A lot more optimistic than USA Today: Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight profiled the seven teams they don’t think will make the playoffs out of the Eastern Conference today, and the Sixers got name-dropped in the headline. In a post entitled “2014 NBA Preview: The Sixers Are Going Nowhere Fast,” FiveThirtyEight’s Ian Levy is actually pretty positive about the (according to them) bottom-of-the-barrel team. Yes, they’re in full-tank, but they’re also making progress:

The Sixers are doing something more complex than simply losing games: They’re creating an offense. Under previous head coach Doug Collins, Philadelphia played at a relatively slow pace and was comfortable relying on mid-range jumpers for a significant portion of its offense. Last season, with Brett Brown at the helm, the 76ers made drastic changes …

The Sixers may not have found their franchise player yet, but they do know how they want the pieces around that hypothetical future star to play. Sixers ball is now up-tempo ball, with lots of defensive pressure and an efficient distribution of shots by the team’s role-players.

All of the focus on the Sixers when looking towards the future has fallen in Hinkie’s direction, but Brett Brown is in fact making his mark on the style of play the team is playing, whether it be by necessity or style. The team doesn’t take mid-range shots and tries to get down the court as fast as possible and get to the hoop (Young. Fun.Run. Dunk., etc.). The team may not have much to offer in terms of winning and scoring right now, but once they do, they’ll have a style in place that they’ve honed over years of trial and mostly error.

In addition, at Complex‘s awesome NBA Jam-themed season preview, Ralph Warner hits it right on the head: “If Rihanna shows up to sit courtside at a Philly game, it will be the equivalent to the 76ers winning the championship. It’s really the best they can hope for at this point.”