Charlotte Hornets D-League Watch: Greensboro Swarm Building Momentum

Nov 7, 2016; Charlotte, NC, USA; Charlotte Hornets guard Aaron Harrison (9) shoots the ball against Indiana Pacers guard Aaron Brooks (00) in the second half at Spectrum Center. The Hornets defeated the Pacers 122-100. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 7, 2016; Charlotte, NC, USA; Charlotte Hornets guard Aaron Harrison (9) shoots the ball against Indiana Pacers guard Aaron Brooks (00) in the second half at Spectrum Center. The Hornets defeated the Pacers 122-100. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports /

After starting the season 0-5, the Charlotte Hornets’ D-League affiliate have won back to back games and will look to build momentum as they head out on a road trip.

The first few games of the Charlotte Hornets‘ D-League affiliate, the Greensboro Swarm, basketball was tough to watch. The fans watched the team lose in its inaugural home game, 120-99 to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants. The Swarm then followed up with three double-digit losses, including two to the Westchester Knicks.

After a five-point, 116-111 loss to the Delaware 87ers, it was clear that the team was progressing. Now, as the season begins its third full week, the Swarm now have its first two wins under its belt and will look to even out their record as they look towards an upcoming road trip.

Both of Greensboro’s wins came at the expense of the Erie Bayhawks, who have also struggled to a 1-5 record. The Swarm, who have a host of new faces in uniform this season, got some more new faces in their rotation. Aaron Harrison was recently assigned to the team, and his presence has definitely been felt early on. Meanwhile, Christian Wood, whom the Hornets signed away from Philadelphia this offseason, was recently called up by the Hornets in the wake of injuries to Marvin Williams and Nicolas Batum.

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The changes have been paying off. Harrison, who has NBA experience, has led the Swarm in scoring in both wins, complementing the guard play of Xavier Munford. In the first win against the Bayhawks, Harrison led the way with 31 points and five rebounds, while Munford added 26 points, seven assists, and four rebounds. Despite only having four double-figure scorers, the Swarm managed to put up 109 points. Also, former Kansas star Perry Ellis, who had been struggling mightily to start off, added 12 points in that first victory.


The Swarm finally got two much-needed wins in a weekend span. The first game, a 109-88 rout of the Bayhawks, featured high scoring and aggressive drives to the basket. In addition to Harrison and Munford’s aforementioned efforts, Greensboro also got a lift from veteran Damien Wilkins, who dropped in 14 points, six assists, and four rebounds.

Greensboro played fundamentally sound basketball. They outscored Erie in the paint 58-42 and also outscored them on fast break points (14-2). Greensboro used a 29-point second quarter to create separation and build their largest lead (23), a lead they never relinquished. They also converted 53% of their field goals, compared to Erie’s 44%.

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In the second game of the home-and-home series, Erie proved to be wiser but still came up short 96-95. The Bayhawks, who were led by TJ Price’s 25 points, kept the game close the whole way but made a crucial turnover during the final seconds that ended any hopes of winning. The Swarm held on despite getting outscored by Erie’s bench, 36-16. Greensboro’s starters paced the Swarm, as Aaron Harrison dropped 24 points and six dimes while Munford dropped 23 points and four boards.

Shonn Miller, a player whom Greensboro drafted last month out of Connecticut, started the game at center in place of the injured Mike Tobey and recorded six points and five boards in his first start. Wilkins added 14 points, 11 boards, and four dimes, Rasheed Sulaimon added 13, and Perry Ellis added 10 points to round out the scoring efforts.


Greensboro had shown a lot of balance in the scoring column early on, but it wasn’t resulting in wins. Mike Tobey has been consistent all year long, averaging 11.7 points and 10.2 rebounds, but he only managed eight minutes of playing time before getting hurt in the first matchup with the Bayhawks. Meanwhile, Munford (22.3 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 3.9 APG), Damien Wilkins (14.8 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 3.7 APG), and Rasheed Sulaimon (14.9 PPG, 3.6 RPG)  have also helped in the scoring department.

But the scoring has been inconsistent, as well. This is to be expected in the D-League, mostly because the ones who score a lot will most likely be called up at some point. The rotations change almost weekly, and coaches and players alike must adapt on the fly. It’s clear that Harrison and Munford make this team go, but it will only be a matter of time before one or both of them are called up to the NBA again.

This means that the Swarm’s bench must step up. Sulaimon, while scoring well, needs to improve his outside shooting and distributing if he wants to play more. Meanwhile, Prince Williams, Ralston Turner, Ellis and Rodney Williams must continue to improve in practice so that they can get more game experience. Overall, the coaching staff doesn’t know where the bench points will come from night in and night out, and that needs to change in order for the Swarm to get some stability.

Next: Harrison and Wood Are Proving Themselves in the D-League

Greensboro, now with a record of 2-5, will look for more wins as it heads out west for a road trip. The Swarm will take on the Sioux Falls Skyforce, a former Charlotte affiliate, on Tuesday at 7:00 pm.

UPDATE: On November 27, the Charlotte Hornets announced that they recalled guard Aaron Harrison from the Greensboro Swarm.