There are so many factors to weigh in determining whether the Wizards' 2016-17 season was a success or a disappointment. The expectations were set and reset multiple times coming off a 2015-16 season where they missed the playoffs, then after a stunning 2-8 start and then throughout a magical run that ended with a second round playoff exit.
The Wizards' season was a mixed bag of various extremes. Because of that, the players have differing opinions in evaluating what happened.
"Overall, I think it was a good season," guard Bradley Beal said. "As disappointing as we can call it, we can still take a lot of good out of it... We were able to advance further in the playoffs than we've ever been."
"I feel like we could have gone farther. It was a disappointing season," forward Otto Porter said. "In our minds, we could have gotten to the Finals to contend for a championship."
The Wizards' season technically ended just like it did in the 2014 and 2015 playoffs, in the second round and just short of a berth in the Eastern Conference Finals. There were, however, many reasons to think this team was better than those teams and thus this year represented not only a step in the right direction, but brand new ground in the John Wall era.
They got to 49 wins and won their division, both firsts for the franchise since 1978-79. They found considerable success under new head coach Scott Brooks, reaching a new level offensively. Most on their roster took noticeable steps forward in their development, everyone from Wall and Beal to Porter and Kelly Oubre, Jr. Wall's improvement earned him All-NBA honors for the first time in his career.
Still, the Wizards wanted more than what they ended up achieving. Especially towards the end of the season, as they battled for positioning in the East during the regular season, got past the Hawks in the first round and battled closely with the Celtics, they dreamt big. At one point even the Cavaliers looked vulnerable. Some wondered if this could be the Wizards' year to do some real damage in the playoffs.
Reality ultimately struck and the Wizards were left in a familiar spot. But here's what we know is different about this time around: next year a second round exit will almost certainly not be good enough. They want to go reach at least the conference finals and anything less will not do.
"I'm tired of being in this situation. I'm tired of losing in the second round," Beal said. "Next season it will be totally different. We have to remember the feeling we have right now and be better next year."
"Now our expectations are a lot higher," forward Markieff Morris said. "Especially having a year under our belt with this group."
Whether the Wizards can get to the conference finals or beyond next spring will depend on many things between health, improvement from within and the roster adjustments they make. But the goal is clear and the Wizards will have to wait a full calendar year to get their next shot at it.