With the trade of Kevin Martin last spring, Francisco Garcia became the longest tenured King. Drafted in 2005, Garcia is the last remaining combatant from the last Kings' playoff appearance, having seen a whopping 41 minutes of action in the 2006 Spurs series. That rookie season showed something interesting -- not special, interesting -- in Garcia; remember that in January of that season, readers of this site were evenly split as to which of Garcia and a sophomore Martin would be the better pro.
Along the way, Martin turned into one of the best scorers in franchise history while Garcia ... well, while Garcia became something of a John Salmons type: a decent creator of the dribble, a decent defender, a versatile scorer and pretty good shooter. Salmons was a better scorer, but Garcia excelled at feist. (Note: when you're as bad as the Kings have been since 2006, feist does not win many games.)
Geoff Petrie has not typically paid a premium for upstanding men, but it can be argued Garcia's pleasant demeanor and helpful attitude boosted his perceived value locally, and helped him land the contract extension signed in 2008. All told, a player of his caliber, age and recent history would not command $17.4 million over the next three seasons.
But that raises an interesting question. We know El Flaco's age (28) and recent history (a bench/spot starter role, a broken wrist last year). But what caliber is he? What is Francisco Garcia?
Is he a shooter? Over the past three seasons, 106 players have taken at least 500 three-pointers. Garcia ranks 23rd in three-point field goal percentage, at 39.4 percent, just ahead of Ray Allen (39.2 percent), Danny Granger (39 percent), and, uh, Kevin Martin (38.8 percent).
Is he more than a shooter on offense? For all the discussion of El Flaco's playmaking abilities (and Reggie Theus' famous post-Orien Greene Garcia at PG experiment), his record of assists in the NBA has always been middling at best; his career assist rate (12.1) is not much better than that of Martin (11.1), who is not considered a great passer. So he's not the point-forward or oversized point guard he was once made out to be. In fact, if Garcia plays on units which don't include one of Beno Udrih, Tyreke Evans or Pooh Jeter, that's probably a problem for the Kings.
Is he a driver? Garcia was on the low end of the roster in terms of fouls drawn in 2008-09, and was at the absolute bottom last season. According to Hoopdata, El Flaco took fewer shots from inside five feet per minute than any other King; in 2008-09, he was about average among Kings guards.
Martin has had average levels of shots at the rim, but huge free throw numbers. Udrih has had average figures in both categories, but a rip of assists. Evans has had prodigious numbers of free throws and shots at the rim and strong assist numbers. Garcia is middle of the pack or worse at all facets of the penetration game. He is not a driver.
So he is a shooter, on offense. On defense, he's weird, to say the least. Among all player 6-7 or shorter who have played 3,000 minutes or more over the past three seasons, Garcia is third in block rate, behind Jason Maxiell (listed at 6-7) and Dwyane Wade (with Gar Heard one of the greatest short shotblockers in NBA history). Garcia is slightly ahead of Shawn Marion and, get this, Gerald Wallace.
Among the 71 players who have played at least 3,000 minutes over the past three seasons and have a block rate of at least 2 percent, Garcia is 8th in steal rate at 2 percent. In fact, Garcia is one of just 14 players who with that minutes cut-off have block rates and steal rates at or over 2 percent. Only one other of those 14, Wade, can be considered a regular guard. The others: Tyrus Thomas, Josh Smith, Ben Wallace, Andrei Kirilenko, Rasheed Wallace, Jamario Moon, Kevin Garnett, Nene, Kenyon Martin, LeBron, Marion and GW.
We have watched Garcia, and we know him to be erratic in every sense of the word. And this has shown on defense. But, in my estimation, you don't get on that list without having some defensive gifts. So if he's not a good defender, he has defensive gifts.
That is Francisco Garcia. An erratic, defensively gifted shooter.