Heading into their Thursday night game against the Greensboro Swarm, the Canton Charge looked like the most unstoppable force in the NBA D-League. In the midst of an eight-game winning streak, the Charge stood as a dominating squad due to the great offensive play of Kay Felder and Quinn Cook alongside the defensive domination of Eric Moreland.
Canton’s streak looked to continue on Thursday night as they’d face a Swarm squad that was just recently eliminated from playoff contention. Alongside that, the Swarm lost both Archie Goodwin and Mike Tobey, to an NBA call-up and an overseas signing, respectively. Those two situations had Canton primed to booster their winning streak against a depleted Swarm team. However a certain 37-year-old NBA veteran had other ideas.
That free-thinking veteran was Swarm guard Damien Wilkins who put up a career-high 36 points, 6 assists and 4 rebounds on 9-13 from the field, 3-6 from beyond the arc and 15-17 from the field. Wilkins’ performance was enough to help push Greensboro to a 128-124 victory over Canton.
That fantastic effort was mainly due to Wilkins just outworking the opposition throughout the game. Despite being more than a decade older than most of the opposition, Wilkins was able to thrive by just cutting into the teeth of Canton’s vaunted defense. While most D-Leaguers would be scared of potentially getting blocked by Eric Moreland or get the ball snatched by Roosevelt Jones, Wilkins was just fearless. Wilkins’ courageous nature allowed him to shoot 5-6 from inside the restricted area while also getting seventeen attempts from the charity stripe.
Looking away from those skills as an on-ball cutter, Wilkins helped push the Swarm to victory through his work as a perimeter shooter. That was especially evident in the fourth quarter, as Wilkins shooting stroke was enough to help push Greensboro over Canton. A prime example of that was seen in the closing moments of the game, where Wilkins hit a smooth mid-range jumper to put Greensboro up by three points with 36 seconds remaining in regulation.
While the 37-year-old Wilkins stands as the oldest player in the NBADL, it really doesn’t seem that he’s really lost a step. For a player that’s more than a decade older than the majority of his teammates or competitors, it’s very impressive to see Wilkins thrive on a nightly basis with Greensboro.
Although he’s likely on the verge of wrapping up his 14-year pro career, it would be really nice to see Damien Wilkins get a final shot in the NBA before he hangs up his sneakers.