Since last making the playoffs in 2007-08, the Wizards have finished no better than 26th in the 30-team NBA.
Their win totals have fluctuated from 19 in 2008-09 to 26 the following season, 23 in 2010-11 and 20 in a lockout-shortened season last year.
As a result, the Wizards have had five first-round draft picks in the past three years, yielding players like John Wall, Chris Singleton, Jan Vesely and most recently, Bradley Beal.
Wizards owner Ted Leonsis made it clear last May that he hopes his days of agonizing over a bouncing ping-pong ball are over.
Its not a lot of fun, Leonsis told reporters before the Wizards took Beal with the third pick overall. Without pain there is no gain.
Question is, have the Wizards endured enough growing pains to make them a playoff team this season? Are they capable of winning more games they lose for the first time in five years?
Everybody wants to be better and everybody wants to grow and everybody wants to compete for the playoffs, Wizards general manager Ernie Grunfeld said. We want to see improvement. Theres no question about that. But we dont want to go away from our long range of developing these players.
That rebuilding plan began in 2010 when the Wizards took Wall with the first pick overall of the NBA draft. They added Jordan Crawford, Nene, Cartier Martin and Kevin Seraphin.
Were in Year 3 of the rebuilding process, Grunfeld said. Our goal was to rebuild through the draft. We also wanted to add some solid veterans Nene, Emeka Okafor that can help these players develop and grow.
The development has been slow but steady and Grunfeld is hoping the Wizards can carry the momentum from last season, when they won eight of their final 10 games, into the 2012 training camp, which begin on Tuesday at George Mason University.
Time will tell, Grunfeld. Obviously, it will take some time for the team to gel. We have six new players and those players will probably get some playing time. We want to improve as the season goes along.
We want to continue to be competitive. We want to be a good defensive team, and if things come together for us, hopefully we can compete for the playoffs.
So where does Grunfeld see the Wizards finishing in the Eastern Conference? Are they good enough to catch the Sixers, who finished eighth in the conference last season with a 35-31 record?
Thats up to you pundits to decide, he said. Were not in the predicting business that much. Were in the business of trying to make our players better. I think weve shown this team is better today than it was at the beginning of last year.