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Atlanta Hawks ping-pong chronicles: March 23

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 10 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 four games of March. Nine of the Hawks 10 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 took the loss in Sacramento last night as they faced the Kings very shorthanded. The team will face an even tougher matchup tonight in Golden State as it looks like Stephen Curry will make his return from injury.

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 139.09 with a score of 190.53.

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 19th 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 their game against the Knicks tonight where they will be favored heavily 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 tonight. The Suns now own 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 somewhat) still to come.

The Grizzlies were absolutely obliterated by a fellow lottery team in the Charlotte Hornets, who managed to take the win by 61 points. The loss has them now in a tie for the worst overall record in the NBA with their next game coming against the Lakers on Saturday.

Orlando too was dispensed in grand fashion as the Philadelphia 76ers crushed the Magic by 20. They remain tied with Atlanta with a game still to come against the Hawks next month. Orlando has a big game against the Suns tomorrow that will definitely shake things up at the bottom of the league.

Dallas ended up playing the Jazz close after Dennis Schroder dropped 41 on Utah just days ago in a bad loss for the Jazz. Dallas now falls to just a game ahead of the Hawks and Magic in the standings before their next big game against the Hornets tomorrow night.

Sacramento, as mentioned before, was able to beat the Hawks in convincing fashion on a night where Atlanta was without both Dennis Schroder and Kent Bazemore. Sacramento now jumps Brooklyn in the standings before their next game against the Celtics on Sunday.

The Nets were beaten by the Charlotte Hornets Wednesday night after the Hornets got an absurd night from Dwight Howard. Brooklyn now moves into sole possession of the sixth-worst record before their next game tonight against the Raptors.

Chicago was easily dispensed by the Nuggets on Wednesday 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 tonight there seems to be nothing coming easy for Chicago down the stretch.

There are plenty of things to keep an eye on tonight but make sure to be rooting for the Pacers and Wizards as the Timberwolves sit dangerously close to the playoff line. As always, stay tuned for tomorrow’s update to the Hawks Ping-Pong Chronicles!