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Philly’s European Micro-Star: Furkan Korkmaz

Sinan Erdem Sports Hall, which is the place where Anadolu Efes plays matches, is one of the places that reflect its passion for basketball with its architectural appearance, atmosphere, and moments witnessed. Next to the Hall is one of the halls where Basketball Junior League is played; Ahmet Cömert Sports Hall. Some of the names that perform well in that Hall in a few years can play in the professional league at the Sinan Erdem for the Efes or Galatasaray. These youngsters are usually the players of Efes, just like Furkan Korkmaz, one of the favorite names of Philadelphia 76ers fans.

The road from the press entrance to Anadolu Efes’ locker room is akin to a walk in a dreary London afternoon. Grey walls, quiet steps, an elderly security guard in an orange uniform giving you instructions, and after the white spotlights, Efes’s locker room with the blue door appears first. Then when you turn right, you enter the Hall, which retains shades of grey and black. Fifty minutes before the match time, fans start to arrive while Efes players and opponents make warm-up moves. The players are very active. Still, the atmosphere of the Hall constantly arouses suspicion, again, just like Furkan Korkmaz, who is actually very cheerful but seems too cold-blooded when viewed from the outside.

“Furkan would get out early and start shooting right away. It was a pleasure to watch his shots from the backfield before our mission began. He was good to everyone, he had good communication with his teammates but during the match he would get a bit more serious and focus on winning.”

Niyazi Çalışkan – Anadolu Efes Security Guard

Where it all Began

Furkan was born in Bakırköy, which is one of the middle-level districts of Istanbul. He started basketball on his school team when he was just nine years old. A few years later, he switched to professionalism at the club Baskent34. After his coach Leyla Çalışkan in Baskent34 started working at Yeşilyurt Spor Kulübü, Furkan began playing at Yeşilyurt Spor Kulübü. After his impressive performance there, in 2012, at the age of 15, he transferred to Anadolu Efes for $ 250,000.

There’s no need to burrow into any more storytelling details. Furkan first shone in their junior team, then managed to rise to the main team. In the 2014-2015 season, he made his first Euroleague appearance in his career. He was selected 26th by Philly in the 2016 NBA Draft. However, he wanted to stay in Turkey for one more season and gain experience and played in Banvit. On July 4, 2017, he officially stepped into the NBA adventure.

“Furkan always did his best to put something on the field. Yeah, sometimes he was unable to get the result, but he always had confidence and he was trying to make the best of it. No lie we wanted him to stay in Efes for years and see him in a top level Efes jersey. He and Cedi Osman are like our sons… Today everyone is talking about the sets drawn for him in WhatsApp groups, everyone is happy and we look forward to the days when it will be much more successful”

Anadolu Efes Supporter – Gülhan Can

Why is Furkan Valuable?

Now. What did Furkan do in the NBA? Why is it valuable for Philly this season? Or rather, does he matter to Philly?

Let’s start first from the last question; yes, he matters to the 76ers, a lot. Before we support that argument, let’s look at his first two seasons in the NBA.

Season G 2P% 3P% TS% TRB AST PTS
17-18 14 27.3 29.4 38.6 0.8 0.3 1.6
18-19 48 50.5 32.6 52.8 2.2 1.1 5.8

Throughout his career, Furkan Korkmaz adopted a game philosophy that was generally free from aggression. Of course, he goes to the crucible in explosive and makes impressive dunks, but he chose to stay away from aggressiveness in the defense, shooting and penetrating within the game. He, therefore, rose to prominence through spot-up, catch&shoot, moving with the ball behind the line and using the court, and playing isolation. But in his first two years in the NBA, he didn’t make good use of those skills.

Season Isolation – Points Per Game Catch&Shoot
2017-18 0.17 0.4/1.1 – %31.3
2018-19 0.48 0.8/2.5 – %33.9

Furkan was also far from aggressive in defense in his first two seasons. He was also unable to do isolation against the stronger shooting guards or small forwards and switch defenses. But, his offense and defense have changed this year. Why?

Aside from unique talents like Luka Doncic, Kristaps Porzingis, we see players from Europe struggling in their early years in the NBA. Because the tempo of the game is slightly lower in Europe, pace&space is not very common. There is an understanding that tough defending and pick&roll/pop play dominate.

What has Changed?

Of course, the fact that Furkan had a somewhat timid character made it difficult for him to get used to the United States. But he’s in his third year, and he’s more effective on and off the field. He is now one of the most valuable pieces on the roster to meet Philly’s need for shooting.

Season Isolation – Points Per Game Catch&Shoot
2019-20 0,7 1.9/3.8 – %50

He can open up space on behalf of the team by waiting behind the line in spot-up roles without drifting. The level of hardness is far higher than the team’s defense intelligence, and his ability to steer the ball while the team’s stars are on the bench makes him valuable. And yes, as we saw with the buzzer-beater in Portland, he’s much more AGGRESSIVE!

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