Prior to the season, Wizard's owner Ted Leonis clearly stated that the goal of the season is to make the "playoffs". However this was before it became apparent that the Eastern Conference would be a shell of its former self. Key injuries to Rose have prompted the Bulls to rebuild. The loss of Rivers, Garnett and Pierce signaled Boston's rebuild. Poor personnel decisions, injuries and dysfunction have decimated the Knicks and the Nets. Now with the loss of Horford, Atlanta is likely to have problems.
Therefore, getting into the "playoffs", even as high as a 5 seed, with a losing record is a quite possible scenario. This, however, should not infer that said playoff team with losing record is "good" or "competitive". They just happened to have the extraordinary circumstances that allowed them to enter the "playoffs" in an entirely atypical year. Having a losing record, in that majority of years, does not cut it.
The Western conference is skewed in the opposite direction and therefore not making the playoffs in the West does not infer that a team is "bad" or "non-competitive".
Therefore our yardstick should be Top 16. If the Wizards are in the top 16 by the end of the year then, yes, we can say significant progress has been made and EG and Randy have done something substantial with the current team. If we don't then we haven't. This yardstick is transparent, takes into account the circumstances of the league, and is praiseworthy. It is time for management to adopt a better standard - make the Sweet 16.