Furkan Korkmaz is fighting for his jersey.
That’s how the 76ers reserve guard described his approach this preseason. The third-year veteran wants the team to realize it doesn’t need to trade for a scoring threat off the bench. He’s determined to fulfill that role.
“I’m here to compete,” Korkmaz said. “I know that nobody is giving you a jersey and saying, ‘Hey come in and play.’ You have to come get it.
“So I know that whenever I step on the court, I’m stepping on the court with that mentality. ... Right now, I’m fighting for my jersey.”
Because of injuries, the Turkish player made his second consecutive start in a 112-93 loss to the Washington Wizards on Friday at the Wells Fargo Center. He didn’t put up his best offensive night, finishing with five points on 2-for-9 shooting -- including making 1 of 3 three-pointers. Korkmaz also finished with three rebounds, three assists, one steal, one block, and a turnover in 20 minutes, 58 seconds of action.
The Sixers closed out the preseason with a 4-1 record. They’ll open the regular season Wednesday night at home against the Boston Celtics.
Korkmaz got the start Friday at shooting guard while point guard Ben Simmons missed his second straight game with lower-back tightness. Josh Richardson, the normal shooting guard, started at the point.
Korkmaz averaged five points, three rebounds, and 13:16 while shooting 50 percent in the first four preseason games. But he had made just 3 of 10 three-pointers before Friday.
Despite that, Korkmaz has been making an impression on coach Brett Brown.
“I’ve seen a lot from him,” Brown said.
The first thing the coach saw was a basketball maturity. Brown thinks the 22-year-old’s playing with the Turkish national team in the FIBA World Cup in China helped nurture that.
The coach also thinks the time Korkmaz spent with the Sixers the previous two seasons gave him an understanding of what they expect.
“You take just getting older and getting more familiar with scouting reports, terminology, and schemes and expectations, it has equaled a better defender,” Brown said.
The Sixers are also trying to develop and find shooters.
“If he is anything, he is that,” Brown said of Korkmaz as a shooter.
The expectation, at this time last year was that Korkmaz would be on another team once the 2019-20 campaign rolled around.
That’s because Korkmaz, who missed most of the second half of last season with a knee injury, was no longer thought to be part of the team’s plans. Last October, the Sixers declined a third-year team option on the 6-foot-7, 202-pounder, seemingly with the intent of letting him walk into free agency.
He said last October, “I just want to play. ... This is my second year. I just need to play.” He was averaging less than five minutes per game at that point in the season.
The Sixers re-signed him to a two-year contract in July. The second year is not guaranteed until July 10, 2020.
Sixers reserve James Ennis III (three points) returned after missing Tuesday’s game. Reserve point guard Raul Neto missed the game with left-hamstring tightness.
Joel Embiid finished with 17 points and received a Flagrant-1 foul after colliding with Mo Wagner during the Wizards player’s layup attempt late in the third quarter.
Tobias Harris (13 points) and reserves Zhaire Smith (12) and Shake Milton (10) scored in double digits. Former Sixer Jordan McRae (17) paced the Wizards (3-2).
The Sixers parted ways with Exhibit 10 players Isaiah Miles, Christ Koumadje, and Haywood Highsmith after the game. The moves were expected, as all three are slated to play for the organization’s G League team, the Delaware Blue Coats.