For Sixers' Furkan Korkmaz, confidence will be key to NBA transition

For Sixers' Furkan Korkmaz, confidence will be key to NBA transition

LAS VEGAS -- The Sixers believe Furkan Korkmaz can succeed in the NBA. Now it’s up to Korkmaz to build up that same level of self-assurance. 

“[We want him to focus on] confidence,” assistant coach Lloyd Pierce said Friday.

The past week has been a whirlwind for Korkmaz. 

He signed with the Sixers, who drafted him 26th overall last year, on Tuesday. From there, he left Turkey and traveled to Salt Lake City to join them for summer league. He made his debut Wednesday, played again Thursday and then flew with the team to Las Vegas for their practice Friday afternoon. 

This is only Korkmaz’s third trip to the United States and his first to Las Vegas. 

“When I start to feel more comfortable, I will play better,” Korkmaz said. “I believe that.”

The shooting guard averaged 6.5 points in his first two summer league games. He went 2 for 12 (16.7 percent) from the field, including 0 for 5 in the debut. He went to work after practice Friday, putting up long-range shots. 

Furkan Korkmaz goes 4-for-5 in three-point shooting drills. #nbasummerleague #lasvegas #vegas #sixers

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Early in-game struggles like that are to be expected. Like Dario Saric faced last season, Korkmaz is learning a new team and, more significantly, a new league. A different three-point line. Different terminology. Different scenery. It all adds up. 

“Of course I need to get more confidence,” Korkmaz said. 

Korkmaz has been in touch with Saric, his former teammate in Turkey, who has been giving him encouragement about the adjustment. The Sixers will continue to as well. Then it'll be up to Korkmaz to feel the same. 

“He’s a shooter. He’s an athlete. He’s a gifted passer. He is a skilled basketball player,” Pierce said. “I think if he just goes out there and plays with confidence, I think he’ll be fine.”

'Dots don't connect' for Sixers on inbound confusion

'Dots don't connect' for Sixers on inbound confusion

Of all the scenarios that transpired over the Sixers’ triple-overtime loss to the Thunder, there is one moment that stands out.

Fast-forward to the end of the second overtime. The Sixers had the opportunity to take the final shot after Dario Saric grabbed a defensive rebound. Joel Embiid motioned for a timeout before Saric put the ball on the floor. 

The Sixers huddled and prepared for a half-court play they had practiced before, confident they could execute it with 1.2 seconds on the game clock.

However, as they went set up, the officials told them the inbound was actually fullcourt. Saric had dribbled the ball before the timeout was called, they were told. That change wiped out the play they had initially planned. 

“They asked us what side of the floor did we want to advance it to, and so we told them,” Brett Brown said. “We drew up a play to try to score. Then we walked out and they said no you can’t advance it, it goes fullcourt. When you look at the tape, you can see Joel and myself calling a timeout with 1.2 seconds. They said Dario dribbled, yet there were still 1.2 seconds. The dots don’t connect.”

The last-second shift in inbound position left the Sixers scrambling. Embiid said the team was “caught off guard.” Ben Simmons considered the call to be “huge.” 

“We weren’t told that we couldn’t progress the ball up the floor until we actually had to run the play,” Simmons said. “That kind of messed us up. We got into a late play, which didn’t convert.” 

The Sixers didn’t connect on their final possession. There’s no guarantee the shot would have gone in, but they would have been prepared to get a good look. 

“[It changed] everything,” Robert Covington said. 

Instead of pulling off a last-second game-winner, the Sixers went into triple overtime. They were edged out by two points, 119-117 (see game recap)

"That kind of like messed up in our minds, but that’s not an excuse," Embiid said. "We shouldn’t have an excuse for losing that game."

Joel Embiid won't be disrespected in his house

Joel Embiid won't be disrespected in his house


Joel Embiid’s Tour de Trash Talking continued Friday night in the Sixers’ triple-overtime loss to the Thunder.

Two days after an Instagram exchange with friend Karl-Anthony Towns, things got chippier against the Thunder veterans. Embiid swapped words with both Carmelo Anthony and Russell Westbrook. 

Westbrook took exception when Embiid waved goodbye to Steven Adams when the Thunder center fouled out, and the reigning MVP sent a message of his own after the game. 

“He told me to go home,” Embiid said. “And this is my home and I ain’t going nowhere.”

Embiid said he gave the Thunder credit for the 119-117 win (see observations), but took a jab at Westbrook’s individual performance. Even though Westbrook recorded a 27-point, 18-rebound, 15-assist triple-double, he shot just 30 percent in the effort. 

“The dude shot like 10 for 33,” Embiid said. “I wish I would have shot 33 times. I guess we would have had a better chance of actually winning the game.”

Embiid told Westbrook he would see him in Oklahoma City. The Sixers play the Thunder on the road Jan. 28. 

“I’m not about to get into back and forth with him,” Westbrook said, according to The Oklahoman. “I’m not about to give him my energy.”

Before Embiid had words with Westbrook, there was chatter between him and Anthony.

With the Sixers down seven and 2:26 on the clock, Embiid banked in a hook shot as he was fouled by Anthony (see highlights). After the bucket, Embiid shouted “and-one” several times in Anthony’s direction, which led to some jawing between the pair. 

Embiid reiterated he isn’t going to back down, nor is he concerned about these exchanges turning physical. 

“He just said something like, ‘Don’t do this with me,’ or something like that,” Embiid said. “I’m like, ‘Dude, you’re not going to do anything. You fouled me. I had the and-one on you.’ 

“Guys in the league, I can’t remember the last time someone actually threw a punch on somebody. I’m not worried about anybody. I’ve seen out there a lot, all over the place about people talking about people coming back at me. I’m African, so don’t try me.”

Embiid has been involved in trash talking with players around the league, from Towns to Draymond Green, Hassan Whiteside to Andre Drummond. Each time, he emphasizes the exchanges are conversations, not altercations. 

"I’m having fun," Embiid said. "What goes on the court, stays on the court. I don’t think I ever disrespect anybody."