When the four-team blockbuster trade that went down in early August sent Dwight Howard to the Los Angeles Lakers, it seemed as though the Lakers had built a championship-caliber team overnight, the Orlando Magic got drawn and quartered, the Denver Nuggets took a big step forward, and the Philadelphia 76ers landed a franchise cornerstone.
But here we are at the halfway point of the 2012-13 season, and almost none of that has proved to be true.
Perhaps we owe the Magic an apology. When new general manager Rob Hennigan dealt one of the top three players in the league for a package headlined by Arron Afflalo, most people either laughed or shook their heads in astonishment -- and sometimes both.
But look who's laughing now. No, the Magic aren't good this season, but that was all part of the plan. All they need was a young stud to build around. And it looks like they have one, even if we couldn't see it at the time.
Largely overlooked in the trade, Vucevic, 22, has been a revelation at center for the Magic, and is averaging 11.7 points and 11.1 rebounds this season. Here's the list of active players who have averaged 11-and-11 by age 22: Howard, Blake Griffin, Kevin Love, Carlos Boozer, Elton Brand and Tim Duncan.
The former USC Trojan has been particularly good lately, averaging 15 points and 14.9 rebounds in his past 10 games, including a 20-point, 29-rebound effort against the defending champion Miami Heat. Vucevic also has nearly as many double-doubles this season (21) as Howard and Andrew Bynum combined (23).
This post has been edited by Captain Hi-Top: 22 January 2013 - 07:20 PM
Reason for edit: Edited For Length