Furkan Aldemir was an afterthought when he was acquired from the Houston Rockets as a European prospect in July 2013, left playing for Galatasary S.K. of the Turkish Basketball League, resigned to a fate that would have him be the namesake of the Right to Furkan Aldemir Podcast one day.
For the majority of the season, he appeared to just be... there, looking a bit lost in the beginning of his season. He received sporadic playing time on a Sixers roster that enough turnover to warrant its own Sporcle quiz, an unfortunate part of Furk Daddy's difficult transition from his home country of Turkey to the United States. Back on March 6, Brett Brown indicated that he had difficult carving out a niche for the 6'9" big man, saying:
I ask myself this all the time: "If the season ended today, what would you regret?" And if that were true, probably one of my main regrets would be not playing him enough. He is learning. But there’s nothing like playing to learn. And I have to start giving him some minutes and finding a way to get him on an NBA court.
Despite that, Aldemir found some success in his 540 scattered minutes of play, illustrating his ability to be one of the better rebounders and screen-setters in the NBA and making him a part of the Sixers' immediate future.
Crashing the Boards
Aldemir was billed as a guy who was an elite rebounder in Europe, a skill that has historically translated well into solid rebounding performances stateside. That's exactly the player who the Sixers received, as Aldemir's offensive rebounding rate (14.9%) tied for fifth among all players (min. 540 minutes), tying him with Reggie Evans and leaving him behind Andre Drummond, DeAndre Jordan, Hassan Whiteside and Dewayne Dedmon.
Besides leaving me wondering how three of those guys have played for the Sixers when it feels like the franchise hasn't had a solid rebounder since Charles Barkley banged on the boards, that leaderboard displays Aldemir's capabilities on the glass for a team that has struggled with rebounding, finishing 28th in total rebounding rate (48.1%) this year and and in the same spot in 2014 (47.7%).
Aldemir finds himself tangled with Marc Gasol and sandwiched between Big Spain and Zach Randolph in Memphis. Furkan is able to tip the ball to Hollis Thompson, keeping the possession alive, while also recovering in time to get the ball once against Z-Bo after Holliswood's missed attempt.
In the game against the Cavs, Aldemir slips inside of a sleeping Kevin Love, an elite rebounder in his own right who's finished in the top 10 in defensive rebounding rate six of the last seven years, anticipating the board and finishing with a quick tip-in dunk. For a guy who doesn't have much of a shooting stroke at this point in his career, creating easy attempts at the rim for himself and extending possessions for the Sixers is critical to his offensive impact.
Setting the Picks
As the league has evolved over the last half-decade, the two aspects of an offensive system that have become essential for successful teams are three-point shooting and the pick and roll. With an offense that had Isaiah Canaan and Ish Smith running the show over the second half of this season, and maybe Emmanuel Mudiay or D'Angelo Russell doing so in a few months, having solid screen-setters for those ball-handlers to create and distribute helps mightily.
It may seem simple to commend setting good, hard screens, but after watching Sixers big men slide too early into their rolls without making solid contact and really picking the ball-handler's defender, it's satisfying to watch a player work hard on that fundamental aspect of the game. Look at what he does here against the Toronto Raptors on March 2 and then the Detroit Pistons on March 18:
He's able to disrupt the ball-handler's defender in each and is even able to roll to the basket and score on both plays captured above. Doing the dirty work turns into production.
Aldemir is under team control through 2018 at just $3 million per season, and his contract is guaranteed for 2015-16. A guy who can grab some boards, provide depth for the team's budding stars down low in Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid, all the while picking off defenders is someone with a role on Brett Brown's squad at least for next season.
Even if this was regular Twitter and not Sixers Twitter, it'd be a no-brainer to swipe right on this bearded hunk:
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