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Should Furkan Korkmaz stay in the rotation?

Post-Butler trade, Furkan Korkmaz has seen an increase in minutes. Should he keep them?

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Charlotte Hornets Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Everyone knows about the sunken cost fallacy — that putting time and money and effort into a thing that isn’t working, just because you have put time and money and effort into it in the past, ultimately means you wasted your time and money and effort — and has probably heard it talked about far too much on Twitter in relation to Markelle Fultz. People continually say, “look, y’all messed up, so stop investing all this into him and trade him.” I’m not here to address that issue, but instead to offer a look at the completely other end of the spectrum.

But just as it’s a logical fallacy to devote time to a non-working thing, it’s also one to devote nothing to something just because you decided at some point that it didn’t work. Maybe you have a young NBA player who hasn’t become what you thought he would, so you decline his third-year option. No problem! But he’s still on your team, and if there’s value to be had from him being on your team, it’s important to take advantage of that fact. It helps your team in the short-term, and helps that player in the future because he’s able to show the league that he still has potential.

That’s where Furkan Korkmaz comes into play.

The Sixers declined Korkmaz’s third-year option and he wound up glued to the bench, but then, that Jimmy Butler trade happened, and the team found themselves needing to get him on the floor in the two games between making the trade and actually having access to Butler, and Korkmaz did fine! He provided some offense! He wasn’t quite the defensive liability that people thought he would be!

Korkmaz has now played double-digit minutes in five consecutive games and looks like he might have a place on this team as someone capable of coming in and providing some minutes off the bench. But moving forward, is he that? Should he be?

A survey of the Sixers rotation

Before establishing if Korkmaz’s place in this rotation is secure, let’s first talk about who is in the rotation. Guys who are definitely in:

  • Joel Embiid
  • Ben Simmons
  • Jimmy Butler
  • JJ Redick
  • Mike Muscala
  • Wilson Chandler
  • Landry Shamet
  • Markelle Fultz

That’s eight guys and leaves out Amir Johnson, who is doing his best to say play me, play me, play me, with that whole thing he started doing where he hits threes at a 55.6 percent rate. It also leaves out the injured Zhaire Smith, who should make his debut at some point in 2019.

Korkmaz is the only other name that’s currently on the roster that makes sense to be part of this rotation. T.J. McConnell is another one of those guards whose best chance of scoring is inside, and whose worst chance of scoring is via the three ball, and barring an injury there just isn’t room for another guy like that in this rotation. Jonah Bolden could have a place as a stretch big, but right now it feels like he needs more time to develop. Shake Milton is a guy that I like a lot, and I know he’s had some good G-League performances, but I haven’t watched them yet to really have a grasp on how fast he’s developing.

There’s always the chance that the Sixers do make a deal for Kyle Korver, as has been rumored for a few weeks now. Introducing Korver or another veteran shooter obviously leads to changes to this rotation, so let us proceed under the assumption that such a move won’t happen anytime soon. Talk about who you have, right?

What has/can Korkmaz add to the rotation?

I’m about to commit some serious Sixers slander here when I say I’m going to let this tweet from fellow Liberty Ballers writer Jackson Frank say it instead:

I’ve really liked the energy that Landry Shamet has brought to the floor this year, but with the Jimmy Butler trade, the Sixers have to shift their attitude toward what this team is trying to do. The balance between “being good now” and “developing young guys” shifts toward the “being good now” end, because you a) need Jimmy Butler to re-sign, and b) have a core that should be able to compete in the East.

And that’s where Korkmaz taking on a larger role than Shamet becomes an option. Before the trade, giving minutes to the rookie over a guy whose option has already been declined made sense, but now the Sixers need the more developed offense that Korkmaz brings, as well as the better (not great, or good, but better) defense.

It’s been mentioned a lot that the Sixers have holes when it comes to bench wings, especially ones who can be useful on both ends. Wilson Chandler is a solid veteran, but he should be the starting four once he’s off his minutes restriction, not a bench piece. You need someone on the bench who can provide shooting to stretch the floor out, but who can also provide a solid body on defense. Right now, that isn’t Shamet, whose D-PIPM of -1.8 is the worst on the team and the 10th-worst in the NBA.

But even if Korkmaz should be getting more of Shamet’s minutes, there’s no guarantee that he will. So while there’s a strong statistical case that Korkmaz has played well enough to sustain his current role in the rotation or to even see it expanded, there’s no guarantee that he winds up with that role. Wilson Chandler’s minutes restriction will come off soon, and someone will lose playing time. It shouldn’t be Korkmaz based on his current level of play, and based on how the rotation has shook out lately, I’m hopeful that it won’t be him.

Furkan Korkmaz is far from being some elite player or an upper echelon three-and-D option, but he’s a good fit for what this team needs. He should maintain a role on this team until the next major shake-up in the rotation, be it a Korver/someone else acquisition or Zhaire Smith’s return.

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