You’ve made up your mind, and you’ve found the player you want to invest in on NBA Top Shot. Maybe it’s Jerami Grant and the recent leap he’s made since joining the Detroit Pistons, or maybe it’s the potential of James Wiseman catching lobs off of a pick and roll from Curry for the next five years. Regardless of your strategy, you’ve probably found yourself in this position countless times since joining NBA Top Shot:
I want to buy this moment, and I want to make sure I’m getting the best value my money can get me.
It sounds simple, but how do you do that? An open marketplace where sellers can list their moment at any price, combined with a clunky user experience for sifting through listings can leave you overwhelmed by endless tradeoffs between prices and serial numbers.
What if we took a more calculated approach to finding the listing we want to buy?
Explore All Listings
To kick things off, let’s assume we’ve found our desired moment: a Jerami Grant dunk from Series 2 that has 614 moments for sale. A dropdown list of moments is a pretty terrible way to visualize the market, so let’s create a much more useful chart.
Much better. We’ve taken all the listings under $200, and plotted all 634 of them according to their Price and Serial Number. We can see a general relationship between Price and Serial Number, but we can start to clear things up by applying our first strategy.
Best Serial Strategy
Right away, we can see there are plenty of listings that we should never purchase.
Take all of the $50 listings as an example. At this price point there are 214 different listings, ranging in Serial Number from 2,098 to 14,603. The Top Shot market has clearly indicated that lower serial number moments are more valuable. If we assume this to still be true, why would we spend our $50 on anything but the best Serial Number for that price? Every other listing is simply worse value. This brings us to our first strategy that we’ll refer to as the Best Serial Strategy:
There is only one moment that we should ever purchase at a given dollar price tag.
Applying the Best Serial Strategy, we can go through all of the listings, and identify the lowest Serial Number at a given price. Since each moment has a unique Serial Number, Top Shot makes this completely trivial - there are no ties
Applying our Best Serial strategy, we can see all of the listings that should simply be ignored. From this process alone, we’ve ruled out 87% of the original 634 listings, resulting in only 78 that we should ever consider purchasing.
Better Value Strategy
Removing those listings from the chart, we can clearly see that there are some bad deals still on the table. Take the listing of Serial Number 7,849 for $52 as an example (highlighted by the black arrow). Moving down in price, we see that there are countless listings where we’d be purchasing a lower Serial Number for a cheaper price. I’ll only speak for myself, but you’ll never find me spending more for a worse Serial Number.
This brings us to our second strategy that we’ll refer to as the Better Value Strategy:
No moment should be purchased when a lower Serial Number, lower price moment is available.
To apply this strategy, we’ll start with the lowest-priced listing, and one by one consider more expensive listings, asking ourself, “does this higher price result in a lower Serial Number?” If not, we can rule these listings out from consideration.
Applying our Better Value strategy, we can see all of the listings that have a price tag that yields a better Serial Number than any cheaper listings. Thanks to this step, we’ve reduced another 50 listings, resulting in only 28 that we can even consider purchasing. That’s 28 out of an original 634 listings, or a 95% reduction!
It’s beautiful. Looking at the data myself, I’ve pulled out a few listings that seem to have the highest value, but this is a bit of personal preference. Both of these listings mark the end of a rapid drop in Serial Number for each additional dollar in Price, and this might be a strong strategy. Evaluating for the “best” value is a tricky problem, and incorporates more macro-level analysis such as how the Top Shot market places value on Serial Numbers. Stay tuned, and this might just be a future topic!
While these two strategies are extremely simple, they have a really powerful effect in removing the noise from marketplace listings and focusing in on the actual moments worth adding to your collection. Hopefully this helps you out, and we’ll see you next time.