Furkan Korkmaz's performance offers Sixers intriguing glimpse of future | David Murphy
Furkan Korkmaz's biggest contribution to the program likely lies in the future, after he puts on some weight, and matures as a defender.
Barring injury, the Sixers have no obvious role for Furkan Kormaz. That was true at the start of training camp, and it remains true now, despite his performance in Sunday's intrasquad scrimmage at the Palestra. We'll get into all of that shortly. Nevertheless, on an afternoon that showed us a lot about what the Sixers are going to be this season, Korkmaz offered a glimpse at one of the future pieces they have in their portfolio. He drained four of five three-pointers, each with a cotton-soft stroke that's been hard to find around these parts over the past few seasons. He flashed a polish that looked a lot older than 20, whether he was swinging the ball to a more open man or lofting one-handed floaters that dropped straight through the net. Maybe he was operating at an advantage, having landed in Sixers training camp fresh off a starring performance in last month's EuroBasket tournament, which followed his summertime participation in FIBA's under-20 competition.
"He really shot the ball well, and I think he played well," coach Brett Brown said. "We're all going to walk out of here thinking he made shots, and that's true, but I thought defensively he did some good things. We see that there's sort of a deceptive athlete. There's certainly a deceptive length, but I feel like he would've reaped the benefit, to me, of coming off real basketball in Europe, coming out of that tournament where he's been playing high-level basketball against high-level competition a lot longer than, like, Justin Anderson or Nik [Stauskas]. You can't help but think about that. Having said that, you walk out of the gym and you pay attention. I thought that he was one of the standouts of today's scrimmage."
In all likelihood, Korkmaz is still at least a year away from playing a meaningful role at the NBA level. You could see it even in Sunday's scrimmage: Jerryd Bayless and J.J. Redick both showed the soft strokes and smooth play they will bring to this season's rotation. Despite Korkmaz's performance, the pool of minutes available to perimeter players didn't suddenly grow bigger. At 6-foot-6 and a listed 190 pounds, he doesn't appear to be thick enough to guard anything beyond a two guard. That's a limiting factor. Redick, Bayless, T.J. McConnell and Markelle Fultz all have tools better than Korkmaz's best ones. Both Redick and Brown's reactions' suggest Korkmaz's shooting display was more a pleasant surprise than it was a peek into what the team has been seeing in practice.
"Holy [bleep], he just came out of nowhere," Redick said after the scrimmage. "It's funny, because, during the course of practice, some of those guys aren't getting as many reps, and today we all sort of played the same amount, and he played great. He kind of stole the show with his shooting. He was phenomenal today. Again, he hasn't had a ton of reps, so hasn't showed that level of shooting prowess, but he was phenomenal today."
The Sixers' backcourt has a lot of sorting out to do. On Sunday, Redick was as advertised, whether knocking down open threes, setting picks, or pulling up from just inside the arc. So, too, was Bayless, whom the Sixers have emphasized in their public comments throughout the offseason. It will be interesting to see how Brown divvies up playing time among Bayless, Redick, McConnell and Fultz in the early going. Whether it is Bayless and Redick's stroke or McConnell's defense, all three players can make a strong argument for minutes when situations call for their respective strengths.
Which is to say that Korkmaz is pretty far down the pecking order when it comes to forecasting how things will play out over the first few months of the season. His biggest contribution to the program likely lies in the future, after he puts on some weight, and matures as a defender. But the offensive skills he already has are far more difficult to develop than raw measurables.
"Every day, I start to feel better and better," Korkmaz said. "I know I have to be better and better."
By the start of the season, Korkmaz's performance might be long forgotten. But the memory of it is worth filing away.