Furkan Korkmaz played well in Anadolu Efes’ 89-73 win vs. Milano. He logged 18 minutes, scored six points on two threes, grabbed a board, had a steal. No turnovers. Clean, crisp stat line. No glaring mistakes. And Efes won! But I’m not ready to call him the best European prospect in this year’s draft, or the second or third. Fifth. Ninth. Eleventh. Nope.
Why not? Because I don’t have to. And neither do you. It’s not even Halloween yet, and Furkan is not even 19 years old. Now is the time to watch him, to enjoy his game, and to monitor his progress. Rankings, player comparisons and wild-eyed projections can come later, much closer to June.
The most important thing at this stage of FuKork’s career is to gain experience against high-level competition. If he doesn’t play basketball, then how can we even evaluate him as a basketball player?
We can’t. And as it turns out, there’s one man who doesn’t care about our evaluations, our mock drafts or our cries for exposure: Dusan Ivkovic. Anadolu Efes’ legendary sideline stalker has been tasked with winning a Euroleague title, not inflating Korkmaz’s draft stock. In order to get this floor time, Korkmaz needs to stay healthy and execute Duda’s plan. The former is outside of his control; injuries happen and they suck, especially for a developing prospect. But the latter is largely controllable. When Duda puts Furkan in he needs to play the right way, play with effort, demonstrate situational awareness, value the ball, and it wouldn’t hurt if some shots found the bottom of the bucket.
Last season, a 19-year-old Cedi Osman endeared himself to his coach by checking those first four boxes spectacularly. So spectacularly that it didn’t even matter he only shot 30% from three. If the game was on the line, more often than not Cedi was in there. And if he was in there, you’d better bet your ass he was busting his for every loose ball or chase down block. That’s who Cedi Osman IS.
So who, then, is Furkan Korkmaz? We still don’t know. The better he plays, the more chances we’ll have to find out.
Iyi (The Good)
Time to go home there, Furkan. The corner is your home. Are you too good for your home?
Furkan makes great sense for Efes in the corner. He can knock down open shots so you have to guard him, and if you’re forced to close out hard then he can put it on the floor and make a play for himself or a teammate.
I like a lot of what I see in this next clip. Watch it first, and then we’ll regroup below.
The first thing you’ll notice is that Furkan brings the ball up the floor, even though Thomas Huertel is on the court with him. With Huertel and Jayson Granger in tow, it’s not like Furkan will normally be called upon to run the Efes offense. But Korkmaz has a tight handle and is a better bet to be a primary ball handler than Birkan Batuk or spot-up specialist Jon Diebler for this Efes squad. What’s more, he guarded Milano’s point guard Charles Jenkins for several possessions and avoided disaster. No easy penetration, no blatantly open shots. Being able to effectively run and occasionally defend the point guard position should earn Furkan some extra opportunities, especially if an injury should befall Huertel or Granger.
Back to the clip: Korkmaz gets it up the floor just fine-nothing special. But this allows Huertel to come from the sideline and get Efes into their offense from the left side of the floor, driving to his right. Once the bodies start cycling, Korkmaz heads for that empty corner real estate like a Good Soldier. When Derrick Brown gets the ball at the top (0:13 mark), Furkan makes himself available in the slot. Another subtle, smart move. When Furkan gets the ball he wastes no time, putting it on the floor and attacking the basket. He sucks in Krunoslav Simon and freezes Gani Lawal on the block before kicking it back out to Huertel in the corner. Huertel drives, taking Simon with him and leaving Lawal in the paint. Meanwhile, Furkan backpedals and fills the corner that Huertel just vacated. Huertel finds him and Korkmaz bangs it home. (He hit his next one, too. As the shot clock expired. SITUATIONAL AWARENESS! That earns you six Duda Bucks. Ten Duda Bucks earns you one Crunch Time Minute.)
Here’s a similar situation from the corner. He’s working with Huertel again, different side of the floor:
Here, Korkmaz runs toward the corner in transition and Huertel finds him quickly. Korkmaz pushes the defense toward the middle of the floor with a dribble while Huertel’s momentum carries him to the corner. Here, FuKork will masterfully execute a high-bouncing behind the back pass. Not sure if Duda is lovin’ the extra flair, but Furkan had the right idea here and Huertel capitalizes. Three Duda Bucks.
Kötü (The Bad)
In the spirit of the delicious durum kebab, let’s just wrap this all into one clip and call it a day. Only difference is that instead of sword-shaven meat and crisp vegetables with a touch of sauce, it’s a bad shot and a missed assignment with a dash of iffy effort.
Let’s go to the tape:
Look, Furkan Korkmaz is already a Good shooter and he might turn into a Very Good to Great shooter. But curling into a long fadeaway two with 12 on the shot clock is not how he’ll butter his bread. I don’t want to beat the kid up over a missed jumper, but he can get a better look than that.
After a shot like that I’d love to see Furkan be the first one back on defense, but he sort of just jogs. That means Jayson Granger was the first blue jersey to the rim and he picked up Milan Macvan. Meanwhile Granger’s man, Charles Jenkins, sets up camp at the three-point line as Furkan sticks to Krunoslav Simon in the corner. Furkan is technically not wrong because he’s technically shadowing his man, but here’s where experience should tell him that “Jayson Granger is guarding Milan Macvan, which means that Granger’s guy is…oh shit! He’s over there and he’s wide open. Let me inch over a bit.”
Furkan should’ve split the distance between Simon and the greater threat, Jenkins. Instead he sinks deeper into the corner, Jenkins gets the pass from Gentile and it’s wham, bam, teşekkür ederim.
These are skills that come with experience and focus: it’s having the presence of mind to know which shots you’ll accept and when; it’s pushing it a little harder to be the first one back; and if you’re not, it’s understanding who did make that sacrifice and what you can do to cover his ass.
Furkan can fix that.
Besides, you live with the ebb and flow of iyi and kötü when you hoist a teenager into a Euroleague game. These are the opportunities Furkan must continue to earn. Because while we as scouts and draft prognosticators can afford to be patient, Dusan Ivkovic cannot.