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Atlanta Hawks ping-pong chronicles: March 22

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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 11 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 tied for the third-worst record in the NBA. Tankathon.com gives them a 42.4% chance at securing a top-3 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft and a 13.7% 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 as well as Orlando who sits tied with the Hawks for the third-worst record.

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 five games of March. Nine of the Hawks 11 remaining games overall are against teams that are currently in the NBA Playoff picture, which should firmly secure the Hawks within the top five 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. The Hawks were able to snag a win against the Utah Jazz in their last game after Dennis Schroder dropped an incredible 41 points. Atlanta will be right back to work tonight against the Sacramento Kings tonight in a game with huge lottery implications for both teams.

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 137.20 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 seventh seed in the Western Conference Playoff race leading to some too-close-for-comfort feelings for the Hawks.

The pick would currently convey as the 20th 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 after they managed to pick up a desperately-needed win Tuesday night against the Clippers. The Timberwolves have a game against the Knicks tomorrow night that they will be favored in without question.

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.

Phoenix dropped their ninth straight game to the Pistons Tuesday night and will draw the Cleveland Cavaliers in their next game tomorrow night. 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.

The Grizzlies were handled in their game last night against the Playoff-bound Philadelphia 76ers. Memphis is in a tight race for the worst record in the league with Phoenix and face the Charlotte Hornets today on the second night of a back to back.

Orlando lost a close one against the Raptors Tuesday night, dropping them to a tie for the third-worst record in the league with the Hawks. The Magic will be back to work tonight against the 76ers in another tough game for them.

Dallas was unable to beat the Pelicans in New Orleans on Tuesday night. The Mavericks will do battle against the Utah Jazz tonight in a game that the Hawks will be hoping for Dallas to win as the Jazz currently trail the Timberwolves in the Western Conference standings.

Sacramento could not pull the upset of the Pistons Monday 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 tonight.

The Nets were beaten by the Charlotte Hornets who got an absurd night from Dwight Howard and now move into a tie with Sacramento for the sixth-worst record before their next game Friday night against the Raptors.

Chicago was easily dispensed by the Nuggets in a 30-point loss for the Bulls that now slips them into the eighth-worst record in basketball. With their next game being against the Bucks there seems to be nothing coming easy for Chicago down the stretch.

In a night full of lottery implications make sure to keep an eye on the Hawks, Memphis, Orlando and Dallas as wins and losses at this time of the year can make major waves at the bottom of the NBA standings. As always, stay tuned for tomorrow’s update to the Hawks Ping-Pong Chronicles!