The most prolific backcourt scorer at Louisiana State since the glory days of Pete Maravich, Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf (formerly known as Chris Jackson) got off to a somewhat slow start in the NBA, then twice tallied as much as 19.2 ppg before tailing off to a 7.3 scoring average in 1997-98. Abdul-Rauf put up remarkable numbers in only two years of college ball. In 1988-89 Abdul-Rauf set three NCAA freshman records: most points in a single game (versus a Division I opponent) with 55 against Ole Miss; most points in a season with 965; and highest scoring average for a season with 30.2 points per game. He was only the second freshman ever to make the Associated Press First-Team All-America squad. His scoring dipped only slightly in his sophomore campaign, as he averaged 27.8 points. The Southeastern Conference scoring champion two years in a row, Abdul-Rauf hit for 40 or more points 11 times and 50 or more points four times in his LSU career. He was named the consensus SEC Player of the Year in both seasons and finished as the sixth-leading scorer in LSU history, despite playing in only 64 games. Abdul-Rauf, who converted to Islam and legally changed his name in 1993, has continued to score at the pro level despite a difficult start. Picked third overall in the 1990 NBA Draft, the 6-1 guard averaged 14.1 points for the Denver Nuggets as a rookie in 1990-91 and earned All-Rookie Second Team honors. He was diagnosed at the end of the season as having two extra bones in his feet that limited his mobility. After surgery to remove the extra bones, he missed the final eight games of the season. Abdul-Rauf's playing time was limited in Coach Paul Westhead's run-and-shoot offense in 1991-92. Playing only 19.0 minutes per game, he finished the season with a scoring average of 10.3 points per game. The following year proved to be his breakthrough season. The Nuggets won 12 more games in 1992-93 than they had the previous year, and Abdul-Rauf was named the NBA's Most Improved Player. He led the Nuggets in scoring for the first of four consecutive seasons with 19.2 points per game and finished second in the league in free-throw shooting with a .935 mark. That percentage set a franchise record that Abdul-Rauf would break the following season. In 1993-94 Abdul-Rauf averaged 18.0 ppg and had one of the best seasons ever recorded from the foul line. Missing one free throw in the final game of the season cost him the league single-season free-throw shooting record, as Abdul-Rauf finished at .956 for the year. In 1994-95 his scoring dipped to 16.0 ppg, still the best on the team, but in 1995-96 he matched his career-high with 19.2 ppg and also posted a career-high 6.8 apg. He joined Alex English as the only players to lead the team in scoring four years in a row. After the season, Abdul-Rauf was dealt to Sacramento in exchange for Sarunas Marciulionis and a second-round draft pick. In his first season he was the Kings' second-leading scorer even though his average dipped to 13.7 ppg, his lowest since 1991-92. He played in just 31 games in 1997-98, missing 30 due to injury, four because of the flu, 16 due to coach's decision and one for personal reasons. He averaged a career-low 7.3 ppg.
Placed on the injured list on 2/20 Scored 14 points and added 4 assists in a 109-92 victory over the Golden State Warriors on 2/13 Registered 20 points, 4 assists and 3 rebounds against the Atlanta Hawks on 11/14 Recorded 20 points (10-14 FG) and 4 assists, in 24 minutes, in a 115-89 victory over the Orlando Magic on 11/12
Abdul-Rauf's stats dipped to 13.7 points, 2.5 assists and 1.6 rebounds per game in his first season with the Kings, his lowest figures since 1991-92, his second pro season. Nonetheless, he ranked second on the team behind Mitch Richmond in scoring, free throw percentage (.846) and three-pointers made (94) and attempted (246). ... He played in 75 games, starting 51, and led the team in scoring and assists 11 times each. He scored 20 points or more 18 times, tallying a season-high 34 points on 11-for-16 from the field, 5-for-7 from three-point range and 7-for-9 from the line in the Kings' season finale, a 113-109 loss to Utah on April 20. ... He had at least three three-pointers in 13 games, with a season-high of six in a 126-108 loss at Chicago on Feb. 28. He handed out a season-high eight assists, and also scored 22 points, in a 105-85 victory over Golden State on Feb. 16. ... Abdul-Rauf was Sacramento's leading scorer off the bench in 15 games and averaged 19.8 ppg in a reserve role in a six-game stretch in mid-January. That included 27 points in 29 minutes in a 109-101 triumph over Vancouver on Jan. 11.
Abdul-Rauf led the Nuggets in scoring for the fourth year in a row, matching his career-high of 19.2 ppg, and joined Alex English (1984-89) as the only players to top Denver in scoring as many as four times in a row. ... Abdul-Rauf scored in double figures 46 times and reached 30 points 10 times. ... Abdul-Rauf topped the NBA in free throw accuracy with a .930 percentage on 146-for-157, the second time in his career that he led the league. ... On Dec. 7 against Utah, he became the fifth player in Nuggets history to score 50 or more points when he tallied a career-high 51. He tied a franchise record with nine three-pointers in that game and sank a career-high 17 field goals. ... He also handed out a career-high 6.8 assists per game and had nine double-doubles after recording just five in his first five seasons. Among them was a 30-point, career-high 20-assist performance against Phoenix on Nov. 15. ... Abdul-Rauf also sank a career-high 121 three-pointers on the season, even though he was placed on the injured list on March 28 with a sprained left foot and missed the final 16 games. ... Shortly after the season, he was dealt to Sacramnto for Sarunas Marciulionis and a second-round draft choice.
In a tumultuous year that saw the Denver Nuggets toil under three head coaches, Abdul-Rauf showed his consistency and grit by leading the Denver team in scoring for the third consecutive season. He finished the year with an average of 16.0 points per game. ... The slight shooting guard's minutes were down, however, and for the first time in four seasons he played in fewer than 80 games, appearing in only 73. ... Abdul-Rauf recorded the best field-goal percentage of his career at .470. His .885 free-throw percentage ranked seventh in the league, and he overcame a midseason slump to help lead the Nuggets into the playoffs. ... After suffering a bruised fibula and a sprained right ankle against the Minnesota Timberwolves on April 10, Abdul-Rauf never quite got back on course. He played only 12 minutes in Denver's final seven regular-season games, averaging only 28.5 minutes for the season as the Nuggets were swept in the first round of the playoffs by the San Antonio Spurs. ... Abdul-Rauf was only 2-for-12 from three-point range against the Spurs. He nevertheless averaged 13.3 points in the series, second on the Denver squad. ... His season also included a career-high 36-point outing against the Houston Rockets on Jan. 14.
Dan Issel returned to coach the team for which he had starred in the 1970s, and Abdul-Rauf couldn't have been happier. ... If the youngster hadn't left Louisiana State University early, this actually would have been his rookie year in the NBA. He shed 30 pounds during the offseason, regaining some of the quickness and mobility he had lost since leaving LSU. ... Abdul-Rauf led the Nuggets in scoring from wire-to-wire and was voted the NBA's Most Improved Player for the 1992-93 season. ... He shot .450 from the floor and shattered previous career highs with averages of 19.2 points and 33.5 minutes per game. ... He scored 20-plus points in 46 games and established a new Nuggets single-season free-throw percentage record (.935), ranking second in the NBA in that category behind Mark Price. ... As if to erase memories of the previous season, Abdul-Rauf opened the year with a pair of 32-point games. And on at least three occasions he won games with buzzer-beaters, the most memorable being a trey from beyond center court to beat the Los Angeles Clippers, 109-106, on Nov. 27. He also nailed a trey at the buzzer to beat the Phoenix Suns, 120-118, in the season finale on April 25.
Abdul-Rauf's star dimmed in his second NBA season, and when then Denver Coach Paul Westhead made him sit out the season's final game, it marked the first DNP (did not play-coach's decision) of Abdul-Rauf's career. Westhead was not a huge fan of Abdul-Rauf's game, and the Nuggets' guard finished the year with averages of only 19.0 minutes and 10.3 points per game while shooting .421 from the field. His season-high was 29 points against the Miami Heat on Feb. 26, accompanied by 5-for-8 shooting from beyond the three-point arc. ... Abdul-Rauf's first two seasons were the Nuggets' worst since they had joined the NBA in 1976. The club went 20-62 in 1990-91 and 24-58 the next season. Westhead and his free-wheeling, run-and-gun approach were shown the exit at season's end.
The former Chris Jackson converted to the Islamic faith on Aug. 9, 1991, and adopted his current name, which translates as "elegant and praiseworthy, most merciful, most kind." ... Few rookies have been as heralded as Abdul-Rauf was after two prodigious seasons under Dale Brown at Louisiana State. Abdul-Rauf set three NCAA freshman records, averaged 27.8 points as a sophomore, and in two seasons scored more than 30 points 28 times, more than 40 points 11 times, and more than 50 points four times -- and then decided two college seasons were enough. ... Denver selected Abdul-Rauf in the 1990 NBA Draft after the New Jersey Nets made Derrick Coleman the No. 1 pick and the Seattle SuperSonics nabbed Gary Payton at No. 2. ... Abdul-Rauf suffers from Tourette's syndrome, a nervous disorder, and problems with his medication forced him to miss the season's first five games. He then debuted with 26 points against the Phoenix Suns on Nov. 10. He hit a season-high 35 points against the Orlando Magic on Feb. 12, and his season average was 14.1 points per game on .413 shooting from the field-good enough for a berth on the NBA All-Rookie Second Team. However, his season ended eight games prematurely when he underwent surgery on April 17 to remove two extra bones in his foot that were causing pain and limiting mobility.
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