The Greensboro Swarm had a light week along with the rest of the professional basketball world, as the D League takes a week off for the NBA All-Star Break. Even without games being played, the Swarm still found a way to stay in the headlines.
While the last few weeks have seen the backcourt spin as players headed in and out, the Swarm guard rotation has settled into place and acquitted itself well over the last few games. But the team’s frontcourt is anything but settled, and finds itself at the center of the recent news.
Mike Tobey, Twice As Nice
The Charlotte Hornets elected not to send Mike Tobey onto the court during his initial 10-day contract, but the center out of Virginia worked hard during practice and impressed the coaching staff enough to stay around.
Once Tobey’s contract ran out, the Hornets used the now open roster spot to trade for Chris Anderson, formerly of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Anderson is injured and unavailable for the season, so Charlotte accepted cash from Cleveland and immediately waived the injured center.
Mike Tobey was immediately extended a second 10-day contract, and this time he did reach the floor. With centers Cody Zeller and Miles Plumlee unavailable, Tobey served as backup to newly crowned starter Frank Kaminsky Wednesday night against the Toronto Raptors. Together the two handled all 48 minutes of the center rotation.
Tobey struggled in his NBA debut, posting just 2 points on 1-3 shooting from the field in 11 minutes. Charlotte was -12 in his minutes for a game they lost by five points. It’s unrealistic to have expected Tobey to step in a dominate, but in his first shot he didn’t show the Hornets brass he can contribute to a stretch run.
The next question will be whether Tobey is kept around for the remainder of the season, or whether he returns to Greensboro in the coming days. If the former, the Swarm will be stretched thin in the frontcourt with the loss of another big.
Check Diallo was sent by the New Orleans Pelicans to the Swarm at just the right time, as Christian Wood and Mike Tobey left the team thin up front. He played in six games for Greensboro, averaging 17.0 points on close to fifty percent shooting, 11.3 rebounds and 2.3 blocks in about 30 minutes per game.
New Orleans recalled Diallo Wednesday, where he will now be facing DeMarcus Cousins in practice. After Diallo started at center for five of their six games, the Swarm will be hard pressed to fill out a frontcourt rotation.
Perry Ellis will most likely assume the mantle of starting center, despite his best minutes this season coming at the 4. Damien Wilkins and Shonn Miller will most likely split time at power forward. It’s possible the team will add another player to back up Ellis, but they may also wait to hear about Mike Tobey.
Head coach Noel Gillespie will almost certainly continue his 3-guard lineups, as he has for much of the season. Archie Goodwin has been listed as a forward for the last few weeks, despite playing point guard in the NBA. Greensboro will seek to leverage the transition game and extra spacing awarded, and fight not to lose the battle of the boards.
A Refreshing New Name
The NBA announced last week that the NBA Developmental League will be re-branded next season the “NBA Gatorade League” as the first year of a multiyear partnership with Gatorade. The implications of the re-branding have not yet been revealed.
Accompanying the announcement was a video that featured Greensboro’s own Damien Wilkins. It featured highlights from Swarm games as well as Wilkins attending the famous Gatorade Sports Science Institute. The Greensboro Press Release also stated:
“NBA Deputy Commissioner & COO Mark Tatum, NBA D-League President Malcom Turner, and Gatorade Senior VP & GM Brett O’Brien are also featured in the video and highlight the benefits of the League’s growing partnership with Gatorade in accordance with the goal of continued player development”
The video can be viewed below:
Wilkins has been a key veteran presence on the Swarm this year as much of their roster play their first professional seasons. He has willingly come off the bench if needed, but coach Gillespie trusts him down the stretch nearly every game.
The Swarm will need Wilkins and other member of the team to step up as the stretch run begins Wednesday night against the Fort Wayne Mad Ants.