At the same time, he’s getting better shots now than perhaps ever before. According to Basketball-Reference.com, 43.7 percent of James’ attempts have come within three feet, the second-highest rate of his career. Remarkably, despite the fact that a player’s dunks per minute typically decline from the moment they enter the NBA, James made a career-high 145 dunks last season. (He’s down from that pace this year, but his 5.3 layups per game would be a career-high, per Basketball-Reference.com.)
“He still can play in the midrange. We still want him to take good midrange shots. But we have tried to make it an emphasis to not hesitate to shoot. He’s so tall that on the catch he can get that shot off, and his inclination has probably always been to fake it and drive it. But he shoots it with ease and feels good every time he shoots it.”
Even with Foles at quarterback, the Eagles have enough of a lead that they ought to squeak out a first-round bye — and maybe even the No. 1 seed. The Vikings have both the Bengals and Bears left on their schedule and should secure a bye. Likely needing one fewer postseason win than the Saints, Rams or Seahawks to reach the Super Bowl, the Vikings are the favorite to represent the NFC. And though they might be a hair worse than New Orleans, let’s not overlook the Vikings’ ability after Sunday’s road loss. Entering Week 14, Case Keenum was the Total QBR leader among healthy quarterbacks, and Minnesota had the fifth-best defense in the league, per FPI.
But Matt Ryan and Atlanta are getting hot like they were during their 2016 Super Bowl run. The Falcons have learned how to use their new home to their advantage, and Vikings are overdue for a letdown. With Devonta Freeman set to return and re-join Tevin Coleman, the difference will be the hosts’ superior backfield committee.