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Atlanta Hawks ping-pong chronicles: March 11

For the final stretch of games this season, Peachtree Hoops will be covering Atlanta’s daily changes in draft position along with keeping tabs on the teams that owe the Hawks 2018 draft picks.

2007 NBA Draft Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images

For the Atlanta Hawks, these last 16 games of the 2018 season are pivotal in the determination of the 2018 NBA Draft positioning. Coming down the stretch and into the draft lottery, Peachtree Hoops will be doing a daily update breaking down Atlanta’s dwindling Tragic Number and also the status of the other two first round selections owed to the Hawks by Minnesota and Houston.

Hawks Tragic Number

The Hawks now sit at a 20-46 record, which is tied for the worst mark in the Eastern Conference with the Orlando Magic, as the team comes into action today against the Bulls. The Hawks “Tragic Number” which is the number of games Atlanta would have to lose or that teams currently in the Eastern Conference Playoff picture would need to win to eliminate the Hawks from the Playoffs has dropped to just 2 after losing to the Pacers in their most recent tilt.

Atlanta had already been eliminated from being able to win the first, second, third and fourth seeds in the Eastern Conference Playoffs and were eliminated from winning the fifth seed after losing to Indiana.

The Hawks could be eliminated from the playoffs completely today in the right combination of scenarios. A loss to the Bulls alone would eliminate them from sixth seed contention. A loss paired with Miami’s win last night would eliminate them from the seventh seed and finally a loss combined with wins from Philadelphia today and Miami last night the Hawks would be eliminated from the Playoffs all-together for the first time in 10 seasons.

Hawks upcoming schedule

After the Hawks face the Bulls today, their schedule will only get so much worse. Atlanta will face the likes of Oklahoma City, Golden State, Houston and the Timberwolves over the last 10 games in March. 12 of the Hawks 16 remaining games overall are against teams that are currently in the NBA Playoff picture which should firmly secure them within the top 10 NBA Draft picks. There is an actual chance that the Hawks will not win another game this season.

Minnesota and Houston pick status

Atlanta continues to hold the second-most valuable array of draft selections according to tankathon.com’s composite draft score ratings. Phoenix, the only other team that currently controls three first round picks besides the Hawks, currently sits ahead of Atlanta’s composite draft score of 136.31 with a score of 184.40.

The Hawks are also keeping a close eye on the Timberwolves and Rockets records since Atlanta owns both Houston’s and Minnesota’s first round picks if everything falls into place. Minnesota’s pick is protected for selections 1-14 in the Draft and, with Jimmy Butler still on the mend, things are beginning to go downhill for Minnesota quickly in the tight race that is the Western Conference Playoff standings. With Minnesota losing their most recent game against the Celtics things are not going to get any easier for now as they face off against the Warriors today. The pick would currently convey as the 20th selection in the Draft since the Timberwolves are still in the Playoff picture, but with the T-Wolves holding the third most difficult remaining schedule in the entire league it looks as though the pick conveying could come down to the wire. Minnesota is about to begin a seriously difficult “murderers row” lineup of games against current playoff teams.

Recently, Peachtree Hoops very own Glen Willis went more in depth regarding the Timberwolves pick owed to the Hawks and it is a great read for fans interested in learning more.

In better news, the pick owed to the Hawks by the Houston Rockets has now officially conveyed after the Rockets clinched a playoff berth with a magical 17 game win streak. It will become important to see if it falls at the 30th pick or the 29th as the Rockets and Warriors are neck-and-neck at the top of the West. However, it is comforting to know that the Hawks will now for sure have at least two first round picks in the coming 2018 NBA Draft. Houston’s opponent this afternoon are the lowly Mavericks who sit with the Hawks near the bottom of the NBA standings.

Other teams at the bottom

The Hawks own pick positioning will be majorly influenced by the status of those teams that currently surround Atlanta at the bottom of the standings. Here are updates on the teams that are currently behind Atlanta in the league standings.

The worst team in the NBA continues to be Memphis at an 18-48 record. The Grizzlies were torched by the Mavericks yesterday in a big battle between basement teams. After that loss there is a very good chance that Memphis will not win another game this season. They will be back in action Monday night back at home against the Bucks and Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Phoenix, with the second worst record in the NBA, dropped their fifth straight game to the Charlotte Hornets last night. Phoenix too has a horrific schedule to end the season with three (!) matches against the Warriors still to come.

The aforementioned Dallas Mavericks won big against the Grizzlies yesterday moving them up to a tie for the fifth worst record. The Mavericks won’t catch a break today as they have to face Houston on the second day of a back-to-back.

Brooklyn, who moved back ahead of Atlanta in the standings after beating the Hornets on Thursday have gotten two days of rest before their game against Joel Embiid and the 76ers tonight. Brooklyn winning games matters big time since they do not own their first round pick which is instead owned by Cleveland.

Orlando moved back behind Atlanta in the standings after losing to the Clippers last night which hurts the Hawks draft position in multiple ways. Since the Clippers won the Timberwolves also fall closer and closer to being pushed out of the Playoff picture.

With elimination being a possibility today, make sure to keep an eye on the Philadelphia/Brooklyn game. As always stay tuned for tomorrow’s update to the Hawks Ping-Pong Chronicles!