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Atlanta Hawks ping-pong chronicles: March 19

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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.

For the Atlanta Hawks, these final 12 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 2018 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 19 wins each.

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 Golden State, Houston and Minnesota over the last six games of March. Ten of the Hawks 12 remaining games overall are against teams that are currently in the NBA Playoff picture, which should firmly secure the Hawks within the top ten 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 Saturday night against the Bucks ended in a loss at the hands of Giannis Antetokounmpo even after Taurean Prince matched his career high of 38 points. Atlanta will be right back to work tomorrow against rookie phenom Donovan Mitchell and the Utah Jazz.

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 146.48 with a score of 191.53.

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 could not beat the Rockets last night and that really puts pressure on the Timberwolves now to make a strong finish to the season against the teams that they should beat.

The pick would currently convey as the 18th 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 the Timberwolves losing Jimmy Butler to injury. Minnesota’s magic number is down to 10 and they’ll be back to work against the Clippers in a must win game tomorrow night.

In 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, 29th or 28th as the Rockets and Warriors are neck-and-neck at the top of the West and the Raptors also boast a record comparable to the Warriors and Rockets.

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 turned in an absolute stunner Saturday night and managed to upset the Denver Nuggets to break a 19-game losing streak and boost them to the second-worst record in the NBA. They will be back in action tonight in a game against Brooklyn that all teams at the bottom of the NBA will surely be watching.

Phoenix dropped their eighth straight game to the Warriors on Saturday and will draw the Detroit Pistons in their next game tomorrow. The Suns now move to the worst record in the NBA and the best overall odds of nabbing the number one overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft lottery. Phoenix, like the Hawks, has a horrific schedule to end the season with two matches against the Warriors still to come.

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

Dallas was unable to beat the Nets in Brooklyn last night and as a result now swap spots in the NBA standings with Brooklyn. The Mavericks will get a short break until their next game tomorrow against the Pelicans. Dallas could do the Hawks a favor by upsetting New Orleans as the Pelicans are one of the teams chasing the Timberwolves.

After losing to the Mavericks, the Nets will take over the sixth-worst record in the NBA with another big game coming up for Brooklyn. The Nets will take on the Grizzlies tonight in a game that could potentially move the Hawks down to the second worst record overall if Memphis manages to win.

Sacramento could not pull the upset of the Jazz last night after leading for large portions of the second half. The Kings are sitting with the seventh-worst record in the NBA before their next game against the Pistons tonight.

Make sure to keep an eye on the Memphis/Brooklyn game as the Hawks sit just a half game ahead of the Grizzlies for the second worst record in the league. As always, stay tuned for tomorrow’s update to the Hawks Ping-Pong Chronicles!