The Sacramento Kings have found their man in Mike Malone. The 42-year-old native New Yorker is expected to be officially named the 25th coach in franchise history on Monday.
Improving the Kings defense will be one of Malone’s toughest tasks as the Kings next head coach. Fortunately, the soon-to-be-former Warriors assistant has a strong track record of success.
In his two seasons at Golden State, Malone helped vault the Warriors into defensive respectability. They jumped from 27th to 13th in defensive rating and allowed just 102.6 points per 100 possessions according to NBA.com.
“You have to make it a priority from the first team meeting that you have,” Malone told Warriors TV announcer Bob Fitzgerald in a 2011 interview. “From the first practice that you have and you have to preach it every day. It’s not something that you can just talk about.”
Talking about becoming a defensive team is one thing, enforcing it is another. Malone believes that in order to build a defensive culture, his actions have to match what he’s preaching. The 42-year-old coach will likely rely on his bench to send a message to players out on the floor that are not getting the job done.
“As a coach, you can’t talk out of both sides of your mouth,” Malone said to Fitzgerald. “You can’t preach defense and then have guys on the floor who aren’t doing it, who are not living what we’re trying to preach and let them out there and let them off the hook because you’re going to lose the rest of your team.”
By coming to Sacramento, Malone is also inheriting a talented but young roster. Of the players under contract through next season, only Chuck Hayes and John Salmons have had any significant playoff experience.
Depending on the changes from new Kings management and ownership, there will be an impetus on Malone to shape and mold this young Kings team. Fortunately, Malone believes that teaching is a critical component to one’s job as a head coach.
“I think there’s a misperception around NBA coaching that there’s not a lot of teaching that goes on,” Malone told Fitzgerald. “Just roll the ball out, let these guys play, they make a lot of money. All the great teams that I’ve been around – we teach every day and we hold guys accountable and we get better every day because of that.”
Malone knows that preparation and a clear-cut gameplan will also be important when it comes to succeeding in Sacramento. From his standpoint, changing the culture of an organization starts with the coaching staff and how they approach each new day.
“Every game that we go into, we want to prepare our guys,” Malone said to Fitzgerald. “From a personnel standpoint, from a gameplan standpoint, to making sure every thing that happens during the course of that game – there’s no surprises. That’s the sign of a well coached team, a well prepared team.”
There is much more to learn about the Kings new coach. You can watch the Warriors TV videos below to get a glimpse into the mind and coaching philosophy of Mike Malone.
Part 1 – Mike Malone with Bob Fitzgerald
Part 2 – Mike Malone with Bob Fitzgerald