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Orlando Magic GM Rob Hennigan Might Be a Genius After All

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Orlando Magic GM Rob Hennigan Might Be a Genius After All
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Tobias Harris, Beno Udrih and Nikola Vucevic (players listed from left to right), were all players that Orlando Magic general manager Rob Hennigan acquired over the past year, giving the Magic hope after the trade of franchise center Dwight Howard left the fans and team in disarray.

Following the trade of Dwight Howard, anybody who believed the Orlando Magic would be able to regroup after the loss of its franchise center was deemed crazy.

Orlando didn't receive any star players, and the draft picks it acquired weren't high-value.

However, Magic general manager Rob Hennigan made the deal, saying in the press conference to formally announce the deal, "And today, we feel this trade puts us in a position to build the right way, to build with flexibility and in incremental gains, and we're excited about it."

Orlando Magic head coach Jacque Vaugh and general manager address the media after trading star center Dwight Howard to the Los Angeles Lakers

Initially, the move was panned by experts, including this ESPN.com article grading the deal.  Fans and pundits alike criticized the organization for not forcing Los Angeles to send Pau Gasol and/or Andrew Bynum to Orlando.

Despite this, Hennigan stayed true to the philosophy he outlined in the press conference, looking like a insane fool to outside eyes.  But as the season progressed, the talent Orlando acquired began to blossom, making Hennigan look like Dr. Frankenstein as he gave life to a franchise left for dead.

Orlando Magic center Nikola Vucevic set a single-game franchise record after grabbing 29 rebounds against their division rival, the Miami Heat, on Dec. 31, 2012.

Arron Afflalo embraced his role as a high-scoring wing, Moe Harkless dazzled spectators with his athleticism, defensive ability and ridiculous potential and Nikola Vucevic emerged as one of the best rebounders in league and possible star at the center position.

This past season, no player in the league grabbed more rebounds in a single game than Vucevic and his 29-rebound effort against the Miami Heat.  He also finished second in rebounds per game and third in double-doubles.

Then, as the NBA trade deadline approached, Hennigan was forced to make another tough trade, sending J.J. Redick to the Milwaukee Bucks.

Orlando Magic combo forward Tobias Harris gave his former team, the Milwaukee Bucks, nightmares after scoring the game-tying three pointer with 1.9 seconds remaining in regulation, while also leading the Magic to victory with 30 points, 19 rebounds and five assists in a matchup between the two teams on April 10.

And although the team didn't get a first-round pick, Hennigan again proved his penchant for evaluating young talent, stealing a likely star in Tobias Harris from Milwaukee.  Harris, a threat to score from anywhere on the floor, crashes the boards and seemingly improved after each game; he has one of the brightest futures in the NBA.

So what will Hennigan and the Magic do for an encore?

Well, with a plethora of draft picks in the coming years as well as several talented veterans and partially guaranteed contracts that contending teams could be interested in acquiring, Hennigan has plenty of assets he can move as he continues to rebuild the team.

And after finishing the season with the worst record in the NBA, the team has the highest probability of winning the NBA draft lottery, and the pick is guaranteed to be a top-four selection.  Making a selection so early in the draft can be intimidating to some, and there's always a chance the player ends up being a bust.

But given Hennigan's track record to date, Orlando can have faith in their general manager.

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