In their first season with a NBA D-League affiliate, the Charlotte Hornets are already reaping the benefits of having a minor-league squad.
The Greensboro Swarm, who topped the Erie BayHawks in their first-ever Showcase game, boast an ample amount of players with NBA experience, including Archie Goodwin, Aaron Harrison and Damien Wilkins. And although Harrison was waived by the Hornets this month, the club is still evaluating him thanks to his joining the Greensboro roster.
“Aaron’s a great example,” Swarm coach Noel Gillespie said. “He was with the Hornets for a year and a half, and now he’s ours. He’s in Greensboro, an hour and a half from Charlotte, and we’re able to have the Hornets staff continue to keep tabs on him. We’re using the same terminology, the same defensive concepts, so we want to make it seamless for the guys that come back and forth.”
Another player that’s gone back and forth between the clubs is forward Christian Wood, who starred in Wednesday’s win over Erie. The UNLV product posted a game-high 21 points and 10 boards less than a week after producing an incredible stat line of 45 points, 16 rebounds and eight blocks against Long Island.
Unlike Harrison, Wood is still on the Hornets’ roster after signing a contract over the summer. But Greensboro has proven to be the perfect spot for the 21-year-old.
“My philosophy has always been the same: The best way to develop is to play,” Gillespie said. “So I think the biggest thing for him with the Hornets is to get minutes, and that’s what we’re doing. It puts him in a great position because not only is he playing, but he’s playing crunch-time minutes down the stretch. No matter what our record is, he’s getting better every day, and he’s getting the opportunity to get touches in crunch time. So it’s invaluable for him.”
A 6-11 forward, Wood is averaging a double-double of 19.6 points and 10.1 rebounds in 18 games for the Swarm. He’s shooting 23.5 percent from downtown on almost three attempts per game, and Gillespie says outside shooting will be one of their priorities with Wood as the season progresses.
After going undrafted in 2015, Wood had a hectic first season as a pro. He spent time with the Delaware 87ers while signing a series of unsuccessful 10-day contracts with the Philadelphia 76ers.
He’s now found a home in Greensboro.
“I like where I’m at, but I’m going to keep my foot on the gas,” Wood said Wednesday. “I’m going to keep playing hard, keep putting up numbers, doing all the little things that not just our GM, but other GMs can see as well.”