The Greensboro Swarm currently hold the worst record in the NBA G League, but are giving Hornets assignees and affiliate players a good opportunity to show out. Among these players are former NC State forward Caleb Martin and former UNC-Chapel Hill guard Joel Berry II.
While the Swarm has lost 10 games in a row, Caleb Martin, who is spending time with the Swarm off and on as an assignee player, and Robert Franks, one of the Hornets two-way contract players, have been going off for the team.
Martin averages 19.4 points, 5.9 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.4 steals and one block per game on 45% shooting from field-goal range and 30% from 3-point land. After joining the team on a summer contract, Martin impressed the Hornets enough that they guaranteed him a spot on the opening day roster. His contract is now fully guaranteed after successfully passing the Jan. 7 deadline for contract guarantees or waivers.
Franks joined the Hornets immediately following the draft as an undrafted free agent and quickly signed a two-way contract deal, which allows him to spend up to 45 active days with the parent club. Franks is averaging 19.4 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.5 assists on a strong 48/34/85 shooting split. Frank’s 34% shooting from 3-point range is especially impressive considering he takes over seven shots per game.
Franks might be the first player the Hornets retain, or convert, from a two-way deal in the history of the contract, which was established in the league in the 2017-18 season. In the first season of two-way deals, the Hornets had Mangok Mathiang and Marcus Paige, a member of the title-winning Tar Heels team, under contract, but neither player remained on the team after the season. The same can be said for Joe Chealey and J.P. Macura, who the Hornets had as two-way contract players last season. Chealey re-signed with the Hornets over the summer, but was waived before the season began and is now also playing for the Swarm.
Chealey now averages 10 points per game, 3.2 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.2 steals per game on 38% shooting, a marked downgrade in production from his impressive rookie season.
The Hornets’ other two-way contract player, Kobi Simmons, has been equally impressive for the Swarm, as he is averaging 17 points, 5.9 assists, 4.4 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game for the club. Simmons is another summer signing who impressed the team enough in the preseason for the Hornets to convert him to a two-way deal. Simmons and Franks are both great players for a Hornets team that needs all the youth it can get.
Another Hornets player spending time with the Swarm is former San Diego State forward Jalen McDaniels. McDaniels did not play much for the Hornets during preseason, but the team liked him enough to sign him to a standard NBA contract after selecting him in the second round of the 2019 NBA draft. McDaniels is averaging 17.3 points, 7.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 2.2 steals and 1.3 blocks per game, stuffing the stat sheet for Greensboro. The forward is also shooting 41% on 3-pointers on around three attempts per game, a great mark for a player who shot under 30% on 3-pointers in college. The McDaniels revelation will surely pay dividends for the Hornets, as he shows enough promise to be a good rotation player.
The other former triangle player on the Swarm, Berry, is not playing much for the Swarm, but is averaging 4.7 points, 1.5 rebounds, 1.1 assists and .9 steals in just 12.3 minutes per game. Berry spent time with the Lakers last summer, and is looking to see an uptick in minutes for the Swarm to get another crack at an NBA roster.
The next three games for the Swarm will prove a bit easier than the rest of its schedule thus far. The Swarm will take on the Erie Bayhawks, Long Island Nets and Fort Wayne Mad Ants, respectively, which are the next three teams ahead of the Swarm in the Eastern Conference with a combined 22-41 record.