Since the departure of Ron Artest, many Kings fans have wondered as to who would step in at small forward. Eventually, John Salmons was named the starter, which meant Francisco Garcia would come off the bench. It seemed very likely that Garcia would have a shot at cracking the starting rotation after posting solid numbers this past season.
Salmons and Garcia are two players with similar games. The slight difference between them is that Salmons is known more for his man-to-man defense while Garcia is a stronger shooter. They are both solid ball handlers who can create for themselves and teammates. The one glaring difference between the two is Salmons inability to perform off the bench.
As a starter last year Salmons was very productive, posting an average of 17.5 points per game on 49.7% shooting, along with 5.4 rebounds and 3.5 assists in 41 starts. As a sub Salmons' averages took a nosedive, scoring just 7.4 points, grabbing 3.2 rebounds and dishing out 1.6 assists per contest. The most significant difference was his three-point shooting percentage, dropping from 38.1% as a starter to 21.4% off the bench.
Garcia is balanced and brings energy off the bench while Salmons does not. The energy and enthusiasm Garcia brings as a sixth man is important to have. Garcia’s versatility makes him effective as a starter, but even more so as a reserve.
As a backup compared to a starter, Garcia shoots a higher percentage: 46.9% to 44.9% from the field and 39.9% to 37% from behind the arc. He scores more efficiently too, 10.9 points in 23.1 minutes per contest as a reserve, compared to 16.4 points in 36.8 minutes in 20 starts. Garcia is the better option off the bench.
Salmons has proven to be more effective as a starter and Garcia more effective as a bench player. Garcia is arguably more suited to play small forward, considering Salmons is slightly undersized, but with Salmons as the starter and Garcia off the bench, the Kings are more balanced.
Quite frankly it does not matter who starts and comes off the bench, Salmons and Garcia are interchangeable at small forward. As long as Garcia is playing enough and Salmons is starting, the Kings should be just fine.
If Petrie decides to make a change and trade Salmons, Garcia will be named the starter undoubtedly, baring some unbelievable performances from Donte Greene. If Salmons' slow start persists through the beginning of the season, Garcia should see more playing time. When that change may come is hard to tell, but for now, Garcia will come off the bench and Salmons will start.