For the Atlanta Hawks, these final 8 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 two playoff teams in Minnesota and Philadelphia to finish off March. Seven of the Hawks eight remaining games overall are against teams that are currently in the NBA Playoff picture, which should firmly secure the Hawks with good positioning to snag one of 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 Houston on Sunday night as they faced the NBA-leading Rockets. The team will face another tough matchup Wednesday night in Minnesota against Karl-Anthony Towns and the Timberwolves, whose win/loss record matters big time to the Hawks.
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 146.48 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 eighth 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 18th 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 on Saturday.
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 Saturday 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 Saturday 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 tomorrow night 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 on Saturday that now improves the Magic to the fifth-worst record over the Mavericks, Hawks, Grizzlies and Suns. Orlando gets a short break before their next game against the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday as the continue their long stretch of games against lottery bound teams to end the season.
Dallas could not complete their comeback against the Hornets Saturday night as they now drop below the Magic in the NBA standings. The Mavericks will be back to work on tomorrow in another big matchup between basement teams as they face the Kings.
Sacramento came close to upsetting the Celtics but could not finish the bid as Boston handled the Kings last night. Sacramento is in a tie with Chicago for the seventh-worst record that continues to teeter back and forth as both clubs lose games. The Kings next game is on Tuesday against the lottery bound Mavericks.
The Nets were beaten by the Cavaliers after leading for much of the game last night. Brooklyn collapsed yet again in the fourth quarter and will get a chance to redeem themselves in their next game on Wednesday against the Orlando Magic.
Chicago lost their fifth straight game Saturday 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 tomorrow night.
There is a battle of lottery teams in Charlotte tonight as the Hornets and Knicks do battle, but the games to watch tonight are Denver vs. Philadelphia and the Grizzlies against the Timberwolves as both games hold big time implications for the Western Conference Playoff race and the Hawks draft positioning. As always, stay tuned for tomorrow’s update to the Hawks Ping-Pong Chronicles!