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Is Korkmaz Still A Year Away?

Furkan Korkmaz’s 40-point Summer League performance raised hopes he could contribute off the bench. Is he ready?

NBA: Summer League-Philadelphia 76ers at Memphis Grizzlies Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Like many of you, I have the Furkan Fever, but I didn’t contract it while watching Korkmaz drop 40 points during Summer League, which was a very cool thing that happened and definitely elicited an “oh, wow!” from me. No, I jumped on the Furkan Korkmaz train while playing a generic basketball GM app. I took over “Philadelphia” and its roster of players that included “Jimm Embiid,” “Billy Simmons,” and in all his unlicensed glory, “Furilo Kormaz.”

This version of Kormaz begins as Philadelphia’s worst player, the only one with a rating under 70, but spend enough time playing the game and he becomes a pretty good player for you after a year or two, thanks to his high offensive ratings. (You can also trade him and a first round pick for “Vicent Oladipo,” which is not a misspelling and also something I would like the real 76ers to do.)

How does the real life player, the actual Furkan Korkmaz, compare to Furilo Korkmaz? Does his Summer League performance suggest he needs playing time now, or is he still a year away from being the player he ultimately can be? Let’s find out!

NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers at Philadelphia 76ers Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

If you want to know some basic things about a player, the first place you turn might be the statistics, but with Korkmaz this becomes difficult because he hasn’t seen real, extended minutes anywhere. Even in the G-League, where he played 31.9 minutes per game last season, we can only draw from a nine game sample. It’s incredibly hard to make judgments from such a small sample. I’m not going to say I’m worried about his three-point shooting, for instance, even though he shot under 20 percent from behind the arc over that sample, because it’s just not enough for me to judge him on.

The same goes for his international career. In two full seasons for Anadolu Efes, Korkmaz never averaged more than 10.7 minutes per game. His three-point shooting numbers look great there — over 40 percent both seasons — but it’s hard to know how that translates with the shorter FIBA line. The line is closer to the NBA length than the college line is, so we can assume that Korkmaz’s strong shooting numbers are more likely to be sustained than an equivalent college prospect’s, but it’s hard to know for sure. If we’re just looking at this from a raw stat perspective, you can look at his struggles in the G-League and assume it won’t translate, but once again I’m going to yell SMALL SAMPLE SIZE at you.

So what’s left is to look at some film. Let’s start with his international career. I’m not the best at finding obscure videos on the Internet, so I’m just going to look at this highlight video from his 2014-2015 season. It was a few years ago, the international game is very different than the NBA game, and it’s a video of his highlights, and therefore, overly positive, so I won’t spend too much time talking about what I see here.

Still, here are some things I saw in that video:

  • Korkmaz running the floor. There’s a fun moment early where he starts his dribble moves coming across mid-court and ultimately drives right to the basket for an easy dunk. I really enjoyed watching that play, but is it something replicable at the NBA level?
  • Good release on the catch-and-shoot threes. If we’re talking about skills that can translate to the NBA, he’s taking some of these a few steps back of the line. He should be able to hit pretty consistently from NBA range.
  • There are some pull-up jumpers that are...effective, but not pretty. He passed up catch-and-shoot opportunities to dribble and then pull-up, but there was something a little awkward about the shots.
  • Go to the 2:10 mark of that video and watch him do a spin move and then drive into the paint and TRY NOT TO SMILE. I dare you.

That was the raw, unrefined version of Furkan Korkmaz. If we want him to be a solid bench contributor this season for the 76ers — who still could use a solid bench wing to provide shooting — then we need to see a more refined, ready version in the newer tape, so let’s look at that Summer League game.

  • He has definitely changed the release point on his jump shot, letting the ball go higher. It looks like he’s giving the ball more arc and also getting it farther out of the reach of the defender. This is a good development.
  • Quicker, smoother release when coming off the dribble, too. That was the thing that felt the most awkward watching some of the older clips, but here those shots look a lot more sustainable.
  • I didn’t mention it in my comments on the first video, but I see some good playmaking potential here. Korkmaz makes some good passes, though it also seems clear that this part of his game will need more development.
  • WHEN HE DOES THE CROSSOVER AND THEN STEPS BACK FOR THE THREE. YES!
  • I really like that he can put the ball on the floor. Some of the dribbling in the earlier video was a little slow, but here it looks...I keep using the word smooth, but it’s an effective descriptor in this situation.
  • Point 40 comes on a drive to the basket. I didn’t see as many of those here, as he mostly focused on hitting from behind the line.

Again, it’s hard to watch footage from that Summer League performance and not get very, very excited, especially about Korkmaz’s potential to provide the 76ers with better floor spacing and a strong catch-and-shoot option. But let’s hold on for a minute.

What playing time is Korkmaz supposed to get? Barring injury, Wilson Chandler and T.J. McConnell will see most of the minutes as backup wings. Markelle Fultz, who was once a pretty good shooter (and, umm, maybe can be again!), is going to mainly play as the backup point guard, but he’ll likely see time playing alongside Ben Simmons as well. Where does Korkmaz slot into this?

...

I’m really sorry for what I’m about to type.

...

He slots into a starting role in Delaware for a good chunk of the season.

Furkan Korkmaz is such a promising player. He can be a great three-point shooter. He can run the floor. He’s got some enticing playmaking ability. But the 76ers are one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference. Brett Brown has the difficult job of getting this team over the hump and into the Finals. Giving major minutes to a player who hasn’t consistently played major minutes during his professional career wouldn’t be the best move. Let’s get him those minutes in an environment where he can make mistakes. Let’s see if he can capably fill the void that will be left in the 2019-20 season when J.J. Redick will be a free agent again and could very likely be gone.

Is Furkan Korkmaz still a year away? Yeah, but I’m pretty convinced at this point that he isn’t one of those “year away from being a year away” kind of guys.