Who's the real plus-minus MVP?

How RPM incorporates defense and why it makes Kevin Durant the winner

Updated: April 9, 2014, 2:22 PM ET
By Tom Haberstroh | ESPN Insider

Defense matters.

If there's one takeaway from the ranking of ESPN's new real plus-minus metric, it's this: Defense is a huge deal. The defensive side of the floor, which represents half the game, has been underserved in the basketball conversation, especially when it comes to talking about the individual.

But now, RPM is giving credit where credit is due.

The MVP race illustrates this dynamic perfectly. It has been long assumed as an article of faith that LeBron James is a better defender than Kevin Durant, and therefore the Oklahoma City star would have to make up for his defensive deficiencies on the other end. But as RPM shows us, that hasn't necessarily been the case this season.

You often hear about a player having a down shooting year or a down rebounding year. Well, James is having a down defensive year. And that, more than anything, is why he'll likely lose the MVP battle this season.