Malcolm Armstead is a 28 year old 187cm point guard from Florence, Alabama that is playing his fifth professional season and first with Neptunas Klaipeda (Lithuania-LKL). Last season he played with Yesilgiresun Belediye (Turkey-BSL) playing 29 games averaging 12.9ppg, 2.8rpg, Assists-5(5.2apg), 1.5spg, FGP: 46.9%, 3PT: 29.7%, FT: 78.4%. He played at three schoold before turning professional with Chipola JC (JUCO), Oregon (NCAA) and Wichita St. (NCAA) and as a senior played 39 games averaging 10.6ppg, 3.8rpg, 4.0apg, 1.9spg, FGP: 43.9%, 3PT: 34.5%, FT: 79.7%. He started his professional basketball career in 2013 with Krka Novo Mesto (Slovenia-Telemach League) where he played two seasons. In the 2015-2016 season he played with Avtodor Saratov (Russia-VTB) playing 4 Eurocup: games averaging 13.0ppg, 3.0rpg, 4.5apg, 1.5spg; In the VTB United League he played 7 games averaging 13.7ppg, 2.7rpg, 5.4apg, 1.6spg, 2FGP: 43.5%, 3FGP: 33.3%, FT: 95.2%, in Nov.’15 moved to AEK Athens (Greece-A1) playing 3 games averaging 7.0ppg, 1.7apg, 1.0spg, in Dec.’15 signed at Istanbul Buyuksehir Belediyesi (Turkey-BSL) playing 14 games averaging 10.0ppg, 2.3rpg, 3.9apg, Steals-5(1.5spg), FGP: 45.7%, 3PT: 25.0%, FT: 85.7%. He spoke to German Hoops before the Basketball Champions League against the MHP Riesen in Ludwigsburg.
Malcolm thanks for talking to German Hoops. Welcome to Germany. Is this your first time to Germany and what do you in general about the country and it´s basketball?
This is my first time playing as a professional in Germany, but not my first time visiting. Friends that I know that have played here in the past are Jordan Theodore and Sean Armand that played in Frankfurt.
Your playing your fifth professional season and first with Neptunas Klaipeda (Lithuania-LKL) which is your fifth country and fifth team. Do you sometimes feel as if you are living a basketball globetrotter life?
I wouldn´t say I´m living a globetrotter basketball life. When I think of globetrotter I think of them doing it for the fans and entertainment. I feel like I am doing a job as a professional basketball player.
Has the Basketball Champions League been extra challenging to you in comparison to the Lithuania-LKL league. What have you been focusing most on your game in this league?
I have only been here a month so my main focus is to just get better every day. I want to enjoy the process at the same time, and know that there will be ups and downs.
You’re the only American on the squad. Has this been a big adjustment for you as you have become less minutes than you have been used to in past years?
Well it´s been kind of tough. This season has been a real challenge. It has just been a matter of having different roles. Before I was a scoring guard, but this season we have many scorers here. I feel I have become a better player on the defensive end.
How has the daily head to head competition with other point guard Mindaugas Girdziunas helped your game so far in the early going?
He is a very good player and has helped me become better. I have learned different things and just try to pick and choose along the way.
Your playing with some experienced Lithuanians like Tomas Delininkatis, and Renaldas Seibutis and others. Does their presence take away some pressure from you having to have the full load of bringing your experience?
I don´t feel any pressure. It´s not like I am in the ring fighting Mike Tyson, but I´m just playing basketball. They do what they have to do in the paint and I just try to get them the ball and put them in the best position possible to be successful.
Let´s talk a bit about your game. You’re a versatile guard and to what NBA player would you best compare your game to?
I don´t know and have never really thought about it. I try to take bits and pieces from many players and add it to my game.
You’re a guy that can fill the stat sheet, but what do you feel is a hidden strength in your game that doesn´t get noticed right away?
I feel a hidden strength in my game is my defense. In the past I have tended to be lazy, but my coaches have always been on me to be a better defensive player. I want to bring my defensive game on track which will help my career further.
Last season you played with Yesilgiresun Belediye (Turkey-BSL) playing 29 games averaging 12.9ppg, 2.8rpg, Assists-5(5.2apg), 1.5spg, FGP: 46.9%, 3PT: 29.7%, FT: 78%. Do you feel that this was your strongest season where you showed you could be an impact player in one of the top leagues in Europe?
My numbers were better last year than in past years, but I think my season was just solid. I feel like I could have done a lot of things better last year.
How much easier did a guy like ex NBA player Ricky Ledo make your life as a point guard that season as he led the league in scoring? What did you learn to appreciate most about his game?
He is a scorer and led the league in scoring. I appreciated his work ethic and energy level the most. You saw why he played in the NBA
In the 2015-2016 season you split time with Avtodor Saratov (Russia-VTB), AEK Athens (Greece-A1) and Istanbul Buyuksehir Belediyesi (Turkey-BSL). What do you feel was the most toughest about this season and what did you learn from living in a suitcase?
It was a tough season. In Russia there was a lot more going on than just basketball with the club. I left, but when I look back I wish that I could of stayed because they were winning in the Eurocup and I believe that if I had stayed it would really have helped my career. In Greece I wasn´t able to play my natural position. I was a stand still shooter in the corner. Being a stand still shooter is ok, but that isn´t my game as I am also a creator. It looked like I was a problem having to leave so many teams, but I wasn´t.
You played your first two professional seasons with Krka Novo Mesto (Slovenia-Telemach League) winning two titles. What was your wake up call to being a rookie in Europe where you knew that you were very far away from home in Alabama?
I didn´t have a wake up call. I left home at age 16 and played JUCO and then played at Oregon and then at Wichita State so I was used to being away from home. Christopher Booker helped me a lot since he was something like 30 and a lot older. Having Booker there made me feel easier and it felt more like being at home. I was injured my first year and when I came back for my second season I knew what to expect.
How important was American Christopher Booker in your early time in Slovenia? Did his JC roots help make the understanding and communication easier between you?
His experience really helped me He told me the things I would go through things he had seen as a professional.
You already was on the go during your college years playing at Chipola JC (JUCO), Oregon (NCAA) and Wichita St. Do you feel like you became a better player having had this varied experiences instead if you had stayed at one school?
Yes that helped me for sure. I played with three different coaches that had different styles. In the JC I had come in as a scorer and became a distributor. At Oregon they needed me as a scorer and at Wichita State I played for a defensive minded coach.
You had two solid years at Oregon playing for Dana Altman. How did your game mature there and why did you feel the need to transfer to Wichita State(NCAA)
My numbers went down here, but I learned to become a better creator and he let me play my game under his system.
How did head coach Gregg Marshall give you that last touch and helped you groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career at Wichita State?
He always got down on me wanting me to get better each day.
You reached the NCAA final 4 in 2013 with Wichita State losing 72-67 to Louisville. Does the ending of that game still pop through your head today?
I never watched that game again. I try not to think about it. Sometimes people remind me about it, but that was 5 years ago.
You had some very talented guards with Fred Van Vleet who plays with the Toronto Raptors and Ron Baker with the New York Knicks. When you look at their game is there so much difference in talent in your games. Didn´t their success give you hope for the NBA or do some guys just have more connections and luck?
I knew from day one that coach would be lucky to have them on the team. It´s all about timing. I was a fifth year senior and didn´t play NBA Summer League. I never pursued the NBA, because I knew that I would have a better career in Europe.
Who won a one on one in practice you or Fred Van Vleet?
We never played. Coach didn´t allow it. I would have won a one on one had we played.
Who was the toughest player that you battled in the NCAA that is in the NBA now?
Isaiah Thomas of the Cavs. We played 4 times and we split each season.
If you had to construct your own NBA Rushmore which 4 heads would you chose?
Lebron James, Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain and Oscar Robertson
Lebron James failed to win his fourth NBA title and is still three away from Michael Jordan. Where does Lebron stand right now in your opinion in the never ending debate of who is the best of all-time?
Michael Jordan are you serious? Jordan has six rings and Lebron has three rings. If you don´t win, it doesn´t matter.
There has been criticism of Russell Westbrook to be focusing more on rebounding to help inflate his stats and possibilities of getting triple doubles instead of focusing on his defensive assignments. Do you feel that this is a fair assessment to the player Russell Westbrook?
I don´t listen to what people say. He averaged a triple double and was MVP.
What was the last movie that you saw?
Straight Outta Compton. I watched it on the plane today