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Atlanta Hawks ping-pong chronicles: March 20

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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. 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 tonight 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 148.64 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 now sits as the eight seed in the Western Conference Playoff race leading to some too close for comfort feeling for the Hawks.

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 than not that the pick will still convey, even after the Timberwolves lost Jimmy Butler to injury. Minnesota’s magic number is down to 8 and they’ll be back to work against the Clippers in a must win game tonight.

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 could not pull back-to-back wins last night after losing to the Brooklyn Nets in a close game between two basement teams. The Grizzlies next matchup is a tough one against Joel Embiid and the 76ers tomorrow night.

Phoenix dropped their eighth straight game to the Warriors on Saturday and will draw the Detroit Pistons in their next game tonight. 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 (albeit depleted) 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 tonight against the Raptors in another tough game for them.

Dallas was unable to beat the Nets in Brooklyn Sunday night. The Mavericks will do battle against the Pelicans tonight. Dallas could do the Hawks a favor by upsetting New Orleans as the Pelicans are one of the teams ahead of the Timberwolves in the Western Conference standings.

The Nets will take over the seventh-worst record in the NBA after Sacramento lost last night. The Nets will take on the Hornets tomorrow night in a game that all teams around the bottom of the league will be paying attention to.

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

Chicago now creeps back into the bottom 10 after their big game against the Knicks. After losing to New York the Bulls now solidify themselves in the eighth worst record before their next game against the Nuggets on Wednesday. A game the Hawks would hope Chicago could win.

The most important game of the day is the Clippers/Timberwolves game as it has major Playoff implications and in-turn major draft implications for the Hawks. As always, stay tuned for tomorrow’s update to the Hawks Ping-Pong Chronicles!