Philadelphia 76ers: 2021 is a make or break year for Furkan Korkmaz

(Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) /

As things presently stand, there are only four players who are guaranteed to be on the Philadelphia 76ers‘ roster this fall: Danny Green, Georges Niang, Andre Drummond, and Furkan Korkmaz.

Now granted, I highly doubt Joel Embiid is going to be traded any time soon, especially after signing a supermax contract earlier this summer, but technically speaking, he could conceivably be traded, as there is no restriction on his movement.

Green, Niang, Drummond, and Korkmaz, however, all signed new contracts that go into effect this fall and thus can’t be aggregated in a deal to another team either as part of a larger package or straight up.

Why, you may ask, does this matter? Well, because those four players will all be “safe” from any Ben Simmons trades that happen at any point pre-December, and will at least start out the season in a Sixers uniform. But once November fifth passes and the trade restrictions are lifted, will any of these players suddenly find themselves expendable?

For Furkan Korkmaz, the start of the 2021-22 NBA season may just serve as a nine-game audition for his spot in the Philadelphia 76ers’ future.

Will Furkan Korkmaz play out his entire contract with the Philadelphia 76ers?

In 2020-21, Furkan Korkmaz proved once and for all that he is a legit NBA player.

Though his individual stats took a bit of a dip from the season prior, Korkmaz still averaged 9.1 points in 19.3 minutes of action and served as a reliable two-way winger coming off of the bench.

In 55 regular season games of action, Korkmaz recorded 25 games with scored double-digit points and 30 where he didn’t. He almost always recorded double-digit minutes and contributed one or more steals in 31 games, including a particularly good five-steal performance in a 117-93 win over the OKC Thunder.

And when the playoffs rolled around, Korkmaz stepped up his game and played big parts in three of the team’s first eight wins.

Even if his minutes weren’t always consistent – which was like his play – Korkmaz took shots when he had open looks and contributed an average of 6.8 points in 12.5 minutes of action a night.

… but then Danny Green effectively suffered a season-ending injury that forced Korkmaz into the starting lineup and cost the team their best pure bench shooter.

While Korkmaz still found ways to get his team on the board, scoring 10 points in Game 4 versus Atlanta, his play tailed off down the stretch, where he combined to score 20 total points over the final three games of the round. His 3 point shooting effectively dropped from 37.5 on three attempts to 25 percent on 5 attempts per game.

Did Korkmaz’s inconsistency give the team’s front office pause when extension talks rolled around? Maybe so, but it didn’t stop them from signing the Turkish sharpshooter to a very team-friendly three-year extension worth $15 million total.

Make no mistake about it; in a trade situation, Korkmaz is incredibly valuable. Not only is his contract fantastic both for salary-matching purposes and from a value standpoint, but at only 24-years-old, he’s a valuable piece for teams rebuilding and contending alike.

As an eighth man, Korkmaz is fantastic. He can occasionally put up huge numbers and contribute solid minutes as a pesky on-ball defender, all the while taking a quarter-dozen 3 point attempts a night at minimum. Whether you like to go 3 crazy like the Warriors or prefer a more plotting pace centered around pick and rolls, there is a spot for Korkmaz on any team in the NBA, including the Sixers.

If Korkmaz can come out of the gates hot and prove the team’s faith warranted, he very well could still be earning minutes for the Sixers next spring, when they’ll surely be in the playoffs once more. If he plays really well, maybe some team will demand his services in a trade centered around Ben Simmons and sweeten the pot even more to get a deal done.

And if he stinks out loud? Well, $5 million is valuable in trade situations, as it can get back as much as $6.5 in a salary-matching situation. That’s enough to financially clear a trade for Cameron Payne, Patty Mills, or even Jonathan Kuminga, not that any of those players are necessarily available.

dark. Next. Why does Ronnie 2K hate Tyrese Maxey?

Normally, when a young player signs a long-term extension, they have peace of mind. They know where they are going to play for a few years, know their team believes in them, and know they can continue to work on their game without having to fear for their immediate future. For Furkan Korkmaz, this extension could have the opposite results at least until the Philadelphia 76ers trade Ben Simmons. Only once that deal gets done would I start looking for a long-term lease.