The Wolves' rise from an intriguing young collective into one with teeth will be unsteady and hard and painful. Tom Thibodeau is apt to appreciate this, he has always been more obsessed with the grind of his craft than its capacity for glory.
Peak Tony Parker had added to the characteristic slipperiness of his game an unanticipated degree of intelligence and polish. For maybe six months or a year around 2013, Parker was the best point guard in the league.
The Wizards are discouraging through some fault of their own, but they're also discouraging because they're emblematic of a broader, irksome problem, which is that the East only ever seems to have one, maybe two, title contenders.
Bringing out the best in Julius Randle, Marquese Chriss' dark horse ROY case, Golden State's young depth, Sacramento's improved ball movement and the Clippers' giant hole at small forward.
There's no perfect way out of this, but it is a poignant conundrum: what does a player do when given the choice between acceptance and self-expression? More to the point, will Dion Waiters stay burnishing his myth, or is it time he joined reality?