Furkan Korkmaz’s first game during the NBA restart was just like his 76ers team’s performance, a true clunker. That was Saturday’s 127-121 loss to the Indiana Pacers.
Korkmaz has rebounded to play much better the last two games, with the Sixers winning both. His outside shooting is important for the Sixers. For all that coach Brett Brown talks about Korkmaz’s improved defense, he is on the floor to drill threes and stretch defenses.
And over the last two games, he has done that in spurts.
In that loss to Indiana, he was held scoreless, shooting 0-for-4 from three-point range. During Monday’s 132-130 win over San Antonio, he was 3-for-6 from beyond the arc. In Wednesday’s 107-98 win over Washington, Korkmaz was 2-for-5 from three-point range and finished with 10 points. He hit his first two three-point attempts late in the first quarter.
“It felt great,” he said about making consecutive threes. “We’ve just got to keep winning, keep that mentality.”
After having a minus-8 rating for the Indiana game, Korkmaz is plus-13 in the last two, including plus-9 against the Wizards.
Now in his third season, Korkmaz is averaging 9.7 points in 21.7 minutes. He is shooting 39.5% from three-point range. The key for Korkmaz, which he has acknowledged during his time in Kissimmee, Fla., for the NBA restart, has been consistency.
It has been that way this season, although this campaign has been the best for the 23-year-old, third-year Sixer.
For instance, on Feb. 7, he scored a career-high 34 points in a win over Memphis, and he followed that up with 31 points in a victory over Chicago.
In his next two games, he scored zero and four points.
Before Wednesday’s 107-98 win over the Wizards, Brown talked about the goal for his rotation, saying that by the playoffs it will be nine players. Korkmaz is in that rotation, but to earn consistent minutes, he will have to provide shooting.
Korkmaz and Alec Burks are the Sixers’ best shooters off the bench. Averaging just less than 14 minutes in the three games, Burks is averaging 7 points but, more impressively, he has hit all six of his three-point attempts.
And remember, Glenn Robinson III has yet to play in the three games because of a hip pointer and is a strong two-way wing. So the competition will be fierce among the wing players, which is why Korkmaz will likely have to keep shooting effectively to get more minutes.
The rotation has been impacted further by Thursday’s announcement that Ben Simmons suffered a subluxation of the left kneecap in the win over Washington. Brown said on Thursday he doesn’t know how long Simmons will be sidelined.
Against Washington, Korkmaz made his second three-pointer from 28 feet off a feed from Al Horford. The two players are often paired off the bench together and have developed a chemistry.
“Al makes it easier for me,” Korkmaz said. “When he is on the court, he is a big threat. He can shoot, especially threes.”
Korkmaz says ball movement is part of Horford’s game and that suits him well.
“He likes to swing the ball and keeps everything moving,” Korkmaz said.
And when that happens, it often provides open looks. Korkmaz has a quick release and doesn’t need a lot of space.