Sixers’ vision of what Korkmaz could be shouldn’t lead them to block out other options – NBCSports.com

Posted: October 19, 2019 at 1:41 pm


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Before his team played its preseason finale Friday night, Brett Brown labeled the game as something approximating a dress rehearsal. But, unless a flurryof unexpected misfortunehits the Sixers before their regular-season opener Wednesday night vs. the Celtics, Furkan Korkmaz will not start, as he did against the Wizards in place of Ben Simmons (out with back tightness).

It does appear, however, that the Turkish wing will play legitimate minutes early this season. Brown seemed to confirm as much before the Sixers' 112-93 loss, talking about Korkmazs progress and resilience in glowing terms.

The Sixers declined Korkmazs third-year option last season, then ultimately re-signedthe 22-year-old in late July.

I am [looking for him to contribute]. And I dont want to be harsh about itthats what hes gotta do," Brown said of where Korkmaz finds himself now after his struggles last year. "Thats part of life in the NBA. Its not like hes an established player. This is not the league for the weak.

He should go to Europe if that was going to dismember his spirit. Hes great people, and hes fighting to stay in the league, hes fighting to get minutes hes fighting. Thats the phase and the stage that the young man is at, and I give him credit for not blinking. He just didnt go away. Now, here he is.

Browns answer was impassioned, and his words weren't bogus. But Korkmazs character and attitude alone dont warrant a spot in the Sixers rotation. He started Fridayfor one primary reason the notion that he is an outside shooter.

Though Brown praised Korkmazs defense and his maturation, the Sixers head coach also said this:

Were always just trying to mine shooters. Youre trying to find and mine and help cultivate shooters. If he is anything, he is that.

Korkmaz has, in fact, not been a good shooter at the NBA level. Hes shot 38.8 percent from the field in 62 NBA regular-season games, 32.3 percent from three-point range. After a 2-for-9 performance Friday, he finished 10 for 25 overall during the preseason, 4 for 13 from behind the arc.

The concept of Korkmaz filling a three-point shooting void after JJ Redicks move to the Pelicans is, on its face, appealing tothe Sixers. Korkmaz has a pretty shot; hes done well in international play; he had an incredible July night last year in Las Vegas, scoring 40 points in a summer-league game.

Perhaps those hints of promise will translate to the NBA. However, if theres an assumption that Korkmazs identity as a shooter makes him worthy of a rotation spot, it would be misguided.

There are alternatives in that mix for bench wing minutes, though theyre also young and unproven in the NBA.

Shake Milton, a two-way player last year,has played both at point guard and on the wing during the preseason. The SMU product, who averaged 24.9 points in 27 G-League games as a rookie, is a more advanced playmaker and a superior defender to Korkmaz.

The 23-year-old told NBC Sports Philadelphia he hasnt been given an indication yet of his regular-season role.

No, he said. My job is just to come in and do whatever the team needs me to do. Ive kind of been flip-flopping during practice. Ive just got to do whatever the team needs me to do, bottom line. Guard and either make plays for others or be ready to knock down shots and score.

This time last year, Milton was returning to competitive basketball aftermissing summer league because of a stress fracture in his back. He acknowledged Friday night he feels more explosive, and hes looked it, showing off a burst on the fast break that wasnt present early last season.

I feel like its been a huge jump, personally, he said. For one, the confidence that I have out there, my body feels good, feel physically ready. I go out there with confidence, my teammates have confidence in me, the coaches have confidence in me. Just going out there and being fearless.

Zhaire Smith, meanwhile, has been seen exclusively in garbage time this preseason. Just as Korkmazs shooting or Miltons versatility might be attractive to Brown, one would think Smiths pogo stick athleticism and penchant for on-ball defense could boost his stock.

That hasnt been the case, with Smiths novel of a rookie year one that included a broken foot, a severe allergic reaction and jumpers with tubes in his stomach putting him behind Milton and Korkmaz at the moment, in Browns eyes.

Hes expecting me to develop all around, Smith said Friday of Browns expectations. Last year we tried to develop, but then obviously I had the setback. He feels like this is my rookie year, like this is [about] development.

The perspective that this season should be centered on learning and personal growth for Smith is fair enough. So is the idea that Korkmaz might have unique value for the Sixers.

He hasnt delivered it yet, though. The Sixers would, in this writers view, be wise not to let their vision of his potential block out other options.

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Sixers' vision of what Korkmaz could be shouldn't lead them to block out other options - NBCSports.com

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October 19th, 2019 at 1:41 pm