Wait ‘Til Next Year: Which League Gives Last Place Teams the Most Hope for Improvement, the NBA, NFL, or MLB. (Part 1 of 4)

(Click Graph to Enlarge) This is the first part of a four-part series in which I will try to compare parity in NBA, NFL, and MLB.  The proxy for parity in this series will be “the ability of the cellar-dwellers to improve next year”. 
I won’t concentrate as much on the year-to-year improvement as I will on the 5-year average because the 5-year average is a more stable and shows a trend.  To create this chart I looked at the worst 5 teams in the league for each season from 1980-81 to 2009-10 and calculated the average improvement of those teams in the following season.  For example, in 1994-95 season the worst 5 teams improved by an average of 4 games from the previous season.

The graph shows that the teams’ abilities to improve increased steadily until it peaked during the 2006-07 season; since then it has been on the decline.  There are several possible reasons for the steady increase in the bad teams’ ability to improve, one reason could be improved draft scouting and increased draft depth. 


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