The unfortunate reality for rotational players around the NBA is they must prove they can hold up at the NBA level on a nightly basis. While more proven players are oftentimes given a pass for an occasional “off night,” this is not a luxury all NBA players receive. This was the case with Furkan Korkmaz in the 2021-22 season. The Turkish sniper struggled to connect on long-range shots during the year and fell out of the Sixers rotation as a result. Korkmaz will be entering the final year of his contract this season and is sure to play with plenty to prove However, the 25-year-old revealed one of the surprising reasons for his struggles when talking with reporters during Sixers media day.
When discussing his shooting issues last season, Korkmaz revealed “I had a little nerve damage starting since the All-Star break of last year.” The five-year veteran says he lost some sensation in his fingers and it altered his shot. He said he went through a nearly two-month rehab this summer where he had a chance to fully address the issue.
Korkmaz’s 2021-22 Struggles
There were high hopes for Korkmaz heading into the 2021-22 season. He signed a two-year extension with the Sixers before the season as his rookie deal expired and was expected to contribute in his bench minutes. Unfortunately, Korkmaz shot a career-low 28.9% on three-pointers and also saw his points per game decrease from the previous season.
His explanation about the nerve issues makes sense based on the dip in shooting percentage for Korkmaz. Following the all-star break, he shot just 23.7% on three-pointers and just 66.7% at the free-throw line.
These are uncharacteristic numbers for a player who is a career 35.5% three-point shooter and shot 40.2% from deep during the 2019-20 season. Nerve damage is certainly something that would impact his shooting touch and the numbers support Korkmaz’s unfortunate claim.
What’s Next for Korkmaz?
While there are reasons for optimism for a bounce-back season following his recovery, it is unclear what type of opportunity Korkmaz will see this season. The additions of De’Anthony Melton, Danuel House, and PJ Tucker could all play a role in cutting into minutes that were previously his. There also is a great amount of buzz surrounding Matisse Thybulle following an offseason in which he worked to improve his shooting form.
However, there is no such thing as too much shooting and if Korkmaz can connect at a reliable rate there will certainly be a role for him. He is set to be a free agent at the conclusion of the season and will be looking to cement his NBA role moving forward. Look for him to come in with a new focus this season and prove he is deserving of this.
Sixers President of Basketball Operations, Daryl Morey, also joked that Korkmaz worked to improve his toughness this offseason. While playing with Turkey in the Eurobasket this summer, Korkmaz was attacked by several players from the country of Jordan following his ejection due to the on-court altercation. Thankfully, Korkmaz escaped the altercation in full health. His focus is now shifted toward making a statement with his play during the Sixers’ 2022-23 season.