Considering the Philadelphia 76ers believed they were primed and ready for an NBA Finals run in 2021-2022 after the blockbuster trade to land James Harden, they ended the year on a low note after losing to the Miami Heat in the second round of the playoffs.
Everybody on last year’s roster could share the blame, but it was clear that the team didn’t have enough reliable players to show out in the preseason and help the Sixers make a run. Going into the offseason, the Sixers realized they needed to upgrade their rotational players rather than star hunt.
When the trade and free agency markets opened, Daryl Morey and the Sixers’ front office acquired PJ Tucker, De’Anthony Melton, and Danuel House Jr. Considering the Sixers looked into acquiring multiple perimeter threats to come off the bench, Furkan Korkmaz took that as a sign that the team is looking for his replacement.
Here’s what the veteran sharpshooter had to say following Monday night’s preseason opener against the Brooklyn Nets:
“I see all those signings and new players coming in,” Korkmaz said after the win. “This is normal. This is the nature of basketball. The way that I ended last year, I’m not offended or pissed off at anybody of who they are signing and everything but, at the end of the day, if I can be myself, I know what I’m capable of and what I can do. So I’m just gonna try and do my best and give the team whatever it takes to win the championship and I think I’m gonna be a huge part of it.” (via Ky Carlin of Sixers Wire)
Korkmaz has seniority on the Sixers’ roster, considering he’s been with the team since 2017. Although he got off to a rocky start with the Sixers and looked to be traded during his rookie season, the Turkish wing stuck around and made Philly his second home.
Following Philadelphia’s 2020-2021 season, Korkmaz hit the free agency market. While it seemed his playing days with the Sixers were finished as other teams showed interest, Korkmaz returned to the 76ers on a three-year deal.
After Korkmaz averaged nearly ten points per game while shooting 38 percent from three from 2019 to 2021, the Sixers had high hopes of him becoming a key reserve for their 2021-2022 campaign. Unfortunately, Korkmaz declined as a shooter as he drained a career-low of 28 percent of his threes through 67 games while averaging fewer than eight points.
By the postseason, Korkmaz nearly played himself out of the rotation. After averaging 16 minutes on the floor in 12 playoff games in 2021, Korkmaz saw the court for an average of just six minutes per game in nine of Philly’s 12 postseason games.
During his media day session last week, the young veteran revealed he suffered nerve damage last year. Clearly, the injury took a toll on Korkmaz, and he used the Sixers’ first preseason game of the year to remind everybody that he can be a capable three-point shooter when healthy.
On Monday night, Korkmaz checked in for the Sixers for nearly 19 minutes against the Brooklyn Nets. He knocked down six of his 12 shots from the field and went 2-4 from beyond the arc. Korkmaz wrapped up the night with 15 points, four assists, two rebounds, and a steal on the defensive end.
To say Korkmaz looked like he’s ready to bounce back from last year’s lows is an understatement. The Turkish veteran still has a lot to do over the next three preseason games to prove to Doc Rivers and the coaching staff that he deserves minutes in the rotation this year, but Monday night’s game is a solid start for Korkmaz, who has a chip on his shoulder.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for All76ers, a Sports Illustrated channel. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.