Furkan Korkmaz is a project, for sure.
After spending the 2016 season overseas, the 6’7″ Turkish swingman was somewhat of a surprise addition to this Sixers roster, considering the crowding in the back court.
He’s likely to start the season in Delaware, but the development begins in training camp, where Brett Brown has been focused on one weakness in particular.
“I mean, really just trying to get him defensively built, like an attitude and a mindset to try to grow him as a defender,” Brown told reporters Thursday. “He can score. He’s got a real sort of interesting body for a basketball player in his position. He’s long and he’s lanky. Years ago I coached Brent Barry (who had) sort of that bouncy, pogo stick, can shoot, can dunk (body type). I see, you know, that (Furkan) has got some real interesting qualities. The defensive side needs work. I’m always trying to help and grow him, like you would any rookie, from a defensive standpoint.”
Part of the defensive improvement comes with bulk, and Korkmaz has already added about 15 pounds to his 175 pound frame. He won’t be finishing around the rim any time soon, but he’s a tall perimeter shooter with plenty of upside depending on how he adapts to NBA physicality.
Brown says Korkmaz’s English is further along than Dario Saric’s grasp of the language when the latter came to Philadelphia last season. That’s helped accelerate communication somewhat, whereas Saric, according to Brown, was trying to figure out his language and accent.
“I feel like the experience Furkan had with us in Summer League helped,” Brown said. “I think he actually played better in the European Championships, and trying to figure out where they’re ranked going into the Olympic Games is better because of that experience. But I think communicating with him, and him understanding my language and NBA language, that’s always a challenge.”
It’s a group effort to help Korkmaz with the American transition, but he points out one player in particular who has helped him adapt.
“Especially Robert (Covington),” Korkmaz said. “He talks to me and tries to help me. Of course Dario, and T.J. (McConnell), we’re all talking to each other. Everybody is talking to each other. I talked with Dario before I came here like one month ago. New coach, new opportunity, he said it’s all up to you, but I’m here to help you. Don’t worry about it.”
— Dave Sholler (@DaveSholler) September 26, 2017
In five Summer League run outs, Korkmaz contributed 14.2 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 1.8 assists in an average of 25.6 minutes.
At six EuroBasket games, he averaged 10.5 points, 2.0 rebounds, and 1.5 assists in 21.6 minutes off the bench.
Korkmaz says he’s working on his “shooting ability” and his “dribbling ability” and acknowledges the parts of his game that need improvement.
“Defensively, probably my one-on-one game.” said Korkmaz. “I have to learn the system now. The NBA is totally different, you know? I need to be able to play one-on-one defense and also one-on-one offense. That’s the key for me. I play against a lot of good players and I learn a lot from them. Everyone has different abilities, especially on offense. They’ve got all of the moves and all of the skills. On defense, they’ve got experience. Everyone is helping me in practice.”