A dilemma that many collectors have is deciding if they will benefit from having their basketball cards graded. The answer could be determined by the age and condition of the cards, as well as the prices similar cards are going for. The reason why the cards were acquired can also determine if grading them makes sense.
Some collectors will have found what they think is a rare card in a large lot of cards, or they may have purchased a card they think is a bargain, but there is some doubt about how real it is. Sending the card to a grading company can give the collector the assurance that they have the rare card, and not a counterfeit version.
Grading can mean the cards are worth a lot more, as long as they grade well. A Max Zaslofsky 1948 Bowman card is valued at $115 when graded EX 5, $185 for EX-MT 6, $350.00 for NM 7, $475 for NM+ 7.5, $750 with a grade of NM-MT 8, $1325 for NM-MT+ 8.5, and a fortunate collector that happens to have a Max Zaslofsky that gets a grade of MT 9 from PSA could have a card worth $2,750.
Graded cards also have the advantage of being securely encased in a tamper-proof container. They can still be viewed, through the clear plastic, but are protected from nearly everything that can harm the card, and hurt its value. But among the various types of card collectors are those who don't want their card locked in a big piece of plastic.
Before deciding to send in a card for grading, a collector should use a ruler and magnifying glass to help make the decision. Measuring the border of the card, on the front and back, will give an idea of what the potential centering grade could be. If the card has poor centering, it may not be worth the cost and effort of sending it in to be graded. Another idea is to check the recent sales and also the population reports for the specific graded card. If the number of graded cards on the market is too large, they may not sell or will not sell for enough to justify adding another to those not selling. But if the cards are selling all the time, it could be a chance to sell at the right time.
For most cards from the last two decades, the production numbers are too high for many rare cards to appear. Sending a recent common card for grading may not be a good idea. There are exceptions, especially for low-numbered cards that can vary in condition. The 1990s Metal Universe Precious Metal Gems often appear with chipping of the edges, so getting a high grade for one of those cards could make the card extra valuable.
Vintage star cards that appear to have no wear and are well-centered are almost always worth grading. Don't expect a windfall, but they'll be easier to trade or sell with third party grading.
If you're looking to simply build a nice collection and show it off, you should consider buying a basketball card display case for your best graded or ungraded cards.