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Jenni Carlson: Thunder need Nazr Mohammed to lead well, play well

by Jenni Carlson Modified: February 26, 2011 at 6:43 pm •  Published: February 26, 2011

One of Nazr Mohammed's younger brothers called the other day to commiserate.

The topic: big brother's move to Oklahoma City.

"Man, that's a young team," his younger brother said. "It's a good thing you hang with us during the summer."

Mohammed chuckled Saturday as he recounted the conversation.

"It's not like I'm an old guy," the 33-year-old said, "but this is my type of crowd."

The Thunder is hoping the fit is a good one. Much like Mo Peterson, Kevin Ollie and Etan Thomas before him, Mohammed is going to be expected to provide that wise, veteran presence for a team dependent on a bunch of young pups.

But unlike those other guys, Mohammed is going to be expected to play, too.

Maybe a bunch.

Mohammed will be in uniform today against the Lakers. Even though Thunder coach Scott Brooks wasn't sure Saturday afternoon how much he would use Mohammed after only one practice, don't be surprised to see the big man log at least 10 or 15 minutes against Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Co.

That playing time will rise since newly acquired big man Kendrick Perkins could miss another couple weeks with a knee injury. Add in the loss of Nenad Krstic, Jeff Green and D.J. White, and the Thunder front line is thin.

Even though Mohammed is the forgotten player in this week's trades, he will have an impact on this team.

Then again, you don't play 13 years in the NBA without doing something right.

Thunder general manager Sam Presti contends that Mohammed does lots of things right. He's accountable off the court. He's solid on the court. He's aware of his strengths.

Most of all, though, Mohammed takes his job seriously.

Presti knows that firsthand because he crossed paths with Mohammed in San Antonio. He remembers being in Detroit for a Christmas game and going to the hotel fitness center.

Continue reading this story on the...

by Jenni Carlson
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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