For the Atlanta Hawks, these final 9 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 with 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, as well as Orlando, who sits just ahead of the Hawks with the fourth-worst record. The Hawks have finally reached single digits in remaining games for 2018 and the final stretch is no fun at all.
Hawks upcoming schedule
Atlanta’s last few games ahead are brutal and, with the loss of Kent Bazemore, the Hawks’ best player, the team will most likely not be winning in any of their remaining games. Atlanta will face the likes of Houston, Minnesota and Philadelphia over the last three games of March. Eight of the Hawks nine 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.
The Hawks realistically only have one game left this season that they look to have a definite chance in (against Orlando), considering they likely won’t be favored (in Las Vegas) again. The Hawks took the loss in Oakland last night as they faced the shorthanded Golden State Warriors. The team will face an even tougher matchup tomorrow night in Houston against James Harden and the Rockets, who are on fire of late.
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 142.57 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 earlier this season. Minnesota’s magic number is down to 6 after they managed to pick up a must win game against the Knicks last night. The Timberwolves have their next game tonight on the second day of a back-to-back against the 76ers.
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.
The Cleveland Cavaliers dispatched the Suns quite easily in their game last night, keeping Phoenix in line for the worst record in the NBA. Phoenix has a huge game tonight against the Magic in a matchup that could really shake things up at the bottom of the standings. The Suns now are one of two teams with 19 wins in the NBA and own 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 absolutely obliterated by a fellow lottery team in the Charlotte Hornets, on Thursday night. Charlotte 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 tonight.
Orlando too was dispensed in grand fashion as the Philadelphia 76ers crushed the Magic by 20 on Thursday night. They remain ahead of the Atlanta by percentage points in the standings with a game still to come against the Hawks next month. Orlando has a big game against the Suns tonight that everyone at the bottom will be tuned in on.
Dallas ended up playing the Jazz close in their loss on Thursday 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 tonight.
Sacramento was able to beat the Hawks in convincing fashion on Thursday 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 tomorrow.
The Nets were beaten by the Raptors after leading for much of the game last night. Brooklyn completely fell off the face of the planet in the fourth quarter and will get a chance to redeem themselves in their next game on Sunday against Cleveland.
Chicago took yet another bashing by the Bucks in their loss to Milwaukee last night. The Bulls are now sitting with the eighth-worst record in the league before their next game against the Pistons tonight.
Tonight boasts several matchups between lottery teams within the bottom 10 NBA records as everyone will be keeping a close eye on the Phoenix/Orlando game which has big implications in draft positioning. As always, stay tuned for tomorrow’s update to the Hawks Ping-Pong Chronicles!