A popular sentiment among Wizards fans is the concern that the team's current success might be a dead end, rather than a sign of a team en route to hoisting the Larry O'Brien trophy. The warning signs are all there. If the Wizards roster was a hand in a game of spades, we'd have one and a possible. John's already validated as an All-Star. If Brad learns to cut down on the looong twos and drive to the darn basket, he could also be. Beyond that though? Who knows? Nene's on his last leg. Gortat looks like a keeper, but he's aging and needs to be re-signed. Ariza will likely walk. Our other draft picks all look expendable. None of the other players on this roster are untouchable, nor a guy you think can step up and be our 2nd "possible". And despite this season's fleeting success, that's a losing hand longterm. Or at best, it's a mediocre hand.
But what's really so bad about being mediocre?
Without at least one transcendent superstar and 2 all star caliber complimentary players, good coaching, an exemplary front office, and some good luck/timing, you are not winning a title. Period. Then look at the relatively small number of franchises that have won it all. The NBA is a have and have nots league with little parity. You live and die by your draft picks, ability to lure big name free agents, good timing, and sometimes dumb luck. Everyone will not win a title. But that doesn't mean everyone who doesn't win a title is a loser.
So with all that said, let's be real: making the playoffs on an annual basis isn't too terrible a place to be. Joke about Atlanta (and Milwaukee to a lesser degree) as a dead end all you want, but that team has been consistently in the playoffs for nearly a decade now. No, they aren't going anywhere once there, but would you rather be a Kings fan? No, you wouldn't. And you know why. Because losing sucks.
Cheering for a team 75% of the people in your city don't even know exists sucks. Cheering for a team that's in an alleged "basketball city", yet is just above the Washington Kastles on the local pecking order is not fun. Getting 100 level seats on Stubhub for $10 is fun, so yeah, there's that. But I'm sorry, after living here for 20 years and only seeing 5 playoff appearances, I'd kill for a perennial contender. People can look back on the Big Three Era as a fatally constucted team whose ceiling was the first round, but you know what: those were some entertaining teams. The arena was full. People cared. People cheered. The houses were packed. It didn't feel like a funeral/library. Because winning, regardless of what your ceiling is, really feels good.
Does this mean I'm endorsing mediocrity as an organizational roadmap? Of course not. I'd love to see the Red White and Blue on a championship parade route down Georgia Avenue. I will probably cry like a little French schoolgirl when (if?) that day arrives. But if it doesn't happen in my lifetime, I'd be perfectly content watching a team that annually wins more than it loses. People sometimes forget that the last time this team won more than 48 games, we were at war. In Vietnam. The team's best record since it's last NBA Finals appearance in 1979? 45 wins, during the Big Three Era. In the interim, lots of losses, lots of lottery picks, and lots of golfing in May. Yeah, that's our "tradition", and don't you forget it. If you need to be reminded, just have a look at this franchise's annual record since 1961. And have a little perspective when you complain about falling to the #6 seed.
So forgive me for having dramatically lowered expectations for what constitutes a satisfying season. As much as this late season meltdown sucks, what doesn't suck is playing games in April.
Hooray for "Averageness"!
 No, my spades analogy didn't pan out, but whatever.
 Before someone brings up the early 00's Pistons, chew on this. Ben Wallace was DPoY. Larry Brown is a Hall Of Fame Coach. Billups might be one of the most clutch shooters of all time. They stole an "in his prime" Rasheed Wallace at the trade deadline for peanuts. They stole Rip Hamilton and Ben Wallace in historically lopsided trades. This was a historically good defensive team. Joe Dumars didn't suck at his job yet, in fact, he was considered one of the best in the business, Darko pick aside. They also just so happened to face a poorly constructed Lakers team that was in the midst of an implosion. So yeah, perfect storm here.