≡ Menu

Carlos Delfino vs Francisco Garcia – Which Wing Will Win?

Since making a roster-shaking trade just before the trade deadline, the Houston Rockets have had a number of new players to work into their rotation. Thomas Robinson may have headlined that trade with Sacramento, but another ex-King has had just as much of an impact of the team. Francisco Garcia has begun to see meaningful minutes for Houston, which could have major repercussions for another Rockets bench scorer, Carlos Delfino. Of these two men with similar skill sets, which, if either, is the long-term option for Houston?

When Daryl Morey signed Carlos Delfino to a two-year, $6 million contract this past summer, it was yet another of Morey’s prudent bench moves. With no money guaranteed on the second year, and a wealth of basketball experience in Delfino’s head, he was to be a low-risk, moderate reward player who could come off the bench for a thin wing position. In practice, he’s played the power forward more than anyone expected, and he’s seen a fair amount of trust and minutes from head coach Kevin McHale. But then on February 21st, a new weapon was added to McHale’s arsenal.

As one of Sacramento’s longest-tenured veterans, Garcia is the very mold of a coach’s favorite. He’s an accurate shooter, a decent defender, and a player who’s able to start or come off the bench. As a Rocket, he’s started three times so far as opposed to five starts for Delfino. With the season winding down, we can begin to look at the two players’ numbers and see who does more for the team. (All numbers consist only of play for the 2012-2013 Houston Rockets.)

While their minutes totals and minutes per game vary greatly, we can get perhaps a clearer idea of their production by looking at stats per 36 minutes, which tells us what their lines look like if they were both to play the same time per game. As both play in a scoring capacity, the number of most immediate concern is points. With Delfino scoring 15.1 per contest and Garcia scoring 14.1, Delfino would seem to have the advantage. Delfino also gets to the line twice as often, for 1.2 free throws per game as opposed to Garcia’s 0.6.

A look at how those points are scored tells a different story, however. Delfino makes only slightly more field goals per 36 minutes, 5.3 as opposed to 5. In that same span of time, however, Delfino is attempting 13.2 shot attempts, while Garcia shoots 11.2. On top of that, Garcia makes 3.5 of his 8.2 threes per 36 minutes while Delfino hits 3.3 of his 8.9 tries. This means that Garcia shoots 44.3% overall and 43.1% from three, while Delfino shoots 40.5% and 37.2% respectively. While Delfino may give you a point more, Garcia will get you there in fewer possessions.

To complete the picture, it’s necessary to examine their peripherals. Delfino, despite being an inch shorter, is actually a more active rebounder in Houston, pulling down 4.6 per 36 minutes as opposed to Garcia’s 2.4. Both have similar assist rates, with 2.8 for Carlos and 2.4 for Francisco. Turnovers are also close, with 1.6 vs 1.4 for Delfino and Garcia. Steals and blocks skew a bit in Garcia’s favor, with him tallying 2.1 steals and 1 block per 36 minutes while Delfino has 1.5 steals and a mere 0.2 blocks.

Of course, there are a few caveats for all of these numbers. Carlos Delfino has played meaningful portions of his minutes at the power forward position, which helps account for his increased rebounds and decreased steals. Francisco Garcia has also played far fewer minutes for Houston, meaning that his data still suffers from a little lack of sample size. Perhaps most importantly, Garcia has played fewer minutes per game for the most part, which has an effect on production. As minutes increase, efficiency per minute tends to drop, which may account for a degree of Garcia’s greater shooting ability thus far.

All that being said, this data bears out some hypotheses from the eye test, namely that Garcia is a more selective and more efficient shooter than Delfino. As a hired gun, Delfino is expected to hoist the three at every opportunity, but this sometimes results in ugly shooting nights in which he goes 2-7 or worse. Delfino also has a greater tendency to try to create, which can have mixed results. Delfino plays like he’s a larger part of the system, while Garcia is the very model of the veteran role player.

It would be easy to come to the conclusion that Garcia is the better fit in the Rockets’ roster, and it’s hard to argue that it’s not true. However, this ignores one of the most important factors involved: money. As noted, Delfino is on an extremely team-friendly contract. He’s making $3m in 2012-2013, and his $3m 2013-2014 salary isn’t guaranteed. Garcia has a team option next season, but the numbers are $6.1 and $6.4 for this year and next respectively. Given that neither player is guaranteed any money next season, this makes things more complicated.

Delfino may arguably be a worse player in a similar role, but Garcia’s contract is over twice as large. If the Rockets were exercise their options for either, Delfino’s much smaller hit is much friendlier. In addition, Delfino’s status as a non guaranteed contract is slightly more desirable than a team option. In practice, however, it’s highly likely that the Rockets waive the options for both players so as to have greater room for free agent. In that event, the Rockets could then choose to sign one or both players to another contract, though there are no guarantees that both sides would want that.

All things being equal, Garcia looks like the more prudent choice for a reliable veteran presence on the wing. However, with the realities of contracts in mind, Delfino’s production is close enough to Garcia’s that his much smaller contract is much more appealing. While McHale is unlikely to abandon a tried and true player in Delfino, don’t be surprised to see Garcia get increasing minutes this year. But don’t be shocked if Garcia’s last days in Rockets red are this year as well.

View this discussion from the forum.

in essays

{ 0 comments… add one }

Login to leave a comment.
Total comments: 22
  • Jeby says 1 YEAR ago @RahatHuq - I agree with your assessment of Morey's philosophy as regards athletic players, and I don't disagree with his decision to pass on Jordan or Sanders given the information available at the time about those players. However, in Leonard's case, conventional wisdom before the draft held that he could very quickly become a solid 3-and-D wing, and that Morris would struggle as a tweener on defense who relied on mismatches to be effective on offense.
    The Moneyball philosophy works best when you have reliable and comparable data. It is very effective in evaluation free agents. The $64,000 question is: how do you translate college or Euroleague performance data to the pros? I think this is more difficult for basketball than for baseball, and I believe Morey--and the rest of the league--have a long way to go until they can crack the code. Until then, drafting for athleticism and developing skill will continue to be a successful draft strategy. Greg Smith (undrafted, but still) is an example of success from that model, and I hope to see Terrence Jones become another.
  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago

    Oh man you're right.

  • Chichos says 1 YEAR ago

    If Kwahi took Delfino's place as the small ball 4 this Rockets team would beridiculous.

  • Steven says 1 YEAR ago Practice! We're talking about practice! Not a game! No! We're talking about practice!

    Practice is necessary, but the in game experience he has gotten is more valuable then the practice time he would have gotten against Leonard.
  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago

    I would have loved Kawhi Leonard on the Rockets, it's a real shame he passed him up. And I don't belive Kawhi would have stunted Parsons growth, if anything it would have helped Parsons to play agaisnt Kawhi's defense in practice. Plus there have been plenty of players who have made alot of growth while battling someone in a time share, and also plenty of players who haven't made much growth despite getting plenty of playing time.

  • Steven says 1 YEAR ago

    He also passed on the likes of DeAndre Jordan and Larry Sanders. I think that in this recent phase, he wanted to avoid guys with great physical gifts. Sort of like the Moneyball concept in baseball.


    Hindsight is always 20/20. But if the Rockets would have drafted Leonard, the Parsons might not have become the player that he is due to lack of playing time.
  • Rahat Huq says 1 YEAR ago

    Related: I think Morey's biggest mistake so far has been taking Marcus Morris (14th pick) over Kawhi Leonard (15th pick). Leonard was the model of the kind of athlete that succeeds in the NBA, while Morris is the model of the kind of player who dominates college with skill, but doesn't have enough room to improve to be great in the NBA.

    He also passed on the likes of DeAndre Jordan and Larry Sanders. I think that in this recent phase, he wanted to avoid guys with great physical gifts. Sort of like the Moneyball concept in baseball.

  • Jeby says 1 YEAR ago Related: I think Morey's biggest mistake so far has been taking Marcus Morris (14th pick) over Kawhi Leonard (15th pick). Leonard was the model of the kind of athlete that succeeds in the NBA, while Morris is the model of the kind of player who dominates college with skill, but doesn't have enough room to improve to be great in the NBA.
  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago

    Yeah I remembering him saying something along those lines.

  • Chichos says 1 YEAR ago

    I want to say it was in his interview with Zach Lowe forthemoneyball conference. He said 1st priority is getting his second superstar but that the Rockets could use a defensivespecialistwith three point range.

  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago

    Do you have a link to where Morey said this? The next step is finding a 3 and a D guy?

  • Chichos says 1 YEAR ago

    Morey himself has said the next steps on his roster building are to find a 3 and D guy and his second superstar. As Lin and Parsons fill into their play making roles Delfino will need to step back as our third facilitator. Which makes him less valuable. I think both Garcia and Delfino are gone and we try to find a 2/3 hybrid to put on elite PGs who can also hit the three.

  • Rahat Huq says 1 YEAR ago I think what this really proves is just that that "role" is totally replaceable with interchangeable parts. Recall in a discussion a month or so back that I said the Rockets wouldn't bring back Delfino if they needed that salary slot. Some members here said he was integral to the team and couldn't be lost. Garcia's play stepping in for Delfino has showed that you can just fill in with the next guy on deck, especially with a savy GM like Morey.
  • BenQueens says 1 YEAR ago

    Sorry, that was just comparing Garcia and Delfino amongst themselves. Maybe Moti will become a real stretch 4, and the small-ball lineup of this season will just fade away... but I have a feeling we see a 3/4 swingman signed to a Delfino-like contract this offseason to hedge that bet.

  • Alituro says 1 YEAR ago

    Yeah, I don't see either being significant parts to our roster in the future as our young guys develop. Personally I'd prefer they hold onto Delfino over Garcia if we are to be stuck with one of them for two reasons. Of course, CD's contract is way more attractive and Garcia isn't special enough to be a feature of any trades. Second, I think Delfino plays with a little more enthusiasm than Garcia, which can be infectious when used as the spark off the bench. Granted, Delfino's notparticularlyadept at creating plays, but when the game gets to a point where he is forced to, I think it sends a strong signal to the other guys on the floor to pick up their energy.

  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago

    I don't follow. I think the reason McHale goes small with Delfino is to space the floor, but next season D-Mo should be able to do that (assuming he improves). Or if the rumors are accurate, we will be getting Josh Smith who shoots 38% in the right wing. Obviously Delfino spaces the floor better, but I highly doubt Delfino at the 4 ispart ofMorey's long-term plans for obvious reasons.

  • BenQueens says 1 YEAR ago

    Garcia will have to sign at a much cheaper rate if he wants to come back, because there's no way we're bringing him back for 6m. We probably won't even need him if James Anderson improves, plus I can see us using the Lin/Beverley back-court alot more frequently going forward.

    I also expect to see the Lin/Bev back-court more often, but that raises another issue: the Delfino/Garcia roster spot probably has to be manned by someone who can work at the 4 in a small lineup (like Parsons) for McHale's rotations to work. I'd be interested to see some +/- on Garcia as the 4 vs Delfino.

  • Richards says 1 YEAR ago

    Neither are part of Morey's long term plan. He picked up Delfino for cheap and Garcia as part of a trade.

    We might have new starters and new style, so they might not fit in either.

    I can't wait to see our team is set. Happy to see the progress this year but next year, we might start all over again with new players, or even new coaches.

  • rockets best fan says 1 YEAR ago

    I suspect McHale would stick with the more familiar Delfino barring injury, but I'll be shocked if either player is in a Rockets uniform next season (at least under the terms of their current contracts). Particularly Garcia.

    I agree probably neither returns next year. however I disagree that McHale will stick with delfino. Garcia seems to make better decisions with the ball which should garner more support from McHale. their stats may be close, but from the eye test Garcia is a better player

  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago

    Garcia will have to sign at a much cheaper rate if he wants to come back, because there's no way we're bringing him back for 6m. We probably won't even need him if James Anderson improves, plus I can see us using the Lin/Beverley back-court alot more frequently going forward.

  • BenQueens says 1 YEAR ago

    I suspect McHale would stick with the more familiar Delfino barring injury, but I'll be shocked if either player is in a Rockets uniform next season (at least under the terms of their current contracts). Particularly Garcia.

  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago

    You can break down who shoots where and what, but a very easy way to compare scoring efficiency when you're looking at two very similar players is TS%

    Delfino .545

    Garcia .604

    And their PER is similar (Garcia's is actually higher but not by much).

    Garcia wins.

Leave a Comment