Greensboro Swarm Finally Return to Action with Start of G League Bubble

by Sam Perley

An 11-month hiatus officially ends for the Charlotte Hornets’ G League affiliate this afternoon at 3 PM EST when the Greensboro Swarm kick off their condensed 2020-21 campaign against the Westchester Knicks on ESPNU.

Hornets Assistant Jay Hernandez is tasked with leading the squad throughout its upcoming 15-game regular season schedule, which will be played entirely on the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney World resort near Orlando, FL. Of the 18 total teams participating, the top eight will advance to a single-elimination tournament starting on March 8th with the championship game taking place three days later.

“I’m thrilled and very appreciative of our organization to invest in something like this,” said Hornets Head Coach James Borrego. “It’s such an unprecedented time right now. The lack of Summer League, practice time, shootaround time, live-game reps – we just don’t have them right now. It would have really set back our development program. We want to go full throttle on this, use it to our maximum, get our guys reps. I’m thrilled they get to experience some type of development program this season.”

Like Borrego, Hernandez is in his third year with the Hornets organization and was the team’s NBA Summer League Head Coach back in 2018. Before arriving in Charlotte, the Hofstra alum and former pro spent four years as an Orlando Magic assistant and from 2011-14, ran Pro Hoops Inc., where he managed predraft training for 14 NBA Draft selections, seven of which landed in the lottery.

Borrego added jokingly, “I told him ‘Good luck!’ You get to make all the decisions now. It’s easy when you’re sitting in that one seat and then you move over six or twelve inches. He’ll do fantastic. I’m excited for him and he’s ready for it. This is part of his development and taking this opportunity. It fits for our group because he knows me, he knows our system better than anybody. He’s got development at his core, so he understands the development piece. He’s a great worker, communicator and he’s got relationships with those guys already.”

The current Swarm roster is highlighted by second-year forward Jalen McDaniels, rookie center Vernon Carey Jr., high-scoring two-way guards Grant Riller and Nate Darling and recently-drafted guard Admiral Schofield, who was a second-round selection of the Washington Wizards in 2019. Charlotte training camp invitees Keandre Cook, Kahlil Whitney, Javin DeLaurier and Xavier Sneed are also on the squad.

Other notable personnel include Charlotte’s 2019-20 two-way signee Kobi Simmons and Ray McCallum Jr. and KJ McDaniels (no relation to Jalen), who are both former second-round picks of the Sacramento Kings (2013) and Philadelphia 76ers (2014), respectively. While a handful of the Hornets’ assignees saw some action mostly towards the end of preseason games in December, much of the roster hasn’t played a full meaningful game in almost a calendar year.

Devonte’ Graham, Cody Martin, Caleb Martin, and Jalen McDaniels have all recently benefitted immensely from time down in Greensboro. The G League shouldn’t be viewed as a demotion or punishment for young players, but rather a valuable resource instead. It’s been a major point of emphasis since Borrego arrived in Charlotte from San Antonio, an organization with one of the NBA’s premier player development programs over the past couple of decades.

“It’s tough to develop in this league and the last few years, we’ve been successful in developing our program,” Borrego stated. “Second-round picks, undrafted and first-round guys have all gotten better in our program. We believe in our development program and we’ll stand by it. This has been a difficult year to do that. Putting our stamp on our development has been challenging, but I give our staff credit, our organization credit. We’re going to get a lot of live reps there and I’m thrilled for our young guys and our staff.”

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