Golden State Warriors assistant coach Mike Malone is regarded as one of the best basketball minds still with the 'assistant' title to his name remaining in the NBA.
Malone joined 'After the Game' with Larry Biel on Tuesday to discuss some of his feelings about the Warriors, to which he admits they have 'a ways to go,' especially on defense.
"When you come in as a new staff, Mark Jackson, myself and all the coaches and you try to change a culture and change a system, that takes time," Malone said. "And the worst thing we could have had was a lockout because it shortened training camp and you basically have no practice time as the year goes on.
"We definitely tried and we made strides at times. But we're nowhere close to being where we need to be in order to be a competitive team that has to get back to the playoffs. We have a lot of room to grow defensively and offensively."
The Warriors were a better defensive team in 2011-12 than they were last season in terms of points allowed per game, owning a 101.2 points per game this year after a 105.7 mark the season prior. Still, they were 27th in points allowed in 2010-11 and 28th in that category in 2011-12, so the upgrade was incredibly marginal.
"We do whatever it takes to put these players in a position to have success," Malone said. "Obviously, we have to do a better job of that next year. Working for Mark is great ... 17 years in the NBA ... a wealth of knowledge ... played for some unbelievable coaches and basketball minds during his career. Obviously, he paid his dues and got his job and he did a very good job. And obviously we all have to do a better job next year - from the coaches to the players."
This is certainly the most vocal Malone has been about the W's deficiencies as Mark Jackson does not allow his assistants to speak with the media much during the season. Golden State should feel lucky to have a coach such as Malone on their staff, because he is certainly seen as a hot commodity elsewhere around the league.
For more on the Warriors, head over to Golden State of Mind.