Are these the real Philadelphia 76ers? They are owners of one of a 4-6 record and are not among the top eight teams in the Eastern Conference. The Sixers’ defense has been dismal. The James Harden-Joel Embiid connection is worth keeping an eye on. Also, the offseason additions haven’t had the impact that many expected. Here we will look at the biggest early problem that the Sixers absolutely have to fix in the 2022-23 NBA season.

Of course, it’s still early in the 2022-23 season, and it’s impossible to differentiate truth from the noise. Small sample sizes can also throw off everything. Even so, clubs can’t escape from their dismal records.

Are we genuinely concerned about this team? Yes, though we continue to believe that the Sixers have the skill to work things out. To be fair, the offense has been solid even if Embiid appears to need to work on his conditioning. The recent James Harden injury is a major development, though, and there is more urgency now to give this team a much-needed jolt.

Having said that, let us look at the biggest early problem that the Sixers absolutely have to fix in the 2022-23 NBA season.

One of the Sixers’ main issues is injuries. Star center Joel Embiid has already missed four games, while star guard James Harden is set to miss the next month’s worth of games because of a foot strain. Even Danuel House Jr. will miss time due to an illness.

Injuries, however, are somewhat beyond a team’s control. The Sixers and head coach Doc Rivers, try as they might, cannot “fix” injuries.

However, there is one glaring basketball problem they can and should fix. That is the team’s absolutely horrible rebounding.

Right now, the Sixers are dead last in the entire league in the rebounding department. In fact, they are the only team right now grabbing fewer than 40 rebounds per game. Not surprisingly, they are also last overall in offensive boards and bottom five in defensive rebounding.

No Sixer is grabbing double-digit rebounds per game. Yes, not even Embiid, who’s been tremendously reliable in that area over his career. So far this season, the French-Cameroonian slotman is hauling down only 9.5 rebounds per game. That’s the lowest of his career outside of his rookie season when he grabbed just 7.8 per contest.

Next to Embiid is, incredibly enough, Harden, who’s recording 7.0 rebounds per game. The Beard isn’t known for cleaning the glass, but he has actually been pretty good at that over the last handful of seasons. Since he will be out for a month, though, other guys have to step up for the Sixers.

One of those guys has to be Tobias Harris. The 30-year-old veteran has never been an elite rebounder, but right now that’s what they need from him. Yes, he’s more of a stretch power forward, but with Harden out and Embiid visibly not 100 percent, the onus is on Harris to carry much more of the load. That of course refers to scoring, but it also refers to rebounding.

Outside of Harris, new acquisitions PJ Tucker and Montrezl Harrell need to get more involved as well. Both are averaging much fewer rebounds than they did last season, and the Sixers need them to be much more aggressive if they are to get out of their current rut.

The team’s rebounding difficulties are also more pronounced because in every single one of their six losses, they’ve been outrebounded. Even if they outshoot their opponents, the Sixers won’t be able to finish them off and register a W unless they can win the rebounding battle. That’s how crucial this is.

Will Embiid eventually average a double-double? We think so, especially as his usage will increase due to Harden’s absence. However, it’s the other guys who are key. Harris, Tucker, and Harrell, in particular, have to really step up in terms of getting those boards.