If there was a way to succinctly sum up Sixers’ wing Furkan Korkmaz’s 40-point night against the Boston Celtics Friday, you could pick your favorite adjective. Korkmaz’s shooting performance was captivating, mesmerizing, rare, spectacular, he appeared to be playing on another level than his opponents and peers. Typically, the first Summer League game is a dumpster fire in which offensive rust’s prevalence waters down your expectations. Korkmaz provided 23 points for Turkey against Sweden three days earlier so maybe it was a precursor for more seismic offensive performances.
Friday, despite a 95-89 loss, Korkmaz had the hot hand through all four quarters, shooting 10-for-18 (55.6 percent) from the floor and 8-for-14 (57.1 percent) from deep. He also tallied six rebounds and two assists. When assistant coach Kevin Young sought a primary scorer, Korkmaz emerged as an early candidate to handle the offensive toll. Korkmaz could utilize Summer League as a vehicle for additional offensive confidence and comfortability scoring off the dribble. It’s the perfect landscape for a scorer like him to grow.
Korkmaz’s scoring variety also stood out and we’re going to dissect his progression throughout the game and how he utilized space and preparation to his advantage. Through Streamable I was able to chart each of Korkmaz’s shots on the night and the sharpshooter really impressed during his first Summer League game.
The 20-year-old wing’s minutes last year primarily came in garbage time so Sixers fans couldn’t effectively evaluate Korkmaz in game settings. Last night, his comfortability level popped when watching him live. Within the first minutes of the game, Korkmaz meets a detour of possibilities in transition. He can swing to Chris McCullough, attack the basket, find a lane filler or take the pull-up jumper. Korkmaz opts for the pull-up three and with his weight moving towards the basket, he gathers himself into an open three to beat the closeout.
He uses his right foot to plant and sets himself up for a high-percentage jumper in transition that he drills. Korkmaz holds his follow-through and his quality motion, form and release allows the ball to ascend the defender and drop within the cylinder.
On the subsequent possession, Korkmaz enters a scenario where he’s assuming the ball handler role. He doesn’t panic and defer, but instead initiates eye contact with McCullough to throw off his man and finds a crease in the Celtics’ defense to unabatedly hoist. Korkmaz gathers himself in a timely fashion, avoiding resistance from a closeout, and sinks another three to push the Sixers’ lead to six early in the first quarter.
Inference suggests that Korkmaz now has some level of comfortability and offensive ease, already seeing his first two shots fall through. Fast-forward to his third first-quarter three and Demetrius Jackson’s dribble penetration forces a help collapse. Jackson didn’t have a spectacular offensive outing, but his acceleration here freed up some real estate for a dish to Korkmaz in the corner.
Jackson’s chest pass arrives and Korkmaz’s prep work, with his feet plus body placement, already have him in prime position to nail another three. Once he receives the outlet pass, Korkmaz relies on a quick dip for rhythm and hoists before the defender can commit. It’s nothing but nylon for the 6’7”, 185-pound wing.
That concluded Korkmaz’s nine-point first quarter and as Philly.com’s Keith Pompey mentioned, Boston capitalized with Korkmaz on the bench and Philadelphia’s offense fizzled.
The Sixers have been outscored 12-2 since Furkan left the game.— Keith Pompey (@PompeyOnSixers) July 7, 2018
Korkmaz and 2017 Summer Sixer Isaiah Miles were the only Sixers to reach double digits in the points column. Philadelphia shot just 28-for-76 (36.8 percent) and if you remove Korkmaz’s performance, the team went a collective 18-for-58 (31.0 percent). Korkmaz’s shooting kept the Sixers at arm’s length throughout.
Let’s jump to early in the second quarter. Korkmaz receives a swing pass and Jonah Bolden’s mountain-moving strength takes Guerschon Yabusele out of the play while aiding Korkmaz’s space. Korkmaz’s man sags heavily and the Turkish wing wastes zero time in firing from near-straightaway while drawing a potential four-point play after the made three. Korkmaz would convert from the line, giving Philadelphia a 27-26 lead.
Korkmaz’s first two-point basket originated as a possible three-point attempt, but he thwarts the closeout with a pump-fake and floats in a shot for two. Korkmaz’s footwork allows him to bypass Semi Ojeleye but it’s relatively choppy. His deft touch helps him sink the floater, although Korkmaz’s agility leaves a lot to be desired. At just 20, however, time is on his side to physically morph into his peak shape so I’m really just nitpicking his athleticism on this particular shot.
Last year during the 2017 EuroBasket Tournament, Korkmaz displayed a similar knack for converting floaters following closeouts. Putting the ball on the floor will weaponize his offensive approach and he’s very adept at keeping it towards his body.
Early in the second half, Korkmaz retained his scalding shooting. With Boston’s defense unaware of Korkmaz’s location, Jackson alertly kicks out to the sharpshooter. Korkmaz relies on a quick dip and gets his ideal shot off with Semi Ojeleye ball-watching. Korkmaz’s high release point scales Ojeleye’s long arms and, again, it’s a swish with perfect arc from the second-year wing.
Korkmaz alerts guard Devondrick Walker for an outlet and receives the ball with the defense cluttered in the paint. Boston’s transition defense loses focus and fails to locate Korkmaz along the baseline. Korkmaz catches the swing pass and releases when open to sink the rhythm three. I could envision Korkmaz and Simmons pairing for a similar above-the-break type of swing pass for a Korkmaz three. Simmons’ incredible vision and Korkmaz’s quick gather and release is a potent combination.
Now, we’ve reached iso Korkmaz and this sequence below was arguably Friday night’s marquee highlight. Reminiscent of Fultz’s “hesi-stepback jimbo” from last year’s Summer League, Korkmaz performs his own hesi-stepback jimbo after a beautiful dribbling sequence to create space. Korkmaz creating his own shot really was one of the night’s standout moments and fostered optimism that he can score off the dribble. Calculatingly, he creates separation from his dribble and jab-step to line up with the basket and attempt an open jumper designed by solely himself.
Sixers fans have harped on last year’s lack of offensive creators against Boston. If Korkmaz can score in isolation and utilize his handles for a quality look, then Brett Brown’s lineups will run smoother.
On his penultimate three-point make of the night, Korkmaz can’t glide to the basket but has the crossover handle move in his arsenal to pull off a three over length. Playing against a Celtics rotational player in Ojeleye during Summer League is a boon for Korkmaz’s confidence because it simulates a regular season matchup between the two. Both players should have greater roles in their second years and Korkmaz wins the one-on-one battle despite solid lateral quicks by Ojeleye.
The crowd’s now teetering on absolute pandemonium after every Korkmaz jumper, and to have a sizable backing in his 2018 Summer League debut created this main draw appeal for the Sixer. Last Summer League, Markelle Fultz wowed the Utah fans with his smooth scoring ability and offensive talent. Korkmaz left an impression on the Las Vegas fans at the Thomas and Mack Center. He’s capable of leveraging a hot start into a memorable shooting performance and Brett Brown, a spectator during last night’s game, had to be giddy when Korkmaz went for 40.
Korkmaz’s final make also came from an isolation opportunity. He beat his defender off the dribble and with a feathery touch, Korkmaz converted a buttery finger roll at the basket to punctuate a 40-point night. Does he still need to develop some line-drive agility? Sure, but he’s capable of attacking when needed and finishing at the rim.
Korkmaz also went 12-for-15 (80 percent) from the free throw line and with a clip of 55.6/57.1/80.0, Korkmaz toasted Boston’s defense like they were marshmallows roasting over a summer fire. Per ESPN, Korkmaz recorded the fifth-highest scoring performance in Summer League history.
Korkmaz is the 5th player to score 40 in an NBA Summer League game— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 7, 2018
Most Points in a Game - Summer League History
2009 Anthony Morrow 47
2009 Anthony Randolph 42
2007 Von Wafer 42
2007 Marcus Banks 42
2018 Furkan Korkmaz 40 https://t.co/RMDZFDnTKJ
Some more of Korkmaz dialing up efficient shooting nights would be a fine bridge to a potential breakthrough second season for the talented shooting wing. Philadelphia plays tonight at 11:30 p.m. ET against the Los Angeles Lakers on ESPN.