Even when they were losing game after game, it was obvious what was coming: the Greensboro Swarm were going to begin winning games.
After losing five games to start the franchise ledger, the Swarm battled back to win a pair of games over the weekend. It was only a matter of time for a tough team that fought hard in every game.
On Opening Night the Swarm fell behind early by a mammoth margin, but battled back to win the second half. Game two saw a similar script, with another halftime deficit flipped into a tight finish and a mere 5 point loss. The team showed an ability to lock down on defense and overwhelm an opponent, generating transition baskets and chaos-sprung corner three-pointers. They had room for improvement, but this wasn’t a team doomed to lose.
A three-game road trip again showed signs of life, with the Charlotte Hornets sending Christian Wood and Aaron Harrison along for the ride. They excelled individually, flexing their muscles on a competitive court for the first time since preseason.
Their final defeat came on the other end of the see-saw, with a strong halftime lead given away to the Delaware 87ers. The Swarm watched a lead evaporate, and it only drilled into their resolve not to let it happen again.
Back home for a double-header against the Erie BayHawks, the Swarm came out swinging. They destroyed Erie in the first game, winning 109-88, led by Aaron Harrison’s 31. The following night, a magnificent closing stretch by veteran wing Damien Wilkins at both ends of the court sealed a 96-95 victory over the BayHawks.
A pair of victories isn’t the accomplishment of the season for Greensboro; in fact, wins aren’t the goal for the Swarm. Coach Noah Gillespie has made it clear he wants to see improvement, not wins over losses. After Friday’s win, the first in franchise history, he said the following:
That is one takeaway from the last weeks of the season: Gillespie knows what he is doing as an NBA coach. He has made superb halftime adjustments, balanced ever-changing rosters, and kept their eyes on the prize despite early disappointment.
The other takeaway pertains to the Hornets, and whether the Swarm’s play holds any nuggets of value for their parent team. Have any of the top contributors for Greensboro distinguished themselves enough to catch the notice of the Hornets?
The obvious candidate is Aaron Harrison, a player already with a Charlotte roster spot. After racking up individual stats in Toronto and New York without the team impact, the Swarm played well around Harrison over the weekend. He was initiating the offense alongside their other guards, scoring from long range, and racking up fouls.
Harrison’s success against the Erie Bayhawks does not declare him ready for the big leagues, but it does show improvement from when he entered the league. Ramon Sessions has been an inconsistent option at best running the offense off the bench, and a guard who can enter the rotation for the Hornets may be needed down the road.
Another option for the Hornets in the future is Xavier Munford, the Swarm’s starting point guard. He is averaging 22.3 points per game this season to lead the team, and has shown a level of shot creation that will translate to the next level. If the Swarm do not bring him up, it’s possible Munford will get some run with another team later in the season.
Next up for Greensboro is a home contest with the Sioux Falls SkyForce, the D-League defending champions, led by former VCU star Briante Weber. Then they hit the road for a Texas two-step, playing road tilts against the Texas Legends and the Austin Spurs.
Will the Swarm continue winning now that they’ve broken through? It’s possible, although the upcoming schedule is a hard one. But regardless of their record moving forward, the Swarm have shown that they can win games. And that can make all the difference for a season defined not by wins and losses but by the ability to show progress.