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Atlanta Hawks ping-pong chronicles: March 25

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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 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 and the Mavericks, who sit just behind the Hawks in a tie for the fourth-worst record. The Hawks have finally reached single digits in remaining games for 2018 and the final stretch will be 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 on Friday night as they faced the shorthanded Golden State Warriors. The team will face an even tougher matchup tonight 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 144.46 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 19th selection in the Draft since the Timberwolves are still in the Playoff picture and with a soft ending to the season for Minnesota 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 remains at 6 after they could not beat Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers yesterday.

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 Orlando Magic managed to pick up the win against Phoenix last night to keep the Suns with a tight grip on the worst record in the NBA. The Suns now are one of only 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 unable to finish strong against the Lakers last night after leading for large portions of the second half. Memphis remains just ahead of the Suns by percentage points for the second-worst record in the NBA. The Grizzlies will get right back to work on Monday in a game that Atlanta will be rooting for them to lose against the Timberwolves.

The Orlando Magic, as previously mentioned, were able to take the win over the Suns in a tight game that now improves the Magic to the fifth-worst record over the Mavericks, Hawks, Grizzlies and Suns. Orlando gets a short break before it’s next game against the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday as the begin their long stretch of games against lottery bound teams to end the season.

Dallas could not complete their comeback against the Hornets last night as they now drop below the Magic in the NBA standings. The Mavericks will be back to work on Tuesday in another big matchup between basement teams as they face the Kings.

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 both Chicago and Brooklyn in the standings before their next game against the Celtics tonight.

The Nets were beaten by the Raptors after leading for much of the game Friday 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 today against another tough team in Cleveland.

Chicago lost their fifth straight game last night to the Pistons and continue to plummet in the standings. Their next game doesn’t get much easier either as they travel to Houston to take on the Rockets Tuesday night.

Hawk fans should surely be rooting for the Raptors today as they face off against the Clippers, who are chasing the Timberwolves for a playoff spot. As always, stay tuned for tomorrow’s update to the Hawks Ping-Pong Chronicles!