The NBA is in full frenzy at the beginning of the league’s free agency period. League decision-makers both on and off the court have seemingly recognized that superteams may be the only way to combat the Golden State juggernaut, leading to a greater degree of high-profile player movement than at any time in recent memory.
For the Philadelphia 76ers, though, who are reportedly seeking one-year deals this summer in order to preserve cap space for the next couple of years, the most impactful move of the offseason (non-Markelle Fultz division) may be coming from across the Atlantic.
Turkish guard Furkan Korkmaz, 19, selected by the Sixers with the 26th pick in the 2016 draft, will apparently be coming stateside for the 2017-18 season. The news was first revealed by his agent advising Philadelphians to drink more Turkish beer, which is as good a reason as any to grab a case of Efes Pilsen:
— Misko4Raznatovic (@MiskoRaznatovic) June 30, 2017
Korkmaz’s arrival was later confirmed, with his club Anadolu Efes allowing him out of his contract at a $2 million buyout:
Furkan Korkmaz rights-holders Anadolu Efes confirm he will make NBA jump to Sixers. He's paying over $1.3M to free himself from $2M buyout.
— David Pick (@IAmDPick) June 30, 2017
Like former Anadolu Efes teammate Dario Saric, Korkmaz is taking quite a financial hit to join the Sixers sooner rather than later. The Sixers will pay $650,000, while Korkmaz is paying $1.35 million out of his own pocket. While he can pay that figure off over time, Korkmaz will be under the rookie scale and make less than that amount in his first season. So much for the “toxic losing environment” in Philadelphia over the last half-decade turning players away.
On the court, the 6-foot-7 shooting guard should be a valuable contributor to the young, up-and-coming Sixers roster. Across 41 games with Anadolu Efes and Turkish club Banvit (who he was loaned to last season), Korkmaz averaged 9.3 points and 3.2 rebounds, shooting 46.6 percent from the field and 43.7 percent from behind the arc. The small counting stats belie the fact that it’s rare for a teenager to be making any significant impact at a high level of European competition. Korkmaz was a pivotal part of Banvit advancing to the Basketball Champions League final; he was recognized for his contributions by winning the league’s Best Young Player award.
Korkmaz’s most translatable skill is easily his ability to shoot the rock. He can knock down shots from all three levels, off basically any type of play you could draw up for him. With the playmaking provided by Ben Simmons and Fultz and the attention paid to Joel Embiid wherever he is on the court, Korkmaz should have no shortage of open looks with which to show off his talent. After being tied with just the 24th-best mark from behind the arc last season at 34.0 percent, a big offseason focus for the Sixers was surrounding their young stars with shooters, and Korkmaz certainly helps in that regard.
More than just a spot-up shooter, though, Korkmaz has good instincts as a passer and has continued to improve as a playmaker off the dribble, an earlier area of concern when he was drafted as an 18-year-old. If there’s any doubt about his athleticism, I would direct you to the time he won a dunk contest dressed as Darth Vader. Rumor has it he once told someone who didn’t Trust the Process, “I find your lack of faith disturbing.”
The biggest area of weakness for Korkmaz remains the need to fill out his body, as he still has less than 200 pounds on his 6-7 frame. Not an overly dedicated defender to begin with, the concern is he’ll get pushed around by bigger bodies at the NBA level. Still, the best thing for him ultimately may be getting into an NBA strength and conditioning program as soon as possible. Getting an additional season under his belt jelling with his new teammates can only help both Korkmaz and the Sixers moving forward.
Sixers fans won’t be seeing Korkmaz in a Sixers uniform this month. He is not expected to participate in Summer League while playing with the Turkish national team. However, when he takes the court this fall, all of Philadelphia will be Furkan excited to see him (my one and only pun on his name, you’re welcome).
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