The Orlando Magic broke the mold, in a way, in 2012 when they hired Rob Hennigan as their new general manager. Though Hennigan played basketball collegiately, finishing as Emerson College's all-time leading scorer, he had no NBA playing or coaching experience prior to taking the Magic gig.
A study by John Ezekowitz of Five Thirty Eight finds that Hennigan's hire is part of a larger NBA trend toward bringing aboard so-called "nontraditional" general managers: since the 2012/13 season, according to Ezekowitz, NBA teams have hired 14 general managers with no NBA playing or coaching experience, compared to only two who either coached or played.
Though Ezekowitz rightly notes that Hennigan hasn't spent enough time on the job for one to fairly evaluate his performance, his study also concludes that general managers with NBA coaching or playing backgrounds don't perform significantly better than the new-wave ones without that experience.
An ESPN panel recently rated Hennigan as the NBA's 15th-best top executive. It also ranked the front office he heads as the league's 18th-best, not a bad standing considering the Magic own the league's worst record since the start of the 2012/13 season.