By Kings.com Fan Correspondent Alex Kramers
Past: Selected 23rd overall in the 2005 NBA Draft, Francisco Garcia is now the longest-tenured player on the Kings roster as he enters his seventh NBA campaign. Possessing a high basketball IQ and unique versatility, he’s capable of bringing the ball up the court and running the offense, creating his own shot off the dribble or setting up behind the arc to knock down a crucial long-range bucket.
In 34 games as a starter last season, Garcia averaged 11 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game – scoring a season-high 26 points (9-17 FG) against the Washington Wizards on Jan. 11. Garcia has been a model of consistency through his career, finishing among the team leaders in both three-point accuracy and free-throw percentage in each of the past five seasons. Displaying a silky-smooth stroke from outside, Garcia ranks fifth in three-pointers made in the Sacramento-era (497).
On the defense end, Garcia uses his length and quickness to contest shots, leading all guards in blocks per 36 minutes (1.3) last season. Among all 6-foot-7 or shorter players who’ve played at least 2,000 minutes over the last five years, he ranks third in block rate (2.3) –ahead of premier defenders Gerald Wallace and Shawn Marion.
Present: Garcia led the Dominican Republic National Team to a third-place finish in the 2011 FIBA Americas Championship and a chance to qualify for the Olympics for the first time in team history. The Kings swingman averaged 11.0 points – including 14 points on 4-of-5 shooting from downtown against rival Brazil – and led the Dominican Republic with 22 three-pointers and 13 blocks in 10 games.
In an exhibition tune-up against the University of Kentucky pros squad, which featured Kings teammate DeMarcus Cousins, Garcia poured in a game-high 30 points (6-12 from downtown) to go along with five blocks and four rebounds in a 106-88 victory.
Future: Garcia remains an integral part of Sacramento’s rotation and one of the team’s most reliable outside threats. Garcia, who hit at least one three-pointer in 41 of the 58 games he played in 2010-11, enters the season in prime position to spot-up for open long-range jump shots created off Tyreke Evans’ penetration to the basket and Cousins’ exquisite passing out of the low post. A fiery and passionate competitor, Garcia will provide instant energy off the bench while playing as many as three positions and going toe-to-toe with the NBA’s top scorers on both ends of the court.
The 29-year-old will also continue to play an integral leadership and mentoring role in the locker room. Garcia has taken many of the team’s up-and-comers under his wing over the last few years – a role that will become even more vital this season with five rookies currently on the Kings roster.