There are a ton of approaches teams have taken to get out of the dulldrums and create a competitive squad. Some have found a single superstar player and to built their team around that Swoopster's skill set, others have accumilated less talented players but ones that work together to form a cohesive unit, and some have brought in as many options as possible and tested theories through thousands of games to see what works best in hundreds of different lineups and contexts. Some have even opted to push their chips in on young, high prospect rating Swoopsters for a chance to do pretty well right now, but bank on their development so they can dominate in the future.
If you had to choose which way to go, there's no way to say which is the best approach. We have seen successful squads be formed from each of those philosophies. I suppose an ideal world you'd be able to do all of them at once; y'know, having your cake, eating it, going for seconds, and telling the vendor you'll be back around later for thirds.
A recently formed team named Swish Beatz did just that and opted to take all of these approaches at once, lobbing their wallet off the glass, catching it it, and shattering both some sales records and the backboard in one monster slam.
Their first splash onto the Swoops scene was a bit of a pitter patter in the kiddie pool with some Swoopsters they had owned and held during the foundational days of the league, but when they finally decided to jump into the deep end and compete at a high level, they launched off the Olympic high dive with a cannonball. On March 17th they dropped the hammer and threw down a single-player-purchase record 1.5 ETH for Swoopster-579; a sought after player on the market that team owners had been making unsuccessful offers on for months, thought to be an MVP caliber Swoopster in waiting.
Swoopster-579, now known as Larry Password, is indeed that MVP caliber player that Swish Beatz were hoping for. Through nearly 400 games, LP is putting up nearly 28ppg (good for 5th in all of swoops) on 45/36/86 shooting splits, nearly 8 rebounds, 2 assists, a block, and a steal a night. Those are exceptional numbers but are even more remarkable when you consider that Larry is at times flanked by three other five-star prospects, two of which put up 22 points a night on their own! The individual stats they would put up if they were on a less talented squad are frightening to think about.
One of those five-star prospects and 22ppg scorers was Swish Beatz second huge buy - Tronnis.
Tronnis was snagged just four days ago for 1.2 ETH off one of the best teams in all of Swoops, the North Side 416ers. On the season, Tronnis is averaging 22 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, and nearly 2.5 stocks (steals + blocks) a night while shooting 48% from the floor and 44% from three. That's some fantastic shooting from the forward position and fantastic when you can get some rebounding and passing from the 3/4 slot. Given that Tronnis is only in their 4th season and has a top-of-the-charts 92 longevity rating, that is one smart pick-up from Swish Beatz for both the short and long term of the team.
Two of the three remaining five-star prospects also fit in the category of young Swoopsters with room to grow.
Forward JSON Tatum is only in his third season, making him one of the youngest Swoopsters in the league, and with coachability as one of their three highest ratings could end up being an absolute league-devastator as time goes on.
Likewise, DNS Botman is a five-star prospect in just their fourth season with coachability as their second highest attribute. Another high value piece that Swish Beatz is banking on becoming much better as time goes on, and in my personal opinion, a bet I'd make every time if I could.
Rounding out the five-star ensemble is The Big OS, a premier big man in Swoops who has put up 22/9/1/1.5/1 through a shade over 900 games this season on an excellent 49% from the floor. The Big OS is one of the premium scorers from the F/C position, and with two of their three highest ratings being 2PT-INT and 2PT-MID, is likely to get even better at putting the ball in the bucket as time goes on.
So for part one of their plan, Swish Beatz certainly successfully found a star to build around - how about five?
In addition to their star search, Swish Beatz has also accumulated 11 one, two, and three-star players to help fill out the rest of their roster and allow them to do some lineup management and testing. Some of these are players that Swish Beatz had played around with before grabbing their blue chip prospects and some were acquired recently. This has allowed Swish Beatz to test what kind of cohesive lineups they can make with some less talented players, find hidden talents, and test various strategies depending on who they put out there and who they're up against.
As we have seen with many of our top teams, sometimes that testing puts you on a tougher road, and at 521-574 Swish Beatz don't quite have the win percentage that one would think a team that is stacked to the gills with talent would have. But, as is the same with many of the other teams with high win totals but "low" win percentages, opponents should not read too far into that. Those teams have pinpointed what their best lineups are, but continue to feed different combinations of Swoopsters into their lineups to get more feedback and keep testing out different options and ideas. No doubt Swish Beatz will find that too, if they already haven't, and come Swooper Bowl time will be Shaq smashing the glass in Orlando as opposed to Shaq smashing his bench on the Suns.
Perhaps the most unique part of Swish Beatz's approach is their mixing of win-now and dominate-later talent. All five of their five-star prospects are forwards and only The Big OS (F/C) and Larry Password (G/F) have dual-position viability. All five of them will never share the court together this season and at least one of them would need to learn how to play another position in the future to be able to make that a possibility. Given that JSON Tatum is so early in his development (Tronnis and DNS certainly aren't vets either with only four seasons in Swoops), Swish Beatz may be content to set the team up to own the future rather than focus on ruling the present. Of course, there's more than enough talent on the team for them to take a crack at both.
That brings up a very interesting conversation that I expect we'll be hearing owners talk about as we inch closer to Season 1: How many teams will we see focus on development and stashing prospects vs. teams that are looking to compete right now? Where does the value of Swoopsters rest between players who can dominate the league right now vs. players who look like they're going to be Swoops Stat Head staples in the future? And how many teams will be able to do both at the same time like Swish Beatz is angling to pull off?