Philadelphia 76ers: Can Furkan Korkmaz be an X-Factor in the playoffs?

Furkan Korkmaz | Sixers (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Furkan Korkmaz | Sixers (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

Furkan Korkmaz has been one of the Philadelphia 76ers’ most important reserves this season.

In Tuesday’s atrocious loss to the Cavs that saw the Philadelphia 76ers lose Joel Embiid to a shoulder sprain, Furkan Korkmaz scored 14 points in 24 minutes. Even in the offseason, we all knew the Sixers would need perimeter shooting, especially after J.J. Redick moved to New Orleans. The main source of that shooting has come from an unlikely source in Korkmaz.

Last year, Korkmaz requested a trade to get away from Philly. In the offseason he almost returned to his native Turkey to continue his career until the Sixers came in late and offered him a two-year deal.

This season he is shooting 43 percent from the field and 39 percent from beyond the arc. His effective field goal percentage sits at 55.8 percent, putting him only behind Ben Simmons in that category for those who have played more than five games.

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Last season he made shots from deep at a 32 percent clip and shot 40 percent from the field. However his free-throw percentage has take a significant dip — last year he shot 81 percent and this year just 72 percent. All the while he has been able to drop his turnover rate from a year ago.

Korkmaz has grown offensively and filled a much needed role for the Sixers. However his growth defensively is what will allow him to be an X-Factor come playoff time.

Last year he only had two blocks throughout the entire season. So far this year he is up to 14. His steal total is also up from a year ago. All of this is to be expected given the increased role he has had season so far this season. His biggest improvements defensively, however, are seen outside of the box score.

A year ago Korkmaz did not see the court because he was a liability on defense. Brett Brown refused to play him because each time he was on the court the opposing team sought him out and took advantage.

Since entering the league Korkmaz has been able to add nearly 20 pounds. This not only has this allowed him to be better defensively in the post — a place he got bullied throughout the past two seasons — but he has been able to be more physical on the perimeter. Even with adding muscle Korkmaz has been able to keep his speed and footwork.

Furkan has not been a liability on the defensive end this year, but that is not to say he has been outstanding either. He does not need to be an outstanding defender though.

J.J. Redick was abysmal defensively but was still able to be beneficial to the Sixers in the playoffs. Furkan is not as good a shooter as J.J. was, but is also not nearly as bad a defender as J.J.

Playoff time last year must have been hard for Korkmaz. Pascal Siakam blossomed into an All-Star and that reminded a lot of Sixers fans that their team picked Korkmaz one spot before the Raptors took Siakam.

WIth the playoffs just a couple months away, Furkan will undoubtedly be a key contributor. Assuming Ben Simmons’ back injury is resolved, Joel Embiid’s shoulder sprain heals, and the rest of the lineup remains healthy, Korkmaz will remain on the bench. The shortened bench in the playoffs means a high-risk/high-reward situation for Korkmaz and the entire bench.

Furkan will be an X-Factor in the playoffs.

His increased three-point shooting percentage and improved defense skill set means that Brett Brown has no reason to not trust Korkmaz and it will be up to him to prove it, which he will. Despite being 22 years old, this is his seventh season as a professional. Korkmaz is no stranger to the big stage. Back in Turkey he won the Turkish Cup twice (2015 and 2017) and the Turkish Supercup once (2015). This year he’s upped his career high multiple times and hit a game-winner against Portland in November.

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With the lineup being healthy and Al Horford coming off the bench opposing teams it will be easy for opponents to overlook Korkmaz. Look for Furkan Kormaz to make some big plays down the stretch and become an X-Factor come playoff time for the 76ers.