Last season Furkan Korkmaz had his moments with the 76ers, but toward the end, his production and his playing time diminished.
After averaging 9.8 points and 21.7 minutes in the regular season, he averaged 0.8 points in 10.0 minutes during the Sixers’ first-round playoff sweep by the Boston Celtics. A 40.2% three-point shooter in the regular season, the 6-foot-7 Korkmaz shot 0-for-6 in the postseason.
Now in his fourth season with the Sixers, Korkmaz, 23, received high praise from new coach Doc Rivers during a Zoom interview Tuesday with the media on the first day of training camp.
“He is an extremely skilled basketball player with size, shoots the ball, can dribble the ball, can play pick and roll, moves, has a very, very high basketball IQ, and you can see that and he is still young,” Rivers said. “So I think Furkan is going to be a very big piece to what we do this year.”
Korkmaz hopes to build on last year’s regular season and put the postseason behind him.
“It was a little bit surprising for me to not get a lot of minutes in the playoffs. Like I said, it was Coach’s decision,” he said, referring to Brett Brown. “All I can do is respect it and just keep working on my game.”
The Sixers’ season ended Aug. 23 with a 110-106 loss to the Celtics. Korkmaz used the offseason to get stronger and work on his game.
“I did focus on my shooting, my dribbling,” he said. “I was also watching my tapes from the season, defensively, offensively, what I can do better, but everybody knows that I can shoot.”
And the ability to shoot and stretch defenses will determine how he figures in Rivers’ rotation.
Anderson tight with Embiid
Former Sixers wing Justin Anderson, who signed a two-year free-agent deal with the Sixers last week, said his close relationship with Joel Embiid was one of the reasons he joined the team. While playing with the Brooklyn Nets, he often met up with Embiid during the NBA’s restart in the bubble in Kissimmee, Fla.
“Obviously with Joel playing a huge part in [signing with the Sixers], me talking to him throughout the bubble, hanging out with him in the bubble,” said Anderson, who played a year and a half with the Sixers before being traded to Atlanta in July 2018.
While he ended last season with the Nets, Anderson played 31 games in the G League (15 for Toronto’s Raptors 905 and 16 for the Long Island Nets). In the 31 games, the former 2015 first-round draft choice of the Dallas Mavericks averaged 20.6 points and 6.7 rebounds. He had two stints with the Nets totaling 10 regular-season games and three playoff contests.
“A lot of guys don’t want to go through that experience in Year 5,” he said about playing in the G League. “I had an opportunity to go overseas, but I felt I truly belonged.”
If he makes the Sixers, it will likely be because of his ability to defend.
“Being able to guard all over the floor and switch and being able to use my legs and my strength and athleticism, I think absolutely I’m going to hang my hat on defense,” he said.
Simmons on ’30 Under 30′ list
Sixers point guard Ben Simmons has made Forbes’ 10th annual “30 Under 30″ list featuring the latest class of 600 young visionaries who are leading the next generation of innovators.
The 24-year-old two-time All-Star was among the 30 named in the sports category. Simmons recently added esports company FaZe Clan to his investment portfolio, which includes a stake in the performance technology company Hyperice.
“My strategy here is simple: to invest in what I know and believe in,” Simmons said to Forbes. “I think the future of esports is as strong as the NBA’s.”