Furkan Korkmaz Finally Found a Role on the 76ers

Justin Grasso

Back in 2016, Furkan Korkmaz joined the Philadelphia 76ers as the 26th overall pick in the NBA Draft. During his debut season, Korkmaz managed to only appear in 14 games, where he averaged a whopping 1.6 points-per-game in under six minutes.

The following year was an entirely different story. Even with a significant knee injury, which kept him out for months, Korkmaz managed to play in 48 games for the 76ers. However, his progress wasn't too promising for the Philly front office.

Korkmaz's option would never be picked up by the Sixers. While he showed some subtle flashes during the 2018-2019 season, it didn't seem like the young guard from Turkey had much of a future on the Sixers. Korkmaz didn't seem actually to have any future in the NBA for that matter.

Over the summer, Korkmaz was set to hit the NBA free agency market. After drawing little interest around the league, rumors began to spread that Korkmaz was planning to stay home in Turkey to resume his basketball career. That plan didn't last long, as the 76ers once again came calling for the 22-year-old guard.

After picking up a two-year deal with the Sixers, Korkmaz wasn't exactly sure what his role was going to be in 2019-2020. Looking back at the previous two seasons, it was unclear if Korkmaz was going to have a role at all.

But after a strong preseason, showing clear progression as a player offensively, Sixers' head coach Brett Brown became intrigued with the idea of offering up more minutes to Korkmaz in year number three. While it hasn't been perfect -- Korkmaz has begun to finally hit his stride with the Sixers.

At this point, the third-year guard, who averages 20 minutes-per-game, shooting a career-high of 38-percent from beyond the arc, can say he actually has a meaningful purpose coming off of the Sixers' bench. "Finally, on my third year, I can say I found my role on the team," Korkmaz said, after dropping 15 points on Wednesday night against Brooklyn.

"I'm trying to help the team in different ways. Offensively and defensively, there are ups and downs, of course -- like every player. But I think this year, I'm playing harder for the team. I'm trying to get the 'W.'"

So, what exactly factored into Korkmaz playing better for the Sixers in year three besides seeing his overall skillset develop? The other important factor; Team chemistry. "It's my third year, so I know the coaching staff. I know the players, I know the organization. I'm [forming] better relationships every day. I think that makes me more confident on the court."

After the win over the Nets, Korkmaz credited his teammate, Ben Simmons, for constantly looking for him on the floor. As Furkan has acknowledged Simmons is always looking for an assist by passing to the player in position for the high-percentage shot, the third-year guard is doing all he can to deliver for his point guard.

"When I get in the game, I know he's going to look for me. I'm just going out there trying to score. He's out there to create for us -- I'm just trying to take advantage of that." Consistency will be key for Korkmaz moving forward, as his newfound role remains temporary. If he can keep up with the same pace of Wednesday night's production, though, his head coach will have no choice but to keep the Turkish guard in the mix on a nightly basis.

Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter: @JGrasso_

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