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.”

With Markelle Fultz and Ben Simmons set to debut, John Wall and Bradley Beal recall their early days

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With Markelle Fultz and Ben Simmons set to debut, John Wall and Bradley Beal recall their early days

The Sixers will have two No. 1 overall picks make their NBA debuts on Wednesday night in Markelle Fultz (2017) and Ben Simmons (2016). They are in for a challenge with the Wizards, one of the best teams in basketball, and with guards John Wall and Bradley Beal.

Wall and Beal know that challenge well. They were both top draft picks in their own right, Wall the first pick in 2010 and Beal the third pick in 2012. They can recall in specifics their first games in the NBA and how humbling they were.

"My first game, I was going against Dwight Howard. It was fun," Wall said. "There was a lot of pressure. There were a lot of people talking."

It's often said that the point guard position is as deep as it's ever been nowadays. The last three MVP awards have gone to point guards, for instance.

There were some good ones back in 2010, too.

"I remember in a five-game span I played like [Rajon] Rondo, Derrick Rose here and then I went out west and played Steve Nash, Chris Paul and Russell [Westbrook]," Wall said. "I don't think it's gotten any harder than it was back then in 2010 with those five guys. You kind of understand what those guys are about when you get to see it firsthand and play against them."

Beal vividly remembers going up against the LeBron James-led Miami Heat as a 19-year-old. It wasn't easy.

"It was the Heat when they had [Dwyane Wade] and LeBron on the same team. That's when D-Wade was electrifying. He still had his quickness. He was strong as I don't know what and I was a baby at that time," he said.

"For me, it was like I was in awe because those are the guys I grew up watching and I was a fan of. Now I'm playing against them and I can't be a fan of them. It was amazing to play against them, but also an eye-opener like, I need to get better."

Now it's Fultz and Simmons' turn to see what matching up with NBA superstars is like and don't expect Wall or Beal to take it easy on them.

"I'm a competitive person, so I'm not going to back down from any challenge," Wall said.

Joel Embiid to start Sixers' season opener, but how much will he play?

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Joel Embiid to start Sixers' season opener, but how much will he play?

WASHINGTON — The first starting lineup of the Sixers' 2017-18 season will be Ben Simmons, Jerryd Bayless, JJ Redick, Robert Covington and Joel Embiid.

Brown is sticking with the group that closed out preseason competition. That group has a balance of veterans and young talent, including Simmons making his NBA debut after missing all of last season with a foot injury.

"It helps a lot (starting together in the preseason) because you're learning guys and how they move and how they play," Simmons said. "I think we have a pretty good connection going into tonight's game and it's only going to get better."

Embiid will be under a minutes restriction but Brown does not have a definitive number. The big man previously said he expected to play 16 minutes. Embiid was the last one to leave the court at the conclusion of shootaround. 

"There's a range that we'll work with," Brown said. "We're going to feel it together. We'll play Joel within some parameters and go from that base." 

Markelle Fultz also will make his NBA debut. The No. 1 pick, who has battled right knee and shoulder soreness, will come off the bench in front of his hometown crowd. 

"I'm excited," Fultz said. "It's anything you can wish for."