Nazr Mohammed has always been something of a per-minute wonder: Even though his career averages are only 7 points and 5.4 rebounds in 18 minutes per game, Mohammed has only averaged less than 11 rebounds per 40 minutes once, and his per-40 scoring numbers are also impressive.
The Hall of Fame coach wasn’t impressed [with Mohammad when he first arrived]. After being a part-time starter a year earlier, Mohammed appeared in only 39 games in 2008-09 and averaged 2.7 points and 2.0 rebounds.Mohammed’s big contract made him difficult to trade, so he embarked on a rigid offseason conditioning program and came to training camp last year determined to win over Brown.It didn’t work right way.“When he got to play early I thought he was terrible,” Brown said.Part of the problem is the 6-foot-10 Mohammed doesn’t do the things Brown likes from a center. He’s not extremely athletic, lacks a big wingspan and isn’t an intimidating shot-blocker.“You know what his prototypical center is and I know I’m not his prototypical center,” Mohammed said. “But I know that you don’t play 13 years in this league without being able to do some good things out on the floor.”That includes being a consistent scorer with a soft touch and an effective rebounder. He was also in great shape after his offseason workouts.Mohammed slowly started to come on. In the same week in early February he had 23 points and 17 rebounds against the Los Angeles Lakers and 21 points and 20 rebounds against Minnesota.“Maybe he got in better shape. Maybe he got stronger. But before he got hurt he was playing better than at any time I’ve ever seen,” Brown said. “He tried to defend. He ran the floor and he earned the right to play.”
With Emeka Okafor and Tyson Chandler having been traded away in consecutive off-seasons, Mohammed will get a chance to hold down a full-time starting spot, something he’s only done twice in his long career. We’ll see if Mohammed can make the most of his opportunity.