A fundamental problem with the AP/AK system, which I think Ion would readily admit to, is that it's so complicated that players don't always understand it well enough to react to it rationally.
In 7.1 you can be pretty far behind other players in power if you don't play a lot. As Ion notes, a lot of players entered Nighthold at 35 traits while others (who typically ran a lot of mythic+ dungeons) entered at 54 traits, getting 10% more damage and a big chunk of extra stamina from their artifact. But players may not realize how far behind they are on power; instead, they might perceive that they can max out their weapons in not too long and know that they definitely won't be behind then.
In 7.2, there may be less of a power gap between people who play a lot and people who play a little, but if players perceive that maxing out their weapons will never happen, they may imagine themselves to be farther behind than they actually are. Instead of comparing themselves to where insane grinders actually are, which may only be a few traits ahead, they might compare themselves to a hypothetical player with a maxed-out weapon.