OK, let's do it from the top with your examples of 2003 McGrady, 2006 Bryant vs. 2018 James.According to Engelmann's rs+ps PI-RAPM numbers;
2003 McGrady was 121st of 428 with +0.50.
2006 Bryant was 240th of 456 with -0.73.
2018 James was 477th of 539 with -0.89. (Engelmann changed his formula, so different scale, should be obvious from the ranking)ESPN's rs only RPM numbers;
2003 McGrady was 371st of 418 with -1.88.
2006 Bryant was 326th of 446 with -1.10.
2018 James was 509th of 512 with -3.37.Moving onto box/pm composite in PIPM;
2003 McGrady was 374th of 428 with -1.35. (McGrady had +0.7 rs / +1.1 ps bbref dbpm as box metric reference)
2006 Bryant was 446th of 458 with -2.28. (Bryant had +0.2 rs / -0.6 ps bbref dbpm as box metric reference)
2018 James was 506th of 531 with -1.69. (James had +1.4 rs / +2.6 ps bbref dbpm as box metric reference)
2003 McGrady was in top 29% in Engelmann's numbers, top 89% in ESPN's numbers, top 87% in PIPM numbers.
2006 Bryant was in top 53% in Engelmann's numbers, top 73% in ESPN's numbers, top 97% in PIPM numbers.
2018 James was in top 88% in Engelmann's numbers, top 100% in ESPN's numbers, top 96% in PIPM numbers.
If you have any other +/- driven metric we can compare these 3 directly, please share.
We can't compare McGrady and Bryant to James in nbashotcharts numbers due to availability but James was in top 98% in there too.
Your initial argument against criticism of James' defense in 2018 was to give him benefit of the doubt similar to 2003 McGrady and 2006 Bryant, and 2018 James' footprint is on another level of bad than your examples.
I'm also curious if you'd take 2003 McGrady or 2006 Bryant over 2001 Duncan. I doubt many regular in PC board would take McGrady or Bryant by considering them slight positive on defense while their defensive +/- numbers being negative.
"2010 for Bryant compared to 2008 was like 2020 for James compared to 2018. The results were there but you could see and feel that he lost a step in a very visible way. They weren't getting to the rim just as easy as before."
Yeah, I still have that opinion. Doesn't mean I'd rank 2018 James over 2020 James just because the superior potential there was. It's possible and common to have better seasons as lower potential players. You're basically taking what I said out of context to force a narrative in here.
Again, if I was ranking with capabilities and potential there was, the player I was arguing for would be 2005 Duncan belonging to top 10 in this comparison. I would not be talking about 2001 Duncan not making top 12 over 2018 James.
It started as a criticism of 2018 James' defense, then turned into 2001 Duncan vs. 2018 James. Because as I pointed out earlier, there's a trade off between Duncan's health issues in 2004/2005/2006 and James' defensive issues in 2018. But Duncan had a pretty complete season in 2001.
2001 Duncan still brought a comparable postseason impact, also his individual totals to team totals rate in the playoffs is a lot closer than what direct numbers would suggest. Certainly not on the same level, but comparable.
And 2001 Duncan's edge in rs is bigger than 2018 James' edge in ps, especially with the massive defensive gap between the 2. I mean, I know that you'll say not everyone has the same rs/ps weightings but James' defense was down to a point his overall (offense included) impact numbers were pretty down too.
2018 James was 62th in Engelmann's rs+ps RAPM, 62th in nbashortcharts' rs only RAPM. In box & +/- composites; he was 14th in rs+ps PIPM and 31st in ESPN's rs only RPM.
2001 Duncan was 1st in Engelmann's rs+ps RAPM. In box & +/- composites; he was 1st in rs+ps PIPM and 7th in ESPN's rs only RPM.
Even Wins Added totals in PIPM should be telling about this comparison;
2018 James had +16.38 PIPM in 3927 minutes.
2001 Duncan had +24.12 PIPM in 3700 minutes.
I mean, that +24.12 PIPM mark of Duncan is on the next level. I'm not saying this should be the sole reason. It should highlight the massive gap in regular season. One also doesn't get 24 Wins Added mark by not having a strong postseason. Just look at the company that 24 Wins Added has. Then look at how far James' defense dragged him down in 2018.
Everyone has different rs/ps weightings but to have 2018 James ahead, rs shouldn't matter entirely against Duncan's 2001 season.
That's why I'm so strongly involved about this comparison. Though I thought I was done after homecourtloss and1ed my last post to him. Then it got heated back with LukaTheGOAT.
All in all, I think I made all the cases can be made without going into film studies about this topic. I should put it rest. At least for me. Cheers.