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Nazr Mohammed finally looks like he has found a home with the New York Knicks. The Knicks are the third team for Mohammed, now in his seventh NBA season. So far this season, Mohammed has established himself as the team’s starting center, which has contributed to the Knicks relative success, as they are leading the Atlantic Division in the Eastern Conference. More importantly, Mohammed’s emergence at center has allowed Kurt Thomas to slip back to his natural position at power forward. With Mohammed and Thomas in the paint, the Knicks have few rivals in the East that can match up with them.
Mohammed is so far having a breakout year with the Knicks. He is setting career highs in minutes played (30.4), rebounds (9.4), blocks (1.05), and points (12.3; third best on the team behind Stephan Marbury and Jamal Crawford). He is currently ranked fifteenth in the league in rebounds per game, but is third in the league in offensive rebounds per game (3.6), and has had nine double-double games. He is third in the league in field goal percentage with 54.2%.
With every game, Mohammed is gaining more and more confidence, and is quickly becoming one of the best centers in the Eastern Conference. He has been dominating at times this game, most notably against the Indiana Pacers. In one game earlier in the season, Mohammed scored 20 points and had 20 rebounds. Incredibly, 11 of those rebounds came of the offensive glass. In the most recent game against the Pacers, Mohammed had 8 blocks.
Mohammed came into the NBA being drafted by 29th overall by the Utah Jazz in the 1998 NBA Draft. He had played three years at the fabled University of Kentucky, where he helped the Wildcats win the NCAA championships in 1996 and 1998. In the last 1998 championship, Mohammed played a key role as the team’s starting center. In that year he averaged 12.0 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks in only 21.0 minutes a game. In his time at Kentucky, Mohammed played with Tony Delk, Antoine Walker, Walter McCarty, Derek Anderson, Ron Mercer, Jamal Magloire, and Scott Padgett – all of whom are making their own mark in the NBA.
Mohammed was traded on draft day Utah to the Philadelphia 76ers for a future first-round draft choice. Mohammed played sparingly under Larry Brown in Philadelphia due to playing behind Theo Ratliff and also because of injuries. In Philadelphia’s incredible 2001 NBA Finals run, they traded Mohammed, Ratliff, Toni Kukoc, and Pepe Sanchez to Atlanta for Dikembe Mutombo and Roshown McLeod.
When he arrive in Atlanta, Mohammed showed a lot of promise rights away getting significant minutes due to injuries affecting Ratliff. For the remainder of the 2001 season with Atlanta, Mohommed averaged 12.3 points and 9.0 rebounds. The following season, Mohammed stayed healthy to play in all 82 games, of which he started in 73 games, to average 9.7 points and 7.3 rebounds. He would then suffer from an array of injuries the next two seasons.
Towards the end of last season, New York Knickerbockers President of Basketball Operations Isiah Thomas acquired Mohammed in a three team trade that also saw forward Tim Thomas come to New York, and forward Keith Van Horn going to Milwaukee and center Michael Doleac and a 2005 conditional second-round draft pick going to Atlanta. In addition, center Joel Przybilla was traded from Milwaukee to Atlanta.