Have the Sixers unexpectedly found a long-term option at shooting guard?


It’s been a rollercoaster year for Furkan Korkmaz, who almost became another brick in the wall for the Philadelphia 76ers. The young forward seemed intent on forcing a trade last year due to a lack of playing time. A flurry of moves and an average of 19 minutes of court time per game later, and those concerns dissipated.

The Sixers opted against picking up his third-year option last year and initially he was unable to crack the starting rotation which is what sparked that friction. But they say that time heals all wounds and after signing a new two-year deal with the team who drafted him with the 26th overall pick in 2016, he’s playing like a man possessed.

After an impressive summer stint for the Turkish national team in the Basketball World Cup, Korkmaz entered the season firing on all cylinders. The buzzer-beater 3-pt shot against Portland set the tone for what would be an explosive week for the young forward, who is now averaging 9.8 points per game and 42% from 3-pt range.

This was followed by a 20-point game against the Suns and the train showed no sign of slowing down. Against the Hornets last night, Korkmaz fired home 17 points in 28 minutes. His 37.5% shooting from 3-pt range was his lowest since a tight win over the Hawks…which says a lot.

“…he’s playing with confidence.” Brett Brown said after last night’s important win. “We talked about trying to grow a three-point bomber and he makes that shot in Portland, which puts his confidence at an all-time high, as it should be. His defense is what I’m most happy with. He’s sitting in his stance and isn’t as isolation-pick-on-kind-of-guy. They will still try to test him and he holds his ground more now than he has in the past. He’s playing good basketball and we need him to.”

It’s not just the Head Coach who has been left purring, either. Tobias Harris also had glowing praise for the Turkish international.

“Yeah, I think he’s definitely getting more opportunities and he has a lot of confidence in his shot.” He told reporters. “We’ve been able to find him and he has a quick release too, so he can get it off. He’s just playing with a lot of confidence, I think. You know we were joking with him saying that he’s a new man. He is starting to play like it too, so it’s always good, especially a game like today with him coming off the bench and hitting three threes. He scored 17 points. That’s a big win for us.”

The team’s biggest need heading into the season was finding a perimeter threat to replace J.J Redick. Elton Brand focused on getting bigger and bulkier on the defensive side of the ball this offseason, leaving that responsibility to a committee of young talent. Korkmaz has exploded out of that group, separating himself as a lethal three-point shooter who can get hot in a heartbeat.

There’s a long way to go and load management will be key, but if cream always rises to the top, then Korkmaz may well be a carefully crafted Coffee that just takes an extra minute or two to cool before tantalizing your tastebuds.

Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports