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Atlanta Hawks ping-pong chronicles: March 29

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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 seven 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 51.6% chance at securing a top-3 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft and a 17.8% chance at snagging the number one overall pick. Atlanta’s chances at the top pick will be up to the play of Phoenix who are the only team in front of them as well as Memphis who sit tied with Atlanta for the second-worst record. Orlando as well are a team to watch as they sit just one win ahead of the Hawks 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 a tough team in Philadelphia to finish off March. Six of the Hawks seven 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 Minnesota last night as they faced the banged-up Timberwolves, who got a huge lift from Karl Anthony-Towns. Atlanta will face another tough matchup tomorrow night in Philadelphia against Ben Simmons and the 76ers, who are looking to secure a high seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs.

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 150.20 with a score of 191.30.

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 a game still to come against the Grizzlies, 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 now drops to 5 after they were able to pick up the win against the Hawks last night as Karl Anthony-Towns went for 56 points and 15 rebounds.

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 Clippers managed to pick up the win against Phoenix on last night to keep the Suns with a two game cushion for the worst record in the NBA. The Suns now are the only team below 20 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 Suns are back at it tomorrow night against the Rockets.

Memphis has surprised the league in the last few days by upsetting both the Timberwolves on Monday and now the Blazers as well last night. The Grizzlies wins now have them in a tie for the second-worst record with Atlanta who hold the lossbreaker advantage over Memphis. The Grizzlies will go for three straight wins tomorrow night against the Jazz.

The Orlando Magic were unable to beat the Nets in a battle of Eastern Conference basement teams last night. The loss keeps Orlando right on Atlanta and Memphis’ heels with the fourth-worst record as they continue their long stretch of games against lottery teams tomorrow when they face the Bulls.

Dallas after winning against the Kings Tuesday night could not pull out the win against the Lakers last night. The Mavericks now sit in sole possession of the fifth-worst record going into play against the Timberwolves tomorrow.

Sacramento, as mentioned before, took the loss at the hands of the Mavericks in their last game on Tuesday as they look to pull a big upset over the Indiana Pacers tonight. The Kings sit tied with the Nets for the sixth-worst record entering play tonight.

The Nets were able to pick up a nice win against the Magic in Orlando last night helping to move them up the standings as the season winds down. Brooklyn will be back to work on Saturday against the Miami Heat in a tough game for Kenny Atkinson and co.

Chicago lost their sixth straight game Tuesday night against the West leading Houston Rockets in a game that got ugly at the end. The Bulls continue to hold down the eighth-worst record in the league before their next matchup tonight against the playoff pushing Miami Heat.

On a rare night of little action between lottery teams the game to watch is OKC vs. San Antonio. A loss for the Spurs would mean the Timberwolves continue to move up in the Playoff standings which would be good news for the Hawks. As always, stay tuned for tomorrow’s update to the Hawks Ping-Pong Chronicles!