[This is one of StR's '07-08 Kings previews. Follow them here.]
Francisco Garcia has no corners in his path, no forks in the proverbial road. Garcia and his horse rode a dusty trail to the NBA and expect to keep goin' til it ended on the other side of 2015. Personal growth wouldn't mean a lick between role-player and star. A skill here or there isn't turning this gaucho into a stud. To borrow a slice of modern circular logic: Garcia is what he is.
Then why did Garcia -- for lack of grace -- suck into '06-07 and rock in '07-08? How has a potential-less soldier in the Skeleton Army turned himself into a valuable member of the Tomorrow Brigade?
NO MORE TRAUMA
A running joke through El Flaco's first two seasons: Stupid Mistake of the Game. Like Atomic clockwork, Garcia would perform some atrocity that'd make even Lamar Odom bug out. A charging call on a three-on-one, an alley-oop attempt from midcourt in the fourth quarter of a tight game, driving into treble-trouble at the start of the possession, set a play and fire off a 26-footer. The more embarrassing, the better. The Stupid Mistake of the Game became so predictable we actually became relieved when he got it out of the way in the first half. "At least it won't cost us the game," the logic said.
The hits don't stop. Remember when, this season, up two, he fouled a three-point shooter in the act at the buzzer? Remember when he did it again two weeks later (but didn't get called)? This is Francisco Garcia. He makes one Stupid Mistake per game. But it's different -- he also does some great things. And there's more game -- his minutes/game increased by 50%, only part of that due to injuries. The share of non-stupidity has increased greatly, making the stupidity share look much smaller in relative terms.
The first image of Garcia's is no longer "d'oh." It is the Mean Face.
FIRE WARNING: EXTREME
A side-by-side comparison of the "Hot Spots" charts for '06-07 Flaco and '07-08 Flaco.
On two-pointers in '06-07: .476
On two-pointers in '07-08: .506
On three-pointers in '06-07: .356
On three-pointers in '07-08: .391
So Francisco Garcia is on this trail, looking at a barren horizon, going nowhere new ... the same ol' "bit player" landscape surrounds him ... sigh ...
And then he falls into this portal to another dimension where the cacti don't shurg and the tumbleweed doesn't roll. It's a swinging futuristic planet with blaring reggaeton! and robots! and space whores! In this dimension, Francisco Garcia is an awesome roleplayer, a sixth man on a theoretical champion, a gunner (if guns killed people).
Francisco Garcia likes this world very much, thank you, and I think he's sticking around.
The good: Shooter extraordinaire (.575 TS%), decent creator in a pinch (21 Usage, 60% of FGs assisted). One of the best small shotblockers (one per 36 min). Buckets of energy. Active, talkative on defense. Emotional. Great teammate. Agile.
The bad: Aforementioned Stupid Mistake, once daily. Only draws fouls on the fast break. Slight, and gets pushed around a bit. Emotional. Hacks like frickin' crazy. Not a point guard.