Philadelphia 76ers: Furkan Korkmaz’s minutes have fallen off a cliff

(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /

After averaging over 18 minutes a game in the month of December, Furkan Korkmaz has all but fallen out of the Philadelphia 76ers’ rotation in 2019.

The 2018-19 season has been an absolute rollercoaster for Furkan Korkmaz.

It all started back in the fall, when the Philadelphia 76ers declined to pick up Korkmaz’s third-year option for the 2019-20 season. Sure, he had that one big Summer League game, where he scored 40 points against the Boston Celtics, but Korkmaz had spent almost the entirety of the previous season in the G-League, and his sophomore outlook didn’t look all that much more promising.

Fast forward to mid-December, and it looked like Elton Brand had made a huge mistake.

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You see, after only averaging about eight minutes of action a night from October 16th through December 9th, including eight DNPs, Korkmaz became an invaluable part of Brett Brown‘s rotation, averaging 9.5 points in 21 minutes of action a night from December 10th through January 9th.

And the fans fell in love.

After shuffling through a slew of 3-and-D wingers like Hollis Thompson, Nik Stauskas, Justin Anderson, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot (etc.) in the search for a home grown starting two, Korkmaz looked like the guard of Philly’s dreams. He was fast, could shoot the 3, and could steal the ball like a young Robert Covington. He also had the size and switchability that’s vital when playing alongside Ben Simmons, an asterisk that’s always held the starting five back with J.J. Redick at shooting guard.

But since that fateful day in January, when Furkie knocked down .500 percent of his 3s for 16 points in a loss to the Washington Wizards, he’s earned only 24 minutes over five games.

He had more minutes than that in the Washington game alone

But what happened? How did Korkmaz go from a player that some assumed would earn a long-term deal to remain in Philly indefinitely to a player who’s all but guaranteed to be looking for a new home in July, should he not be dealt at the deadline before that can happen?

One word: Inconsistency.

Korkmaz is a very streaky shooter, on a team with a number of streaky shooters. But unlike, say, Landry Shamet, who’s knocking down 3s at a 39 percent clip, Korkmaz is down in the 32s, way below the league average of 35.

Now granted, an underwhelming 3 point shooting percentages doesn’t make or break an NBA career, as only four members of the team’s current eight man-rotation are shooting above that clip (Butler, Shamet, Redick, and Wilson Chandler), but when you play shooting guard, and you can’t hardly shoot, boy you’d better be an excellent, André Roberson-esque defender.

Furkan is not an excellent defender. Furkan is a bad defender.

Currently ranked the 80th best shooting guard defender in the league according to ESPN’s Real Plus-Minus (-1.18), one spot below former Sixer Evan Turner, Korkmaz has struggled immensely to cover any position 1-3, which is obviously bad news on a roster featuring a 6-foot-10 point guard who likes to park it under the basket on defense.

In that 15 game stretch where Korkmaz averaged about 21 minutes of action a night, the 76ers went 9-6 and gave up an average of 113.6 points a night, a point and a half higher than their season average. While this disparity can’t solely be placed on Korkmaz’s addition, it is at least notable that seven of the team’s 16 losses came in games where Korkmaz averaged double-digit minutes, typically a sign that a starter was inactive or indisposed.

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Physically speaking, Korkmaz has the tools to be a solid player, maybe in the vein of Magic SG Evan Fournier, but as of right now he’s a prospect not an immediate contributor. Could he provide value to a team looking to build for the future? Sure, I mean he was compared to a young Gordon Hayward when he entered the draft back in 2016 after all, but as of right now, his best value to the Philadelphia 76ers might be in trade talks with a tanking team looking to unload an expiring contract for a young lottery ticket.