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.
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: