A study led by Professor Roderic Swaab of INSEAD, a graduate business school based in France, has found that it is indeed possible to have too much talent on a sports team; that adding more and more talent to a squad only betters the team overall up to a point, and from that point forward adding more talent actually becomes detrimental.
Times of India report: "Most people believe that the relationship between talent and team performance is linear - the more their team is packed with talent, the better they will do," said Swaab.
"Yet our latest research documenting a 'too-much-talent effect', reveals that for teams requiring high levels of interdependence, like football and basketball, talent facilitates team performance...but only up to a point.
"Beyond this point, the benefits of adding more top talent will decrease and eventually hurt the team performance because they fail to coordinate their actions," Swaab said.
The ‘Shaqobe’ Lakers teams are an example of this phenomenon. Although they enjoyed success in the early 2000s It was Shaquille O’Neal’s and Kobe Bryant’s unwillingness to put their differences aside that prevented it from being even more successful, and this was summed up in the manner of their defeat to the Detroit Pistons in 2004, a team that had no stand out superstar per se.
The Miami Heat also struggled with this initially, losing to an unfancied Dallas Mavericks team in 2011 despite boasting two top ten and three top 20 players in their prime.
Critically, Roderick Swaab makes the assumption that a “[failure] to coordinate their actions” is what holds back these super teams but of course this is not true in all cases.
The current NBA champions the San Antonio Spurs arguably have a super team and their success arises because everyone on the roster, including the big three of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili all buy in to Coach Popovich’s system and never deviates from it.