When NBA Top Shot introduced its frequent Flash Challenges, collectors hoped they would allow regular access to rewards like free packs and exclusive moments. Instead, many users are now complaining about bottlenecks that make seemingly accessible challenges expensive to complete.

NBA Top Shot bottlenecks challenges
Jarred Vanderbilt is serving as a bottleneck to the completion of the latest NBA Top Shot challenge. (Image: NBA Top Shot)

In the latest example of this trend, collectors could earn an Evan Mobley Metallic Silver FE moment on Friday if they created a showcase featuring the 10 players who collected the most combined rebounds and blocks on Thursday night.

Vanderbilt crashes Flash Challenge party

Users didn’t need to use any rare or legendary moment to complete the “Clog the Paint” challenge, nor were any cards from special sets required. Since NBA Top Shot has now released common moments with high mint counts for most regular players, the intention appeared to be to create a challenge that interested collectors could complete without breaking the bank, even if they didn’t already own the requisite moments.

For nine of the 10 necessary players, this held true. But Minnesota Timberwolves forward Jarred Vanderbilt grabbed 13 boards against Memphis on Thursday, throwing himself into the challenge requirements.

This caused a problem for many collectors as NBA Top Shot has released only one Vanderbilt moment so far: a Series 2 common limited to 12,000 moments. That inclusion immediately cut down on the number of people who could potentially complete the Mobley challenge.

In addition, it meant completing the challenge became exponentially more expensive. As of Friday afternoon, the lowest ask for a Vanderbilt moment sat at $292. Tracking website Own the Moment estimated that it would cost a user $340 to complete the challenge, with most of that cost coming from Vanderbilt.

On Twitter, some replied to the news with frustration, especially as Vanderbilt has served as a bottleneck before.

“Nobody cares because of the Vanderbilt bottleneck,” Twitter user @paulkritter wrote. “How is it so hard for marketing to figure this out? You want new collectors to buy in because that’s what sustains the product but you also put out ‘easy’ challenges where you need $300 rookies or players with one moment.”

Users divided on NBA Top Shot challenge format

NBA Top Shot doesn’t predetermine the players needed for each Flash Challenge, however, bottlenecks are fairly common. Earlier in the week, the “Pass the Rock” challenge, which rewarded collectors with a Donovan Mitchell Metallic Silver moment for completion, required a moment from Orlando Magic rookie Franz Wagner.

Top Shot has only released two Wagner moments so far. His debut rookie, numbered to 4,000, retails for $274 – and cost far more during the challenge. The only other Wagner moment is rare, with only 749 in existence.

While these bottlenecks frustrate many users, some investors welcome them. Not only do they reward longtime NBA Top Shot users who hold a variety of moments, they also limit the number of Metallic Silver moments crafted. Only 1,669 users completed the Mitchell challenge, and the resulting moment is now selling for at least $170. As of about 3 pm on Friday – an hour before the challenge concluded – just over 4,300 users had created the necessary showcases to earn the special Mobley moment.

To some users, that’s how the system should work – at least some of the time.

“That’s the point – to encourage good buys and reward holders,” Twitter user @Gabasneh replied to criticism of the most recent challenge. “Not everyone should win every prize.”

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