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Atlanta Hawks ping-pong chronicles: March 17

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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.

Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

For the Atlanta Hawks, these final 13 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 fluctuating lottery position and also the status of the other two first round selections owed to the Hawks by Minnesota and Houston.

Hawks draft position

The Hawks have finally officially been eliminated from the NBA Playoffs for the first time since 2007. So, with no Tragic Number to track anymore, this section of the ping-pong chronicles will be dedicated to the Hawks constantly changing position in the lottery.

As of right now, Atlanta sits all alone for the third worst record in the NBA with the Orlando Magic. Tankathon.com gives them a 46.9% chance at securing a top-3 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft and a 15.6% chance at snagging the number one overall pick. Atlanta’s chances at a top pick will be up to the play of Memphis and Phoenix who currently sit in front of them at 18 and 19 wins respectively.

Hawks upcoming schedule

Atlanta’s schedule ahead is brutal and, with the loss of Kent Bazemore, the Hawks best player, the team will most likely not be favored in any of the remaining games. Atlanta will face the likes of Milwaukee, Golden State, Houston and the Timberwolves over the last 7 games of March. 11 of the Hawks 13 remaining games overall are against teams that are currently in the NBA Playoff picture which should firmly secure the Hawks within the top 10 NBA Draft picks.

There is an actual chance that the Hawks will not win another game this season, at least when considering they likely won’t be favored (in Las Vegas) again. Atlanta’s game against the Hornets ended in a loss at the hands of Dwight Howard who had some choice words about the Hawks who traded him to Charlotte in the summer of 2017. Atlanta will be right back to work today against the Bucks in a game Milwaukee will be desperate to win after losing to the Magic two nights ago.

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 136.12 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 which means the team would need to make the Playoffs for the pick to convey. Minnesota managed to continue their impressive play of late after beating the Wizards on Tuesday before a long game break which is huge for a team fighting to secure a playoff berth in what has become one of the tightest Western Conference Playoff races ever.

The pick would currently convey as the 24th selection in the Draft since the Timberwolves are still in the Playoff picture and with a soft ending to the season consisting of two games against the Grizzlies, one game against the Hawks and two games against the Nuggets who are one of the teams nipping at their heels in Playoff positioning it is looking more likely now that the pick will still convey even after losing Jimmy Butler to injury. Minnesota’s magic number is down to 10 and they’ll be back to work against the Spurs tonight in a must win game.

In even better news, the pick owed to the Hawks by the Houston Rockets has now officially conveyed after the Rockets clinched a playoff berth by way of 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. The Rockets could do the Hawks another big favor by beating the Pelicans in their game today as the Pelicans are one of the teams chasing the Timberwolves in the Western Conference Playoff race.

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 pick would now currently convey as the 30th selection.

Other teams at the bottom

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

Memphis just continues to pile up the losses including 19 straight firmly entrenching them in the worst record in the entire league at 18-50. The Grizzlies lost a really tight game to the Bulls on Thursday in what may have been their best last chance to get a win this season. Memphis is back in action tonight against the Nuggets who could drop them to an incredible 20 straight losses.

Phoenix, with the second worst record in the NBA, dropped their seventh straight game to the Utah Jazz on Thursday and will draw another tough game against the Warriors tonight. Phoenix, like the Hawks, has a horrific schedule to end the season with three (!) matches against the Warriors still to come.

Orlando was handled by Boston last night dropping them to the fourth worst record in the league one spot ahead of the Hawks. The Magic will be back to work on Tuesday against the Raptors in another tough game for them.

Brooklyn lost their second game in as many weeks to Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers in a tight game. Brooklyn does not own their first round pick which is instead owned by the Cavaliers so the young Nets should actually be trying to win each game. They too are on the second day of a back to back against the Mavericks tonight.

Dallas could not solve the East-leading Raptors last night and as mentioned before have another game tonight against the Nets in a game that could have the teams swap spots in the standings. Brooklyn and Dallas currently sit with the fifth worst and sixth worst records respectively.

The Kings have moved up into the seventh worst record overall after a surprise upset of the Warriors last night. There is no rest for the weary as Sacramento faces Utah tonight on the second day of a back-to-back.

There are a lot of big games Sunday to keep an eye on. The Hawks face the Bucks, Dallas squares off against Brooklyn and Minnesota takes on San Antonio in games that will all be pivotal in determining the Hawks draft positioning. As always, stay tuned for tomorrow’s update to the Hawks Ping-Pong Chronicles!