Did Furkan Korkmaz Win Over Brett Brown?
PHILADELPHIA, PA (973espn.com) — It was a busy summer for Sixers guard Furkan Korkmaz, who spent his time playing with the Turkey National Basketball team. It was unclear if Korkmaz was going to make his way back to Philly or not after his contract expired, but the team wanted to give the former 26th overall pick another shot in the NBA.
So after signing a two-year deal with the Sixers, Korkmaz had plans to get back to Philly and play for the 76ers once again. And since he's been around for the last couple of years, Sixers' head coach Brett Brown was interested in seeing how Korkmaz would do playing alongside starting-caliber players, as opposed to reserve backups such as himself.
The trend of Korkmaz starting began this past Tuesday when the Sixers hosted the Detroit Pistons. With both Ben Simmons and Al Horford out of the lineup, Korkmaz was one of the chosen players to pick up a start instead of coming off the bench as he typically would. Unexpectedly, Korkmaz had some impressive flashes.
In 23 minutes of playing time, Korkmaz managed to collect ten points, four rebounds, a steal and a block. For comparison, Korkmaz's 57-percent shooting from the field on Tuesday was the highest of everybody in the starting lineup.
Clearly, what Korkmaz put on display this past Tuesday convinced Brett Brown to want to see more. So as Ben Simmons missed the following game on Friday against the Washington Wizards, the Sixers had to bring in an extra helping hand once again. Therefore, Brown elected to go with Korkmaz for the second consecutive matchup.
Before the game, he explained his reasoning behind giving Korkmaz the start. “I’ve seen a lot from him," Brown stated on Friday. "[The] First thing I have seen is he is always a willing defender. Furkan is good people, so it wasn’t like you were pulling teeth to get somebody to guard," Brown continued.
"I think that the time with me previously has helped him better understand our expectations and how we see the world. And you take, sort of like the just getting older and more familiar with scouting reports, terminology, schemes and expectations, it has equaled a better defender."
With defense being first and foremostly important for Brett Brown's Sixers, Korkmaz already has the coach's attention since he's not afraid to play a little bit of bully ball. While Korkmaz impressed in that aspect of his game, Brown understands that the Sixers still need shooters — and that's percisely what Korkmaz is supposed to offer.
"We’re always trying to mine shooters," Brown said. "You know, you’re trying to find them, mine [them], and help cultivate shooters. If he is anything — he is that." So how did Korkmaz do on Friday in the shooting department? Not so hot.
Unfortunately, Korkmaz found himself in the same situation as his teammates during the Sixers' first preseason loss against the Wizards, which contained a team-wide shooting slump. Personally, Korkmaz shot two-for-nine from the field, accounting for only five points in 20 minutes on the court.
It was a bad look for Korkmaz, but his shoddy performance blended in with the rest of the team, who shot poorly all night long. Thankfully for Korkmaz, though, he still did an okay job on the defensive side of the ball. With a blocked shot and a steal, Korkmaz was only a minus-8 on the floor.
Korkmaz didn't have a spectacular second start by any means — but he must be feeling somewhat superb about what he's put on display this offseason. He may not be a superstar, but Brown has noticed the difference between this season and the previous few. That will go a long way over these next few days as Brown and the coaching staff gameplan for the Boston Celtics and beyond this week.