Last time we looked at the Greensboro Swarm, it was at the annual G-League Showcase. It was a time for rotational players to display their talent amongst the various NBA scouts attending. Unfortunately, however, the team played mediocre at best, finishing the event with an even record with no true eye-popping performance.
Since then, the Swarm has continued to battle it out in the NBA’s minor league. They have made some solid additions to the roster along the way. This includes former Syracuse Guard John Gillion, who was acquired via trade, as well as signing former San Diego State forward Malik Pope, who I have highlighted here.
The two have not been given appropriate time to develop upon their arrival to the Gate City. Both players are still very raw in their own right, and simply additional reps to strengthen their clear flaws in their game. This has lead head coach Joe Wolfe to play those who have barred the purple and teal for the majority of the season.
Lost in all of this was one key offensive juggernaut. The other player in the Gillion trade was none other than former NC State standout Cat Barber, who just reunited with the Swarm at the start of the season. Since being dealt to the Atlanta Hawks’ affiliate Erie Bayhawks has been on an absolute tear as of late, showing how much of an offensive factor he can be.
Trading away Barber has impacted the Swarm as a whole, as they were closing around the fifth to seventh seed throughout the season. But, his production put the offensive responsibility on another college standout: and he has gracefully accepted that challenge.
Guard Jaylen Barford, who once was the commander of the Arkansas Razorbacks for two years, has taken full reigns of the Swarm offense, despite his spot in the rotation.
With the Swarm having only one true small forward on the roster, Sam Thompson, it has caused Wolfe to be creative in his lineups. This mainly includes playing J.P. Macura out of position and into the three spot when Thompson is on the bench. This essentially slides the shooting guard rotation up, allowing Barford to still average 26 minutes a night off the pine.
When Barford has come onto the floor over this last stretch, there aren’t many things limiting his offensive output. He has skyrocketed the scoring column and his now the team’s best scorer, averaging eighteen points a game, is slightly behind Hornets assignee players Dwayne Bacon and Devonte Graham. Doing it from a variety of areas, the quick 6-2 guard has tremendously helped the team’s offensive hole.
This scoring outburst is off....16 shot attempts per night, which is unanimously the most on the everyday team. Barford is only dropping one assist per game, which shows you where the current role with the team stands.
As of March 15, the Swarm is situated in eighth place in the Eastern Conference with just seven games left.
With the G League having three fewer teams than the NBA, the playoffs have only six teams in the respected conferences instead of the typical eight. Trailing by two games for the final spot, this is a crucial next week for the Greensboro Swarm.
This would be the first postseason birth in the organization’s history, going back to 2016. The Swarm has nearly double the number of wins this season than the first two combined. It goes to show you how impactful a coaching team can have on a franchise.
With Barford leading the way offensively, it’s time the Swarm to put their heads down and gel together during this latter portion of a successful season.