Is James Borrego the right coach for the Orlando Magic

With Orlando’s future completely dependent on player development, is James Borrego the right coach to lead them to success?

The Orlando Magic are in the final stretch of another difficult season and the organization is facing an interesting decision regarding their head coaching position and current interim coach James Borrego once the season wraps up.

The next head coach of the Magic will go a long way in determining the trajectory of the entire franchise.

That leads us to the following question: Is James Borrego the right coach to lead the Magic into the future?

Let’s start by looking at some of the positives.

Franchise cornerstones Nikola Vucevic and Victor Oladipo have shown steady improvement, but both need to take the next step in order for the Magic to become truly relevant.

According to, Nikola Vucevic said the following in regards to Borrego:

“He has felt like our head coach from Day 1 because he has made sure to stay on us, hold us accountable and work us so that we get better. Even though it hasn’t been the season that we wanted, he still pushes us. He still wants us to play hard and win games.”

Borrego does appear to have a fair amount of support from inside of the organization and from the team’s most valuable player (Vucevic).

The ascension to stardom of Oladipo and Vucevic will be key, but unlocking the potential of Aaron Gordon and Elfrid Payton may be equally as important.


If Payton manages to develop into even a league-average shooter, then he has the potential to be a legitimate franchise point guard due to his ability as a playmaker and his ability on the defensive end. By most counts, Payton has been the second best rookie in the league this season, behind only Andrew Wiggins.

Injuries obviously slowed Gordon’s rookie year, but he did look lost at times when healthy enough to stay on the court. Whoever the next head coach is will have to teach the Arizona product the nuances of the game, as Gordon was knocked for being raw before the 2014 NBA Draft.

Borrego clearly works tirelessly in order to be prepared and that has shown on the court. He appears to be more comfortable than his predecessor when it comes to drawing up plays out of timeouts and the team’s overall defense has been better under Borrego.

On the negative end of the spectrum, the Magic are 9-17 in Borrego’s short tenure and could struggle down the stretch considering that three of the final four games are against potential Eastern Conference Playoff teams.

If Orlando were to win only one game down the stretch, that certainly would not drum up any excitement about Borrego being named as the permanent head coach.

Borrego is the youngest coach in the NBA at just 37 years old. While an argument could be made that he will only improve with his players, a more experienced coach is likely more ready to aid in player development.

There are a couple coaches on the market that are good potential fits for the Magic.

Mike Malone, whom the Kings let go earlier in the season, could be a solid fit in Orlando. During his time with the Kings, he appeared to getting the most out of his roster and managed to create a good relationship with the enigma that is DeMarcus Cousins.

AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack

AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack

Former Bucks coach Scott Skiles was one of the best point guards in Magic history, which makes him an obvious contender. He also clearly has the requisite coaching experience in regards to time on the sideline, as he has coached almost 900 games. Although Skiles is known as being a tough coach, perhaps that’s exactly what the current group needs to take the next step.

Their experience in the lead chair could outweigh a relative rookie like Borrego.

While the Magic could do worse on the open market than Borrego, the franchise needs to hit a home run with their next head coach. Orlando certainly needs to acquire more talent in order to compete for a playoff spot, but the current roster has a ton of potential.

Targeting a coach that has more experience than Borrego makes sense due to the lack of experience on the part of the players.

After three abysmal seasons, it is time Orlando makes the next step next season. With the salary cap set to jump after next season, the Magic could be a desired destination for good free agents if the team shows significant growth.

Borrego has filled in admirably for the fired Vaughn, but his first chance as a permanent head coach probably will not be in Central Florida.