Now that James Harden has a handful of games under his belt, we can begin to properly assess the new-look Philadelphia 76ers. So far, things have gone about as expected for a team attempting to integrate a superstar on the fly in the final weeks of the regular season. The Sixers took the league by storm coming out of the All-Star break but have since proved they are still a work in progress.

While Harden's presence has certainly elevated the Sixers, there is a major issue starting to make its way to the forefront. That is the lack of production from the second unit. In three of their last four games, it has proven to be costly.

Bench scoring numbers:

  • Outscored 40-38 vs. Brooklyn Nets
  • Outscored 51-19 vs. Orlando Magic
  • Outscored 48-14 vs. Denver Nuggets
  • Outscored 41-13 vs. Cleveland Cavaliers

In total, the Sixers' second unit has been outscored 180-84 in their recent stretch. For a team looking to make a serious run at a title this postseason, it is a glaring area of weakness.

Unfortunately for them, there is not much they can do at this point to rectify this situation. The trade deadline and chance to add in the buyout market have come and gone. If the Sixers want to solve this problem, the solution has to come in-house.

When the starting lineup is on the floor, it is smooth sailing for the Sixers. Joel Embiid continues to put on an MVP-level campaign, and players like Tyrese Maxey and Tobias Harris have adjusted nicely to their new roles. The issues begin to arise when the stars have to come off the floor for a quick breather.

Looking at just the last two games, minimal production from the second unit was a huge takeaway. The Nuggets and Cavaliers both found themselves down big early but were able to storm a comeback when the starters came off the floor. While the Sixers were able to hold off the Cavs' efforts, things were much closer than they should have been.

Early in the season, the Sixers' supporting cast did a phenomenal job stepping up to help fill the void left by Ben Simmons. Now, Doc Rivers is left with few options to get production from outside his starting lineup.

One player not to be too worried about is Georges Niang. The sharpshooting forward has been solid all year but is in the midst of a cold spell from beyond the arc. He is getting good looks. They just aren't falling. Given the abundance of wide-open looks he accumulates in the pick-and-pop from Harden, he is sure to get back on track soon.

Not only is this a cause for concern in the playoffs, but the regular season as well. The Sixers are still jockeying for playoff position, so these final 14 games matter. If Doc Rivers can't trust his supporting cast to step up from time to time, it limits his ability to give Embiid and Harden proper rest down the stretch.

Even with rotations shrinking in the playoffs, the Sixers will need some form of consistent production off the bench if they wish to fulfill their championship aspirations.