What many fail to fully grasp is just how important defense is to the game of basketball. That end of the floor you stick by four teammates with while the other team dribbles into your territory accounts for 50 percent of the game.

Not 25 percent, or even 40 percent. It accounts for half of your game.

The NBA’s MVP is a pretty substandard defender.

When Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook were both asked if they thought Curry’s defense was underrated, they had every reason to laugh. At the same time, their defense isn’t the greatest either.

Curry graded out at +0.96 in ESPN’s Defensive Real Plus-Minus this season. This was actually a better defensive mark than Westbrook’s +0.75. He also finished with a better mark than Westbrook in defensive rating.

Conversely, James not only finished with the best Real Plus-Minus in the NBA (Curry was second) but he was second among all small forwards in Defensive Real Plus-Minus.

James has continued his defensive dominance into the playoffs, carrying lackluster defenders Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving. James is lowering opponent’s field goal percentage by -12.8%.

That number becomes even more impressive closer to the basket, as James is lowering opponent’s field goal percentage within six feet of the rim by -21% (via NBA Stats).

Not many superstars can also claim they are the anchor of the defense. James is just that. Without question. He’s one of the five best on ball defenders in the league.

The problem for Curry backers is we’re comparing him to LBJ, not Westbrook.

Never does Curry get asked to defend the other team’s best player. James is asked frequently. On a squad of 15 roles are clearly defined, and one of James’s roles is to be the team’s best defensive player. For Golden State, that role is reserved for Klay Thompson and/or Draymond Green.

In this evolving world of NBA defensive stats, numbers can be thrown every which way. What they are, though, are just numbers.

Defense on the basketball court is one of the few areas of sport that numbers never do justice for. Your eyes tell most of the story (hell James Harden).

The physical specimen LeBron is lends him the ability to guard any player on the opposing team. This is especially the case in this new-age NBA where the traditional center is extinct.

It’s not even a contest. There’s nothing wrong with Curry winning back-to-back MVPs. His offensive ability is unreal and leading the charge on a 73-win team is nothing short of historic. But when it comes to drilling down who’s better on the defensive side of the ball – accounting for half of a basketball player’s attributes – James annihilates Curry.

The the two were to play a one-on-one game, I think Curry would only be able to score twice in 10 tries.

Robby Sabo is a co-founder, CEO and credentialed New York Jets content creator for Jets X-Factor - Jet X, which includes Sabo's Sessions (in-depth film breakdowns) and Sabo with the Jets. Host: Underdog Jets Podcast with Wayne Chrebet and Sabo Radio. Member: Pro Football Writers of America. Coach: Port Jervis (NY) High School. Washed up strong safety and 400M runner. SEO: XL Media. Founder: Elite Sports NY - ESNY (Sold in 2020). SEO: XL Media. Email: robby.sabo[at]