Now that we’ve all had to time to recharge our batteries from a rough season and gain a little more perspective, it’s clear that the Orlando Magic are heading in the right direction. All Magic fans should adopt the mantra regarding the team: “In Rob, we trust.”
Yes, Magic fans, GM Rob Hennigan has been nothing short of brilliant in his maiden season in Orlando as the youngest GM in basketball. Remember almost a year ago when the Magic finally pulled the trigger on the Dwight Howard trade, and how numerous ‘experts’ were jumping all over the Magic saying they didn’t get enough in return? You just know that Rob Hennigan is sporting the cheekiest of smiles now that the dust has settled on Orlando’s season.
Hennigan has struck gold with every move he’s made so far in the City Beautiful, and there’s no reason for Magic fans to expect anything less moving forward. Hennigan, cut from the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder cloth, has brought the same mentality to Orlando despite an enormous amount of pressure in the most high profile of situations. Walking into the ‘Dwight-mare’ would be a daunting task for even the most experienced general managers out there, and Hennigan handled it with complete class. Plus, how different does the future of the Los Angeles Lakers compare to the future in Orlando?
Let’s go back to the Howard trade since it was unquestionably a franchise-altering moment. A year later, the Lakers may fail to keep Howard this offseason while dealing with a team full of AARP applicants, all while the Magic quietly stockpiled very promising talent across the board.
Nic Vucevic still has plenty of developing to do, but at the age of 22, he averaged the second most rebounds per game in the NBA while showing potential offensively. It’s fair to say that Orlando can expect Vucevic to make several All Star Game appearances should he stay the course. Defensively, he improved a lot towards the end of the season, especially with his help defense.
Another promising piece in the trade was Maurice Harkless from the Philadelpia 76ers. He came to Orlando as a raw basketball player with tremendous athletic ability, and he showed some improved to his offensive game over the course of the year. Still very raw by all means at 20-years-old, but Hennigan and head coach Jacque Vaughn raved about his work ethic, which is a promising sign for such a young player.
During the season, the Magic made the difficult decision to part ways with fan-favorite J.J. Redick. The trade, once again, was met with skepticism, and even though Redick continues to be an Orlando favorite, bringing Tobias Harris from the Milwaukee Bucks was a big move for Orlando.
Harris, another 20-year-old, was buried on the bench in Milwaukee and I can’t fathom any logical reasoning behind it. In 27 games with Orlando, he averaged 17.3 ppg, 8.5 rpg, and 1.37 blocks per game. He also scored in double figures in all but three games with Orlando, and recorded nine double-doubles. Those numbers are at the very least close to All Star caliber already, and he was definitely one of the hottest players in the league when the Magic let him loose.
With the No. 2 pick in the 2013 NBA Draft up next for the Magic, another potentially huge piece will be added to Hennigan’s creation. The players undoubtedly need more time to fully realize their potential, but the amount of minutes they’re playing together may expedite that process. Magic fans will have to take another season of losses on the chin, but at least they can have faith in a competent GM for perhaps the first time in their history. In Rob, we trust.