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Offseason, Off Topic: What Exactly is NBA Top Shot?

You may have heard about it earlier this year, but how exactly does NBA Top Shot work? Let’s break it down.

NBA Top Shot
Editor’s Note: One of our very own from the community recently reached out and wanted to share his experience about a topic that we haven’t really discussed much so far here at Canis Hoopus — NBA Top Shot. While I personally know next to nothing about the recent phenomenon, our friend Josh Pauly wanted to share his thoughts on how Top Shot works, good resources for anyone looking to get involved, as well as some of his favorite Wolves-related Top Shot moments.
Since we can only consume so many Nathan Knight highlights on YouTube before we all lose our minds, I thought now was the perfect time for Josh to share his wisdom and discuss a topic that is important to some but extremely foreign to others (myself included).
Take it away, Josh!

Welcome to the NBA offseason! Man, I miss the Minnesota Timberwolves (and the NBA in general). I no longer know what to watch on my iPad at 11pm as my wife snoozes next to me. With the 2021 NBA Draft now over, and not much happening outside of Summer League, I am left waiting (hoping?) for some Rosas fireworks. In the meantime, let me introduce you to your new favorite hobby, NBA Top Shot.

I first learned about NBA Top Shot as I was scrolling through Twitter in January, and then in February on The Ringer’s NBA podcast, The Mismatch. When I heard Dave Benz’s call (skip to 1:23) of another spectacular Ant dunk during March 14thgame and he referenced Top Shot, I knew I had to give it a shot. I found the website after the game that night, signed up, and landed my first pack at the end of the month. It had 5 moments. I pulled a really cool SGA layup, an emphatic chase down Donovan Mitchell block, plus dunks from DeAndre Jordan, Terrance Ross, and Montrezl Harrel. I sold the Ross and Jordan moments so I could buy Edwards and McDaniels.

I was instantly hooked.

New York Knicks v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images

Let me back up a second — what exactly is NBA Top Shot? It is a digital marketplace that allows basketball fans, NFT/blockchain lovers, collectors, and anyone else to own “moments.” Moments are fantastic highlights of great plays from NBA players. Think of moments as upgraded, interactive basketball cards, complete with stats and serial numbers. This is possible because these moments are on the blockchain, so unlike highlights on YouTube or your ESPN app, you actually own them. Top Shot has license agreements with the NBA and the NBA Players Association so players make money from their moments as well.

You can get moments by purchasing packs or buying directly in the marketplace. You can create showcases, and complete challenges or quests by collecting specific moments. For example, I completed a Hawks playoff challenge and was sent the John Collins dunk where he posterized Joel Embiid in the second round. You can swap moments with friends, or even sell them. Some of the rarest Top Shot moments from superstar players have sold for well over $100K. One of the next steps is Hardcourt, which will be similar to DFS where you can use your moments to compete against friends.

You can get into it to make a buck — and plenty have — but I am in it simply as a fan. I was never really into basketball cards as a kid, but I love Top Shot. Karl-Anthony Towns was an early adopter of Top Shot and has appeared on some of their live streams (other Top Shot fans are D’Angelo Russell, Paul George, Rudy Gobert, Tyrese Haliburton, Darius Garland, and a bunch of others — even Mark Cuban and Daryl Morey). I’ve collected the Timberwolves team set, and I am hoping to add Bolmaro if/when he comes over next season (hey Timberwolves, announce the signing already!)

2020 Tokyo Olympics: Argentina v Japan Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images

And Top Shot comes with real world perks, as well! Those who owned enough Suns moments had a chance to be flown to the NBA Finals game 5 in Phoenix to watch the game in a suite — all expenses paid. The same thing just happened for people that owned certain rookie moments — they were eligible for a trip to the NBA Draft (I actually had enough rookies to qualify but ended up not winning). A Quavo quest just wrapped up where if you collected two moments from each of his favorite 5 players, you could win autographed jerseys and free Top Shot packs. More is set to come this season.

(Side not, NBA teams are leaning into NFT’s with the Pistons and Bulls coming out with their own team-based NFTs that gave their fans awesome perks. I am hoping the Timberwolves jump in soon!)

There is a really great, tight-knit community that reminds me of our Wolves community here at Canis Hoopus. If you want to learn more about Top Shot, there are a ton of great resources out there. If you like podcasts or YouTube videos I would highly recommend The First Mint, NBA Top Shot Talk, Ballers Blockchain NBA Top Shot, Courtside Collectors, and PlungeFather. They each do an amazing job interviewing pertinent individuals and breaking down all the Top Shot-related news. The First Mint also does a wonderful newsletter that is free to sign up for. Packrip Ewing also has a great blog.

If you are looking for Top Shot tools and analytics when thinking about completing sets or attempting challenges, you can’t beat Own the Moment (they also do great podcasts and YouTube videos). Moment Ranks has tons of tools for tracking prices and values, and they even created Play, a way to use your Top Shot moments during the season to set lineups and compete for prizes in the first Top Shot daily fantasy sports game. There is even a Collectors Choice Awards where you can vote on your favorite Top Shot moments.

I’ve dumped way too much information on you, but if you read this far, here is your chance to win some free Timberwolves Top Shot moments from me! I would love to write a follow-up article about our community’s favorite Timberwolves moments, plays, and memories of our lifetimes. If you share your thoughts with me in this form — and I connect with the memories you shared — I will send you a Timberwolves Top Shot moment. Below are some of my favorites Wolves moments of all-time and last season.

Top Timberwolves Moments of All-Time

  • Kevin Garnett making his return to the team in February of 2015. I was a teacher at the time and sprinted out the doors after the last bell rang to meet up with two HS friends. We had crappy upper deck tickets but I got CHILLS when they did the KG intro.
  • Beating the Bulls for the 1st time in 1997-1998. I was 10 years old and thought we were on the way to being NBA champs with a core of KG, Stephon Marbury, and Tom Gugliotta.
  • KG’s Game 7 against the Kings in 2003-2004. What a performance.

Top Moments From Last Year

  • Ant’s dunk of the year against Toronto.
  • Anthony Edwards and KAT both putting up 40+ in a win against the Suns.
  • Ant’s chase down block on Jimmy Butler (also known as the “Call Rachel Nichols!” game)
  • Jaden McDaniels dunking on Taj Gibson vs. Knicks (I couldn’t find any good clips of him putting the clamps on Luka, Harden, Siakam, etc.)

Over half of my favorite moments from this past season are immortalized in Top Shot. You can check out all the Wolves Moments here. Thanks for letting me ramble about something I’ve grown really passionate about and I look forward to reading about your favorite Wolves moments of all-time.