Three games into the 2020-21 season, the Sixers have lost their first rotation player for an extended stretch.
Furkan Korkmaz suffered a left adductor strain in the fourth quarter of the team’s loss Sunday night to the Cavaliers. He’s out and will be re-evaluated in approximately two weeks, a team spokesperson said. Korkmaz stopped short Sunday as he guarded a Cedi Osman drive and appeared to be in discomfort, walking gingerly off the court as the Sixers called a timeout.
Sixers head coach Doc Rivers had used Korkmaz as part of the team's early-season second unit, along with Shake Milton, Tyrese Maxey, Mike Scott and Dwight Howard. Rivers has liked the idea of Milton and Korkmaz as a playmaking pairing off the bench.
After scoring 11 points on 4-for-9 shooting in the Sixers’ opening-night win over the Wizards, Korkmaz shot 2 for 15 total over the next two games. So far in his NBA career, the 23-year-old wing has generally needed to be hitting jumpers at a high rate to have a positive impact. Though former head coach Brett Brown thought Korkmaz made “great progress” defensively last season and would be able to hold his own in the playoffs, that didn’t prove to be the case. Over 40 minutes in the Sixers’ first-round series loss to the Celtics, Korkmaz missed all seven of his field goal attempts and was not reliable defensively.
Korkmaz’s injury will likely lead to more playing time for Matisse Thybulle, who’s been on the edge of the rotation to begin the season. Though Thybulle has only played 15 minutes so far, he’s clearly above other young wings like Terrance Ferguson and rookie Isaiah Joe in the Sixers’ pecking order. The Sixers exercised Thybulle’s third-year option on Monday.
Maxey also might receive additional opportunities as the Sixers search for players who can create offense. Since Thybulle isn’t a player who provides much in terms of dribble penetration and hasn’t shot well from three-point range since a right knee injury last December, the Sixers will require enhanced offensive contributions from their other healthy bench players during Korkmaz’s absence.
Joel Embiid, who was a late scratch Sunday because of back tightness, is listed as probable for the Sixers' game Tuesday against the Raptors.