Sixers: Will the real Furkan Korkmaz please stand up?

Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /

Is there any player on the Sixers roster more volatile than Furkan Korkmaz?

Seriously, for all of the hate players like Danny Green, Mike Scott, and Dwight Howard get for their inconsistency, the team more or less knows what they are getting whenever that trio steps onto the court, even if there are outliers on either end of the spectrum sprinkled onto the game log for good measure.

Playing Korkmaz, on the other hand, is like putting one’s hands in a blacked-out grab bag filled with candy, quarters, scorpions, and broken glass.

I don’t know about you, but I really don’t want to be putting my hand in that bag all that often.

The Sixers have to figure out Furkan Korkmaz’s role now and moving forward.

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Through the first 34 games of the 2020-21 NBA season, Furkan Korkmaz has appeared in 22 games with two starts. He’s scored in double-digits six times, logged 20-plus minutes of action nine times, and has made 40-plus percent of his shots from beyond the arc in nine as well.

For a player who is maybe the Sixers’ ninth man, those numbers aren’t bad per se.

However, as NBA Twitter will eagerly tell you, when “basketball nerds” solely look at the numbers without actually watching the games, you sometimes miss out on the nuance needed to draw a complete picture. In practice, Korkmaz has games a bit too frequently where he looks absolutely lost and like a borderline G-Leaguer, sometimes mere days after a fantastic outing.

If you happened to watch the Sixers play from February 21st through the 27th, you’ve gotten to see all sides of Korkmaz’s basketball game for better and mostly for worse.

At times, the 24-year-old has looked like the kind of player who is not only worthy of a spot in the Sixers’ rotation but should be valued among their best developmental pieces. He’s a knockdown shooter, a decent enough slasher with “out of this world” dunks, and has the size any team would love to have from the shooting guard position. While Korkmaz isn’t a particularly effective defender, ranking 73rd in defensive +/- among qualifying shooting guards, he at least possesses the size to switch on and off of opposing wing players 1-3 and at least drive them into the paint for Joel Embiid to take care of.

But when Korkmaz’s 3 point shot isn’t falling, my goodness, things have a tendency to get real ugly real quick.

Starting his second game in three contests, Korkmaz looked borderline unplayable in the Sixers’ 112-109 loss to the Cavs, scoring eight points on nine shots while missing 1-3 shots from the free-throw line. Korkmaz missed all but one of his shots in the first half, threw some seriously bad passes, including a particularly grotesque one picked off by Dylan Windler with 3.7 seconds left in the first quarter, and was ultimately replaced in the Sixers’ starting lineup by Mike Scott when the team returned from the half.

Korkmaz played eight more minutes in the second half, scored six points, and was held out of the game in favor of extended action for Shake Milton in both the fourth quarter and overtime.

Now sure, this was just one game in a series of four, and in the grand scheme of things, eight points is actually higher than Korkmaz’s 7.5 average points per game on the season, but it’s hard to look at what the Turkish guard/forward put on tape and think he’s a player worthy of playoff minutes, let along extended action in the regular season.

No, for as tough as it may be to admit, especially after watching him sort of turn a corner in 2019-20 as Brett Brown’s sixth man, Korkmaz is just too inconsistent to play for the Sixers both now and moving forward and it may be wise to start shopping his services as part of a trade for a more consistent forward performer.

Next. With Tobias Harris out, watch forward Ben Simmons very closely. dark

On another team, a team like the Rockets, Raptors, or even the Cavs with room to grow and a desire to give minutes to younger players still working things out, Korkmaz may be able to work his issues out and eventually develop into a viable rotation piece. With that being said, the Sixers don’t really have the environment to facilitate that growth, not at this point in their process. For better or worse, the Sixers have kind of moved past developmental players and need to instead shift their attention to surrounding their established stars with complementary players. That, unfortunately, is not Korkmaz, not anymore, and the Sixers would be better served giving his minutes to a player like Tyrese Maxey to see if he can be a more consistent contributor.

Update: Of course Furkan Korkmaz dropped 19 in his very next game. That was the lock of the century.