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Coach James Borrego is the new man in charge of the Charlotte Hornets, and he wants the ball to move, move and move some more.
“It’s the spirit of your team because it says, ‘We’re unselfish,’” Borrego told the Charlotte Observer. “That we make the right play and we trust the next guy to make the right play if that is what’s asked.”
Borrego arrives in Charlotte after three seasons under San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. The Spurs are a winning organization with a reputation for playing the right way.
Even with the former stars such as Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Kawhi Leonard, the Spurs shared the ball and played to win, individual accolades be darned.
It’s a system that is likely responsible for turning a bunch of very good players into great ones.
Meanwhile, the Hornets are coming off consecutive 36-win seasons and missing the playoffs. They haven’t gotten past the first-round since 2002.
In that time, they went from the Hornets to the Bobcats and then back to the Hornets again. So owner Michael Jordan decided to change things up — hiring Mitch Kupchak as the new general manager in the second half of the season and parting ways with coach Steve Clifford (now with the Orlando Magic) at the end.
In comes Borrego, who’s getting his first crack at being an NBA head coach.
He will be charged with pushing the likes of star point guard Kemba Walker, swingman Nicolas Batum and small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to the postseason.
The Hornets bring back largely the same cast as last season. The addition of Parker is huge considering his rapport with Borrego.
How will Borrego get the Hornets to take it up a notch? Again, it appears, the idea will be to start with keeping the ball zipping offensively, by playing unselfishly, finding the open man and taking the best of shots.
“It’s at the core of our organization, like if I ask a guy to play a (different) position or come off the bench,” Borrego told the Observer. “I expect you to do that job and do it well. Likewise, when the ball is in your hands, I expect you to make the right decision.: So pass it, drive or or shoot it quickly because that makes us hard to guard.”