Former Kings head coach and Warriors lead assistant, Michael Malone weighed in on Steph Curry’s emergence on Monday:
“Steph never ceases to amaze,” Malone said on Sirius XM NBA radio’s Off The Dribble. “I think one thing that really helped him out was when they (Golden State) traded Monta Ellis. When we traded him, I think that was really big for Steph’s development.
“When he (Steph) and Monta were there together, it really was more Monta’s team and Monta has a strong personality and I love Monta, big fan of his, but once Monta was removed, I think that allowed Steph to become the leader of that team. And that’s something that he’s flourished in and it became his team.”
In March 2012, the Warriors sent guard Monta Ellis, forward Ekpe Udoh and center Kwame Brown to the Bucks in exchange for guard Stephen Jackson and center Andrew Bogut.
Bogut has been a mainstay with Golden State starting 65 games this season and averaging 6.3 points and 8.1 rebounds per game while Ellis averaged 18.9 points and 4.1 assists per night for the Mavericks.
And Curry, of course, has enjoyed a meteoric rise this season averaging 23.8 points per game, shooting 48.7 percent overall, including 44.3 percent from 3-point range, 7.7 assists and 2.08 steals per game, ranking in the top 10 in the NBA in each category.
“We always knew that he could shoot the ball well, but his improvements on the defensive end, which started under Mark Jackson while we there, and continues with their current staff, Steve Kerr’s done an unbelievable job, obviously,” Malone added.
While serving on Mark Jackson’s staff at Golden State, Malone, known as a defensive guru, helped the Warriors field goal percentage against and 3-point field goal percentage against improve from 20th to third and 28th to seventh, respectively in the NBA in the 2012-13 season.
After a surprising 9-6 start and then a record of 11-13 to start this season, Malone was jettisoned as the Kings head coach with an overall record of 39-67 at the helm in under two seasons in Sacramento.
[RELATED: George Karl says Warriors will win it all]
Sacramento assistant coach Tyrone Corbin took over for Malone and went 7-21 before George Karl was named head coach at the All-Star break. Karl ended the season with an 11-19 record and the Kings ultimately finished the season at 29-53.
Malone, who is rumored to be in the mix for head coaching positions in Orlando and Denver, lauds Curry on and off the floor.
“Even with the development of Klay (Thompson), Draymond Green and all these other guys, Bogut playing well, it is Steph Curry’s team,” Malone added on Sirius XM NBA radio.
“He just gets better and better and he improves in all facets of the game whether it’s defense, cutting down his turnovers, whatever it may be and he’s probably one of the best guys I’ve ever coached just in terms of character and who he is as a person.”
The Warriors own a 1-0 advantage over the Pelicans and are hosting New Orleans in game two of their Western Conference quarterfinal series at Oracle Arena on Monday.