The 2018 MGM Resorts NBA Summer League began on Friday with all 30 NBA teams set to play in multiple games over the course of 12 days. The summer league is always fun to watch each year as it gives many rookies, second-year players, and undrafted players a chance to stake their claim in the NBA.
In terms of the Philadelphia 76ers, who began summer league play on Friday against the Boston Celtics, they have two players on their roster that are already showing flashes of things to come this upcoming season.
One of those players, who got started on the right track is second-year guard Furkan Korkmaz. Korkmaz was drafted with the 26th overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, but opted to stay another year overseas with Anadolu Efes.
The lanky 6-foot-7 guard out of Turkey came over to the United States last summer and made his debut in the Utah Summer League. However, he struggled in both the Utah and Las Vegas summer leagues trying to find his footing in the NBA.
Fast forward a year later and Korkmaz looked supremely better against the Boston Celtics in the Sixers’ first game. The Turkish guard came out firing on all cylinders, looking comfortable on the floor and shooting with confidence.
Korkmaz lit up the Boston Celtics to the tune of 40 points on 8-of-14 shooting from three-point range and 10-of-18 from the field. He put on a shooting clinic in his 2018 summer league debut and showed what happens when you get a season of NBA and G-League experience under your belt.
However, in his encore performance on Saturday night against the Los Angeles Lakers, Korkmaz struggled. He only scored four points and did not make a three-point shot in his several attempts.
While he won’t be expected to score 40 points a game next season, the Sixers should hope that Korkmaz could fill in the role left by Marco Belinelli, who signed with the San Antonio Spurs in the free agency.
If Korkmaz can give the Sixers between 8-10 points per game that would help their bench a ton.
Even though Korkmaz struggled against the Lakers, Sixers’ 2018 first-round pick Zhaire Smith excelled and showed off a caveat of skills in the process.
Smith stuffed the boxscore against Los Angeles, putting together a solid stat line of 16 points, three assists, three steals, and two rebounds. He did a little bit of everything for a Sixers team that could not do anything on offense.
Unlike his debut against Boston, Smith looked much more comfortable and played aggressively. He took a good number of shots (13), was active on defense, and had a couple of flashy no-look passes.
Heading into next season, do not expect Smith to have a big role on the team, especially since his offensive game is still raw.
However, he will be leaned on for his defensive prowess and can earn minutes that way, which will go far in his development as an NBA player.