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Atlanta Hawks ping-pong chronicles: March 6

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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.

NBA: Draft Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

For the Atlanta Hawks, these last 18 games of the 2018 season are pivotal in the determination of 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 dwindling “tragic number” and also the status of the other two first round selections owed to the Hawks by Minnesota and Houston.

Hawks Tragic Number

The Hawks currently sport a 20-44 record, which is tied for the worst mark in the Eastern Conference with the Brooklyn Nets, as the team comes into play against the Toronto Raptors tonight. The Hawks “tragic number,” which is the number of games Atlanta would have to lose or that teams currently in the Eastern Conference Playoff picture would need to win to eliminate the Hawks from the Playoffs, is currently five.

Atlanta has already been eliminated from being able to win the first or second seeds in the Eastern Conference Playoffs and could end up being eliminated from the third seed contention by the end of the night. Here are the three scenarios for that to happen:

Scenario one: Atlanta would need to lose to the Raptors and Cleveland would have had to beat the Pistons last night. (They did)

Scenario two: The Hawks losing to the Raptors and the Philadelphia 76ers winning against the Charlotte Hornets tonight.

Scenario three: Atlanta would still need to lose to the Raptors along with the Heat beating the Phoenix Suns in last night’s game. (They did)

Hawks upcoming schedule

What is more is the fact that the Hawks have a really rough 10-game stretch ahead of them, with 7 of the next 10 teams Atlanta will face being teams currently in their respective conference’s playoff pictures.

The Hawks currently have the fifth-hardest remaining schedule within the Eastern Conference with games still to come against the Warriors, Rockets, Bucks and Raptors.

Minnesota and Houston picks

The good news is that Atlanta still currently holds the second-most valuable array of draft selections according to tankathon.com’s composite draft score ratings. Only Phoenix currently sits ahead of Atlanta’s draft score of 123.94 with a score of 184.40, as the Suns and the Hawks are the only teams in the NBA currently in line to own three first round picks.

Concerning the Hawks other two picks that are owed to Atlanta by Minnesota and Houston, things can get somewhat tricky. The Timberwolves pick is protected for selections 1-14 in the Draft and, with Jimmy Butler still on the mend, things could go sideways for Minnesota quickly. The pick would currently convey as the No. 21 selection in the Draft since the Timberwolves are still in the Western Conference Playoff picture, but with the T-Wolves holding the third most difficult remaining schedule in the entire league the Hawks are going to need a miracle ending for that pick to convey.

Houston’s pick is a little more safe as it seems the Rockets are going to make the Playoffs rather easily. The even better news is that the pick is only protected for the top three selections in the draft, making the chances of it not conveying less than 1%.

Houston’s “magic number” to clinch a playoff berth is just 3 and, after they clinch a playoff spot, the pick will be guaranteed to convey.

Other teams at the bottom

Regarding Atlanta’s own pick positioning, the figure above includes the status of those teams that currently surround Atlanta at the bottom of the standings.

The worst team in the NBA continues to be Memphis, who lost yet again to the Spurs last night bringing their record to 18-45. Phoenix also lost their match-up last night against the Heat keeping their status in place as the second worst team. Orlando lost their game against the Jazz last night to move back behind Atlanta in the standings by percentage points. Dallas, with the third worst record, will host Denver on Tuesday and Brooklyn will travel to Oakland to face off against Golden State.

Overall, the odds of Atlanta moving down in the NBA standings after play Tuesday evening will be minimal as most other teams at the bottom of the league also have tough match-ups.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s update of the Atlanta Hawks Ping-Pong Chronicles.