ESPN Insider .... NBA Player's and Fluke Numbers & Player Stats

Brevin's stats like Knight and day

<!-- end pagetitle --><!-- begin bylinebox -->
<!-- firstName = John --><!-- lastName = Hollinger -->
By John Hollinger
ESPN Insider

<!-- begin presby2 -->
<!-- end presby2 -->
<!-- end bylinebox -->
<!-- begin text11 div --><TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 width="100%" border=0><TBODY><TR><TD vAlign=top><!-- begin leftcol --><!-- template inline -->Ever look at a player's season and think "no way he does that again this year"? It's happened hundreds of times -- a vet in his late 20s or early 30s puts together a season that vastly exceeds what he'd accomplished in recent seasons.

<!---------------------INLINE TABLE (BEGIN)---------------------><TABLE id=inlinetable cellSpacing=1 cellPadding=3 width=160 align=right border=0><TBODY><TR><TH style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"><CENTER>Pro Basketball Forecast</CENTER></TH><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ececec" vAlign=top><TD width=160></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE><!---------------------INLINE TABLE (END)--------------------->Take Brevin Knight, for instance. Playing for the expansion Bobcats, Knight was one of the great surprises of the 2004-05 campaign. After bouncing around the past few years and even getting waived by Washington, the 29-year-old point man finished second in the league in assists, fifth in steals, and averaged double figures in points for the first time in his career. Based on my Player Efficiency Rating, a measure of a player's per-minute statistical productivity, Knight's 2004-05 rating of 18.06 dwarfed his 13.62 PER in 2003-04.

Obviously, there's some doubt as to whether Knight can repeat that performance. One might expect Knight to return to his previous levels this coming season, especially since he's at an age when point guards often hit the wall.

But if we're going to identify players who are playing over their heads, we need something more scientific than just my conjecture that Knight is due for a fall. What we need is a way to systematically identify players who are at great likelihood to see their performances diminish in the coming season. I have just such a system called the Fluke Rule, and Knight is this year's star candidate. To qualify for the Fluke Rule, a player has to meet three criteria: <OFFER>

? At least 28 years of age
? Finish with a PER above 14.00
? Post a PER at least 3.00 higher than the previous year's PER

Identifying these players is useful because their results are so much worse the following year. As a group, Fluke Rule players lose nearly all the performance increase from their "fluke" season, reverting to their normal selves. Last year, seven players qualified for the Fluke Rule: Mark Blount, Vin Baker, Antonio Daniels, Erick Dampier, Jeff McInnis, Dikembe Mutombo and Scott Williams. Baker and Williams barely played, while of the remaining five players, only Mutombo was better in 2004-05:

<OFFER><!---------------------INLINE TABLE (BEGIN)---------------------><TABLE id=inlinetable cellSpacing=1 cellPadding=3 width=420 border=0><TBODY><TR><TH style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #205165" colSpan=4>FLUKE RULE PLAYERS, 2003-04</TH><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ececec" vAlign=top><TD style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #999999" width=150>Player</TD><TD style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #999999" width=80>2003-04 PER</TD><TD style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #999999" width=80>2004-05 PER</TD><TD style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #999999" width=80>Difference</TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ffffff" vAlign=top><TD width=150>Mark Blount </TD><TD width=80>16.01 </TD><TD width=80>12.52 </TD><TD width=80>-3.49 </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ececec" vAlign=top><TD width=150>Vin Baker </TD><TD width=80>14.79 </TD><TD width=80>1.20 </TD><TD width=80>-13.59 </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ffffff" vAlign=top><TD width=150>Antonio Daniels </TD><TD width=80>19.67 </TD><TD width=80>18.08 </TD><TD width=80>-1.59</TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ececec" vAlign=top><TD width=150>Erick Dampier </TD><TD width=80>20.17 </TD><TD width=80>15.21 </TD><TD width=80>-4.96 </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ffffff" vAlign=top><TD width=150>Jeff McInnis </TD><TD width=80>15.14 </TD><TD width=80>12.36 </TD><TD width=80>-2.78 </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ececec" vAlign=top><TD width=150>Dikembe Mutombo </TD><TD width=80>14.36 </TD><TD width=80>16.51 </TD><TD width=80>+2.15 </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ffffff" vAlign=top><TD width=150>Scott Williams </TD><TD width=80>14.30 </TD><TD width=80>6.66 </TD><TD width=80>-7.64 </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ececec" vAlign=top><TD width=150>Average </TD><TD width=80>16.35 </TD><TD width=80>11.79 </TD><TD width=80>-4.56 </TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE><!---------------------INLINE TABLE (END)--------------------->

The experience of the players from 2003-04 mirrors that of the Fluke Rule players over the past two decades. In that time, only one player in 10 has been able to defy the odds and play better than his Fluke Rule season; the other 90 percent fare worse. Thus, there's some real value in identifying Fluke Rule seasons. Certainly, the Celtics and Mavs would have been interested in knowing this information before they paid Blount and Dampier so much money.

Now let's take a look at this year's Fluke Rule candidates. In addition to Knight, we have Othella Harrington, Fred Hoiberg, Allen Iverson, Antonio McDyess and Jalen Rose. One can argue that there were extenuating circumstances in McDyess' case since the Fluke Rule doesn't adjust for the fact that he was returning from a knee injury. Nonetheless, as a group, these players will see their PER drop by nearly three points from 2004-05.

<OFFER><!---------------------INLINE TABLE (BEGIN)---------------------><TABLE id=inlinetable cellSpacing=1 cellPadding=3 width=420 border=0><TBODY><TR><TH style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #205165" colSpan=4>FLUKE RULE PLAYERS, 2004-05</TH><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ececec" vAlign=top><TD style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #999999" width=150>Player</TD><TD style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #999999" width=80>2003-04 PER</TD><TD style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #999999" width=80>2004-05 PER</TD><TD style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #999999" width=80>2005-06 PER
</TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ffffff" vAlign=top><TD width=150>Othella Harrington </TD><TD width=80>8.98 </TD><TD width=80>14.46 </TD><TD width=80>11.52 </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ececec" vAlign=top><TD width=150>Fred Hoiberg </TD><TD width=80>13.61 </TD><TD width=80>16.77 </TD><TD width=80>13.83 </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ffffff" vAlign=top><TD width=150>Allen Iverson </TD><TD width=80>19.22 </TD><TD width=80>23.23 </TD><TD width=80>20.29 </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ececec" vAlign=top><TD width=150>Brevin Knight </TD><TD width=80>13.63 </TD><TD width=80>18.06 </TD><TD width=80>15.12 </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ffffff" vAlign=top><TD width=150>Antonio McDyess </TD><TD width=80>12.61 </TD><TD width=80>17.20 </TD><TD width=80>14.26 </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ececec" vAlign=top><TD width=150>Jalen Rose </TD><TD width=80>12.57 </TD><TD width=80>16.56 </TD><TD width=80>13.62 </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ffffff" vAlign=top><TD width=150>Average </TD><TD width=80>13.44 </TD><TD width=80>17.71 </TD><TD width=80>14.77 </TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE><!---------------------INLINE TABLE (END)--------------------->

Because he has a strong track record of outstanding play, some might be surprised to see Iverson's name on this list. But keep in mind we're expecting a performance drop relative to his own standards -- if his PER dips to 20.29, he'll still be among the best guards in basketball. Besides, that's hardly an unlikely premise -- he'd been at 21.12 and 19.22 the two prior seasons, and in addition he turns 30 this year.

But players such as Harrington, Knight, Rose and Hoiberg are the usual Fluke Rule suspects, posting better than expected averages out of the blue. Rose had the highest per-minute scoring rate of his career and also set career bests in foul shooting and 3-point percentage. Hoiberg, who is likely to miss this season after undergoing heart surgery, led the league in 3-point shooting and shot 48.9 percent overall, dwarfing his career mark of 43.1 percent. Harrington appeared on his way out of the league and was an unwanted throw-in to the Jamal Crawford trade before he surprised the Bulls with 51.2 percent shooting off the bench.

But the biggest fluke of them all appears to be Knight, whose season came completely without warning. The odds are overwhelmingly strong that he'll revert to the trend of his previous seven NBA seasons, when his weak jumper was too much of a liability to overcome his skills at penetrating and distributing the ball.

It's also important information for the Bobcats. Yes, Knight was excellent in 2004-05, but the odds of his repeating the performance are slim. That was one reason it made sense for the Bobcats to draft Raymond Felton, even though their point guard spot appeared "solved." Call it a fluke, call it good fortune or good health -- whatever you call it, the forecast is the same. Knight's fairy tale 2004-05 season won't have such a happy sequel. John Hollinger, author of "Pro Basketball Forecast 2005-06," writes for ESPN Insider.