NEW YORK, NY – For the most part, much of what we’ve seen from Furkan Korkmaz this preseason has come in flashes. But productive and intriguing these flashes have been.
First, there was the 76ers’ Blue x White Scrimmage at the Palestra earlier this month, during which the young Turk got one of the most famous basketball venues in America buzzing with his moves to the basket, and his 3-point shooting.
Then, most recently, came Korkmaz’s spirited showing Monday in Boston. Given earlier and more extensive run than he had in the Sixers’ first two exhibition outings, the swing man served as a sparkplug off the bench, netting 13 points (on 3-4 3-point shooting), 6 rebounds, and 3 assists in just 19 minutes of action.
Assessing Korkmaz’s contributions from the Celtics game after the fact, Brett Brown thought the No. 26 pick from the 2016 draft did a good job making the most of limited playing time. He also felt that Korkmaz shot the ball well.
As for first-year international player himself, he considered it important to continue to try to get the most out of the pre-season reps he’s receiving.
“I think personally, whatever happened on court, I just tried to give my maximum,” said the efficient Korkmaz, who’s shot 7 of 13 from the floor this preseason, while averaging 6.3 points and 3.0 rebounds in 14.7 minutes per game.
Much like his exciting performance at the Palestra, Korkmaz’s smooth shooting stroke stood out among the rest of his attributes Monday. The import doesn’t deny that this skill currently represents his bread and butter.
“My best ability is shooting the ball, for sure,” Korkmaz said from inside the visitor’s locker room at TD Garden.
Floaters and 3-pointers aren’t the only valuable qualities that Korkamz brings to the hardwood, however. He’s a ball-mover in half-court sets, and boasts the speed and touch to be a difference-maker in open court scenarios.
As evidenced against Boston, Korkmaz is an effective cutter, too. The camera angle doesn’t offer a great look at it here, but one of the main reasons why Korkmaz got so open on this fourth quarter sequence from Monday’s contest was because of the excellent, explosive cut he made from the baseline to the wing. He lost his man along the way, and was rewarded with a nice look.
On the defensive side, Brown thinks Korkmaz, the 2017 Basketball Champions League Best Young Player award winner, has displayed some promise. Improving in this area is front-of-mind for Korkmaz.
“On defense, I just try to give 100 percent,” he said. “Whatever happens, the result doesn’t matter. I just try and give my 100 percent. After that, I feel better.”
Although he’s set to be an NBA rookie this year, Korkmaz, of course, is no stranger to professional hoops. He began his career in 2013-2014, and started participating in Euroleague competition the following year.
Fresh off a solid EuroBasket effort with Turkey last month (he posted 10.5 points per game, and shot 53.8 percent from the field), Korkmaz finds himself settling into new surroundings.
“The NBA’s totally different, but [when] you get used to it, it’s real fun,” he said. “You really enjoy it. I’m playing with very good players, and everybody here is good person. They try to help me everyday. We are practicing hard, we are working hard, and when you try to know how to play with each other, you start to feel better and you start to play better.”
That a familiar face was already on the Sixers’ roster prior to Korkmaz’s arrival has aided his transition. He first crossed paths with Dario Saric about three years ago, when the two were playing together on the Turkish club team Anadolu Efes together.
In hindsight, Korkmaz believes the time he spent with the Sixers this summer – during voluntary workouts in June, and a summer league stint in July – was immensely beneficial.
“I know everybody here – the coaches, the players,” Korkmaz said Monday. “That’s the more important thing for me, because I’m the new guy who’s coming here, and then I just try to get used to more with their help.”
While the sample size has been relatively small so far, Korkmaz seems to be coming along just fine.