The Great Debate: Kevin Martin or Francisco Garcia?

(Sorry, Abraham Lincoln.)

 For the first time since Bobby Hurley got thrown into a ditch near ARCO Arena, we have some promising youth on our team. All apologies to Gerald Wallace. And Jason Williams.

We have two kids - Kevin Martin and Francisco Garcia - that are rather early on in their career and are showing promise on a nightly basis. The similarities in their games are striking - 6-foot-7 swingmen who are fearless in attacking the rim, have questionable jump shots and seem to show relentlessness on defense. It's great, particularly since the Kings lack the positives these two bring.

But there are a lot of trade rumors floating about, and there are sure to be more as February approaches. Some may need a player to be thrown in. Kevin and Francisco are sure to be mentioned, at the least.

So if given the choice to keep one and only one of the kids, which would you pick? (Mr. Poll over on the right asks the question, too. He's a copycat. I'm suing.)

Even though KMart is a sophomore and Francisco a rookie, I'm putting them at equal standing. Garcia may even have the leg up, honestly, because last year in Louisville was infinitely more valuable to him than a year in the Kings' practice facility was to Kev. Both are getting a chance now because of all the injuries. Both are getting starts and big minutes to boot. I say they come into this on relatively equal ground.

(And I'm excited as the next guy about Ronnie "The Threat" Price, but he doesn't belong in this discussion. Not yet, anyways.)

Here's my analysis of Martin vs. Garcia:

Shooting: Let's just say that no one in ARCO breathes a sigh of relief when either one of two jacks one up. These stats are according to 82games.com, which is remarkable in its scope.

This season, Martin is hitting 36.1 percent of his jumpshots. Last season, he shot 35 percent on jumpers. Francisco, this season, is hitting 30.5 percent of his jumpshots.

Francisco settles for jumpers 71 percent of the time this season, despite being almost twice as likely to hit an inside shot. Jumpers only make up 62 percent of Kevin's shots. Martin also seems to be the better finisher, hitting 66.7% of his `inside' shots.

 It's no wonder, then, that KMart has a significantly better field goal percentage - 44.3% to Francisco's 37.9%. Advantage: Martin.

Scoring: Scoring is differently from shooting - it's a skill in and of itself. Guys like Tracy McGrady and Kobe Bryant and Allen Iverson will put up numbers, even if it's not falling from the floor.

Part of this is free throw shooting. Kevin gets to the line more often - he draws a foul on 16.3% of his shots, according to 82games. Francisco draws a foul on 10.2% of his shots - better than Mike Bibby. (And a whole hell of a lot better than the normal starting small forward.) Martin is hitting 85% of his free throws and Garcia is hitting 75% of his.

But getting to the line and shooting are just parts of it - so let's look at the more complete scoring metric: scoring per 40 minutes. Kevin is scoring 14.4 points per 40 this season, and Francisco is scoring 10.6 per 40. (That 48-minute, 4-point boxscore the other night probably didn't help.) Advantage: Martin.

Rebounding: This stat is relatively easy to lay out. Kevin grabs 8.1 percent of all available rebounds (4.5% on the offensive end, 11.6% on the defensive end). Francisco grabs only 6.2 percent of all available rebounds (2% on offense, 10% on defense). Surprising, somewhat. Martin has started more than Garcia, so he's theoretically played with a weaker rebounding lineup more often. (Hi, Peja.) But despite that, the team defensive rebounding percentage is 2% higher when Kevin is on the floor as opposed to when Garcia is on the floor (though it's not mutually exclusive). Advantage: Martin.

Passing/Ball-handling: Martin has 39 assists this season and 12 passing turnovers, according to 82games. Garcia has 47 assists and 19 passing turnovers. So Francisco gets an extra assist per 48, but Martin is less likely to turn the ball over trying to get an assist.

Garcia turns it over a bit in driving or bringing the ball up, as well. He has five offensive fouls on the season, and 15 "ball-handling turnovers," which ostenisbly lead to steals or travelling calls or the ball going out-of-bounds. Martin has four offensive fouls and 17 ball-handling turnovers. It makes sense, because he tends to drive more (as the shooting comparison showed us). Advantage: NONE.

Defense: If I could accurately tell you exactly how to measure defense in the NBA, I'd be rich. The fact that this Sacramento team is rather horrible on the defensive end overall doesn't help. Just giving a cursory look at some +/- numbers and the like, however, I feel comfortable saying that Garcia is slightly ahead right now. Advantage: Garcia.

So, there you go. Francisco seems to have good leadership abilities, especially if you watched any Louisville Cardinal basketball last season. He's certainly more fiery than Kevin. It's impossible to tell, though, which one has the intangibles. Neither is taking big shots at this point; neither has been called upon to make a pressure stop. (Well, Adelman probably asked Kevin to not let Travis Diener or Jameer Nelson shoot at the end of Sunday's game. It didn't work.) I have a hunch Francisco will prove to be better at this when the time comes, but hunches are worthless, really.

I voted for Kevin, in the end. Hopefully, Garcia's shot will continue to come along. I think that will happen as he takes less jumpers and drives more. He's a good finisher (though Kev is better) and has a quick enough first step that he'll be able to create some space.

But Kevin already has that - he hits almost consistently from the floor, is a constant threat near the rack on set plays, and looks for the fast break early and often. Baseball fans know you take the seemingly sure thing over speculative potential.

And most importantly, Martin's perfect for Sacramento: Kinda milquetoast, horrible driver, unable to grow significant facial hair. Consider that a vote of confidence.

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