The Philadelphia 76ers spent the offseason improving a bench unit that cost them big time last season. Depth and unreliability plagued a secondary rotation that finished 26th in assists and 27th in scoring across the league last season.
A big reason for Philadelphia’s lackluster bench play was its streaking guard play. And few offenders fit the bill quite like Furkan Korkmaz.
Korkmaz was drafted by the Sixers back in the first round of the 2016 NBA draft. The No. 26 pick heard his name shortly after the draft’s top pick, Ben Simmons, was selected, also by the Sixers. Coming over from Europe, the Turkish youngster received all sorts of player comps, ranging from Marco Belinelli to Devin Booker to Nik Stauskas.
Suffice it to say, Korkmaz hasn’t quite become the next Devin Booker. Then again, Devin Booker shredded expectations of his own.
If Korkmaz is to be part of the Sixers’ long-term plans, he needs to develop into a more consistent shooter. Thankfully, he’s getting the opportunity to hone his skills this summer with the Turkish national team.
Korkmaz to Represent Turkey at Eurobasket 2022
This week, Korkmaz was named to the 12-man roster for Turkey’s 2022 EuroBasket competition. There was little surprise there — the two-guard has played well so far in pre-tournament exhibition matches.
Korkmaz joins fellow NBA studs in the Rockets’ Alperun Sengun and Cavaliers’ Cedi Osman on the Turkish side.
As it stands, Turkey has the eighth-best odds to win the European tournament, far behind the favorites in Serbia, Slovenia, France, and Greece. All three boast serious NBA talent — Nikola Jokic for the Serbs, Luka Doncic with Slovenia, Rudy Gobert for the French, and Giannis Antetokounmpo for the Greeks.
It’s a sign of basketball’s influence overseas. Recently, NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal visited Australia to talk about bringing an NBA game down under next season and beyond.
Can Korkmaz Develop a Reliable Shot?
Several of the player comps selected for Korkmaz have one thing in common: a tendency to put the ball through the basket.
And, as Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Wasserman pointed out in a draft profile, Korkmaz’s greatest asset was to be his lights-out shooting.
“Korkmaz’s sales pitch starts with his 44.3 percent three-point clip,” wrote Wasserman back in 2016 for Bleacher Report, “which he’s earned by converting at least 41 percent of his triples in both the BSL and Euroleague. He did the same thing a year ago.”
Flash forward to 2022 and that sales pitch is looking more like fantasy and less like can’t-miss Apple stock. Korkmaz posted an abysmal 28.9% hit rate from three last season, along with an effective field goal percentage (46.9%) that was well below the league average (53.2%).
And don’t think Korkmaz is contributing much to the team’s defense, either. His 114 defensive rating was on par with Damien Lilliard, Trae Young, and Caris LeVert. None of them, by the way, are earning any defensive player of the year votes.
Korkmaz was also prone to exile by Doc Rivers for his shaky performances.
Rives explained to reporters after a win in March that he spoke with Korkmaz about his shooting confidence.
“You have to be willing to miss four or five in a row,” Rivers relayed, “and believe the next one’s going in because I’ve put enough time and practice in to know that it’s gonna win. That’s what shooters do.”
With any luck, Korkmaz will develop some of that confidence playing for his home country next month.