Cleveland Cavaliers 3 5
44 Amazing Green Josh Giddey Oklahoma City Thunder 4 5
45 Amazing Green LeBron James Los Angeles Lakers 5 5
46 Amazing Green Stephen Curry Golden State Warriors 6 5
47 Amazing Green Giannis Antetokounmpo Milwaukee Bucks 7 5
48 Amazing Green Luka Doncic Dallas Mavericks 8 5
49 Amazing Green Jayson Tatum Boston Celtics 9 5
50 Amazing Green Ja Morant Memphis Grizzlies 10 5
51 Amazing Orange Cade Cunningham Detroit Pistons 1
52 Amazing Orange Jalen Green Houston Rockets 2
53 Amazing Orange Evan Mobley Cleveland Cavaliers 3
54 Amazing Orange Josh Giddey Oklahoma City Thunder 4
55 Amazing Orange LeBron James Los Angeles Lakers 5
56 Amazing Orange Stephen Curry Golden State Warriors 6
57 Amazing Orange Giannis Antetokounmpo Milwaukee Bucks 7
58 Amazing Orange Luka Doncic Dallas Mavericks 8
59 Amazing Orange Jayson Tatum Boston Celtics 9
60 Amazing Orange Ja Morant Memphis Grizzlies 10
61 Amazing Pink Cade Cunningham Detroit Pistons 1
62 Amazing Pink Jalen Green Houston Rockets 2
63 Amazing Pink Evan Mobley Cleveland Cavaliers 3
64 Amazing Pink Josh Giddey Oklahoma City Thunder 4
65 Amazing Pink LeBron James Los Angeles Lakers 5
66 Amazing Pink Stephen Curry Golden State Warriors 6
67 Amazing Pink Giannis Antetokounmpo Milwaukee Bucks 7
68 Amazing Pink Luka Doncic Dallas Mavericks 8
69 Amazing Pink Jayson Tatum Boston Celtics 9
70 Amazing Pink Ja Morant Memphis Grizzlies 10
71 Amazing Purple Cade Cunningham Detroit Pistons 1 1
72 Amazing Purple Jalen Green Houston Rockets 2 1
73 Amazing Purple Evan Mobley Cleveland Cavaliers 3 1
74 Amazing Purple Josh Giddey Oklahoma City Thunder 4 1
75 Amazing Purple LeBron James Los Angeles Lakers 5 1
76 Amazing Purple Stephen Curry Golden State Warriors 6 1
77 Amazing Purple Giannis Antetokounmpo Milwaukee Bucks 7 1
78 Amazing Purple Luka Doncic Dallas Mavericks 8 1
79 Amazing Purple Jayson Tatum Boston Celtics 9 1
80 Amazing Purple Ja Morant Memphis Grizzlies 10 1
81 Base Jayson Tatum Boston Celtics 1
82 Base Jaylen Brown Boston Celtics 2
83 Base Robert Williams III Boston Celtics 3
84 Base Marcus Smart Boston Celtics 4
85 Base Kevin Durant Brooklyn Nets 5
86 Base Kyrie Irving Brooklyn Nets 6
87 Base Ben Simmons Brooklyn Nets 7
88 Base RJ Barrett New York Knicks 8
89 Base Julius Randle New York Knicks 9
90 Base Kemba Walker New York Knicks 10
91 Base Evan Fournier New York Knicks 11
92 Base Immanuel Quickley New York Knicks 12
93 Base James Harden Philadelphia 76ers 13
94 Base Joel Embiid Philadelphia 76ers 14
95 Base Tyrese Maxey Philadelphia 76ers 15
96 Base Tobias Harris Philadelphia 76ers 16
97 Base OG Anunoby Toronto Raptors 17
98 Base Fred VanVleet Toronto Raptors 18
99 Base Pascal Siakam Toronto Raptors 19
100 Base Gary Trent Jr. Toronto Raptors 20
Set Athlete Team Card Number Number of cards
Jesse Haynes

Jesse Haynes

Jesse Haynes is an Amazon #1 Bestselling novelist and content marketer who has played sports and collected trading cards almost his entire life. His nonfiction work has been featured in Forbes, Inc., MarketWatch and more.  You can learn more about him at www.contentninjamarketing.com.


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