Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Ultimate- Team Game or Game of Stars


A quick discussion and poll question on an aspect of team composition in ultimate. First, let me give you a non-ultimate example:

It's the summer of 2007. The Boston Celtics, a once great franchise, are coming off a season where they compiled the second worst record in the NBA (24-58). A once great franchise is in trouble, leading the Celtics make two major trades to acquire future Hall of Famers Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett. They trade almost their entire roster along with future draft picks to nab these two players. Pre season critics point out the fact that despite Boston now having the best 1-2-3 (Garnett, Pierce, and Allen) punch in the league, the big 3 have almost no one to play with. The Celtic management clearly went for a high risk/high reward rebuilding option. (For analysis of Kevin Garnett and his departure effect on his old team, see here)

So far, this high risk strategy has worked. Boston has started the season 11-2, lead by the approx. 60 pts/game these three players score. The Celtics have much less depth than last year, but attributing more salary to the top of the depth chart has produced much better start.

Can we say putting all of your salary cap money at the top of your depth chart lead to more success in the NBA? No, because there are very few Garnetts, Pierces and Allens out there. However, this example has lead me to ask the question:

Does an Ultimate team with several elite players outperform teams with greater depth?

If these hypothetical teams squared off 10 times, how many times would each team win? Ultimate doesn't have a salary cap, has more players on the field and is a different game. However, is it a game where one or several players can control the game, or does the team with greater depth/ overall talent have an edge?

My opinion is this:
  • I think that Ultimate is more like basketball than football. I think one or several elite players can make a difference
  • I think that it is on offence that these elite players can make the greatest significant difference
  • I think on defence, depth based teams will most likely enjoy an advantage.
  • I think a team that relies on a few elite players only succeeds when the stars complement each other. (E.g. Three great handlers versus Great Handler, Great Cutter, Great Striker)
  • I think when you can combine greater depth with greater elite talent, you get the New England Patriots of 2007. You also get Furious of the past decade in Canada, and so on.
Let me know what you think.

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