One of the perks of coming out a champ is that you are no longer in dialogue with any arguments against you, extant or nascent or merely hinted at. You've settled things completely. Whatever we've asked of Khris Middleton, whatever he’s asked of himself, the answer is yes.
Karl-Anthony Towns' relative loss in prestige over the last few seasons speaks to how much context can shape how one is perceived, even at the expense of one's on-court performance.
As the Nets enter the 21-22 season as overwhelming title favorites, my question is simple: has a team ever been this good and this weird at the same time?
C.J. McCollum doesn't get to do whatever he wants; he posts his 20-whatever in the negative space Dame Lillard leaves in his wake. It's a peculiar rhythm you have to strike, not being The Guy but playing as if you were, however intermittently.
As hard as this summer has been on his shaken teammate, Joel Embiid has surely been struggling too. Struggling to keep his thoughts to himself, to put in the work knowing that his fate will be decided by forces beyond his own commitment. It's an existential bother, a fittingly big mannish problem.