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What to watch for from the Greensboro Swarm in the G League ‘bubble’

Hornets fans can find a multitude of ways to stake interest in the 2020-2021 NBA G League season

2021 Greensboro Swarm Content Day Photo by Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images

Everyone that frequents this website is a fan of the Charlotte Hornets (at least I assume), which means that by extension, everyone that frequents this website is a fan of their G League affiliate, the Greensboro Swarm. The Swarm begin their 2020-2021 season in a “bubble” at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Fla., and will be coached by Hornets assistant Jay Hernandez.

Normally, Greensboro’s season isn’t of dire consequence for the Hornets, but with it being so condensed during the pandemic and having multiple rostered Hornets players involved, there’s a lot to pay attention to in the next month. Let’s go over the roster again real quick:

Jalen McDaniels G League Bubble MVP?

Given the right foot sprain that PJ Washington suffered on Monday, there’s a chance that Jalen McDaniels is recalled from the Swarm and re-joins the Hornets for extra depth, but if he stays, he should be very productive. He spent most of his rookie season in the G League, where he averaged 15.9 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.9 steals and 1.1 blocks shooting 37.6 percent from long-range, proving himself capable of producing at a high level against G League competition and he has improved significantly as a defender since then. Look for McDaniels to be one of the best players, if not the best player on the Swarm this season.

The second-round rookie centers

Vernon Carey Jr. and Nick Richards finally get the playing time they’ve been waiting for. Given the construction of the roster, it will be hard for both to play heavy minutes each game without Carey Jr. playing some ‘4’ and that’s not something he’s done before. The two rookie bigs are the most interesting aspect of the bubble to me; this is a prime opportunity for one to separate himself from the other.

The Two-Way players

There are few people on this planet that are as excited as I am to watch Grant Riller. Coming into the 2020 NBA Draft, many had him near the first round (myself included—he was 19th on my big board) but it seems like the combination of his age and facing mid-major NCAA competition led to him falling to Charlotte at 56. Riller is a certified layup artist and bucket-getter that has been a good basketball player for four consecutive years, and it’s a shame he never got a chance to prove himself on an NBA court during the regular season, but it makes sense given his Two-Way designation.

Greensboro’s coaching staff is high on undrafted Two-Way wing Nate Darling, with Hernandez saying Darling is “something we’ve needed in the program for a long time.” Every team is looking for their own Duncan Robinson now; unearthing a top-three shooter on planet Earth isn’t as easy as the Miami Heat made it look, though. Darling shot 40.8 percent (186-456) from beyond the arc over three college seasons with Alabama-Birmingham and Delaware. With his deep-shooting prowess already apparent, it will be fun to see what else Darling can do to help the Swarm.

The rest

Admiral Schofield was selected No. 1 overall by the Swarm in the 2021 G League Draft and will probably slide in as a starter on the wing. Schofield played in 33 games with the Washington Wizards last season before being traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder during the 2020 Draft and subsequently waived. He shot 41.8 percent from deep as a senior at Tennessee and 36.8 percent with the Capital City Go-Go in the G League last season, and he’s built like a tank. Perhaps the Hornets could find themselves an end-of-bench ball-stopper and 3-point shooter off the scrap heap.

Xavier Sneed, Keandre Cook, Javin DeLaurier and Khalil Whitney are all extreme long-shots to ever make the Hornets roster, but it’s a good sign that they felt comfortable enough during their time with the organization to go to the bubble. Kobi Simmons is a Greensboro veteran at this point. Ray McCallum is one of the earliest non-lottery draft prospects in my memory, it’s good to see that he’s still ballin’.

The Swarm will be broadcast on television three times at Disney World: their season-opener against the Westchester Knicks on Feb. 11, the matchup with Team Ignite that features a handful of future NBA Draft picks on Feb. 21, and their second-to-last regular season game against the Fort Wayne Mad Ants on March 5.

No matter how good the Hornets are (aka no matter where the Hornets pick in the 2021 Draft), they have a stake in the game versus Ignite. Jalen Green and Jonathan Kuminga are consensus top-five prospects, Daishen Nix should go in the first round, and Isaiah Todd is a second-rounder. Kai Sotto and Princepal Singh aren’t NBA prospects yet, but could be in the future. Led by veterans Jarrett Jack, Amir Johnson and Bobby Brown, the experiment that is Team Ignite will be must-see TV in the bubble.

Greensboro’s media team is putting together a blog so fans can follow along with the 2020-2021 season, which can be found at the link below. The Swarm’s Twitter content as been top-notch lately as well. It’s always fun to keep updated with the team’s young talent and look ahead to future drafts; the G League bubble is the perfect mix.