Around their first birthdays, babies are just figuring out the mysteries of walking. Not satisfied to crawl, scoot, or roll their way around, they start putting one foot in front of the other. Eventually they let go of the coffee table or Dad’s leg and take their first independent steps across the room. It’s often a stumble but before long they are running around on their own.
The Greensboro Swarm just celebrated their first birthday, hitting one year since the announcement that the Charlotte Hornets were getting an NBA D-League affiliate in nearby Greensboro. Rather than a cake, the Swarm are celebrating with training camp.
The Greensboro Swarm want to walk on their own.
Sunday, October 30 marked the night of the NBA D-League draft, where all eligible players were available to be divided among the league’s 22 teams. While a handful of players would be recognizable to the casual NBA fan — Shannon Brown, of past Los Angeles Lakers fame, was selected in the third round — most were former college or international players yet to make a name for themselves in the NBA.
The Swarm and head coach Noah Gillespie came away from the draft with five selections to add to their current roster. That brings them to 15 as training camp opens this week. After less than two weeks of camp, the season kicks off on November 12 in Greensboro as the Swarm host the Fort Wayne Mad Ants.
Rotations, crunch time lineups, and the starting five will come to light in the coming days. Gillespie and his coaching staff will balance winning basketball games with developing the young talent on this roster to give them a shot at the big league. For players who have already taken their shot in the league, such as 37-year-old Damien Wilkins, it’s an opportunity to play basketball as long as their body will carry them and help younger players develop.
What Gillespie doesn’t yet have to work with are players sent down from Charlotte to take a run with the Swarm. The young talent out of the rotation for the Hornets will use time with Greensboro to hone their craft and prepare for the moment Hornets coach Steve Clifford calls their name. Those players, such as Aaron Harrison, Christian Wood, and Treveon Graham, could move back and forth between the two teams all season long.
Ultimately, the Swarm’s success is marked by its usefulness to the parent team, but that’s not the evaluation they will use for themselves. The Greensboro Swarm want to win basketball games, they want to fill the stands at the Greensboro Coliseum, and they want every player on their roster to have a shot at fulfilling their dreams.
But that’s a lot to start with. First, the Swarm need to take a shaky step across the living room.