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Is Furkan Korkmaz Worth the NBA Draft Lottery Hype?

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Along with the slew of highly intriguing college prospects drawing 2016 NBA draft buzz, a couple of international standouts have garnered lottery consideration from many prognosticators.

One is Croatian forward Dragan Bender, who may contend for a top-five spot. The other is Turkish guard Furkan Korkmaz, an 18-year-old prodigy who has climbed into the late-lottery range on several mock drafts and big boards.

Not only has the 6’7″ wing recently starred on Turkey’s U18 and U19 national squads, but he’s also made some noise against grown men for Turkish BSL League powerhouse Anadolu Efes.

How will his early overseas success translate to the NBA? Is his skill set worth a lottery selection? Let’s dissect his game on both ends of the floor.

Korkmaz’s offensive contributions are truly multidimensional. He can hurt opponents with or without the ball, and his on-ball arsenal includes slashing, passing and outside shooting.

His ball-handling skills aren’t tight or fluid enough to shake top-tier NBA defenders right now, but he’s a creative attacker whose off-the-dribble game is budding. Korkmaz does a nice job of setting up his defenders with fakes and maneuvering past them. J.Z. Mazlish of Upside & Motor explains the kind of creative role Korkmaz could fill in the NBA:

Despite not having the handle of a team’s 1A creator, Korkmaz has everything necessary to be a great secondary option for a team’s offense. Attacking closeouts in particular, Korkmaz excels as his combination of shooting, speed and passing vision make him perfect for breaking down the defense. He also has one of the best pump fakes in recent memory, which he uses frequently to get defenders off balance and attack the hoop or sidestep into a 3-pointer.

 

When attacking the basket, Korkmaz employs superb agility and athleticism to go along with his long 6’7″ frame and soft scoring touch. Unfortunately, he’s exceptionally light (just 185 pounds), which often prevents him from fighting through contact and finishing in a crowd.

 

Korkmaz has shot the ball extremely well from three-land lately, including 45 percent at the U19 FIBA World Championships and 42 percent in BSL and Euroleague play. His quick release in both spot-up and off-the-dribble situations enables him to get buckets from almost any spot. The delivery is an unorthodox fling, and he doesn’t always hold his follow-through, but it’s a smooth motion.

One of Korkmaz’s most valuable traits on offense is his ability to connect with teammates as a passer and cutter. He does a great job setting up teammates and creating for potential passing targets, and he also has a feel for when to cut to the open spot. Merih Sorkut of NBADraft.net praised his knack for collaborating with teammates:

He is a smart player, always thinking on the floor. He always seeks mismatches and how to exploit the defense. In addition to his scoring ability, he is good at finding the right passing channels and is extremely unselfish…

 

The downside is that gets sloppy sometimes on those passing plays, making him prone to intermittent rashes of turnovers. That’s something Korkmaz’s NBA coach will have to be patient with during the first couple of years.

 

As a backcourt and wing defender, Korkmaz offers a mixed bag of tools and execution.

His length, leaping ability and instincts are magnificent building blocks to work with, and those gifts have fueled some disruptive plays for Efes. NBA fans will love his penchant for electrifying interceptions.

While his anticipation away from the ball is exciting, his fundamentals and strength are shaky when he’s guarding the rock. Korkmaz doesn’t consistently utilize proper footwork or posture, and consequently he’s often foiled by shifty slashers. There’s no guarantee he’ll grow into a top-tier defender, but these deficiencies could certainly be sharpened with the right tutelage.

The other question mark surrounding his defense is his strength. Opponents have exploited Korkmaz’s slender frame in Euroleague play by driving at him and also establishing deep post position. Although he hasn’t built much muscle the last couple of years, his body type is conducive to adding some bulk if he really hits the weight room.

When scouts and executives weigh these positives and negatives this spring, will they deem Korkmaz a worthwhile investment early in the first round?

One NBA scout loves the guard’s value at such a young age, per Chad Ford of ESPN.com:

He’s making a significant impact on a Euroleague team and he doesn’t turn 19 until after the draft. How many American kids could really do that? He shoots it. He’s athletic. He plays with a reckless abandon.

Despite Korkmaz’s shortcomings, such as his light build and inconsistent defense, he has most of the tools, smarts and ball skills a team could want in a teenage prospect.

He has the makings of a starting NBA shooting guard down the road, one who serves as both a secondary scoring option and secondary playmaker. In his prime, someone with his size and versatility could post anywhere from 13-17 points and 3-5 assists per game.

Does that make Korkmaz a top-10 lock or a top-five challenger? No. But late in the lottery, you won’t find many prospects with his combination of proven ability and upside.

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